Post industrial social economy

I'm writing....articles, book review, annual industry forecast. This quote from Yochai Benkler in the NYT of September 27 really hit home and clarified something for me:

“You’re looking at a generation of 20- and 30-year-olds who are used to self-organizing,” said Yochai Benkler, a director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. “They believe life can be more participatory, more decentralized, less dependent on the traditional models of organization, either in the state or the big company. Those were the dominant ways of doing things in the industrial economy, and they aren’t anymore.”

The changes all around us in the social economy are not just the pressures on existing organizations or the adapted new organizations that are being created - they're about social good beyond organizations. 

Problems and Solutions, Difficulties and Progress

I received the following email on Thursday, September 22, 2011 from Lee Devin, retired Professor of English and Theater at Swarthmore College:

"Hi Lucy
Reading your latest, I somehow got the idea to introduce you to T. D. Weldon's little book on The Vocabulary of Politics, first published by Penguin in 1953. He makes a distinction I've found very useful and I bet you will too.

Between problem and difficulty. I'm giving you the short version--the original is more interesting, but not so direct.

Problems have solutions; solve them and problems go away.
Difficulties don't have solutions; they require continual address.

A big pothole is causing a problem on 1st Street. Fill the pothole and solve the problem. Move on.

The nation's secondary schools aren't good enough. This is not a problem, it will never be solved. Some identifiable problems might be solved, but the system as a whole requires constant attention. The school system will get better, but will never not need your attention.

We like to simplify by naming difficulties and treating them as problems. "The War on Terror." This is not a problem, it's a difficulty, a part of contemporary life. It will not be "won" or otherwise go away. It will be addressed continually and ways may be found to diminish its impact on daily life.

And so on.

Struck me while reading you that philanthropy could do well to think of addressing difficulties and get over the idea of solving problems. Certainly that would be a boon to theatres, if the dreamers up of grants and initiatives could have that view.

Cheers

Lee"
I love this letter for several reasons. First, it introduced me to new ideas - those of T.D. Weldon and those of his critics in political philosophy.

Second, it introduced me to an interesting person I didn't know, Lee Devin. I immediately emailed Lee back and asked if I could post this letter. Then I searched for information about him. Read what I could find. Exchanged a few more emails. I would like to meet Lee in person.

Third, it demonstrated, yet again, how we can connect now - finding new ideas and people, creating new conversations, learning and sharing.

Fourth, the content hits directly on a real challenge of philanthropy - one that I first encountered in my dissertation research - the whole concept of "problem definition." At the time I was interested in this in terms of the power dynamics - "He who gets to define the problem generally gets to define his preferred solution." Of course, Lee is asking me (us?) to consider the feasibility of actually solving problems - in terms of resources and time horizons and the philanthropic reality versus rhetoric of  metrics this has real implications.

Thanks Lee!

One prediction come true

 (photo from Google Wallet)

In my list of Ten for the Next Ten I predicted that smart phones would replace our wallets. This is already true in Europe and Asia - with launch of Google Wallet today (as limited as it is), it's come true in US also.

So what? Let me quite David Pogue, tech columnist for The New York Times, on why this shift matters:
"Someday, [this functionality] will be everywhere.
At that point Wallet will be much more than a glorified credit card. It will be the cornerstone of a huge economic ecosystem of banks, merchants, advertisers and other companies. It will replace everything in your wallet: tickets, boarding passes, transit cards. All electronic, all secure, all wireless and easy."
Notice who Pogue leaves out of that ecosystem  - nonprofits. Social businesses. Charitable donation collecting enterprises. That would probably be a bad thing for those enterprises, don't you think? If all our money is moving to our phones it's probably going to be part of that shift.

I don't think nonprofits and philanthropic giving will be left out (and I doubt David does either, he probably includes them in "other companies.") In fact, I'll bet that nonprofits and charitable giving fundraisers get right in there on this and embed the daylights out of their giving options with all those shopping options.

Let's hope we can be more creative than that as this scenario of wallet+data+telecommunications device comes into being.







