new power

new power.png

(2018) by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms


Wael Ghonim (@Ghonim) tweeted at 2:50 PM on Fri, Apr 06, 2018:
This “Participation Scale” is crucial for understanding how to build movements & create new brands. “New Power” is a new book by @jeremyheimans and @henrytimms. Highly recommended for those impacting/impacted by the global shifts in power dynamics.



1 – welcome to the new power world


old power works like a currency. it is held by few. once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. it is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. it downloads, and it captures.

new power operates differently, like a current. it is made by many. it is open, participatory, and peer driven. it uploads and it distributes. like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. the goal w new power is not to hoard it but to channel it



what the #metoo movement, our patients, and a scottish schoolgirl all have in common is that they figured out how to use today’s tools to channel an increasing thirst to participate..

people have always wanted to take part in the world..


new power models are enabled by the activity of the crowd – w/o whom these models are just empty vessels. in contrast, old power models are enabled by what people or organizations own, know or control that nobody else does – once old power models lose that, they lose their advantage. old power models ask of us only that we comply (pay our taxes, do your hw) or consume. new power models demand and allow for more: that we share ideas, create new content (youtube) or assets (etsy), even shape a community (movements)

2 – thinking old power, thinking new power


old power values.. came from a world w clear boundaries between ‘us’ and ‘them’.. where only the lab coated and credentialed were equipped to solve the mysteries of the cosmos.. as one leading scientist explained, the resistance to open innovation ‘is really intrinsic, the history of the scientific method goes against it.. in our training  trying to solve problems in the scientific method was: i take in all this info, i synthesise it, i do analysis, and i come to some conclusion and so to reach out to other people to solve it, it’s like cheating’

scientific method and cheating


there are many times we might choose old power values over new.. if you are having root canal done.. you’d almost certainly value the w expertise of an endodontist w two degrees and 15 yrs’s experience, over a group of collab amateurs and wannabe weekend ‘makers’ who had crowd sourced their drills and picked up the technique from an anonymous post on reddit…. while these two mindsets often come into conflict.. we shouldn’t see the value as binary..

i think seeing root canal as wanted someone w 2 degrees as binary.. often.. degrees can keep ie: dr’s from being their best..


notice that in crowdfunding models, more participation does not necessarily lead to more equal rep or inclusion..

begs we disengage from finance/B.. and focus on listening to all the voices.. everyday

crowdfunding et al


it’s worth noting that while norms around collab and ‘sharing’ are now all the rage in our business and culture, that doesn’ mean they always produce better outcomes..

mostly because you have to put sharing in quotes.. ie: we’re not really sharing and collab ing as free people.. so we .. still.. have no idea.. could always be better..


brian cox: ‘being an expert doesn not mean that you are someone w a vested interest in something; it means you spend your life studying something. you’re not necessarily right – but you’re more likely to be right than someone who’s not spent their life studying it’..t

expert.. study..

putnam’s now classic bowling alone heralded declining civic health in the us. to track this, he used a range of measures including attendance at a public meeting on town or school affairs, serve on a committee for a local org, and membership in a chapter based org.. these standards speak to old power values around affiliation, which associate ‘taking part’ w regular attendance and adherence to organizational charter and party platforms..

but… those w new power values are less committed but more affiliative.. float between .. opt in at particular moments.. then opt out again.. we shouldn’t confuse this w a lack of engagement. rather it is a diff way  of taking part..

well.. that is true.. (and i believe the freedom to opt in and out is the way to go for all things).. but i don’ think we’ll see its potential untill 100% of us are 100% free..

3 – from sound bites to meme drops: how ideas spread


ace to success from heath brothers book made to stick: actionable, connected, extensible..

i think much of this section is only what we are observing as not us.. ie: i don’t think if we were all truly free.. and listened to.. that we would need.. actionable: ideas designed to make us do something.. connected: ideas to promote peer connections .. or extensible: ideas that can be customized..

those all sound passive (so not sustainable).. it’s like they assume people can’t design their own day.. i don’t think we’re not going deep/imaginative enough.. to ie: listen to individual curiosities everyday.. and facil that..


successes from ace.. given.. are in numbers.. number of people/money/et-al..

