Humanity is conversation.

Calcutta Coffee House -  5

Markets are conversations”.

While on a long run yesterday along the Thames (yes we have one here too) I got thinking about the Cluetrain and that core thesis.

Yes, and… “Humanity is conversation”.

Conversation is a human thing. We can’t help but have it, with others, and with ourselves. Whether we have it or not it keeps happening all around us.

If flows like water, sometimes fast sometimes slow. Sometimes it eddies and looks like there’s no place to go. It can’t be stopped, for long, and it can’t be forced, for long. It just flows, whether we’re part of it or not.

Conversation is what ‘separates’ us from other living organisms. At least, our own technology of conversation does. It started with language, and after the awkward evolution of mass media, has blossomed with the adoption of the web.

But really, if we look a little deeper we can see conversation is what life is all about. Our bodies are bundles of conversation among physical processes. Our environment is an extraordinarily rich and dynamic web of conversations. Everything is conversation.

And so, in a way, I am really a set of conversations, a participant in many more, and an observer of ‘others’. But really, it’s all just conversation flowing.

Sometimes it’s nice to sit on the shore and watch it go. Sometimes it’s nice to get naked and dive in. Whatever I do, and however it happens, it’s nice to know it’s all a part of this great conversation we we call humanity.

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SoCap09 – a journey, my mission.

Image by ***Images*** via Flickr

Coming to SoCap09 has proved to be a good opportunity to integrate a number of threads I’ve been exploring over the past few years. Accelerated by an exploration with Jeremy Heigh and crystalized through provocative conversations with Stephen Huddart and Tom Reis, here’s the perspective I now find myself now arriving with.

We know complexity is rising and change is quickening. The systems of society are reaching their limits. Our interventions are having more impact. Repercussions ripple up, down, across systems.

We’re responding with rigor, improving our understanding, building models, measuring, and evaluating our progress. And yet we know better than ever that while we aim for impact, change is erratic.

Adding to this we have the mess of mobile, open, and the social web. We don’t know yet fully what it means but we know it’s playing a role. We know it’s not just about tools and technology, it’s about culture and community.

So now, for SoCap, I’m coming clearer on my agenda. In addition to my role with the Canadian contingent, my invitation to discuss Community Power as the next asset class, the upcoming launch of ChangeMediumI’m playing with the opportunity in using ‘social media’ to improve the way we sense and respond to events, intersects and shifts in systems up, down, and across the layers of change (e.g. venture, portfolio, mission). While I have ideas and intentions on what that looks like – I know I can’t know what it will end up.

If this interests you too, track me down and we’ll see where this goes.

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Framing our future: SoCap09

socap09_150px_wI’m looking forward to this year’s Social Capital Markets conference. Last year I came way with a sense of a movement – a long term movement that was working with the balance of social and financial objectives in service of a better world for all. I’m sure this year will do much of the same – bringing the best of the movement together to share their progress and inspire those who are looking to explore ‘the intersection of money and meaning’. If you are interested in this space, it’s the place to be.

This year though, I’m going with a more ambitious agenda. Jessica Margolin hit on something in her SoCap09 post – encapsulated in these 2 quotes:

“For me, the debate question was upside-down. It should be: How can we maximize financial returns given our drive to maximize social returns.”

“The question isn’t how to fit what we love into the structure of our money-making, the question is how to be productive given our need to engage with our lives.”

Since the last conference we’ve seen the depths of shifts underway in the financial system come along with continuing instability in our political and ecological systems. If we weren’t clear last year the core systems of our society are in transition. And since last year’s conference, we’ve seen the birth of the most accessible, participatory medium in history and the start of what Om Malik calls an interaction society. While it’s great to see people working on shifting our existing institutions and systems, we’re coming to this conference with a capacity for reinvention unlike any time in history.

The opportunity to me in this gathering is to create a space for a new conversation… a sub-track for folks interested in hacking new systems that support a civilization founded on the answer to more human questions than how do we maximize production.

This week’s #SoCap09 twitter chat should help kick that off. We’ll be looking into the question of how is social media changing change? I’m curious to see what threads emerge and what we can take into the conversation at the conference.

The game is changing more than we realize and in ways we don’t yet understand… so let’s ask some questions… let’s hack some solutions… let’s get to it.

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