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Dan Robles: Social capitalism, the alternate economy in the social media era

March 2nd, 2011 · No Comments · Talents, Innovators

By Marylene Delbourg-Delphis

Dan RoblesThe Future of Money and Technology Summit that took place earlier this week was well attended. Lots of participants and speakers. Lots of sessions happening in parallel, about such topics as financial innovations, crowdfunding and lending, and virtual goods and currency or the monetization of intangible capital. A good balance also between established players such as Intuit or Paypal and startups such as Dynamics or Clearbon. One recurring theme was, quite expectedly, the double-edged value of a heavily regulated system that protects consumers while fostering a lack of transparency that keeps them at bay or lets them down. What’s true in the financial sphere is true for almost any domain. Layers of intermediation have made our lives complicated, and constitute a costly overhead, as well as a waste of resources (that are underutilized). So what prevents us from doing things differently?  In many cases, nothing, according to Dan Robles, the Director of The Ingenesist Project, who also spoke at the conference and took a wider approach by presenting social media as the basis for an alternate economy, “a social capitalism,” which is a meaningful “last mile of social media.”

Social Media is slated to take over when the government’s and industry players’ traditional mechanisms fail or break down. Social media has started to fill their roles; for example, when a program is cut, communities get together to make up for that program. If we stop fearing, idolizing, or simply expecting too much from institutions, there is a lot we can do by organizing and playing what Robles calls the “value game,” which he defines as a “new class of business methods that converts financial currency into social currency and vice versa.”

Any social entrepreneur can start to build a value game when s/he “finds an asset that people are willing to share, and identify three or more communities whose interaction with the asset creates social value.”  The example provided during the conference, SocialFlights, was appealing: why waste unreasonable travel time and money to go from point A to point B simply because the airlines hub system is only optimized to serve corporate bottom lines, not travelers? SocialFlights (a company for which Robles is the Chief Innovation Officer) helps like-minded travelers find each other, to build “travel tribes,” as its chairman Allen Howell puts it. The example definitely resonated with me. In 1993, a group of us wanted to go from Monterey, CA to Death Valley. Using commercial airlines meant a convoluted trip and hotel expenses, while chartering a plane meant 1/10th of the time, a one-day fabulous roundtrip, and half the cost!

Robles‘ “closed-loop innovation economy” is an efficient demand-driven supply/consumption system that is part of the human-network driven mesh economy trend I discussed in an earlier post reviewing of Lisa Gansky‘s book. So, entrepreneurs, jump into the “new value movement:” Dan Robles provides you with all its key concepts, mechanisms and relevant examples. And as he says, “it’s all open-source.”

For more information, also watch multiple interesting videos posted on YouTube.

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