Scott Townsend

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Just like an incubator . . . but completely different.

There’s a big question that should be burning a hole in everyone’s head. Never before in history have so many people had so much knowledge and so much technology to make things happen. Yet never in history has the gap rich and poor been so vast and so vicious or the world so chaotic. What’s going on? With all we have, with all we know and with all we can do, why is the world in such a bad way?

I've been thinking that the answer is in how we harness, channel and direct creative energy. Think about this: the traditional structures for putting creativity to work - innovation centres, think tanks, creative agencies . . . are all built on structures designed primarily to generate revenue. Now that’s fine, we love money just as much as anyone else. But the problem is that you end up with a structure designed to do one thing (make money) and use it for something different (build creative change for good).

Now think back to the old artists collective or the studio model. A co-operative model where a group of highly passionate, highly skilled individuals would share a physical space and resources and feed off each others talents, abilities and “networks” to push the creative envelope to place nobody had ever thought of. These were the most creative places in the history of our species. They changed the world. For good.

A Tech Hatchery would use that model to bring creativity into the world of technology and business to change things for good. It’s different to an incubator. It's a way of tapping into an ocean of gifted, talented individuals who are out there beavering away in obscurity, waiting (or not) to be discovered. They’re passionate, they’re unique and they’re amazing. A T.H. would connect these people through an online framework, bringing them together in true communities, sharing physical work / learning / creating spaces, resources and infrastructures. Network? Perhaps. Playground? Absolutely. Think about it.

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    Gail .

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    Nov 23 2012: I love how you thought the first part of your question through. "The problem is that you end up with a structure designed to do one thing (make money) ..."

    There have been business models built on on-line communities such as that which you suggest. Consider Mozilla, Linux, OpenOffice, Apache, etc. These were created by passionate people who gave freely of their time and talent to provide free products to those who simply can't afford to pay for something that often does not work as well. That system works.

    Why does it work? (see http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation.html ). Money is not an adequate motivator for creative problem solving. That is now scientific fact. It's the $$$ that is the problem. Pursuit of money stifles the creative process.

    The problem is one of transitioning from wealth as an indicator of success to one of a more hospitable nature. The problem is also our educational paradigms. They currently drum all creativity out of people because they exist as subsidies for global corporations. Their intent is to produce passive workers who do not think for themselves and who follow orders like good little sheeple. http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms.html

    I would like to see a hothouse of creativity as people work together to find free or affordable ways to get people's houses off the energy grid. That would go a long way toward pushing oil cartels and their lobbyists out of our governments. It would give us a degree of freedom that might open our minds to ways to accomplish the next step - towards ending the use of money (or barter) as a social glue.

    So I suggest, first fix the educations that teach children how to live in mental prisons from which only a few are able to escape. Meanwhile, how to start the on-line community that works to find & FREELY share energy solutions without thought of recompense? Who will forgo a billion $ patent?
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      Nov 25 2012: Thanks for your comment and good points raised all around.

      I'd just like to throw Wikipedia into the mix of your great examples. ;)

      I'd agree people contribute to these things for all sorts of reasons, from the sense of belonging and giving back, to personal mastery. I quite like this talk from RSA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc about the surprising truth about what motivates us.

      I'd agree that there needs to be a paradigm shift in what people value and also in education. I think these shifts are slowly starting to take place, and like anything happen slowly, one step at a time.

      Thanks for your contribution to the conversation!
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    Nov 23 2012: Good idea.
    But as far as the world is concerned, we may know a lot, plan a lot, think a lot and earn a lot. It all comes to nothing if we dont care enough about our fellow human beings and our environment.
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      Nov 23 2012: Thanks for your comment and positive feedback Feyisayo. Was there anything in particular about the idea that you liked, agreed or disagreed with?

      I strongly agree with your last comment. We're all in this together and on the same planet.

      Along those lines and... I'm quite passionate about real food and educating children about the natural ecosystem. It's quite scary that a lot of the Western world thinks that food comes from a box or from isle nine at the supermarket (http://www.ted.com/talks/jamie_oliver.html) ... which I believe limits people to think outside the box.