to me that’s a sign that we’re doing it wrong.. (to get to global equity)


as the movement spread globally – it s now in almost a hundred countries – the frame of the idea has continued to expand.. giving tuesday

this is great/good.. but i don’t think it taps into our potential.. if we had a mech to unleash 7 bn people.. that unleashing/exponentiation would have gotten to global equity by now.. (and i do believe we have the means for that mech.. we just keep sticking w partial solutions..let’s not do part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake… ie: as it could be)


her (ace in isis) success is a sobering reminder that ace ideas aren’t just influencing how we raise money or move products

see..  i know this is supposed to be a bad ie of power.. but the statement reflects vision/aim of the good ie of power: raise money, move products.. is that what we want..? when we have the means to get at the energy of alive people..?


the islamic state has wreaked havoc by making its supporters the owners and shapers of its ideas

luckily.. islamic state isn’t letting go enough for exponentiation to happen either.. if talking ownership of someone else’s ideas.. not going to exponentiate or sustain..

work as solving other people’s problems.. et al.. is killer of energy and of alive people


how to fight back ace vs ace

only way to protect/free all of us.. gershenfeld sel


of course, there is no ‘killer app’ for defeating extremist propaganda, no one idea or moment that will suddenly change the game.. t

i believe there is.. we just haven’t ever let go enough to try it.. we keep doing partials and then saying.. see .. it doesn’t work..

ie: gershenfeld sel


the future will be won by those who can spread their ideas better, faster, and more durably..

no.. i’m thinking more like: the present/future will be (not won or owned or whatever power trip) .. equitable .. if we use our means (as it could be) to listen to all the voices.. everyday.. connect by curiosities.. rather than recruit by ideas..

ie: 2 convos .. as the day

4 – how to build a crowd that the right question..?

maybe rather.. how to find your (daily) tribe


having a connected and passionate crowd on your side has become a crucial asset.. whether you’re trying to get a law changed or an app launched or just trying to sell soda..

? if that were true.. we’d have global equity by now.. there are so many ie’s of passionate crowds in the past

again.. our focus is off.. ie: changing laws..? launching apps..? selling products..?

let’s try focusing on the energy of alive people.. via 2 convos.. to listen to 7bn daily curiosities


5 steps to building a new power crowd:

1\ find your connected connectors: in the early days of get up jeremy and his colleagues weren’t trying to rally everyone..  for any new power movement, id ing and cultivating the right connected connectors is often the diff between take off and fizzle..

perhaps we not have the means for change to be about all of us.. from the get go.. the means to facil that kind of chaos..

to get to global equity.. it has to be all of us

how about connecting to a problem deep enough for 7 bn to resonate with today..


2\ build a new power brand: airbnb’s brand to cultivate a sense of community and participation, and executives are betting that this will be a key source of competitive advantage

imagine we bag the competition.. and realize.. we’re already connected.. let’s listen for that.. ie: holmgren indigenous law..


3\ lower the barrier: the new power era has promoted a form of activism that can be scale much more quickly than a 20th cent movement.. and can be initiated by *almost anyone,

*almost isn’t enough.. let’s go for a mech that is simple enough for 7 bn to access/use today..


4\ move people up the participation scale

? up..? move people..?

if we want to exponentiate participation (to me that means alive/free people).. we need to let go..

there is no up or down.. and moving people is like cancer


5\ harness the three storms: creating, chasing, embracing


creating: the campaign captured the imagination of the city.. thousands of people signed up to protect the school ..

to me that’s a sign of not being imaginative.. if we think school (in this case protecting the building from demolition) is the answer..


chasing: orgs now need to be set up to move faster, to soak up the energy in a moment and turn that into new supporters.. byzantine bureaucracies requiring multiple sign offs aren’t the right tools for storm chasing..

maybe we quit chasing.. fast.. shiny.. things.. and start slowing down enough to listen


embracing: we’ve seen many despondent movement builders or crowdfunders discover that people really do come thru if you give them a deadline and communicate a sense of urgency

come thru to what though..? i mean.. that’s a old sale’s tactic..?

