TED Conversations

William Holz

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Could a few of us get some help with an overwhelmingly big idea? We call it the Co-opernation. We could also use help naming things.

My beloved and I would often get frustrated watching TED talks, seeing all these lovely, brilliant ideas that we were afraid would never happen in the real world, even though they made more sense than what we saw around us.

When she passed away, a few of us started working on an idea she inspired.

The idea was to stop fighting AGAINST anything and to simply use every single tool at our disposal to make a better place for the people we loved. We looked in a lot of right places and even more wrong ones, focused on seeing tools as what they were rather than what they were used for, and a strange question presented itself.

Would it be possible to take the framework of a corporation, like a Valve or Mondragon, insert a whole bunch of other people's amazing ideas and basically, turn corporate campuses into charter cities? Could we free people to simply help other people and remove most of the worries society has created? If we do this right could we hire anybody who wants to be a good person and contribute to the greater good and instantly free them from the current messes we're in?

So, we found our 'yes' answer pretty early (mostly standing on the shoulders of giants who hate each other), but it was a scary revolutionary confrontational thing and somehow that just felt WRONG. So we dedicated ourselves to making it gentle, harmless, hilarious, and non-threatening, and we're pretty much there.

And now we need help! We're shy, but since TED really is the biggest source we have, we want to start here. Our hope is to get some help organizing us, getting this idea out there and into some better hands so it can grow and get even better, then we can hopefully crowdsource a mellow revolution.

If anybody could point us in the right direction it'd be great!


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    May 4 2013: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your beloved.

    I am intrigued by your proposal and would be glad to advise if I'm able. I'm interested in learning more of the specifics (your posts below have helped a bit - thank you), and also perhaps seeing a "business model" of sorts that very explicitly outlines specific goals, structure, and other logistical/organizational things like that.

    Some potential obstacles I've identified are the matter of how to initially fund this project before the autonomous infrastructure is fully operational, how to identify and recruit the optimal demographic to your cause, and how to avoid making the same mistakes that many other utopian communities have faced.

    If you intend to seek outside funding, nailing down a cohesive business model and organizing your ideas more explicitly is a must.

    Finding the right untapped demographic and recruiting them with success and efficiency will likely pose some challenges, but if you are able to establish a profile of the sort of person you're looking to recruit, that may help. One thing to consider is how to sufficiently incentivize your cause such that people are willing to join it and contribute enough to sustain the campuses. Take your example of Joss Wheden. I can't speak for everyone, but I believe that many individuals who were already independently wealthy would feel like they were giving up certain controls and freedoms that they were already able to afford themselves on their own if they joined in the manner you proposed.

    Many utopian communities are constructed under ideal conditions which don't take fundamental constraints like human nature into account. They sound amazing on paper, but are not sustainable in practice.

    If you need clarification on anything, or wish to discuss this further with me, please let me know. I'd also like to recommend an excellent book that outlines and discusses similar social/professional organization - "The Diamond Age" by Neil Stephenson.
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      May 4 2013: Downloading 'Diamond Age' as we speak! I love Mr. Stephenson and we were preparing to hit up Heiroglyph after TED. :)

      A couple of quick bits while I wait to read and find some ibuprofen.

      You've hit on three obstacles that (logically) come up a lot (with a couple of others and in combination). I think I can say with confidence that the crew's done a REALLY good job twisting the second obstacle over and handling the demographic issue, as the whole idea is to use the actual science of human motivation (and other things) to get a lot out of people who may be considered average or even misfits, and to make itself obvious to those it'd appeal to. I like to think it'd lure in a lot of the best of the best as well, but average folks would do JUST fine.

      The third concern is kind of fed by the second, in fact the Utopians were one of the groups of 'giants who hate each other', since I ran into a lot of pathological dislike of corporations, when I'm pretty sure the true source of their scorn was selfish motive for profit (which we avoid using the same strategies Valve/Mondragon and others use). I really do agree with the others in the group that this is a weirdly different design and that gives it a lot of potential, it's designed not to retreat but to expand and (once we've gotten to that second level of self sufficiency) to basically 'hire' anybody who has the same basic principles or even wants to support the cause. It may be that this really wasn't feasible legally until the dreaded Citizens United, though I think there were a few historical chances and this is just a 'spike'.

      The first issue is the one that is the most challenging, we have a couple of ideas (mostly taking advantage of high cost private-public partnerships) but would prefer to inspire somebody with a lot of money who'd like to dive in feet first (as I would if I had lots of money), because then we can skip a few steps (cheat codes). :)

      Umm.. . character limit reached again, addendum pending.
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      May 4 2013: A couple more quick bits, more detail later when I've had a bit of rest. :)

      Totally right on Joss Wheden specifically, I used him as a known example.

      To be honest, you see how much energy and joy comes out of smaller group projects like SuddenDeathTheMovie (the musical) and groups like Roosterteeth and you see a lot of potential for us to pull a lot of our entertainment closer to home (within our monkeyspheres even! http://www.cracked.com/article_14990_what-monkeysphere.html ). I used Wheden as a known example, but there are plenty of amazingly talented unknown people, and many of the possible economic experiments are designed to allow people to entertain local people in more specific ways (say . . . making comic strips of the adventures of gaming groups, setting up touchscreen projector walls, serving amazing pizza at the local buffet for lunch, etc.) rather than work typical one-job-40-hour-week lives.

      So, consider Utopians noble advisors for us, but we're looking to exploit the inefficiency of the current corporate/social/government infrastructure and create something fast, agile, and pervasive. We can't make a difference hiding away in exclusive communities the way we can being awesome and happy to the world while living in tiny little economic footprints and being gentle and kind by nature and training. . . and if we can do that and offer to 'hire' people into a world where they're constantly challenged and treated like adults? Well, a brain's a brain, right? Everybody in the world should have a chance to join something like us or something better. :)


      Okay, break for real this time.
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      May 9 2013: Finally read Diamond Age, thanks for the recommendation, not sure how I missed that one!

      And in answer to the implied question . . .Yes, this could be seen as a quick and dirty path into Phyles that could be implemented in a matter of months and years. They 'fit' in here.

      However, we can do a lot better than that! We have a lot of context in society and many of our inventions and ideas are ways to deal with the mad world we live in. There's no sensible or ethical reason for people to be hurting other people, but it's happening in this world now and that limits our ability to see a better future.

      We start freeing people FROM that context however, and they can start giving us some better visions and lead us somewhere better than our current excessively pessimistic science fiction.
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        May 10 2013: I hope you enjoyed The Diamond Age and were able to glean some useful ideas from it.

        I can appreciate the idea of wanting to eliminate the negative outlook that many individuals share about the future, but it's important to remember that sometimes, dire situations or adversity spawn innovation. Removing the context in its entirety might facilitate an atmosphere of complacency, which would undermine the cause.

        Just something to consider. I agree with your sentiments overall.
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          May 10 2013: Oh yes, there's such a thing as too much optimism. :)

          The focus is always on actual outcomes, what really happens rather than what we want to happen, so there's little danger of complacency, but well observed.

          I do very passionately believe that simply growing up in the societies we live in tweaks us tremendously, we make excuses for things and treat them as acceptable when they simply should not be, and that's a key to any peaceful society. If you want to eliminate rape than it has to be as shocking as it's supposed to be, because there's no excuse or justification for it.

          And because we have to WORRY about all these excuses from our distant past we have to prepare for things that a more peaceful society wouldn't have to worry about.

          Oh, and yes, there are plenty of peaceful societies, and there have been many more. (http://peacefulsocieties.org), and we can use actual science to make BETTER ones, think of them as the low bar.

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