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Re: Minciu Sodas: Economics and Business Plan

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  • Andrius Kulikauskas
    Please join our teams at http://worknets.ning.com and our chat room is working at http://www.worknets.org/chat/ Andrius ... Thank you! I m greatly encouraged
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 13, 2008
      Please join our teams at http://worknets.ning.com and our chat room is
      working at http://www.worknets.org/chat/ Andrius
      -------------------

      Thank you! I'm greatly encouraged by our thoughtful letters. I ask us to
      learn to share resources so that Minciu Sodas and other such bases could
      find sources of work and survive as we bring forth a culture of
      independent thinkers. I invite us to join teams at
      http://worknets.ning.com I discuss my needs for financial instruments to
      help with cash flow and sharing resources.

      I share our letters below.
      * Kevin Parcell writes "maybe it's time to use our quick wit to find ways
      to practice patience and faith."
      * Jeff Buderer writes for a team approach, a new venture - a consultancy
      that might connect with the corporate world.
      * Franz Nahrada writes "the less responsibilities he has, the faster he
      can act ... [Andrius] desires nothing more than to have the ultimate
      freedom to move". Yes, I am ever structing our cultures (Minciu Sodas,
      Pyramid Of Peace, Worknets...) so that independent thinkers allow each
      other to act unhindered. Franz encourages video broadcasting and public
      speaking as relevant business opportunities.
      * Ricardo writes about two promising directions: Kiswahili publishing and
      addressing the global problem of "bored teenagers".

      Our discussion is helping these issues come out. They will help mark the
      distinction between Minciu Sodas - which is my own business for making a
      living, my own haven for my work, my own projection through us all of my
      self, my base for helping others - and WorkNets which I hope can be a
      broader culture of independent thinkers that would integrate thousands of
      such bases into a "kingdom of heaven". At this point, I and Minciu Sodas
      are organizing WorkNets, but with the hope that WorkNets will grow bigger
      than me and than us.

      As part of that, a key question is how can we share resources, how can the
      WorkNets society encourage the sharing of resources within and amongst
      participants of the various bases. (I think of Marcin Jakubowski's,
      Pamela McLean's, Franz Nahrada's, Samwel Kongere's, Josephat Ndibalema's
      and other bases, initiatives, online and on-the-ground.)

      There are some basic principles and visions which we might share. I'm
      concluding that I'm working towards a society where:
      * 90% we are helping each other for free, and 10% is rebalancing resources
      with paid work or giving (whereas we're taught that 90% should be business
      and 10% should be charity)
      * everybody should devote their *best* one or two hours per day applying
      their creative talents (whereas we're taught that we're supposed to do
      that after we've done everything else)
      * everybody should help with the chores of family and society, say about
      twenty hours per week and I think that would take care of almost all of
      our needs (whereas people try to get out of chores)

      I need a way to access increments of $1,000, typically $5,000, so that I
      can stay afloat when there are cash flow issues. My situation keeps
      changing. I will have to write about this another day.

      Andrius Kulikauskas
      Minciu Sodas
      http://www.ms.lt
      ms@...
      +1 312 618 3345










      ------------------
      Kevin Parcell:

      Ten years ago, when Andrius started this network, there was only the
      beginnings of an active internet. Today, search engines permit anyone to
      find expert help in any area they desire. So designing a business around
      some idea of Mincio Sodas as a web-based consulting service might require
      identifying something truly unique that ms offers. Franz, you suppose that
      "formalizing social capital" is an original innovation. Well, perhaps, but
      Friendly Favors has tens of thousands of members doing that at
      http://www.favors.org/FF/ and not much money is forthcoming (lots of great
      connections though).

      For me, the value of Mincio Sodas is that it links and supports
      independent thinkers, such as by permitting innovators to link with
      independent thinkers whom might recognize the worth of their efforts and
      lend support as appropriate. If I could, I'd send Andrius money, for
      example, since his need to retire debts seems to be blocking his work, but
      maybe it's stimulating his work. There are other networks that aim to
      support innovators, such as InnoCentive
      (http://www.innocentive.com/servlets/project/ProjectInfo.po), but in
      practice they are structured to enrich the proprietors and function to
      exploit innovators. It's a slippery slope, like democracy.

      There are a few innovators out there who've accumulated wealth through
      their creations and might support this network, and it could be that some
      member(s) here will endow ms. Meanwhile, one of these pie in the sky ideas
      might pay off...but when? Thirty years ago, I shook my head at the
      foolishness of a hybrid gas/battery auto because physics tells us that the
      battery energy must come from the gas, but since then technologies emerged
      that efficiently capture wasted gas energy. Fifteen years ago, I launched
      an ARPANET-based green products catalogue, but my partners gave up on it
      and left me bankrupt because the pre-web net had very few people
      interested in green. Maybe operating fast is essential in our fast-paced
      marketplace, and maybe this lab will capture some wealth through
      timeliness, but maybe it's time to use our quick wit to find ways to
      practice patience and faith.

      Slow thought, like slow food, doesn't mean stupid.

      I'm a big fan of collies. Centuries of breeding are yielding brilliant,
      gentle creatures, who are quick as lightening and use their gift to avoid
      doing harm. I fantasize about a CollieMoney system, in which I sell
      collies to members at a huge discount, and in turn they provide me with
      food, etc, at this same discount, until, at last, everybody has a collie,
      everybody is fed, and the world has learned the secret to living in peace.
      taH-DAHH.

      regards,
      k

      -------------

      Andrius,

      Your honesty is appreciated.

      Many of us face similar situations.

      The key I feel is in putting together a compelling plan to operate as some
      kind of consulting vehicle for businesses moving towards a more socially
      consciousness way of doing business. I think your experiences and
      perspectives do have real value there.

      I would say that you focus too much on this idea that your experiences and
      perspectives make it difficult to find employment.

      I have seen you work a crowd at a conference and I have to say that I was
      quite impressed with your ability to communicate your ideas to influential
      people.

      Rather I see the issues is one of you operating in this sole proprieter
      way that keepstyou from working effectively as part of a group effort and
      a movement towards a shared set of values within that group.

      Thus if MS could be reorganized or even another organization altogether
      created I think that would lead to the kind of balance between financial
      success and the goals and vision you have put forward through MS.

      Jeff

      ---------------------

      Jeff,

      thats a hard issue to talk about.

      Its almost like the old discussions which was the best form of state, be
      it monarchy , aristocracy, democracy respectively their twisted
      counterparts. Eventually we think we ended up wth democracy but thats
      simply not true or if it is we must realize that democrazy is not what we
      usually imagine. Today, democracy is the simple and permanent empowerment
      of a political caste that runs a machine that is out of control even of
      its operators. I have seen real democracy working in medicine wheels etc.
      but then its a painstakingly slow process. I would not miss this form of
      social covenant, but also I like the fact that Andrius is trying to
      operate fast. And the less responsibilities he has, the faster he can act.
      Thats the basic fact, impossible to alter.

      Andrius suggests that entrusting some - just some - of our virtues to his
      personal market base action will allow him to build real wealth that
      benefits all of us. He is in the business of creating relations, and he
      has done well so far. Money allows him to make quick decisions on the use
      of resources. expand beneficial structures etc. We must be clear on that,
      that Minciu Sodas is basically the work and the vision of one person who
      desires nothing more than to have the ultimate freedom to move, yet
      prefers to be confined in miserable circumstances rather than to be bought
      and currupted.

      The value that Andrius quotes is based on a different kind of possession.
      Although he says he is the proprietor, there is nothing much to possess
      than social capital. Andrius is the first person to formalize social
      capital into a code of "valued" possession, but of course he has to live
      up to this. If he is not permanently useful to us, he is "worth" nothing
      (And that is not meant as an offense, because he has many other qualities
      that stand completely beside this "valuation"). In a way it is our
      interest to "invest" in him and benefit from this investment - be it time,
      money, resources. It is our permanent free choice.

      All we need is open talk.

      I think Andrius is in the process of restructuring and fine- tuning the
      tools of community maintainance. I am very excited about the fact that
      finally the wiki will be a wiki - an accumulation of structured thought
      that needs to be refined and condensed - , whereas the more daily stuff
      will migrate to a social software system like NING.

      Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to host John Draper aka Captn
      Crunch, CTO of en2go, here in Vienna, a person who has a weird past as
      telephone hacker that brought him to jail, but has the courage to openly
      talk about it and dedicate his extraordinary technological capabilities
      (he wrote the first word processor for the Apple II in jail) to the
      emergence of a high-quality TV inrastructure that allows us to reach out
      more than we ever could. I was amazed and blewn away by what they can do
      with a 3 MB Internet connection. The quality of their Flixo Video Browser
      is excellent and the possibilities for delivering quality content are
      endless. I have a suggestion of John that we can create our own TV
      Channel if we strive for high quality - in the initial phase of the en2go
      network even for free, then eventually switch to advertising or
      subscription based funding.

      En2Go reduces the costs of creating a global TV network with all ranges of
      video quality up to High Def for any channel owner by the factor of 100.
      It will have special relations to for-profit and not-for-profit channels.
      It will not be another YouTube, but rather a backbone for real mass
      broadcasting and live programs, giving us the look and feel of CNN or
      better.

      I registered globalvillages.tv - but we should also go for minciusodas.tv,
      the channel that features independent thinkers around the world. En2Go
      will help us create the infrastructure for a full experience of what we
      have to offer. Whatever project we have, we will be able to reach out by
      visual media.

      Andrius, please include this in your business plan!

      Franz

      ----------------

      Franz,

      What I am saying is in no way detracting from the considerable
      accomplishments that Andrius has made including helping to create some
      very dynamic discussion groups and also put forward some very interesting
      ideas and concepts.

      Such a suggestion does not even imply a change in MS but rather suggests
      the creation of a venture that might take advantage of the value we
      provide to each and offer some tangible way to convert that value into
      insightful and useful information that can help large corporate and
      instititional clients better navigate their businesses in a P2P driven,
      increasingly decentralized and hopefully socially and ecologically
      conscious economy.

      I have seen great minds bang their heads against the wall (like Soleri for
      example) because they have had an unrealistic concept of how their work
      would be accepted by the world. I have myself stuggled with this in
      seeking to develop an alterantive project/community to promote sustainable
      living and habitats.

      Since Andrius has admitted publically that financial solvency is an issue
      I thought that as a friend and a colleague that I also would put forward
      some observations and suggestions.

      For example a consultancy set up as Limited Liability Partnership enables
      a genius and a innovator to have a group of equals/partners to bounce
      ideas off of and also to reality test some of their ideas so that the
      group moves effectively in a direction of both mission accomplishment and
      financial solvency.

      The point is to get us to consider how we might get out of our boxes (the
      question is are we open to consider that it is we that create the box that
      constrains and keeps us from realizing our deepest and most geninune
      dreams and aspirations) and consider new ways of collaboration that might
      enable us to effectively work together to put our talents to work in
      developing a new global model for sustainability thinking - EcoLiving.

      Jeff

      ------------------

      Hello Jeff,

      its good to read you letter.

      Jeff Buderer writes:

      > >Since Andrius has admitted publically that financial solvency is an issue
      > >I thought that as a friend and a colleague that I also would put forward
      > >some observations and suggestions.

      I appreciate that very much and I am sure Andrius does, too. Its not only
      his problem, I think we all are in need of a way to be able to move and
      create, and money is a crucial condition nowadays.
      > >
      > >
      > >For example a consultancy set up as Limited Liability Partnership enables
      > >a genius and a innovator to have a group of equals/partners to bounce
      > >ideas off of and also to reality test some of their ideas so that the
      > >group moves effectively in a direction of both mission accomplishment and
      > >financial solvency.

      In fact if we ever entered into "hard" business we might have to do so.
      Usually a consultancy is chosen because of structural problems of a
      customer, and its reputation stands and falls with successful
      implementations of solutions. It requires scaleability and reliability of
      action. It requires the ability to enter complex grounds, deal with many
      issues at a time, accept a given situation totally. I am toying with the
      idea of a global villages consulting firm that adresses communities and
      local decision makers to engage in activities towards global villages -
      for example, organize active workshops for people who are seeking to
      paricipate in village life, temporarily or permanently liuve there and
      migrate. I think the new Claude Lewenz book gives a first impression of
      what could be done to stimulate and fulfill this need, and I want to apply
      this to consulting of existing communities or local governments to choose
      a more conscious path of development - for example by increasing the
      likelyness that people in such implanted Global Villages would find
      neighbours whose presence is not deteriorating, but uplifting their lives.
      I am just having a great debate by mail with Claude Lewenz and Joseph
      Smyth on this, discussing to which extent settlement in villages can and
      should be influenced by intentions that cover not only the common ground,
      but also the work and aspirations of the partcipating people.