as the skills of building a crowd become more widely shared, the public realm is increasingly becoming a kind of hunger games for organization s and brands, w each trying desperately to get the storms headed in their direction.. in this contest, those who are most rewarded will often be those who stand out: the loudest, the funniest, the most provocative, the most daring.. this won’t always produce the best social outcomes or most thoughtful debates..

will it ever..?

i see this partial ness.. this not going deep enough to get to our common problem.. is exactly what happens when you go for partial.. has to be for everyone from the get go..

but in this world of *constant recruitment, the most effective crowdbuilder will be those who are **able to move people up the participation scale, and ***sustain and nourish a community over the longer term,

*who says..?

if you’re doing **this.. you’ll never get to ***this

5 – what makes new power communities work (and why they sometimes don’t)


whether money is in the mix or not, the critical task here is to create incentives that not only don’t treat participants like commodities, but also reinforce community norms..

thinking we have to have money and/or incentives.. good sign we’re doing it wrong..

ie: 10 day cares..


on reddit recognition is conferred using ‘karma points’  based on ow useful the community hs found their links and comments.. for the outsider, these ois could seem meaningless, but for many reddit users they are big part of why they feel valued and keep coming back. well-designed, intangible reward systems can confer huge meaning for the individuals who take part in them..

at the heart of every successful new power platform is a great feedback loop..

broken feedback loop in thinking we need success/ power


many new power networks simply wouldn’t function w/o the reputation systems that manage risk and incentivize collab behavior w/i them

ugh reputation


when uber driver tells you he’s giving you five stars as you get out of the car, in hopes that you’ll feel a moral obligation to reciprocate

obligation ness


invisible children had built smart and transparent recognition systems to help drive the ideal roadie behavior.. roadies were highly incentivized and bound together in tight knit groups w a strong culture



these connections had come together in a perfect triangle.. invisible children had found the right ways to reward, engage, and affirm all their constituents..

6 – what makes new power communities work (and how they fuse w the wider world)

kony2012, uber and rid austin

7 – the participation premium


what the story of star citizen show us – in both amazing and worrying ways – are the dynamics of how people are spending, raising, and investing money in a new power context..

as a donor.. (oxfam.. kickstarter et al).. you don’t expect a financial return.. sometimes have name listed as donor..  just knowing you are helping people.. this kind of spending offers, above all, a sense of higher purpose..

incentivizing donations w promise of free swag – becoming more mainstream.. ie:


those taking part.. addressed as pc philanthropists.. also offer the opp to participate.. you ‘pay to dream’

money ugh


participation premium = (something in return + higher purpose) x participation

great power of participation premium is it can lead to a decoupling of material value and price.. the rewards you get as a backer or participant are not simply tied to he value of the product involved… they are more complicated – and potentially much more significant for both seller and buyer.. t

so .. better than now.. but not the potential we have.. if we let go of money.. and use mech to facil us daily via curiosity.. that participation level is beyond our imaginations today.. something we’ve not yet tried..


ikea effect: tendency of people to place a higher value on self made products.. via michael norton daniel mochon and dan ariely


new power funding


herein may like the biggest irony of all. the original universe that the fans purchased from rsi – should it ever arrive – will likely never be as immersive, rich or dynamic as the universe they have already created together..t

so.. let’s go with that.. why are we still assuming money as os..?

let’s try this.. ubi as temp placebo to disengage all of us from money

8 – taking the turn from old to new power

skimmed.. seemed irrelevant for leaping to a nother way 

glad they have all their charts (decision tree, power team) .. but i don’t think we can change the world w steps and charts..

9 – leadership

ch about emerging forms of leadership that aspire to bring together new power tools/values in order to meaningfully redistribute power


4 quadrants.. co opters (new model, old values); castles (old, old); cheerleaders (new values, old model); crowd leader (new, new)

comparing trump to obama to pope



pope francis.. signaling (acts as walking parable); structuring (for participation); shaping (strategy of mercy – who am i to judge)..t

signal: graeber model law

structure: 2 convos infra

shaping: assume good


lady gaga’s fan base has embraced a diff kind of id.. they are known as little monsters.. after she saw the movie the social network, she set out to create her own social network to bring her closer to her fans and her fans closer to one another.. fostering her fans’ confidence and artistry.. our bond is beyond just loving the same star. our bond is based on the philosophy we share.. we all believe in the importance of love, compassion and tolerance..

social network



in reclaiming the word ‘monster’ they have turned difference and marginalization into strength.. a textbook ie of ‘optimal distinctiveness’.. monsters feel just the right amount of the same and just the right amount of different..t

one and thumb ness


in her (@aliciagarza) work shaping blm, she is deeply cautious about ‘isolating or making exceptional a few people when really the piece that’s exceptional is that everyday people are taking this up and trying to make it into something much bigger than all  of us’..t


rev of everyday life..

