Common.is leveraging brand equity for social start ups

Hi,

“common” is a brand, but not just any brand, it could be the brand for that new biological organic coffee shop in Cape town, South Africa  or the brand name for that cool ecologically conscience furniture shop based in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. The goal is to have  economic venture across the globe with the “common” brand name on it, whereby the impeccable services  you received from that furniture store in Eindhoven will transfer to the great and cosy atmosphere of that coffee shop in Cape Town you discovered during  your city trip or visa versa.

It leverages the “common” brand name, thereby helping start-ups with good ideas to push forward with their product or service without having to fret about brand exposure, at least not as much as before. And simultaneously it functions as a general collaborative repository for all the businesses which are under the “common” brand name. Hopefully, this will  limit the rookie mistakes of fledgling entrepreneurs.

Personally, their slogan sums it all up quite clearly: “Do Shit that matters”.

I am curious  how the different initiatives are going to be named to distinguish them from each other, but this should be fixable.

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“everything is a remix” a unique vision on social evolution.

Hi,

Somehow articulated unique perspectives on a subject speak more to me than most text books. My theory: the more unique and personal an idea, the more I can emotionally connect to it, rationality is just the vehicle to transport the emotion.

This is the fourth and final part of a Kickstarter project on, you guessed it, remixing. the full name is ‘everything is a remix’ and its made  by Kirby Ferguson, backed by his Kickstarter investors.  He explores what “remix” means  and where it came from to finally end at the current ‘intellectual property gridlock’, the west is facing today, in which realizing ideas is much harder to achieve. Sounds odd at first but it makes sense in the end. Go check out the first three on his website here.

enjoy!

Social funding made local

The standard response of government and municipals on a crisis is to tighten expenditure, whereby the projects to which funds are allocated are often done so in an unclear and in-transparent manner, which can undermine the effectiveness and the credibility of the people in office. Trying to change this within the system proves difficult and at times impossible.

I want to propose a different system, a method that gives more transparency and participation for the actual beneficiaries, meaning you and me.

Now what I am describing here is not new, there have been a variety of different names on all the concepts bellow, too many if you ask me and frequently incongruent with one another. What is new is the proposal of a synthesis of these concepts into one coherent designed system or more appropriately website.

These are the concepts, I will explain the terms bellow:

Crowd Sourcing

Design Thinking

Crowd funding

“Crowdsourcing starts with decentralization, by sourcing tasks traditionally performed by specific individuals to a group of people or community (crowd) through an open call. In this way it is different from sites such as Stack Overflow, Twitter or Facebook, which do not have open call for contributions.

Jeff Howe established that the concept of crowd sourcing depends essentially on the fact that because it is an open call to a group of people, it gathers those who are most fit to perform tasks, solve complex problems and contribute with the most relevant and fresh ideas.”

-wikipedia

Crowd sourcing is distinct in that it asks the crowd’s opinion on specific matters, these can be related to technical issues but it can also be used to generate ideas/ problems/complains in specific local communities. A start question could be ”are you happy with the playground facilities in you community?” but also “would you like a community vegetable garden?” or “would you like to invest in alternative energy for your building block?”. The scope and the kind of project can vary but the fundamental methodology does not change, the crowds are the beneficiaries.

“Design Thinking refers to the methods and processes for investigating ill-defined problems, acquiring information, analyzing knowledge, and positing solutions in the design and planning fields. As a style of thinking, it is generally considered the ability to combine empathy for the context of a problem, creativity in the generation of insights and solutions, and rationality to analyze and fit solutions to the context. While design thinking has become part of the popular lexicon in contemporary design and engineering practice, as well as business and management, its broader use in describing a particular style of creative thinking-in-action is having an increasing influence on twenty-first century education across disciplines. In this respect, it is similar to systems thinking in naming a particular approach to understanding and solving problems.”

-Wikipedia

The strength of design thinking or contextual design, lies in it’s tunneling effect. It uses common sense with a dash of creativity to drill down to the core of  numerous ideas/ problems/complains , aggregating when possible and starts  ‘designing’  solutions based on these 7 specific steps, which will produce a different result in different settings: Define; Research; Ideation; Prototype; Objectives; Implement; Learn. always using the responds of the crowd as primary.

Depending on the level of complexity of the project expertise on certain area’s need to consulted, this too will be crowd sourced based and it is the responsibility of the website to make this understandable and transparent via its methodology.

Crowd funding (sometimes called crowd financing) describes the collective cooperation, attention and trust by people who network and pool their money and other resources together, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations.

-wikipedia.

Most will know crowd funding of  Kickstarter.com or Rockethub.com , The principal behind these websites is simple. Pitch your project and state how much you need to finish it and what people get back for investing a certain amount of  money in your project.

