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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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    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.

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