10 – the art of blending power




ted – chris anderson.. still having expensive yearly event.. but also posting talks online for free



ted is essentially a closed system. every interaction is circumscribed by the brand. though its putative mission is ‘ideas worth spreading’ its leaders have not made the decision to support just any good idea worth spreading,  a huge.. but closed.. ecosystem of ideas..t

begs mech to listen to all voices.. everyday.. as it could be


thru its open system, the nra can draw on the energy and intensity of gun culture and commerce. and thru its closed system, ted protects quality and strengthens its product and brand value..

really?.. if that were true.. we should have global equity by now.. we have the means.. (to listen to all the voices).. just not choosing to let go enough to see.. as it could be

ted may et have to open up its world even more.. ted hasn’t always been comfortable about taking this next step.. ideas worth spreading is one mission. problems worth solving is another.t.. ted may have to reimagine itself once more

begs a problem deep enough for 7bn people to resonate w today
ie: maté basic needs

as it could be


making cars







ghonim looking back believes that the distributed leadership and social networks of the egyptian protest movement actually served to weaken rather than strengthen it.. ‘the euphoria faded, .. failed to build consensus, and the political struggle led to intense polarization. sm only amplified that state,  by facil ing the spread of misinfo, rumors, echo chambers and hate speech’

what podemos teaches us is how to avoid the fate of fizzle.. founders were always willing to pivot to old power when the situation demanded..

really.. i think we’d have global equity by now if that were true..



podemos has created a model for a new kind of political party that the world needs

the world needs to redefine decision making.. because public consensus always oppresses someone

11 – new power at work


everyone wants to be a founder: build; own; sees all; do many jobs;.. uncertainty and insecurity


how to scale that ‘founder feeling’

a nother way.. where 7 bn people are founders.. everyday

eudaimoniative surplus


holacracy is highly structured and directive, perhaps more so than many old power orgs..  restrictions and protocols w a good sprinkle of jargon become the focus under holacracy , not the work itself.. medium abandoned holacracy after initially embracing it w gusto.. saying it was ‘getting in the way of the work’  and holacracy is partly blamed for the departure of an unprecedented nearly 1/3 of the zappos workforce in just one year, 2015,


holacracy is like a new power for robots..julia culen: it felt like being part of a code, an algo that is optimized for machines, but not for humans. instead of feeling more whole, self org’d and more powerful, i felt trapped. the circles i was being part of did not feel empowering at all but (instead took away) my natural authenticity as well as my feeling of aliveness’



future of work

redefine work.. ie: sans solving other people’s problems in order to earn a living 

12 – the future: a full stack society


yochai benkler’s work has influenced out thinking greatly


the carr-benkler wager..  nicholas carr ‘s snarky response to benkler’s then recent book, the wealth of networks, in which benkler anticipated a wave of ‘nonmarket based cooperation and productive collab’ which translates roughly as ‘people creating things together for reasons other than financial reward’..


benkler was ahead of his time in anticipating the huge (and unpaid) peer production that drives the models of everything from fb to activist movements..

yet we can also see that the even unpaid peer production models benkler held up so hopefully have concentrated huge wealth and power in the hands of the owners of these platforms..

in some sense, you might say the carr benkler wagers has turned out to be lose lose..


the new power models that were a mere twinkle in benkler’s eye a decade ago have grown big and have become increasingly decoupled from the new power values their founder espoused. they are ever more useful in our daily lives, but they also feel and act more and more like participation farms..

imagining a diff way

kickstarter is one of the original nd best new power platforms.. it has led a crowdfunding category that has significantly reduced the dependency of artists on funding from large traditional intermediaries like record labels..