Why I'm a philanthropy wonk



(Photo from ZD Net)



From 1990 to 1997 I worked on staff for a number of community foundations. This was the early days of email, the heyday of the Mosaic (then Netscape) Internet browser, and few of us had cell phones. The hip kids who did own mobile phones aspired to own a Motorola Razr. One community foundation CEO I know owned an Apple Newton and the PalmPilot was introduced toward the end of this period.


It was clear to me then that community foundations had more information on hand than they knew what to do with. My colleagues and I - both donor service and program folks - spent lots of time in community meetings. Our board included local activists, representatives of wealthy multi-generational cornerstone families, local newspaper officials, bankers, and public sector officials. They were involved in a wide swath of community life. Every day the mail came filled with proposals about what was going on, what needed to be going on, and who wanted to do what. We used all the data we gathered to make the best grant decisions we could and to connect and weave together all the projects, organizations and individuals we could. We did our best and at the end of every day it felt like we had been pushed back to shore by the incoming tide of information.

This professional experience was a second formative* step in my obsession with communities and information. In 1994 I published an article in the (now defunct) Foundation News and Commentary about the need for community foundations to structure themselves around their information role and coined the term "knowledge foundations." Little did I realize then I was off and running on the core issue of the next 16 years of my professional life.

Lots has changed since the early 1990s. Smart phones are everywhere, Netscape begot Mozilla, and email is yesterday's technology, replaced by IM, texting and Facebook.  Community foundations still have tons of information. Having roamed the halls of the annual community foundations meeting I can attest that these folks are now as iPad, smart phone enabled as the next set of conference goers. I'm also pleased to say many of these organizations are getting much better at organizing information, using it, sharing it, and directing it back to the communities from whence it came and to whom it is very useful. A few highlights:
The spreading use by community foundations of DonorEdge, Razoo, DonorBridge, and other online tools to share their data about community organizations and engage individuals in giving.  To my surprise, several community foundation friends came up to me in the halls of the conference hotel to ask "Did you know that they're marketing DonorEdge with direct references to your work On the Brink of New Promise?" (I guess this is one measure of having made an impact - finding out five years after publication that a vendor is using your conceptual work on the future to sell products to the market you wrote about.)

The Denver Foundation is actively involved in its region's open government efforts - helping the local agencies open up and share public data so that residents can use it. This partnership includes other foundations and the Rocky Mountain Investigative News Network. They're creating the Colorado Data Commons. (Hey Data Without Borders - check this out!)**

The Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta is building an online data hub for local citizens to share their stories. It's called the Neighborhood Corner and is part of the foundation's neighborhood grantmaking strategy. (Hey Craigslist Foundation and LikeMinded - check this out!)*** 

The last two examples are funded by the Knight Community Information Challenge.

This is all good. There are no doubt many more examples of foundations using and sharing data and information as a core part of achieving their missions. There's a long way to go. But it's great to stop and appreciate the progress.

Why am I philanthropy wonk? Because private resources matter in solving public problems. Using data and information in better, more inclusive and scaled ways, organizing around it, and recognizing its unique properties as a currency are defining elements of how our world works now. We have tremendous opportunity to improve both the use of information and the use of private resources.


*Formative step number one - seeing this same paradox of information flow in the historical research for my dissertation, Private Foundations and Public Schools.
**I'm a big fan of DataWithoutBorders and have been evangelizing about their work for months. Jake Porway, founder, has just been named a Pop! Tech Fellow - Yay! (Update: 12:52 pm PDT 9/21/11 - I just joined their Advisory Committee. So excited!)
***I'm on the Board of Directors of Craigslist Foundation.

Social media and grantmaking: resources

I'm building a list for philanthropic foundations - please add your recommendations in the comments. Thanks.


