Since the credit crunch started the phrase 'New Capitalism' has appeared with increasing frequency from the mouths of journalists, pundits and politicians. What does it mean? What are the implications of 'new capitalism' for ki workers?
From my research all I can say is 'new capitalism' is best defined as 'old capitalism'. Yep. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, as Pete Townsend wrote.
I'm sorry, but when three such enthusiastic supporters of unfettered free markets are suddenly converted to 'new capitalism' it brings out the skeptic in me. (And I should add all the views expressed are my own and are not necessarily those of ki work.)
Out of gas
These politicians sound too much like the board of a car company trying to get another year's sales out of an aging model. So they add some chrome, different shaped headlamps and an upgraded stereo system. Now it's 'new'. But under the chrome it's the same old gas-guzzling, inefficient, outmoded vehicle.
'New capitalism' is a way of describing the desperate measures that are being applied to keep the sinking globalized economy afloat. The fond hope of Merkel, Sarkozy and that English bloke is that sufficient patches can be applied to the ship of market capitalism so that it will appear to sail as well as it did a year or so ago. Of course, there's no chance of that.
Their form of 'new capitalism' has as much chance of success as Mikhail Gorbachev's new communism a couple of decades ago.
As politicians they do have an impossible task. They cannot say what everybody else knows. We have no idea what is going to happen to the global economy. Change is the only certainty.
That's why I'm so enthusiastic about ki work and believe me I'm not one of nature's natural evangelists. I'm at heart a cynical old hack ready to see the worst in most things. But I do see the future of my livelihood is through flexibility, adaptability and low capital outlay.
We may not know where the economic system is heading, but we can see some of the forces shaping it. I've been impressed by the work of Harvard's Umair Haque, Director of the Havas Media Lab. He talks of the change from symmetric to asymmetric competition. To over-simplify, capitalism used to revolve around competition between corporate behemoths. Think General Motors versus Ford. Brands such as Coca-Cola took decades to build. Then along comes Google, achieving its position of power and brand with next to no marketing and without attempting to destroy its competition.
I'm slightly disappointed that he chose Google as an example, not that it's inaccurate, but it is another corporation even if it has a very different structure and philosophy compared with its predecessors. Far more interesting to me is the way small businesses can now successfully challenge and beat the big guys.
The strength of the old corporations lay in their size. Now that's what holds them back. Encumbered by debt, real estate and old working practices, they cannot compete with adaptable, flexible and relatively debt-free small businesses.
Join the revolution
That's where ki work comes in. A team of professionals each working from home, linked to colleagues anywhere in the world via the internet, has negligible overheads. As a result they can beat conventional bricks-and-mortar companies on both quality and cost.
Visit ki work's main site and see how you can use our online marketplace to fulfill your project requirements or create your own virtual business as a ki worker.
The demise of newspapers will be a sad loss for local communities, democracy and journalists. (Okay I know the last is a little selfish but it has been my profession for too long so I have a vested interest.) But seriously, papers at their best do hold local politicians to account and they provide some sort of social cohesion. Without them it'll be difficult to find out what local sports teams are up to, what's playing at the multiplex and even who has died in the neighborhood.
Although as I said in my last ki work blog posting I believe traditional printed newspapers cannot survive or even reinvent themselves I do think there's room for a new type of local news source which uses traditional skills. To show how it could work I'm going to develop a theoretical model here.
Local news reinvented
We'll start with a journalist called Jack who has been laid off when the newspaper he was working for closed down. Fortunately he's got a bit of cash in the bank from his final pay-off to cover not so much the start-up costs of his new business but to enable him to eat while he develops revenue streams.
As a reporter and a resident he'll have developed good local contacts including with the police, churches, schools, politicians, shopkeepers and all the people who keep a community running. He might not have a printing press, but he does have a PC and an internet connection so putting their stories online is pretty simple.
