I heard from Bill Schambra about the upcoming panel at Hudson on Creative Capitalism. Creative capitalism was the topic of a recent speech at Davos by Bill Gates. I had posted here about the panel. Bill Schambra's email is quoted below with permission:
Thanks for posting the invitation to the "creative capitalism" panel this coming Wednesday. Couplathree things: 1. Bill Easterly is on the panel as well - sorry that wasn't clear from the description. 2. I contacted the Gates people as soon as the speech was delivered about putting someone - Gates, surrogate, staffer, anyone - on the panel, which they kindly considered, but declined. 3. The final balance is thus: Easterly (presently at center left Brookings) will indeed probably be a critic of the Gates speech, though I'm not sure; Steuerle from the Urban Institute is likely to be a supporter; Hammond from World Resources Institute notes in a posting that WRI's board member C. K. Prahalad was a prime inspiration for the speech. Carol Adelman of Hudson,- I'm not sure how she'll come down, though it doesn't much matter, because she's the moderator.
So let's recap: this nefarious, one-sided sneak attack on the Gates proposal manifests itself in a two to one margin for /supporters/ of the speech, including one who claims to have contributed to its development. It would have been three to one, had Gates chosen to send someone. And the critic, if he is a critic, is at Brookings. C'mon, Phil - in my personal screeds, I'm a lickspittle of dog-eat-dog capitalism, but in the Center panels, as you should know by now, we strive for balance.
What Bill is trying to do, in my opinion, not just with this panel, but with the platform he has at the Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal, is to create an open space for engaged debate about how philanthropy, or, more generally, "good deeds," can promote human flourishing, not just among elites, but on Main Street. (Human flourishing in another translation of eudaimonia, the happiness we as Americans all have the right to pursue.)
What I experienced at Hudson recently as a panelist was paradise: a room full of intelligent people, in love with ideas, informed about philanthropy, political theory, and public policy, eager to debate, discuss, and reconsider. I daydream about moving to DC from Dallas to sit in on these presentations. Where else is anyone staging such vital debates, or drawing on such a wide range of known and unknown thinkers? I said Hudson was paradise. Let me clarify: Paradise was full of snakes, but they were mostly benign. Best to tread carefully, all the same. At stake in these conversations are not only idealized images of what life should be, but policies, trends, and actions that affect the daily lives of millions, not just in America, but worldwide. Involving more and more people in these conversations, via panels and the net, would be a good thing. Thank you, Bill, for letting me post your note.
For those following the growing buzz about the Gates speech, Give and Take has a good set of links.
Thank you too, Phil, for being a responsible go-between.
It would be interesting indeed to see more of it on the Web, but / and the Web is still busy maturing. That process will continue, for better and worse. A lot has happened in 10 short years, and it will be very interesting to see whether there is more commercial occupation or more civic engagement on the Web in another decade .. or both.
Posted by: JJ Commoner | January 26, 2008 at 05:13 PM
Would a funder endow a Chair in Social Media at Hudson? Maybe Zuckerman, the guy who founded Facebook? Paypal his prior company was, apparently, a funder of Hudson. The Facebook Chair of Civic Discourse and Renewal?
Posted by: phil | January 26, 2008 at 08:40 PM
Sent you a link to an interesting paper on the rise of collective intelligence and its impact on business logic, models and org structures, forwarded to me by one of our mutual friends.
Not unrelated to your hopes and desires re: broadening and deepening the discourse
Posted by: JJ Commoner | January 27, 2008 at 12:38 AM
Thanks, JJ. Collective intelligence as opposed to the madness of crowds, partis pris, or the wisdom of sound-bites would be nice.
Posted by: phil | January 27, 2008 at 10:43 AM
Your points in the post where you blogged it are bang-on. The discussion needs to shift more (at least in some spheres) to the commons, civil and civic society, etc. though one might argue that there's a fair bit of activity and impact in the bloglands that is indeed pushing and pushing on established institutions and models (politics, media, journalism, education, and so on) and that some of that pushing includes casting a skeptical eye, publicly, on the obsession with monetization and the making of profits.
Much discussion, vetting, learning and evolution yet to come, I speculate.
Posted by: JJ Commoner | January 27, 2008 at 01:39 PM
Take human flourishing as the standard, rather than monetization. Add autonomy and self-determination within a just polity as part of human flourishing. Then go back to social media and ask what is being optimized? Flourishing of participants or profits and control for owners?
Posted by: phil | January 27, 2008 at 02:00 PM