Social Media Resources for Grantmakers
Reports
Communications Network, “Come on in, the water’s fine: An exploration of Web 2.0 technology and its emerging impact on foundation communications”
Mapping Digital Media Project, Open Society Institute

Books
Twitter4Good, Claire Diaz Ortiz, http://twitter4good.com/
The Networked Nonprofit, Beth Kanter and Allison Fine, Jossey Bass, 2010
The Dragonfly Effect, Jennifer Aaker, http://www.dragonflyeffect.com/blog/

Articles
Technology Review, October 2011 (also includes audio and videos)
Claire Diaz Ortiz, “Harness Twitter, Change the World” Washington Post, September 6, 1011

Blogs
Philanthropy2173 “Why would a foundation tweet”
Beth’s Blog on Nonprofits and Technology www.kanter.org
Global Voices Online http://globalvoicesonline.org/
Glasspockets, http://glasspockets.org/ What  foundations are doing vis-a-vis transparency 

Videos and slide decks
Three tips to use social media to democratize your grantmaking http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erfiqD-_OFs
 Social Media for Grantmakers
http://www.slideshare.net/shaicoggins/social-media-for-grantmakers
Box Hill Institute's video on social media stats & facts, including Australia:

Digital information news

A couple of items of interest regarding the need for foundations and nonprofits to deepen their thinking about digital information:

The Center for Digital Information, on whose Advisory Board I am proud to serve, has announced funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and a partnership with the Annenberg School at U Penn. The Center will help foundations, nonprofits and think tanks integrate digital strategies into their research. Today's networked social data world requires much more than making a pdf of a document and posting it on a web site. Data structuring, access, engagement, iteration, and mobility - this is how to think about research and communications for change.

I just learned of a new consulting group - Off Leash Studios - with offices in Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area focused on helping nonprofits and think tanks with these same issues. I'll be meeting with them in a few weeks.

Google+ brought me a great new research paper from danah boyd on "Six Provocations for Big Data." The paper makes frequent reference to David Bollier's great work for the Aspen Institute as it looks at what big data mean for all kinds of academic disciplines.

Skip past some of its academic gobbledygook ("‘computationality might then be understood as an ontotheology, creating a new ontological “epoch” as a new historical constellation of intelligibility’" - yeah, right) because boyd and co-author Kate Crawford have some key insights - and good writing - to offer. They offer up my favorite new metaphor for understanding how we live in and create data everywhere we go:

"Massive data sets that were once obscure and distinct are being aggregated and made easily accessible. Data is increasingly digital air: the oxygen we breathe and the carbon dioxide that we exhale. It can be a source of both sustenance and pollution."
While boyd and Crawford are focused on the academic use and structuring of data their recommendations for caution have real world implications for nonprofits, open government activists, and data scientists/visualizers. Those of us who consume cool graphs, interactive maps, and online flow charts with increasing frequency also need to become more critical readers of the data that lie below the cool colors and moving icons. The paper will be presented on September 21 at the Oxford Internet Institute - another great resource on data, networks, and the online world.










Sharing Economy and Open Government

I need your help...I'm trying to make sense of the sharing economy and the open government movement. Can you please help me out? I welcome your comments on this thinking - which is completely raw and woefully incomplete...thanks.

The sharing economy is the world of car sharing and co-working spaces, food bartering, open
government, and mutual aid. Many elements of the sharing economy, such as co-ops and
neighborhood exchanges are old ideas being brought back to life at a digital speed. I want to
introduce the sharing economy now to prepare readers for the next game changing shift in where and
how we produce social goods.

      The sharing economy calls into question one of the core economic drivers of the past decades
consumer spending. Many of the sharing websites overtly ask “why own what you can share?” This question is meaningful to consumer goods companies, many of which are jumping into the sharing system to learn how to work in this new way. For example, Ford and Toyota actively partner with ZipCar and other car sharing programs to learn about the kind of consumer who prefers to use a car by the hour.

      Shifts in consumer behavior will surely matter for philanthropy. At the smallest level, greater
communications between neighbors may well influence how community organizing happens or
how people are able to respond in a disaster. If efforts to share community goods are successful
we might see the grassroots development of tool libraries, produce swaps, and mutual aid
societies. If this achieves any scale it could affect both the needs for nonprofit services in
those communities as well as shift what the neighbors want from their elected officials.

      Local governments are already active in the sharing communities. By virtue of the open
government movement, in which public data sets are being shared openly and broadly, many
cities and towns are already shifting how they work with networks of community volunteers.
Technology friendly cities are inviting in volunteers to build mobile applications from their data.
These include schedules that tell you when the next bus is coming, maps that show you where to
recycle hazardous materials, as well as tools to help bikers report potholes and park users track
maintenance needs.

