This is the third version on the same theme. A few weeks ago I wrote a text warning of the “hidden dangers” in the funding mechanisms of many Start Ups. Just out of one of the most serious economic crisis of the modern world, with numerous examples of poor use of the resources, in numerous different cases of illegal and even immoral way, we have to pay attention to all the details and outlines of stories that repeat themselves throughout decades and often blatantly just changing names, creating new expectations and results but usually entertaining citizens, numbing them, giving them enough bread and circus to keep everything more or less unchanged and peaceful. The reaction to this first text of mine, based on the story of ‘Hedge Funds’ and ‘toxic assets’ as result of financial risk, of the speculation and immoral mixture of lobbies and governments, almost went dark. I posted it on my blog and in a local newspaper of my local town and there it stayed. I felt I did not need to insert a theme for reflexion in a moment as the one we are crossing, of optimism, hope, positivism and entrepreneurship. Putting on the table issues that lower the morale, issues that make us unhappy, pessimistic and negative, would be counterproductive.
Firstly because the few who would read it would be mostly people who are inextricably linked to the ongoing process and would get a negative opinion about myself as an individual. They could be led to think that my opinion and the way I disclosed it was threatening, activist, fundamentalist, originating perhaps unpleasant responses, enmities, misunderstandings and unnecessary problems that even, in the latter case, could jeopardize my professional activity and the company I work for. That would be the stupidest thing that could happen in the 21st century, an opinion to have such profound and objective consequences. Thankfully there is ability to take things in lightly. Thankfully, there is discussion and exchange of ideas based on the knowledge of the facts and not on ignorance and on empirical assumptions influencers hired and paid their weight in gold to spread out on media and social networks, the most convenient and most appropriate information for socialization, integration and progress of our co-citizens. Being more or less independent I can, better or worse (it does not matter), catch a glimpse of both sides of a story that will never be the same for two different people. Therefore it is also not so for me. I work since I was young, first as an employee, then as a self-employed and now again as an employee for a… Start Up, which we daily try not to make an End Up.
Negativism, pessimism, realism…go away please
The second text followed more or less the same pessimistic emphasis. Many solutions to compel a significant work force, consisting of the unemployed, students and other undifferentiated citizens, whom for one reason or another needed “launching ramps” to support and cushion the (many) inherent risks in embracing the business world, the bosses’ world. These platforms have been known by many names, from Starting-up Grants, Business Incubators, Technology Parks, Entrepreneurship Networking, Business Angels and now Start-up hubs. Somewhere along the middle were the franchises and “ready-made-business” trend. I do not know if I’ll publish this text as well, for the same reason as for the first. It is too much information and too little time to digest and reflect on the world we live in today, a competitive world but full of opportunities. This is how I start this third text. A more optimistic and less negative and fatalistic, view of any number of occurrences, circumstances and historical facts, which someone with another intellectual weight will be responsible for putting into perspective. For now, it is important to note that not having time to reflect nor to change the current state of affairs with sleight of hand, it is necessary to go with the flow and seize opportunities. At the end of the day, it’s about integrating the herd that follows toward the safety and comfort of the stable. But for whom, like me, is aware that the path is far from easy and instant, I feel the need to join efforts, to support myself in those hands that extend out towards me and extend my own hands to others, to gather efforts, to network in cooperation on a relationship of mutual gain. In this turmoil, I feel that this third text has to focus on the essentials. In what is essential to me, to my family and to the families who depend on me: to keep me afloat. And if on the banks of this river there are a number of tools (some of which I have spoken in previous texts) that can certainly help the herd to stay on the course and progress; there are other tools that no one else can provide me but myself. And unwittingly I returned to the second text. I went back to the point where creativity, intelligence, knowledge, courage and determination become the true differentiating factors.
Smart Cities need to embrace the “good side” of economy and entrepreneurship
And in this particular field, the Smart Cities movement is trying to instil some habits just in very early ages, through the Labs, through creative contests, actions in schools, etc., habits that later in adults are effective skills endowing the future adults of key tools to achieve success. Now doubts assail me from the first and second texts: Success at what cost? At any and all cost, without looking at means to ends? I checked and confirmed that there are some “tools” less loyal that in this process have been made available on the same line. I believe that in many cases, by pure naivety. But as the board game of Monopoly is one of the most alleged innocent ‘tools’ of capitalism and indelibly formatted a generation of citizens (I include myself in this list, no doubt), to actions, attitudes, concepts and objectives that are normal and socially accepted by all. Yes it is a game. And one of the advantages of the Monopoly game of our childhood is that luck and hazard is really real, embodied in the data. The margin to falsify and circumvent the rules of the game are minimal, hence when less good things happen, we accept them in a resigned way, as if to say “tough bad luck”. Transposing to real life, I cannot tell who is rolling the dice or if there are any. But making an effort and opening the eyes (even if in a hard way for a short time) I can see that 1% of the population owns half of the entire world’s wealth. 85 people have as much as half of the poor population. And in 24 countries there was a doubling of that wealth in the last 30 years. Having said that I go back to the tools. Not to the unfair tools also insusceptible to distort the rules of the game benefiting not always the most capable citizens, the most intelligent, creative and competent, but rather the most cunning, calculating, selfish, greedy, opportunistic and devoid of any scruples and feelings toward his fellow man. I see, for example, “crowdfunding” with a lot of potential but there are issues here too with the mangle of funding sources which we don’t know if they’re citizens truly interested in the projects or ‘Angels’ who crowded those platforms too. Which is good and more transparent, I have to say.
Humanist tools won’t give you much money but…
In conclusion, I see all tools as important to support survival. But this era, the era of Smart Cities, knowledge, creativity, cannot change human values by the 7 Deadly Sins. The intelligence of a society, wherever it is established, in the city, in the country, at sea or even on the moon, will be confirmed with an alliance between the innate abilities of the individual and the human tools that society itself must be able to provide for present and future generations. The competitive model of our economy is not favourable, unfortunately, to human values like friendship, brotherhood, solidarity, ethics, morals, fellowship, equality, love and respect for ourselves and for others. Ancestral dogmatic values that we cannot lose sight of in families, schools, businesses, and society. Like this the Start Ups and Smart Cities make sense, fulfil us, involve us in the mantle of true and pure happiness, making us progress as a specie. Otherwise we will always be a herd toward the undercover slaughterhouse stable, the one, comfortable and safe.
“It is the business of the very few to be independent; it is a privilege of the strong. And whoever attempts it, even with the best right, but without being obliged to do so, proves that he is probably not only strong, but also daring beyond measure. He enters into a labyrinth, he multiplies a thousandfold the dangers which life in itself already brings with it; not the least of which is that no one can see how and where he loses his way, becomes isolated, and is torn piecemeal by some minotaur of conscience. Supposing such a one comes to grief, it is so far from the comprehension of men that they neither feel it, nor sympathize with it. And he cannot any longer go back! He cannot even go back again to the sympathy of men!” ― Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil