Hacking Society: It’s Time To Measure The Unmeasurable | Techdirt

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I was lucky enough to attend a small gathering of great thinkers put together by Union Square Ventures earlier this week for an event they called Hacking Society — which was designed to be a one day open conversation on the economics and power of networks, and how to use that as a force for good, in solving economic and social challenges. There were lots of great thoughts that came out of the event (which was live streamed over the web for people to listen in and participate via Twitter — as many did). It would be impossible to sum up all of the great points in a single blog post, so I’m just going to discuss briefly the larger themes that hit me and helped to connect a few disparate ideas in my own mind.

The first issue was the role of incumbents (of all kinds) in trying to block innovation. As Clay Shirky amusingly repeated the so-called “Shirky Principle” (not named by him, but for him) on command a few times, “institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.” Economics professor Luigi Zingales made a similar point, but from a slightly different perspective, noting that “All entrepreneurs want a free market when they enter and don’t want one after they win.” That’s just another way of showing the nature of incumbents under crony capitalism. Rep. Jim Cooper also made a similar point, noting that “The past, in general, is over-represented in Washington. The future has no lobbyists.”

But how do we deal with this problem?

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