      In the case of Andrius and Minciu Sodas I would suggest a slightly
      different model. If you want, a more "soft" kind of business. One of the
      ideas that came up in my meetings with Michel Bouwens (in fact at the end
      you never know whose idea it was), was setting up a cooperative endavour
      or even free infrastructure named Open Speakers, which would help us get
      more paid speaking engagements at conferences. So we were thinking about a
      system where everone could register for free, but would be subject to a
      peer evaluation process done in public and get much more profile by having
      him or her "lit" from every perspective. There would be a code of honor to
      give a small share of succesful engagements (also in terms of honorarium)
      to the maintainance of such a website.

      I can do nothing but broadcast the need, since the people to do it and the
      sponsors to help us climb the initial steps would still have to be found.
      but once in place, such a tool would help some of us including Andrius and
      many of us who have not even thought of becoming Open Speakers yet greatly
      to make a better living.
      > >
      > >
      > >The point is to get us to consider how we might get out of our boxes (the
      > >question is are we open to consider that it is we that create the box
      > >that constrains and keeps us from realizing our deepest and most geninune
      > >dreams and aspirations) and consider new ways of collaboration that might
      > >enable us to effectively work together to put our talents to work in
      > >developing a new global model for sustainability thinking - EcoLiving.

      I totally agree and hope we accumulate more of these ideas, especially
      targeted to what people in our online community could get out of it.

      Franz

      --------------------

      Hi Andrius

      During our recent phone call, I said that I would respond to your Minciu
      Sodas business plan.

      You are currently looking for organisations to fund a package of work,
      where you could co-ordinate large teams of people to do the work.

      Instead of thinking of a very specific topic for the work-package, I
      thought it would be a good idea to list here a couple of subject-areas
      which I believe can be generalised. Hopefully, they should stimulate
      thought about work-packages that various organisations could pay MS to do.
      By talking about very general subject areas, it gives the widest possible
      range of organisations that might be interested in funding the work.

      Here are 2 example subject areas :-

      1. The unavailability of books in the Kiswahili language within East Africa.

      The problem could be due to cost, technical subjects only being available
      in English, etc.

      Work-packages could include…

      a) Finding out the full extent and nature of the problem, through surveys
      (possibly in the street with clipboards), statistics, interviews with
      Teachers, community project leaders, individual readers, reading existing
      published information, etc. What are the main obstacles to getting books
      in Kiswahili? Which groups of people have these problems? Are there any
      good ways to visualise the data (filtering, geographical mapping, etc)?

      b) Researching and summarising the whole book-production process in the
      East African countries of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, etc, in descriptive
      terms and in money terms. It can include the whole supply-chain and how
      the retail cost of a book breaks down between authors, publishing houses,
      printing, distribution (transport), wholesalers and retailers. How are
      books printed and sold at the moment? What are the trends in
      book-production, advertising and distribution for the future?

      c) Solutions – After analysis and discussion with the customer/funder of
      the previous work-packages, MS can suggest solutions to the
      book-availability problems, and this may result in further work packages.

      The solutions may involve things like community-libraries where membership
      fees pay to expand the range of books (free membership for some people),
      inter-library loans, book-sharing schemes, local print-on-demand, printing
      overseas wherever print costs are lowest, eBooks, web-books, audio-books,
      etc.

      All this should result in a lot of useful `Learning-while-doing'
      activities, and give the people involved a lot of useful, general-purpose
      skills, for more MS work, mainstream jobs or self-employment. We can
      concentrate on how to do tasks to the high standards required by the
      customer, such as designing survey methods to gather statistically-valid
      data.

      If we can encourage Kiswahili authors and illustrators, maybe the same
      books can be published in the USA or Europe for the Kiswahili-speaking
      ex-pat population or translated into English. Books sold in USA/Europe at
      high prices could subsidise books in East Africa or just provide a large
      chunk of the author's income.

      2. Giving Youths something constructive to do with their time.

      I took a look at the SIDAREC website
      http://www.sidarec.org/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1 , mentioned
      recently in Mendenyo. On the home page, it says…

      "Working with youth in the slums enables one to understand that their
      indulgence in social vices is only a cry for attention. Young people love
      inclusion. They like being recognized appreciated in whatever they do and
      encouraged."

