Re: Minciu Sodas: Economics and Business Plan
- 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.
+1 312 618 3345
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
Andrius, please include this in your business plan!
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
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
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.
its good to read you letter.
Jeff Buderer writes:
> >Since Andrius has admitted publically that financial solvency is an issueI appreciate that very much and I am sure Andrius does, too. Its not only
> >I thought that as a friend and a colleague that I also would put forward
> >some observations and suggestions.
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.
> >In fact if we ever entered into "hard" business we might have to do so.
> >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.
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.
> >I totally agree and hope we accumulate more of these ideas, especially
> >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.
targeted to what people in our online community could get out of it.
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,
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
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
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
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
I noticed that SIDAREC has a library, which ties in with 1) and 2). See
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
a) The low cost of a small work-package makes it easier to find a
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.
- 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
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
+1 312 618 3345