Technology Plus New Processes Mean Better Collaboration for Dealing with Major Challenges


If we want to deal better with this recession/depression and with climate change, just for starters, we need to collaborate better.

Networks, such as the Internet, provide the technology. I believe the ProxThink growth model, used in a Sustainable Proximities approach, can provide new processes for using the technology of networks. Together, networks and the growth model can allow better collaboration.

As things are now, we’re acting a lot like helpless victims. We’re humans, and we have the power to change. We need to be experimenting with a number of new approaches.

Want another opinion on the need to experiment with different approaches? Check out this great article by Thomas Homer-Dixon, and don’t miss the last paragraph.

Let’s do it!

Proxri Deal: As you find our relationship rewarding, proxri with the proximity in mind.

Networks, Nature and New Possibilities


Natural capital systems like ecosystem services haven’t fallen off a cliff, while our markets have. Shouldn’t we be more embarrassed that we can’t do better? I think we can.

Ecosystem services are things like drinking water, air to breathe, and decomposition of wastes. The earth keeps providing these for us without a break.

We have a highly developed market economy. Yet it can’t seem to function in a smoothly continuous manner. Not only do individual economies suffer ups and downs, but now it’s happening on a global scale.

Networks change the game. We live in an increasingly networked, participatory and transparent world, and that presents both positive and negative possibilities. ProxThink provides ways to think about, relate to, and make more of this new reality. The ProxThink growth model in particular, and the open standards it proposes, provides opportunities when combined with networks.

It often takes a generation to adapt to new technology. So we may not have really figured out how to best use the Internet and networks yet. It is also well known that we have trouble recognizing large, slow changes. This could account for our use of networks to often do old things in new ways, rather than new things that networks make possible.

Networks shift some of the focus from elements, such as objects, people, businesses and governments, to proximities. The ProxThink growth model was designed with networks and proximities in mind. The growth model presents opportunities for greater stability as well as greater variety and vitality, leading at the same time to greater sustainability.

The ProxThink growth model allows for the growth of proximities and people by allowing more direct relationships between individuals and proximities, a strategy used successfully by democracy, markets, and other processes. In essence, the idea is that proximities become things people can have relationships with by means of democracy and markets. The growth model provides new more sustainable and integrated, yet flexible, processes by which proximities become things people can have relationships with. These growth model processes are greatly enhanced by networks.

Specifically, by combining the Internet (and related technologies) with the ProxThink growth model, we can create more sustainable proximities. By shifting the focus to proximities, we could collaborate and work together better. There could be a bit less competition, and a bit more fun and variety. These sustainable proximities could then support diverse people and situations. I think it would result in less turbulence such as recessions and booms, which each seem to feed on themselves and exaggerate the ups and downs. The sustainable proximities we created might become more like the relatively stable ecosystem services we depend on and enjoy.

Again, for more, please see combining the Internet with the ProxThink growth model, and sustainable proximities. You also might also like this financial turmoil post.

Proxri Deal: As you find our relationship rewarding, proxri with the proximity in mind.

Financial Turmoil


How does ProxThink relate to our current financial turmoil? I’ve noticed three problems with financial markets. The problems concern aspects of financial decisions, financial relationships, and the proximities of financial markets. I’ve also noticed these three problems are often present in other kinds of markets. I’ll mention possible solutions near the end of this post.

I think financial markets benefit from the strengths of diversity in some ways but not in others, which may increase turmoil and decrease sustainability. At first, you may think these three problems seem obvious or unavoidable, and that the observations seem economically naive, but please try a proximities point of view, and consider whether some new and useful light is shed on the issues.

One problem with financial markets is that although money relates to diverse things and people, in contrast many financial decisions relate only to whether a decision will be profitable, not how a decision will relate to the proximities of the specific people involved, how other non-financial solutions might relate to their proximities, or how the decision will enhance diversity and sustainability. There are limits to the single characteristic of profitability, just as there are limits to most elements and pieces of information.

Another problem with financial markets is it is hard to relate to the proximity directly, since most financial relationships must occur between financial players themselves rather than between financial players and the proximity of financial markets in general. Sustainability, diversity, and liveliness seem to be enhanced when elements, relationships and proximities can each relate to each other.

A third problem is that global financial markets pretty much require participants to largely share one dominant proximity, when from a proximity perspective they have multiple proximities which may overlap in some ways but differ greatly in other ways. These multiple proximities probably should and could be related more effectively.

As an alternative to, or enhancement for, some proximities related to financial markets as well as other kinds of markets, the ProxThink growth model combined with the Internet may address some of these problems while more fully leveraging the strengths of diversity. The Internet and related technologies present new opportunities to more directly relate to proximities. These are opportunities I don’t think we’ve fully grasped yet. With the connections and proximity awareness the web can provide, we have the potential to relate to some proximities more fully and directly than before the web existed. The ProxThink growth model provides a framework for relating to proximities with the web, supporting sustainability, diversity and liveliness. This approach can also solve some intellectual property and copyright problems the Internet helped create.

For proximities in which it is appropriate, the growth model and web combination may be more stable over time than markets, and also more dynamic, since diversity, complexity, sustainability and liveliness are enhanced and encouraged by the growth model. Given the way ProxThink and the growth model relate to proximities, even transitions to using the growth model with the web can be engaging and lively.

Of course, financial markets can’t be quickly transitioned to using the growth model on a widespread basis. However, there are ways we might begin. Briefly, the growth model has processes for connecting with people (RelatePoints), proximity awareness (ProxMonitors), sustainable agreements (Vadi Agreements) and rewards which relate elements in the proximity (proxri). We might start with parts of financial markets, in which the use of ProxMonitors of various scope might allow more direct relationships with proximities, as well as allow greater consideration of a range of proximities related to financial decisions and arrangements. ProxMonitors with a large scope might make more transparent certain variables associated with risk or financial strength or other factors, not just for a few organizations but in proximities more generally, which might allow more trust and less fear among market players. ProxMonitors with more narrow scope might show more dimensions of information, especially non-financial information, about market players, to allow creative possibilities to emerge and innovative proxri to be used. In addition, ProxMonitors could show actual (non-financial) problems that need to be solved and actions that need to be done, which people might like to do as their proxri for the proximity. Given the willingness of people to contribute work, ideas and comments on and via the Internet in web 2.0 kinds of ways, this probably isn’t so far-fetched. Gradually, with greater implementation of the growth model in combination with the web, a focus on revenues and costs might shift to a focus on proximities, ProxMonitors, proxri and relationships, at least for some proximities. This might work for financial markets as well as other kinds of markets.

Any such transitions will probably be remarkably slow, and will probably occur for only some proximities. But we should probably keep our options open, and be willing to try and test new approaches. We should probably not assume markets are perfect, or that markets won’t evolve. They’ve certainly already evolved from simple bartering. Computer trading and open source practices are only two recent evolutions. We should pay attention to opportunities that new technologies create. Communication networks and the Internet may be evolving such that getting better at relating to proximities may be less of an option, yet also more feasible with some new approaches. Combining the Internet with the ProxThink growth model may be one of those approaches.

For some perspectives on related issues, see Sustainable Proximities.

Learn more about the ProxThink growth model here.

Other proximities in which to begin trying the growth model and web combination might include:

  1. Proximities in which there are market failures or negative externalities, such as downloadable content or pollution and climate change.
  2. Proximities which allow quick implementation and experimentation, such as websites, blogs and short-term projects.
  3. Regional and local projects in which people want to get something done that relates specifically to their area, and also build their sense of community, get more engaged and have some fun.

For other examples of the ProxThink growth model in combination with the web, see these efforts:

  • The Artsdown proposal for downloadable content (music, movies, art, books, software, etc.) includes a Proxri Deal and standards for creators as well as fans and users of downloadable content, and can be found at (
  • My personal blog at (
  • The proxri-based membership approach on the ProxThink site (
  • A climate change project, called Proxearth, lays out a proposal for using the ProxThink growth model to address what are perhaps some of our greatest areas of need regarding climate change, which may be coordination and collaboration at local, regional and global scales. The project can be found at (, and includes things you can do right now if you have a website, blog, or use social sites/apps.

Proxri Deal: As you find our relationship rewarding, proxri with the proximity in mind.

System Services


Here are some thoughts the current global financial crisis provoked, although I’ve thought about this on and off for years.

From Wikipedia, we have the basics of ecosystem services:

Humankind benefits from a multitude of resources and processes that are supplied by natural ecosystems. Collectively, these benefits are known as ecosystem services and include products like clean drinking water and processes such as the decomposition of wastes. Ecosystem services are distinct from other ecosystem products and functions because there is human demand for these natural assets. Services can be subdivided into five categories: provisioning such as the production of food and water; regulating, such as the control of climate and disease; supporting, such as nutrient cycles and crop pollination; cultural, such as spiritual and recreational benefits; and preserving, which includes guarding against uncertainty through the maintenance of diversity.

I propose that some things humans create for their own needs become system services, much like ecosystem services. These system services would be maintained in sustainable ways via application of the ProxThink Growth Model. We might start with energy provided in renewable ways. We might also try food, water, shelter, communication and community. The idea would be that when financial or market turbulence creates tight credit, or recessions come, the things that were system services would not become out of reach for people. When necessities become unattainable, personal and social troubles ensue.

Proxri Deal: As you find our relationship rewarding, proxri with the proximity in mind.

Asians Might Learn ProxThink Quicker?


“Americans are more likely to see categories. Asians are more likely to see relationships.” So says David Brooks in his recent op-ed Harmony and the Dream. He is using scientific experiments as sources, and he also says: “Americans usually see individuals; Chinese and other Asians see contexts.”

Individuals and categories (Americans) are more like the ProxThink term element. Relationships and contexts (Asians) are more like the ProxThink terms relationship and proximity. And once you see relationships and proximity, you’re likely to see elements too.

It’s important to note ProxThink doesn’t favor the proximity, since the proximity consists of elements related or potentially related to a situation, in physical, mental and other ways. In other words, the proximity is both elements and relationships. Further, you are aware of the proximity when you are aware of elements and relationships and the situation.

So maybe Americans could benefit more from ProxThink, but Asians will learn to use it faster? Perhaps. But you never know. There are limits to these sorts of generalizations.

To learn more about elements, relationships and proximities, join

Proxri Deal: As you find our relationship rewarding, proxri with the proximity in mind.

Campaign Celebrations vs. Accomplishment Celebrations


Political primary celebrations are nice. Wouldn’t it be great if we took more occasions to celebrate real accomplishments, with parties and gusto?

These would be real accomplishments which benefit many people. Things like building a park, or the introduction of a mass market plug-in hybrid car, or hitting a target for carbon reduction (to slow climate change), or national health care, or halving homelessness, or a stronger sense of community through better ways for people to be engaged.

I believe the ProxThink Growth Model may provide a framework for ways to approach a number of these situations. People can start by creating more ProxMonitors to help us track situations, and RelatePoints to aid collaboration and communication. Then Difference Agreements can be crafted which help valuable differences persist, adapt and change as needed. People can ProxReward (proxri) as one part of implementing Difference Agreements.

Here are some links to explore ProxThink, join ProxThink and learn about the ProxThink Growth Model.

Proxri Deal: As you find our relationship rewarding, proxri with the proximity in mind.