      Change start with the real basics, such as our bodys fuel... Throw away the box all together, eat real food to expand palates, in turn expanding minds.

      There's a lot of truth in the statements "you are what you eat, and you become what you think". Simple concepts yet common sense doesn't seem so common sometimes...

      Well that response went a little wayward... Awesome!

      Look forward to hearing your thoughts!
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        Nov 23 2012: I think the idea will be even more appealing if a team of passionate creatives implement it, and then come up with laudable results. Success stories are better models for new ideas.
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        Nov 23 2012: I think the idea will be even more appealing if a team of passionate creatives implement it, and then come up with laudable results. Success stories are better models for new ideas.
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          Nov 25 2012: Thanks Feyisayo and I'd agree with that comment too. Hence why we're currently running a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo to try and make things happen. :)
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    Nov 29 2012: sorry to keep posting, scott, but your topic has kind of gotten under my skin. I tend to be pessimistic, especially when people try to create a new org, cause I'm thinking there's already so many orgs. To me another org just presents another bunch of paperwork, another bunch of administrative costs.

    My question to you is, what new ideas do you have, or are you aware of, for fighting world poverty? Because you're suggesting that there are undiscovered creative people out there with great new ideas for fighting world poverty, but for you to suggest that you have to have met these people and heard these ideas and decided they are great. So what are they?

    I tend to believe almost the opposite of you, that creativity cannot be repressed, and it cannot remain in the shadows. A good idea will find the light, it will bubble up, it will get people talking and doing. If it doesn't get them motivated through an org, it will get them motivated individually, and they will work to put this idea into actualization.
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    Nov 24 2012: You ask:
    “Why is the world in such a bad way?”
    I think:
    It is because people do not know the goal of life is to keep their DNA alive instead of making too much money (A kind of INVALID happiness).

    I hope your Tech Hatchery will make people know their real goal life quickly.

    (For INVALID happiness, see the 1st article, points 1.1-3, at https://skydrive.live.com/?cid=D24D89AE8B1E2E0D&id=D24D89AE8B1E2E0D%21283&sc=documents.)
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      Nov 25 2012: Thanks for your comment.

      That's an interesting way to look at it and I think that keeping your DNA alive is an instinctive goal of life for everyone.

      The goal of life to me is whatever you decide to make it, that's why it's called your life. But unfortunately peoples world views are tainted and shaped to think that happiness can be achieved by external things. So they strive for external goals only to realise that it can't make them internally happy.

      Thanks for your support! My hopes with Tech Hatchery (http://techhatchery.org) is to empower creative people to live their lives on their own terms, doing whatever they're happy doing without the influence of capitalistic entities.

      Great article there. You've put this together yourself?

      Thanks for your contribution to the discussion!
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    Nov 23 2012: I have read articles that say world poverty is diminishing. The articles seemed persuasive to me because accompanied by many statistics. Are you 100% sure the situation is dire like you say? I don't know that I agree that the world is more chaotic than ever before. There have always been wars, pestilence, probably forms of terrorism. Maybe we'll never have a perfect world, you just fight until the day you die, and then you die. Since I don't see the problems you see, it's hard for me to get behind your idea. If you really believe in it, why don't you start setting it up? Do you see your group funded by government? Think who in your government would fund it, and contact them. Do you see it funded by the United Nations? Contact them. Or private individuals? Contact them. You will really have to have your facts in order and make a persuasive case.

    Already, of course, all kinds of nonprofits work on the problems you perceive.

    I don't necessarily see a contradiction between working for money and working for social good. Most of the things people do to make money also make the world a better place. Think of some of the innovations in the food industry, such as more widely available organic food--organic food makes money, and it also tastes better and is probably healthier. Or urban farming--it makes money in a sense, because the people who do it save money (a penny saved is a penny earned), and it makes the world a better place, because people are closer to their food, know more about how it's produced, and gardens make the community nicer.
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      Nov 25 2012: Thanks for you comments Greg.