the problem.. ‘ significantly reduced’ is not enough.. if there’s still poison/cancer in the system.. we have to break free from all money/measuring..  that’s our diff way

kickstarter.. crowdfunding


nathan schneider.. one of leaders of a growing (but still quite academic) movement .. ‘platform co-ops’

nathan.. platform coops.. another ie of not letting go enough.. ie: ownership and money are killer of the energy we need.. nicer killers than we’ve been used to.. but still poison/cancer


to truly reimagine the platform behemoths, we also need to reimagine their algos..t

moreso.. what data is collected.. ie: self-talk as data

what might a formula designed to favor the interests of platform participants and society at large look like?..t

2 convos that io dance.. as the day..

it would need 3 key features. 1\ inputs would be fully transparent to the user..  2\ every user could alter/filter  3\ default to server broader circle..

1\ input:  2 convos that io dance.. as the day..  2\ no need to spend day altering/filtering.. mech purpose is to listen to user.. and facil their curiosities.. by connecting them to local daily curiosity tribe  3\ broader as in deeper into local.. and 100% into global..


berners-lee’s solid project.. allow us to own our own data.. ‘pod’ in which we carry around our digital lives…. what geeks call ‘interoperability’

hlb that io dance..


solid is a much more than a diff kind of tech; it is a diff philosophy.. you are liberated to decide what access you would like to grant and on what terms to whom.. w solid.. your data ‘reports to you’

if gershenfeld sel in place.. deciding on access.. reputation.. et al.. would become irrelevant.. and philosophy is more about mech listening to all the voices.. then (yes reporting) to you connections per your voice/curiosity.. that day.. not because you shopped or got liked/peered into doing a thing/project someone else initiated..


blockchain.. ‘offers a way for people who do not know or trust each other to create a record of who owns what that will compel the assent of everyone concerned.. it is a way of making and preserving truths’

i think that is a missed opp for something like blockchain..

i’m seeing it more as a host space for all our curiosities/self talk/io-dancing.. a space that could ground the chaos of everyone doing whatever we want..   much more a way of connecting us rather than making/preserving truths.. what is truth anyway..?

it opens up a world where users might exchange value directly w/o an extractive middleman. we can easily imagine real estate contracts or financial transactions living on the blockchain..

aren’t those middlemen..? cancerous middlemen .. to humanity..?

but we might imagine too the intermediaries being removed from the megaplatform of the world.. our ubers or airbnbs.. when drivers and riders, or hosts and guests, work out ways to collab and exchange directly w each other..

yeah.. have need ness.. but sans fin/B.. [aka: any type of measuring exchange/transaction]


we can vent our frustrations in an instant on sm and find many who will cheer us on. but we may still feel less control over the hard realities of our lives, how we fit into society, and how we engage w our govts and institutions..t

begs we design for eudaimoniative surplus

to close this gap, it will be critical to actually reduce wealth and income ineq and change the material conditions of those who have been left behind

yeah.. sans income/money/measure.. ie: short bp

but a subtler challenge is in how we create more meaningful opps for people to actively shape their lives ..t.. and connect w the institutions that shape them

yeah .. sans institutions.. ie: short via  2 convos

we need something different: a world where our participation is deep, constant, and multi layered, not shallow an intermittent..t

rev of everyday life..

think of this world as the full stack society


cannot come thru one killer app..

i think it can.. if the mech (as it could be) is deep/simple/open enough (and of course.. all people are truly free)

but requires a cultural/structural shift.. w institutions alf all kinds building deeper and more rewarding routes to participation..

routes to participation isn’t freedom.. we can do better

to create the full stack society we need to dream up entirely new models that make us feel more powerful/connected to one another in all our guises: as patients, taxpayers, consumers, neighbors, voters, students, and parents

how about just neighbors.. or just people.. all the others.. irrelevant.. if no money/measure et al

let’s go deeper


nathan schneider believes the key to moderating and deepening our public discourse is for the people to be constantly debating, voting, deliberating. he calls this ‘unbundling democracy’

imagining we can go deeper.. where we need less debating voting deliberating.. because we’re all too busy doing our art.. via 2 convos that io dance.. as the day.

as it could be

ie: hlb via 2 convos that io dance.. as the day..[aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…]..  a nother way