Through an unusual set of circumstances, I found myself in Berlin two weeks ago having coffee at coworking space Betahaus with Thomas Greco, author of The End of Money and the Future of Civilization and an elder statesmen in social change circles, and Jay Cousins, one of the young instigators behind the The Future of Money video and cofounder of hackerspace Open Design City.
The chance meeting got me thinking about the differences between two generations’ approach to not only money but knowledge production. In our short conversation, Jay admitted that the video, debuted for banking executives convened at SIBOS in Amsterdam the week earlier, had gone over their heads. I don’t take this as a failing of either the producers or audience, but as a sign of a gap between how two generations think about money. It may be that Boomers tend to see wealth as an individual property whereas Gen Y tends to see it as a collective property. It may also have something to do with digital literacy. The video’s opening interview with Edward Harran expresses both points.
A similar pattern of difference – individual versus collective and digital versus analog – is reflected in knowledge production as well. Earlier that day, I asked Thomas about what it’s like to write books (he’s written five), and he said it’s a lonely process. This is in stark contrast to The Future of Money Project which consisted of dozens of online supporters and a core team of producers who worked in-person for an intense few weeks. The video is an impressionistic exploration of the possibility of money which spoke to me, but it also assumes a certain literacy about different forms of currency.
It maybe that the production process itself says as much about the future of money as the video. From the inspiring videoblog of their open collaboration process, it was clear that a lot of value was created by the experience of collaborating, the lessons learned together, and the relationships built in the process. Plus, it just looked really fun. Now that’s wealth!