Open business: publishing pay, abandoning hierarchy and creating the democratic firm

In this week’s The Economist, Schumpeter (the business columnist) discusses the application of open methods to management in ‘Corporate Burlesque: the case for stripping away secrecy surrounding firms’ finances’. 


Mark Zuckerberg’s letter to investors – the governance 2.0 bits

The founder and overlord of facebook on social media and governance. Emphasis added.

Whether any of this can really be upheld in the face of demand for profit, whether Zuckerberg had any specific projects in mind – indeed, whether any of it has actually been an objective for facebook since its foundation – remains to be seen.

There is a huge need and a huge opportunity to get everyone in the world connected, to give everyone a voice and to help transform society for the future. The scale of the technology and infrastructure that must be built is unprecedented, and we believe this is the most important problem we can focus on.

We hope to strengthen how people relate to each other.

Even if our mission sounds big, it starts small — with the relationship between two people.

Personal relationships are the fundamental unit of our society. Relationships are how we discover new ideas, understand our world and ultimately derive long-term happiness.

At Facebook, we build tools to help people connect with the people they want and share what they want, and by doing this we are extending people’s capacity to build and maintain relationships.

People sharing more — even if just with their close friends or families — creates a more open culture and leads to a better understanding of the lives and perspectives of others. We believe that this creates a greater number of stronger relationships between people, and that it helps people get exposed to a greater number of diverse perspectives.

By helping people form these connections, we hope to rewire the way people spread and consume information. We think the world’s information infrastructure should resemble the social graph — a network built from the bottom up or peer-to-peer, rather than the monolithic, top-down structure that has existed to date. We also believe that giving people control over what they share is a fundamental principle of this rewiring.


We hope to change how people relate to their governments and social institutions.

We believe building tools to help people share can bring a more honest and transparent dialogue around government that could lead to more direct empowerment of people, more accountability for officials and better solutions to some of the biggest problems of our time.

By giving people the power to share, we are starting to see people make their voices heard on a different scale from what has historically been possible. These voices will increase in number and volume. They cannot be ignored. Over time, we expect governments will become more responsive to issues and concerns raised directly by all their people rather than through intermediaries controlled by a select few.

Through this process, we believe that leaders will emerge across all countries who are pro-internet and fight for the rights of their people, including the right to share what they want and the right to access all information that people want to share with them.

Finally, as more of the economy moves towards higher-quality products that are personalized, we also expect to see the emergence of new services that are social by design to address the large worldwide problems we face in job creation, education and health care. We look forward to doing what we can to help this progress.

Full letter via the Guardian

Flickr credit: TonZ

Reading Thinking Uncategorized

How do you solve a massive mapping problem in Somalia? With massive 2.0 solutions of course. @refugees

This story about UNHCR crowdsourcing is pretty damn awesome. Found via Firetail’s weekly briefing.

UNHCR – the UN’s refugee agency – wanted to know the location of informal settlements in a corridor of land in Somalia. With this information they could better plan for large movements of people. But, not surprisingly, access to Somalia isn’t easy. So they look to satellite imagery.

They partnered with a range of techie types to crowdsource a solution for analysing a vast quantity of imagery provided by DigitalGlobe.

Using a tech platform already realised, a volunteer geography professor got his undergraduate class to carry out the human work – tagging the images where they saw settlements.

Eventually they ended up with 168 volunteers who took 5 days to process nearly 4,000 satellite images – tagging 250,000 settlements. 

This is a great example of global public service delivery managed by the global public. Talk about participatory global governance. Or about 2.0. Or about a revolution.

The project is detailed here, and information on the technology behind the human work here, from Patrick Meier at iRevolution.

I’d love to hear from UNHCR staffers on the results of this work.


Reading Thinking Uncategorized

Multilateralism 2.0 – UN University prof ponders open, networked international relations

It’s not just me! Luk Van Langenhove of UNU Bruges and other important places believes that the 2.0 metaphor can be applied usefully for global governance. Sort of. He’s talking about multilateral decision making in the UN, and how it might change if the UN didn’t only involve states.

Read the article here (it’s not long) or there’s a fuller paper in Global Policy (academic login reqd)

Here’s my quick précis:

  • We’re facing growing multipolarity in international relations (more and more powerful states who can’t be rolled over by the US, i.e. BRICs) 
  • The state-based system is a problem, since the truly serious global problems aren’t neatly divided like state boundaries. They’re global, like climate change or weapons proliferation.
  • The 2.0 metaphor recognises power of networks and openess: international relations 2.0 can include players other than states. For example, regional and sub-regional institutions. 
  • So it’s a problem that the UN is based on ‘one state, one vote’ style decision making. 2.0 might allow for more flexibility.
  • Happily, there are signs of change. The UNSC resolution on Libya is an example of how the UN referred to the Arab League and Organisation of Islamic States [presumably to gain increased legitimacy for the decision].
  • And, the EU now has speaking rights in the UN, which will lead to similar institutions getting the same thing. And these big regional institutions will be key to tackling modern problems – so let’s see more of this.

My thoughts:

  • Sovereign states are still what Langenhove calls the ‘star players’ in international relations. Unlikely to see them giving up (or effectively watering down) their UN voting rights any time soon. Just increasing the number of seats on the Security Council is proving impossible. We’re certainly not going to see an EU seat replace those of UK/France at the Security Council. Which is why…
  • Global governance 2.0 matters as it’s about transcending the nation state (or superseding, or subseding – take your pick of latin spatial references). Van Langenhove is still thinking in a very state-based system of governance. That’s fair: it accurately reflects the state we’re in. To claim that regional institutions might give a more 2.0 approach is a bit far, however. Ultimately those regional institutions are filled with state representatives and take their orders from national capitals. 
  • Instead, get a bit more creative with the 2.0 metaphor and we might find ways to bypass state-to-state deadlock. For example, perhaps it’s not states that will solve climate change with top-down regulation, but horizontal (peer-to-peer) collaborative networks, such as cities, towns or industries.

More on this sort of stuff to follow..


Flickr credit: Blog de Planalto


Reading Uncategorized

Global risks interconnection map – the WEF makes global governance look all sexy

Having begun this course in Global Governance, one has to explain what that actually means. From now on, I’m going to carry this funky looking issue map from WEF:


The map’s from WEF’s Global Risks report from Jan 2011.

Reading Uncategorized

Habermas in FT: “Today we need institutions capable of acting on a global scale”

You said it, Jurgen.


Jurgen on Greek debt crisis: weakness of European nations to think beyond their measly nation state. Still a long way off proper functional union.

Jurgen on internet as saviour: not likely

Jurg in own words: "Time and again, a sufficient equilibrium between the market and politics was achieved to ensure that the network of social relations between citizens of a political community was not damaged beyond repair. According to this rhythm, the current phase of financial market-driven globalisation should also be followed by a strengthening of the international community."