The supreme effectiveness of crowd funding lies in its democratic ability to allocate funds to the projects that the crowd really wants. In effect it democratizes supply.

What it does in this proposal is make the beneficiary aware of the cost of the project and what can be achieved with that money or human energy. The crowd funding stage acts like the lion’s den and asked the simple question:” is the investment of labor/money/time worth it?” If yes, the project will go ahead. If no, the project will be shelved.

The social funding method:

Combining these three concepts will give you a system which, for argument sake I will call ‘The social funding method’, the name really isn’t that important.

Now the alternative proposal is this: instead of governments and municipals allocating funds to local or state projects with little to no clear transparency on how they will be spend and even how the funds got to that specific project to begin with.

‘the social funding method’ sets up a platform (website) which integrates the concepts discussed above, making the steps transparent and sets up the budget and timeline and all other structurally important considerations. And let’s inhabitants, participate in the solution of their own problem or ideas and complete it themselves if small or ask for collaborative funding on private level, state level or via local commerce or specific charities or funds.

By providing the possibility to point out, design and help fund specific local social problems or ideas, it can help to get communities to rise out of the  complacency ‘funk’ which seems prevalent and at the same time receive satisfaction from doing something for yourself and your community.

Now what I want from you is input, do you agree / disagree / vehemently hate it or love it. Where do you see its strengths? Where do you see its weakness? What would you like to see added? Etc.

Take you time, write several comments if you’re the kind of person inspiration hits in stages. Or give it to me raw as one structured critique.

The pirate irony

The 3D printing world has recently had piracy on the mind, and for good reason.

In Brad Howarth’s  January article, 3D printing: saviour or piracy tool? , sets out the argument that 3D printing technology jeopardizes the intellectual property rights of high and low end brands and discusses what can or should be done about that.

But first let’s take a step back, since the discussion partly got started by a post of the pirate bay stating their intentions to become a 3D printing repository after Thingiverse paved the way.

From the pirate bay blog:

“We believe that the next step in copying will be made from digital form into physical form. It will be physical objects. Or as we decided to call them: Physibles. Data objects that are able (and feasible) to become physical. We believe that things like three dimensional printers, scanners and such are just the first step. We believe that in the nearby future you will print your spare sparts for your vehicles. You will download your sneakers within 20 years.”

“The benefit to society is huge. No more shipping huge amount of products around the world. No more shipping the broken products back. No more child labour. We’ll be able to print food for hungry people. We’ll be able to share not only a recipe, but the full meal. We’ll be able to actually copy that floppy, if we needed one.”

Depending on your creed, this idea will seem ultra cool (albeit slightly inaccurate concerning food printing) or you will clinch in outright horror and contempt by the very notion of pirates in 3D printing world. Most multinational companies will fall into the latter part of this spectrum and with good reason. The current and most widespread company paradigm is centered on the cash cow principal. This means that a company makes a product, refines it and then unabashedly milks it until all creativity and originality has been sucked out of it, after that the company either has developed a new cash cow to start the process anew or realizes the shift of consumer taste too late and hastily struggles to change course.

Leaving ethics aside, this company model works well if the cost of entry to the market is high and/or if intellectual property rights are enforced. 3D printing has severely reduced the relevance of the first, off course not in all sectors of the market but then 3D printing shows no signs of stopping either. The latter has been maintain quite well until the pirates openly started mucking about. In a time where record and movie companies are still sour of the torrent phenomenon, and their grossly inadequate responds to it. Now product manufacturing companies feel the warm liquorish breath of the pirates, what to do? What to do?

In the later part Howard’s article shows us a way out of the 3D printing piracy problem, but not everybody is going to like it.

According to Bruce Arnold, a lecturer in the School of Law at the University of Canberra, the potential for object piracy is currently limited by the need for a skilled designer to copy the original object into a 3D model. While 3D scanning technology is in development, it will only enable a printer to create the appearance of an object, not its contents.

“For some purposes, appearance is everything; for other purposes functionality is really important,” Arnold said.

Just as with existing counterfeiting options, Arnold said that many consumers would still prefer to buy the original item. But for some designers, he said protection may be better achieved through instant prototyping and continuous product change rather than intellectual property law.

In other words, build your brand on continuous authentic creativity instead of copy right law suits based on cash cows. As I said, not everybody, especially multinationals are going to like this “option” and a litany of intellectual property law suits will undoubtedly rain from the skyscrapers but lets be real, has that stopped music and movie piracy, at all?

Innovation in big companies is a pain especially when it is thrust upon you, but it’s not like there are many other options available.

And the irony of it all is, that this push to become ‘authentic and continuously creativity’ did not come from a company executive nor from pleas from their customer base, but from those liquor smelling pirates.