The Economics of Generosity

One of the most powerful talks this last week at TED centers on adapting to a new era, the Social Era.


Amanda Palmer has been a disruption in the music industry for some time. (By sheer coincidence, I was sitting at the conference next to some senior executives in the music industry and got to observe them as they gasped at each truth she said. I only checked out their badges after hearing the gasp-after-gasp to confirm my suspicion.)

The message of the talk is that it’s not only important for musicians or artists to be OK and asking for help, but audiences – especially given what’s happening on the Internet –  be OK with being asked. Actually, what I think she was talking about to creators of products is this: trust that things will be okay. And what I think she was saying to all consumers of those creative acts is: Don’t abuse the creators of things you value because that’s what makes the world go round. This is a new set of economics. An undervalued set of economics. One that lets people give and take, and to honor one another.

(Please don’t take this as pollyanna. This is a hugely complex issue. But the issue is not going to go away and we need to move on from the question of “is this happening?” to “how do we make it work”… look to how Andrew Sullivan and Brainpicker as two creative creators who have built viable systems.)

This new set of economics is going to require new measures. This one isn’t adequately measured by GDP. And it is also isn’t measured by the number of people on the payroll. As work is freed from jobs, we’ll need to find a new way to measure the economics of the day. It is the economics of generosity.

3 Replies

  1. Thank you for posting this. It’s brilliant & beautiful. We are beginning to live in a world where access is more important than ownership … where in a world of plenty going to wadte, sharing & generosity are the new emblems of real success

  2. “As work is freed from jobs…”

    Maybe, instead of thinking “how to make it work?”, music industry should meditate on the wonderful statement written above… Could the root cause of the mess that the music industry is in, be their lost lack of purpose?

    I had no idea who AFP is prior to TED 2013. And quite honestly, I am not that interested in who she is. But “what” she is intrigues me deeply, and even more, the troubadour-like story that she is living intrigues me.

    To me, the key learning from the heroes and heroines of social era is that they embrace chaos, not try to prevent it. They see the inherent beauty and order within chaos, which is the entire universe and life is built on. AFP plays a critical role in disrupting order and making people question that maybe, there is another way. And it is beautiful to see that technology is amplifying her voice.

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