There are stories of all-powerful gods, and those of gods who are flawed. Lazy gods, reluctant gods, petulant gods, hedonistic gods who indulge themselves in the spoilings of the celestial rather than attending to earthly matters below: these stories call to us, because they remind us of ourselves.
I'm in group (1). I think you're right that ~tech hasn't done the 3rd part of a Carlotta Perezian tech cycle: Institutional change.
I've wonder why. Code for America, US Digital Service, etc show that many have tried. With some success on the margins. My hunch is that the new forms are crowded out by the old forms (i.e. the industrial bureaucracy).
Another issue w/ philanthropy as risk capital for public goods is that many of the baumol cost disease issues (housing, healthcare, education, etc.) are crowded out with existing institutions that are able to block new kinds of approaches.
my pet theory: the high-modernist institutions (large executive branch, bureaucracies, etc.) had a totalizing bent. postmodernism will purge them from the inside. I hope there will be enough of the social institutions left for the meta-modern to come in afterwards. i.e. there's a sort of Perez-ian supercycle of kinds of institutions
Someone else worth talking to here is Dave Guarino, who spent lots of time in the trenches trying to graft ~tech institutional style onto industrial institutions with california food stamps. Also knows his Theory of Political Change history: https://twitter.com/allafarce
Hi Nadia! My husband and I have a personal project where we set a budget, seek out orgs and individuals to aligned with our values to give the money to, and then reflect on the numbers every quarter. It’s been an interesting, iterative process! You can read more about it here:
(It redirects to a Google doc)
So much of what you wrote here brought definition to thoughts swirling in my mind that I’ve struggled to articulate! As someone working “in tech” (lol) I feel like I’ve gained a financial privilege that I’ve been trying to reconcile—in an inequitable world, shouldn’t this wealth be redistributed? How might I do that?
This is the second time I’ve read this post and I’ll likely come back to it again to chew on it some more. I’m also happy to talk you about my project if you’re interested!
I'd be happy to chat! I'm on my city's planning commission, have served on a couple other city committees, and have some opinions on the topic :)
Just remembered this post and popping in to drop a note.
I've working in tech (launching a $5m fund for community builders), philanthropy (macro and micro— hey awesome foundation), and social impact consulting with a variety of donors (including a very private donor funding access to safe abortion in the mid 2010s). I'm keen to see a more thoughtful dialogue here that isn't overrun with a more tech bro approach to giving (which leans EA, scale porn, or experimental to a fault).
There's also an opportunity for more coordinated giving and advocacy that older institutions and high profile folks often avoid because of a natural risk-aversion.
I have a host of folks who could be interesting to connect with across the space. Happy to make intros or host a small conversation. We've been noodling on similar themes.
And one person who has been in both worlds, David Kim, should be on your list. https://twitter.com/iodave
We should talk about political philanthropy more.
I’m eager to read your explorations of this fascinating topic, and always happy to chat of course.
I’m particularly interested in the psychological dimension you alluded to in that the ‘default mode’ for new wealth is to retreat into itself and avoid directly confronting the power structures that led to its success.
I wonder to what extent a more individualistic, pluralistic culture of philanthropy is stymied by fear of vulnerability, or reputational risk in a pc world. It makes sense that philanthropy is so secretive: failure is arguably higher stakes in philanthropy-- and especially charity -- than in VC, which seems to me to have more of a culture of betting.
Peter Singer’s drowning child thought experiment comes to mind. The notion of drowning children around us is deeply uncomfortable to confront head-on, as is the idea of wading in and ruining your new suit just to discover you couldn’t save the child after all. I imagine for the less brave it’s just easier to enjoy your nice suit, change your profile picture to show everyone how much you care, and secretly hope someone else will figure it out.
Bravo! Always a fan of your writing and especially your book. If you are interested in discussing the cooperative movement and the intersection with technology feel free to ping me.
Governance, equity and transparency are very important to tech projects and cooperatives can provide a means to improve these concerns.
Also, I’m interested in hiring you to help w writing on these topics, if you are interested, available and I can afford it :-)
Contact: alan at coopsource dot org (pronounced Co-op Source, not Coop Source, I dislike dashes in domain names 🤷🏼♂️)
Would be great to chat further, Nadia - they've been on my mind for years, and while we didn't have as much time at GitHub together to discuss them, my current role at an impact focused venture fund has provided more clarity (mostly!) than I had back then. Reach out anytime!