      I'm not 100% sure about anything and I guess it's all a matter of perspective! But looking at things through my eyes there is a lot of innovation and creativity being wasted due to a lack of direction, resources and space.

      I've set up a crowdfunding campaign to try and get it off the ground at http://indiegogo.com/techhatchery to see if I can get people like you to fund it from the ground up.

      The game we play revolves around money so I'm not suggesting rule that out by any means, but I think the focus on the value you can provide for social good is more important.
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        Nov 29 2012: Well, I'm not sure if your idea is good or not, Scott. The thing is, while it's true advertising agencies work for money, when they are hired by an agency that is oriented toward the social good, they work just as hard to promote that agency's objectives as they do the objective of a for-profit company. For example, let's say you and I have a nonprofit org that battles cancer. We want to create an advertising campaign to get donations to our nonprofit, so we hire John Jones Ad Agency. John Jones Ad Agency is going to work just as hard to create an advertising campaign for our goals, which are oriented toward social good, as they would to create a campaign for Coca-Cola, to sell Cokes, or Phillip Marlowe, to sell cigarettes. So nonprofits do get the benefit from ad agencies that are for-profit.

        As for gathering people to brainstorm about how to fight world poverty, it seems to me that the organizations that already exist to fight world poverty already do a certain amount of brainstorming as they decide what they're going to do to advance towards their goals of fighting world poverty. The only way your org seems different is, I guess, you want to free people to brainstorm more. Do we need more ideas, more brainstorming? Maybe we do. Personally I never meet poor people, well occasionally I meet a poor person asking for money on the streets, but I usually feel this is due to a personality defect on their part, not a lack of resources that are available to them if they choose to call on them.

        For me, Scott, life would be boring if all I ever thought about was the social good. Many times during my day I am just thinking about my own small objectives, which perhaps have to do with just keeping myself alive and comfortable, or perhaps having some fun with the people around me (like going to a movie, for instance). Other times I do try to think about the social good. I think there's something to be said for a mix.
  • Nov 23 2012: feyisayo made a good point. Also, having the best and brightest may yield synergy in some cases In others, it doesn't. Mostly at some point the same few very gifted lead. Personally, I am wondering if this isn't a time of little creativity in most areas. I believe in America The brakes seem to be on and there are those who oppose real creativity. Maybe that's not true in some areas of biology no wait stem cells etc. etc.
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      Nov 23 2012: Thanks for your comment George, and Feyisayo did make a very good point.

      I can see things from your perspective, but personally I don't think we're at a time of little creativity in most areas, but rather the opposite. From my POV the challenge is to provide enough support for creativity to thrive in all areas. There are lots of places out there facilitating creativity and positive change which is awesome... But as they say... "the more, the merrier".

      Also the predominant focus needs to shift to value creation for social good first, and money making second. Which I think there is a conscious shift going on, but like anything it happens one step at a time.

      My views on taking a step closer to this shift is in mixing up the way creative people come together, in a more holistic sense. Which is expressed through my proposed project http://www.techhatchery.org - I'd be very interested in hearing your thoughts on this if you get a chance to check it out.

      Thank you.
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    Nov 23 2012: Lawren. You make a very good point. I don't know much about history and I'm pretty quick to admit that. What I'm trying to do is frame a discussion starting with my point of view is so I can hear others, and be open to those. It's all a matter of perspective... Of which mine needs to be broadened constantly.

    Zman. Think creative people + social network + project management tool + a network of co-working spaces = creative playground. People like to play, not work. Finer details of the concept at http://www.techhatchery.org

    I'd be really interested to hear any and all thoughts.

    Thank you.
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    Nov 23 2012: an online think tank?
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    Nov 23 2012: "...never in history has the gap rich and poor been so vast and so vicious..."

    This is very simply not true. Did you consider the nineteenth century, or the middle ages? This sounds to me suspiciously like a bait statement to set up your biased point of view. The truth is that the gap has, in fact, been closing.