TechCrunch today pointed to Ethereum and Augur which started my latest tech exploration and, of course, led to Bitcoin. In spite of it’s widely recognized role in the underground ‘Net world as a means to conduct financial transactions securely and without regulatory oversight (think Silk Road, marijuana stores circumventing US ban on access to traditional banks), Bitcoin relies upon some very interesting and capable technology approaches. Deeply rooted in the open source world, Bitcoin is fully de-centralized relying on peer-to-peer technology and top security.
From what I can see, Ethereum is sort of the “meta” version of Bitcoin. It seeks to provide a framework of decentralized connectivity and strong security upon which tools like Bitcoin could be readily built. And Augur is one of the first efforts to do that. In Augur’s case the industry is prediction markets.
My exploration has just started but this whole world of open-source, highly secure, decentralized operations strikes me as one of the fundamental economic shifts ushered in by the Internet (noting that “the Web” is only one part of “the Internet”).
We hear a lot in recent years about the changing nature of work and employment– notions of serial jobs, multiple careers, flat and networked organizations, the information or idea economy, the notion that our industrial-era model of factory work is no longer appropriate, the structureless organization model of Valve, etc.
How are non-profits responding to these forces? Are they being embraced? Are they saying “Wow– we’ve always been models for organizational change”?
I don’t think so. The mantra for some time among non-profit leaders has been to become more “business-like.” Which often means formal structures with layers of hierarchy and factory-style bureaucracy.
In other words, the “corporate non-profit” model.
I’m not sure that’s a good model. But I also don’t see any significant disruptive force emerging that can help change that. Is there an opportunity there?