Using blogging software he creates a local website covering the same things as his old paper. It is a great deal of work as even so-called 'user-generated content' has to be chased and often delicately rewritten. He can't afford to alienate contributors.
One thing he probably won't have to worry about is search engine optimization. As his audience is geographically focused publicizing the site is a combination of word-of-mouth, flyers and ads in stores. In that context Google ranking doesn't matter too much.
Undercutting the corporations
The central point about his whole operation is that it's cheap. He already has a PC and broadband. Hosting his site costs less than $10 a month. His investment isn't cash, but time. It's a sea change from his old newspaper with hundreds of staff, expensive offices, printing and distribution to pay for.
Image by ~jjjohn~ via Flickr
But old papers face one challenge in common: finding revenue. The easiest way to monetize a site is through contextual advertising such as Google's AdSense. There are also thousands of affiliate schemes which give website owners a percentage of sales income from the likes of Amazon. These are simple schemes to set up, but they're unlikely to give Jack a living wage.
A more effective way of earning money is to sell ads and sponsorship to specific businesses. This is not an easy task for a journalist. The problem comes in retaining any vestige of independence when speaking to a local business. Is it advertising that he's after or a story? And will an advertiser get editorial preference?
This is a completely different form of organization from that which controls most newspapers today. Instead of a few companies with a large number of employees it is a network of skilled individual entrepreneurs. In many ways it's a return to the way newspapers used to be locally owned and run.
The solution is to hire somebody to sell advertising. That person does not have to come from the neighborhood. All that's required is for Jack to supply a list of the right contacts and phone numbers. And, hey, we've got the beginnings of a ki work virtual business selling ads for a number of these news microsites. Advertisers can then be offered packages covering several areas. But the whole thing's flexible unlike a newspaper with its fixed staff and other costs.
There are other ways for Jack to develop his virtual business across the internet. Resources can be shared. He could strike a deal with a movie site to provide reviews for the shows at the local multiplex. Both sides will gain traffic.
In ki work terms it represents a form of collaborative capitalism where small businesses are able to undercut large corporations. Big may be beautiful, but in the online world it's not always financially viable.
The fact that it was written by the Reuters news agency means it will be very widely read. Reuters has traditionally made its income from charging newspapers, television and radio stations across the world for the right to publish it articles.
For people who are insecure in their jobs this type of article represents both good and bad news. The increasing popularity of social networking services means employers will turn to them as a means of filling vacancies. But how do you differentiate yourself from the millions of other people also registering in the hope of improving their job prospects?
One of the people quoted in the Reuters article says it took him a long time to build up his network to the point where it helped him to find a job last year. Now it's much more difficult.
There is a powerful argument for investing a little cash to boost your online career. If nothing else it means you'll probably be competing in a space that's a little less crowded. After all if you're unemployed you've nothing better to do all day than post copies of your resume on free sites.
You'll still need to put some effort into networking. Money alone won't buy you friends. But it is worth cehecking out the premium options offered by social networking and employment websites.
On ki work's site we offer the option of paying $50 a month to become an accredited expert. This gives increased prominence to your online brand, allows you to certify professionals and buyers while, most importantly, giving you the opportunity to earn from leveraging your network. You'll find plenty more information here at ki work.
Of course most people won't pay a subscription for any online service and many of them may prosper. But is worth thinking about whether it might be worth boosting your earning prospects by investing a little cash along with your time.
Lots of people have been asking about becoming a marketplace Expert on ki work, and how it can help them build a global virtual business as an individual freelancer.
Essentially an Expert receives:
* Greater visibility and status for their brand and service
* Access to higher-value team projects via ki work
* Opportunity to earn from certifying and building teams of professionals
In addition to this, Experts receive support in building their business from the marketplace Leader and from ki work.
To apply to become an Expert in your preferred markteplace(s), go to ki work's premium services.
For more information, this embedded document below should give you a much more thorough overview of the features and benefits. Alternatively, contact
ki work or the Leader of your preferred marketplace directly.