Upside of Combining the ProxThink Growth Model and the Internet

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ProxThink makes possible more sustainable proximities.

It feels to me like we’re still in the horseless carriage stage of using the Internet. Before we really learned how to design cars, they were just motorized carriages without the horses. We hadn’t yet discovered the unique properties of cars and new opportunities they presented. In a similar way, we’re not yet taking advantage of some opportunities the Internet presents.

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 proximity is a useful concept since the meaning of proximity includes nearness in relationship, allowing consideration of any elements related to a situation (more about proximity here). Taking the proximity as a point of departure, I have created: 1) a new thinking structure, called the ProxThink Basics; 2) new patterns and tools for creativity and innovation that leverage the thinking structure, known as the ProxPatterns and ProxThink Hints; and 3) the sustainable new ProxThink growth model, which is built with the structure and patterns just mentioned. The combination of the Internet and related technologies with the ProxThink growth model creates: 4) a fundamentally different way for us to relate to proximities. This approach can help us more sustainably coordinate, collaborate and manage resources in a wide variety of situations ranging from the serious to the fun, and in the short and long term.

Why does this approach have potential? The ProxThink growth model shares the emergent nature, and synergistic and sustainable qualities, of the ProxPatterns upon which it is built. The growth model has a proximity focus, and includes processes for connecting with people (RelatePoints), proximity awareness (ProxMonitors), sustainable agreements (Vadi Agreements) and rewards which relate elements in the proximity (proxri). All four of these processes work well with the web, and boost coordination, resource management and collaboration. The growth model, especially when used in combination with the Internet, has the potential to be sustainable, flexible, healthy, fun and efficient. On the ProxThink website, the Sustainable Proximities page provides more details, and links to early-stage examples and implementations of the approach. One of the initiatives considers in more detail how ProxThink ideas and the growth model relate to markets and financial turmoil. The others include implementations of the growth model for websites and blogs (see Proxri Deal and Proxri-Based Membership); a proposal for downloadable digital content content such as music, movies, video, art, books and software that can solve some legal, financial and logistical problems; and a climate change project called proxEarth, which includes things you can do right now if you have a website, blog, or use social software sites. Not every proximity may be appropriate for this approach. But for those which are, it may be a win/win strategy for people involved, allowing a fuller range of voluntary engagement, while meeting needs at the same time.

I want to start implementing the growth model and web combination in some situations and proximities. I hope you or your organization will be interested in being a user, partner, funder, contributor or collaborator. Contact me here.

I also encourage others to adopt and adapt the growth model and web approach. The growth model and web combination benefits from network effects, so the more people who know about it and use it, the more sustainable proximities can become, and the more sustainable proximities we can create.

For more, please see the Sustainable Proximities page. There you will find sections on sustainability, applicability, leveraging technology, a discussion of what this approach might be like (sort of like the give and take of a neighborhood, relationship, friendship or perhaps being a considerate traveler) and other topics.

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

Financial Turmoil

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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 artsdown.org (http://artsdown.org).
  • My personal blog at loughry.com (http://loughry.com)
  • The proxri-based membership approach on the ProxThink site (http://proxthink.com/join/proxri-membership.php)
  • 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 Proxearth.org (http://proxearth.org), 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.