Came across the website of Ludicorp today, the business responsible for creating and developing social software like Flickr. I think their “corporate philosophy�? – which they take from Disclosing New Worlds: Entrepreneurship, Democratic Action and the Cultivation of Solidarity by Charles Spinosa, Fernando Flores & Hubert Dreyfus (MIT Press 1997) – reflects quite a bit of what our research will be about:
Business owners do not normally work for money either. They work for the enjoyment of their competitive skill, in the context of a life where competing skillfully makes sense. The money they earn supports this way of life. The same is true of their businesses. One might think that they view their businesses as nothing more than machines to produce profits, since they do closely monitor their accounts to keep tabs on those profits.
But this way of thinking replaces the point of the machine’s activity with a diagnostic test of how well it is performing. Normally, one senses whether one is performing skillfully. A basketball player does not need to count baskets to know whether the team as a whole is in flow. Saying that the point of business is to produce profit is like saying that the whole point of playing basketball is to make as many baskets as possible. One could make many more baskets by having no opponent.
The game and styles of playing the game are what matter because they produce identities people care about. Likewise, a business develops an identity by providing a product or a service to people. To do that it needs capital, and it needs to make a profit, but no more than it needs to have competent employees or customers or any other thing that enables production to take place. None of this is the goal of the activity.
Now, what are the parts that triggered me?
“work for the enjoyment of their competitive skill”
> This ‘work ethic’ is also called the ‘ProAm’ revolution (Leadbeater) where professional amateurs become numerous and deliver high quality products and services, because they are amateurs in the original sense of the word (“doing something for the love of it”).
> Points to the blurring of work and leisure. ‘Play’ is to feel free of necessity (of work).
A basketball player does not need to count baskets to know whether the team as a whole is in flow.
> ‘Flow’ is the state of experiencing only the present, of feeling in charge, of wanting to participate, of suspending disbelief, etc. (term by the guy with the impossible name: Csikszentmihalyi).
The game and styles of playing the game are what matter because they produce identities people care about.
> Points to the intrinsic quality and value of the product one is producing, of the ‘magic’ in the object one is creating, just as Marcel Mauss shows is the case with reciprocate gift exchange (1908). It is not simply about the transaction that has a purely economic value, but about giving away something that is infused with one’s own personality and identity.