Thursday, August 12, 2004
Technocapitalist points to a Rheingold interview where he talks about post-capitalism.
I'm not sure this is in the cards yet. Post-corporations, yes, but post-capitalism still has a long way to go. That's because our system of wealth creation is, despite accelerating disruption, fundamentally capitalist - VC's or other capitalists fund new firms, whose value increases according to the measure of the wealth they create (well, that's the theory :).
I think post-capitalism requires first some kind of glimmer of waht might replace the VC's/capitalist's role in the wealth creation chain (which may be long overdue, from the look of things). What might this be? Massively distributed 'VC'? I don't know - but it's not about to happen any time soon.
I think what Rheingold senses is that many of the recent disruption he discusses have vaporized capital constraints to producing goods - they've destroyed barriers to entry. This enables massively distributed production - what I call distributed economies of scale - where consumers can produce goods more cheaply than firms, because their opportunity cost are naturally lower and capital constraints (ie the $$ you need to buy machinery, equipment, tools) have vanished. Open-source is a great example of this.
But this isn't post-capitalist (yet). I'm still trying to fully understand it, but my intuition is that it's anticapitalist - it destroys huge amounts of traditional 'value', and thus wealth - this is reflected in the market cap of, for example, industries being vaporized by open-source and hypercommoditization.
Now, the question is, is that wealth replaced? My intuition is a resounding yes (and there are gains to this trade). But, if it is, how do we value it? Break and Shake are two of my attempts at a crude valuation model for anticapitalist strategies - but valuing distributed economies of scale (ie Threadless, Xingtone, etc) is much, much more difficult.
OK. If you got this far, let's go have a beer or something :)
From: Haig Shahinian (www.technocapitalist.com)
I don't think it is correct to view this trend as anticapitalism, or even post-capitalism. Maybe neocapitalism would be a good term since its not the dissolution of the traditional capital system, but an update to it. Open-source doesn't destroy wealth, it merely moves wealth creation to a higher-level on the value chain. Where before businesses would write and sell some application software, now a company can take an open-source (or a bundle of oss) package and add-on to it, add support & additional services, and create wealth that way. And again, oss is only an option, companies and consumers don't need to use OSS if they don't want to, but its going to add increase in competition, which should be better for us all, right?
BTW, cool stuff with Break & Shake. If you're in L.A. sometime I'll buy you that beer.