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.


What I’d Really Like to Do


Although there are many Ways to Use the ProxThink Innovations, and I’ve made a list of the Top Ten Things ProxThink Makes Possible, in my opinion the biggest innovation is the process of Combining the ProxThink Growth Model and the Internet, which leads to what I’d really like to do. If things we can do in the Top Ten list with this big innovation related to climate change, sustainability, downloadable content or fresh art don’t get your attention, perhaps our current financial turmoil might cause you to keep reading.

Markets solve some problems, but it’s clear there are limits to markets. There are limits to pretty much any element. There are also limits to what governments and nonprofits and churches and other groups can do to solve problems in the proximity. I’ve developed a new process for coordinating, managing resources and collaborating, which can complement and enhance markets, governments and other processes. I believe it makes better use of the Internet in our networked, sped up, decentralized, overlapping and participatory world.

This new process combines the Internet with the ProxThink growth model. It helps focus attention on the proximity, which is needed, since our focus is often on elements such as ourselves, our businesses, organizations, regions and countries. Clearly, with challenges like climate change, terrorism, financial turmoil, international conflicts, poverty, health threats and other tough challenges, we need sets of ideas and processes which serve our efforts to relate to the proximity of such situations.

Given what we’ve learned about the benefits of sustainability, we need ideas and processes that encourage and support sustainable proximities, which is what combining the Internet and the ProxThink growth model can do. I believe, with this approach, we can also have more variety in our lives if we want it. We owe it to ourselves to try it, experiment with it and improve it. That’s what I want to collaborate with others to do — to start building more sustainable proximities by combining the Internet with the ProxThink growth model. This is in addition to the sustainable proximity projects I’ve already started, which include ProxThink, artdown, downloadable content standards and proxEarth.

I’m also encouraging others to adopt and adapt the ProxThink growth model, and can collaborate with them as well.

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

Financial Turmoil is Avoidable


NOTE TO READERS: This is another press release I’m working on.


Financial Turmoil is Avoidable:
Combining Internet with ProxThink Growth Model can Create Sustainable Proximities

Los Angeles, CA, November 24, 2008, 3:30 PM – “You know, we don’t have to live with financial turmoil and the extreme variability of markets. If we focused more on the proximity, and used the Internet in combination with a new growth model I’ve developed, we could create many sustainable proximities,” says ProxThink creator David Loughry. “It would be a shame if we knew of better ways to coordinate, manage resources and collaborate, and didn’t start trying them. We shouldn’t be so helpless in the face of all this economic mayhem. We have other options.”

Loughry thinks 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. Taking the proximity as a point of departure, Loughry 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.

With reference to markets, Loughry believes there are many opportunities to combine the ProxThink growth model and the Internet to complement and enhance markets. Further, the approach can perhaps replace markets in some proximities, as well as serve some proximities which markets can’t serve. 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 ProxThink 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.

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. Loughry wants to start implementing the approach in proximities, and seeks users, partners, funders, contributors and collaborators. He also encourages others to adopt and adapt the growth model. For more, visit (

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

ProxThink Makes Possible Different Ways of Life


ProxThink is a general yet also structured way to think about and relate to situations, and can complement network theory, contextual considerations, systems thinking and scenario planning, as well as science, philosophy, creativity, governments, markets and other processes.

ProxThink leverages emerging phenomena such as networked participation and Internet-enabled proximity awareness by using a new growth model. It can complement and enhance existing social structures, such as democracy and capitalism. It applies to major challenges like climate change, the economy, financial turmoil, the need for innovation, and political, social and health conditions, as well as more routine concerns. It is a systemic new way for people to innovate, coordinate, collaborate, and manage resources. It can boost thinking, creativity, growth and sustainability.

Even though this new set of ideas and processes can complement existing social structures, it is a paradigm shift. It is a different way to think and relate. It allows us to think different things and solve problems in different ways. It makes possible new kinds of growth. It makes possible different ways of life that are more stable over the long term, yet also more dynamic, diverse and lively over the short term.

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.

Slowing Climate Change: Faster and Smoother Transitions to Better Situations – Part 3


Note: See also Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.


The ProxThink Growth Model may contribute in situations where governments and markets are helping with climate change, as well as situations in which governments and markets are having challenges dealing with climate change. [Reference scale argument at beginning of Part 1, and how PTGM can help at various scales (sm, med and large). Also how the PTGM can augment governments and markets when needed, replace them when needed, and work in unserved proximities as well.]

The ProxThink Growth Model offers opportunities for people and groups of varying sizes to create their own RelatePoints, ProxMonitors, Difference Agreements and ProxRewards, individually and/or collaboratively. So it isn’t top down or bottom up or middle-driven, but all three.

As a suggestion, we might begin by creating ProxMonitors and RelatePoints. A variety of ProxMonitors could be created to help people monitor relevant climate change data from local, regional and global perspectives. A variety of RelatePoints could be created for people and groups to relate to each other. Via the RelatePoints and aided by data from ProxMonitors, people could create Difference Agreements relevant to various proximities. The Difference Agreements would define the valuable differences people want to preserve, and then agreements could be crafted which help those valuable differences to persist, adapt and change as needed. ProxPatterns could help people create both the Difference Agreements, as well as appropriate ProxRewards as part of the Difference Agreements. As time goes by, people can experiment with and improve the RelatePoints, ProxMonitors, Difference Agreements and ProxRewards they create and use to relate to climate change.

Several further suggestions:
1) It may be very useful to view various proximities as resources. These become resources which we strive to make self-sustaining, to support us over long periods of time. [Examples.]
2) It also may prove useful to not try to keep track of every single contribution each person or group makes. Of course, keep track of some, but don’t get hung up on it. In other words, it may prove useful to a) set some directions or goals, b) provide feedback on how we are doing via ProxMonitors, and then c) encourage many people do things which can help us reach the goal or stay on course, and celebrate the efforts of these many, rather than celebrating the efforts of each. [include kevin kelly “group-steering” video game example, and also reference the group efforts of wartimes]

[provide more links into site for parts of the PTGM]

[links to learn more]

These ideas also have some value related to other resources we can make more sustainable.

The three parts of this series are a kind of strategy-level approach to slowing climate change with faster and smoother transitions, anchored by a set of ideas (ProxThink and the ProxThink Growth Model) which are of value in a wide variety of situations.

[Extra appeal to proxri me, since there is not just one government or company or foundation or group or continent that either could have hired me to do this or should reward me for it, since climate change is something that affects people on earth. Reference my startup debt and my ProxMonitor.]

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