      This reminded me that the problem of `bored teenagers with nothing to do'
      is a problem in the UK, Europe, USA, etc, too. It's a problem for the
      young people themselves and for their neighbours. In the UK, on many
      housing-estates and inner-city areas, there is nothing to do for anyone
      under 18. It was the same when I was there age. There are no youth-clubs,
      sports clubs, hobby organisations, constructive community projects, city
      gardens/farms, arts or music groups, etc. So gangs of youths hang around
      street corners and get into under-age drinking, etc. The local people are
      afraid to go out at night, even if the majority of kids are doing nothing
      wrong.

      SIDAREC and similar projects have faced the `bored teenager' problem and
      come up with a lot of good solutions under far harsher conditions than
      Europe/USA. Maybe some of those solutions can be fed back to Europe/USA
      and tried out there. The cross-fertilisation of ideas could benefit
      everyone, and interest a lot of organisations/funders.

      In both these examples, I've tried to think of ways that we in Europe/USA
      can learn some useful or interesting things from Africa, so good ideas
      flow South-to-North.

      I noticed that SIDAREC has a library, which ties in with 1) and 2). See
      http://www.sidarec.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12&Itemid=27

      Andrius, you're familiar with using `pattern-languages' to generalise
      ideas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pattern_language). Please remember,
      these are not two example subject-areas that I think we should definitely
      implement. They are here to provide examples to be thought about and
      generalised. You and I and the other MS members can try to think of the
      subject-areas that would attract the most funding from outside
      organisations and, at the same time, provide a lot of social benefits.

      An important point is that you don't necessarily have to find one large
      paid work-package right at the start. Maybe you can find one small paid
      work-package, but with a lot of spin-offs and potential for dozens of
      follow-on work-packages.

      a) The low cost of a small work-package makes it easier to find a
      customer/funder, and

      b) All good relationships are built on trust, including the MS-to-Customer
      relationship. The customer doesn't have to trust that Minciu Sodas is
      capable of carrying out a large, expensive project for a start. Instead,
      they can try one small work-package, and if we deliver satisfactory
      results on time and to budget, they may provide more follow-on work later.
      They may even recommend MS to other organisations with a little prompting.

      A topic that we can discuss another time, is you delegating the right
      amount of work to people under you, so that you feel you have the right
      balance between doing not-too-much work and getting over-stretched, but
      doing enough of the supervisory/management work to justify a salary that
      pays off debts arising from PoP.

      Good luck.

      Ricardo

      -------------------
    • Andrius Kulikauskas
      I am sharing a few more thoughts as I deal with my own financial situation. Most likely I will look for temporary office work here in Chicago during October,
      Message 2 of 2 , Sep 15, 2008
        I am sharing a few more thoughts as I deal with my own financial situation.

        Most likely I will look for temporary office work here in Chicago during
        October, November, December. If I'm paid soon by the Knight Foundation
        then I may have a chance to go home to Lithuania for those months, which
        would be my preference.

        Either way, I am thinking to look for a math teaching job for the spring
        semester of 2009, probably here in Chicago. My wish is to find a college
        near David Ellison-Bey's home that would be interested in the potential of
        working with our Minciu Sodas laboratory in supporting self-education for
        adults.

        Meanwhile, I think the best business opportunity for our lab is organizing
        an online help room, a chat room that we staff and link with our Ning
        social network pages, wikis, Yahoo! groups and other online venues. I
        think this would take six to twelve months to make viable and so would
        require about $15,000 to $30,000 for me and also some amount for our staff
        to man our chat room, but that can be more flexible.

        That's actually not a lot of money compared to the resources that we've
        organized for the Pyramid of Peace and other projects. It's not even the
        amount of money that matters, but often the flexibility.

        I will have to leave this library soon... but I want to write what I
        imagine would address my needs and those of other leaders in our network
        perhaps as well.

        I need a way to have a credit line - I'm not able to borrow more money on
        decent terms - and sometimes I need to park money, too. Sometimes it's
        simply a matter of revolving funds. I have had opportunities to draw
        money from my credit cards at low rates - sometimes 3% fixed for $9,000,
        or sometimes 0% for 18 months - and I have friends who have helped me by
        lending money so that I could pay my debt and borrow at the better terms.

        This provides a governance opportunity for those who participate - to make
        group decisions where to focus our strategy. But I will have to write
        more tomorrow.

        Andrius

        Andrius Kulikauskas
        Minciu Sodas
        http://www.ms.lt
        ms@...
        +1 312 618 3345
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