"…and social networks are the new cities." Or at least so says Julie Meyer, founder of the First Tuesday network and now MD at Adriane Capital, at yesterday’s grandly titled World Entrepreneurship Summit.
Sometimes the best conferences are the least well organised and the summit was certainly chaotic in both good and bad ways. Most on the discussion in the plenary talked about the challenge of combining social and commecial outcomes which musn’t be seen as an either or decision. However the highlight was definitely Kevin Spacey who lit up the room and talked about his work at the old vic. He argued sincerely that arts are a necessity not a luxury in our society. He also talked about his own debt to his mentors and reminded the room not to "forget to send the elevator down no matter what level you are on."
A poorly attended yet fascinating breakout session asked whether the internet represents a new economy or not? The most interesting element of this discusion for me was of the art of unlearning (or re-learning).
Firstly JP Rangaswami of BT and the excellent blog confused of calcutta talked about an emerging we verses i culture, and that we have to unlearn 1000 years of history of becoming more individualistic and are now being forced to become more collaborative in order to survive and thrive. Also he talked about the need for creating business models around abundance rather than scarcity which was interesting.
Pat Kane, musician and author, followed and talked about how the music industry is unlearning too. It has gone full circle from it’s live origins to making most money from selling recordings, and back to live business models again. Prince and Radiohead were both cited as major artists who have recently given music away for free and the bulk of their earnings coming from their concerts.
Madhuban Kumar discussed the implications for education were discussed given that the time you graduated from a 4 year computer science degree, arguably the first 3 years are obsolete! (My physics degree starting in 1992 presented modern physics as beginning in 1900!)
I guess if there is a common thread of all of the above, it is that adaptability is the key as always and needs to be instiled early through education, arts, business and policy. If we can instill that into our culture and society we will be onto something.