      We are seeing a coming together of a “sharing ethos” that helps neighbors or like-minded
individuals swap consumer goods with a tech-driven open government movement that attracts
volunteers who spend their time making cities more responsive. These trends represent new
behaviors for business and government. Both the sharing economy and open government rely on
volunteers to share what they know (or have).

Questions:
  • If nonprofits have typically filled in between government and markets, what do these two shifts mean for them? 
  • Are they likely to be the basis of many of the sharing platforms? 
  • Will they help organize the volunteers of the open government movement? 
  • Will the "space" between government and markets get smaller or bigger? 
  • Does either the sharing economy or open government do anything for the poorest among us? 
  • Oh, do I have a lot of questions. .... help!

Give Smart comes to Stanford

This Thursday, September 15, the PACS Center at Stanford is delighted to host Tom Tierney and Joel Fleishman in conversation with Bill Meehan. They be talking about Tierney and Fleishman's book Give Smart. My review of the book is here. Information and registration for the event is here.



Almost everything you ever wanted to know about Impact Investing


The best teachers are those who understand their subjects so thoroughly they can focus on the learners, not on the material. When it comes to the topics of impact investing and blended value, Antony Bugg-Levine and Jed Emerson can be called good teachers.


Both men are intricately linked with this terminology - Emerson coined the term blended value. Bugg-Levine either coined, or paid for the coining of the term, Impact Investing. That they understand the material, the concepts, the opportunity and the tradeoffs is not too surprising. That they can make a book length discussion of these financial innovations engaging and humanitarian, that is a  gift we can all be thankful for. Their book is out just in time for SoCAP 11.

Readers of this blog are familiar with these terms. Many of you are smarter about these issues than I am. Others have been introduced to the concepts through the annual buzzwords lists (impact investing, B corporations, and other key terms in the book have all made the list since 2009). Most of you are professionally or voluntarily engaged in the very sectors where these innovations matter most - balancing and tinkering and experimenting with efforts to use financial capital to produce social value.

Bugg-Levine and Emerson present a history, a contemporary look, and do some promotional forecasting about impact investing. They credit, appropriately and adequately, the decades of innovation from religious endowments to teachers' pension funds the idea of mixing investing with social returns. The simultaneous pursuit of financial return and social value lie at the heart of the tools now known as impact investing and the outcomes now described as blended value. They also credit the "boundary" systems on either side of Impact Investing - philanthropy and commercial finance. In their words:
"Without philanthropy, modern microfinance would not exist. But without ... integration into the global investment system, microfinance would likely not have exceeded so spectacularly ..." (p. 46)
The closing line of the above paragraph then asks the key question for the entire book: "But at what price?" Emerson and Bugg-Levine tackle the costs and losses that have resulted from the decades of experiments that bring impact investing to this moment. Money has been lost, reputations ruined, lives taken. It has not been a straight line to success and the way forward presents no guarantees. Like any good financial discussion, previous outcomes are no guarantee of future results.

The book comes at in important time for impact investors (and for Emerson and Bugg-Levine themselves, both of whom have just taken on new jobs). SoCAP 11, the fourth annual conference that has become almost synonymous with Impact Investing opens this week in San Francisco. The first SoCAP conference launched one month to the day after the 158 year old Lehman Brothers investment bank went bankrupt. The disarray, panic, and anger from that scary time have raised and ruined political careers, redrawn the global map of economic powerbases, and given rise to bestselling books and award winning movies. They've also opened wider the window of opportunity for new concepts of capitalism, new measures of profit, and more widespread conversations about sustainable enterprise.

Bugg-Levine and Emerson tell this story from the inside. Bugg-Levine led a grantmaking portfolio at The Rockefeller Foundation for several years that poured tens of millions of dollars into the infrastructure of impact investing. Emerson has staffed and consulted to several investor-side enterprises over the years. They present the historical roots of the ideas and give numerous examples from across the globe of the roles and permutations of development finance, microfinance, socially responsible investing and philanthropy that merge, as streams into a river and then as rivers into the sea (a favorite metaphor of theirs). Their direct involvement in building and promoting these tools and values are strong credentials for the two authors - and they tell a good story. There is (thankfully) no glorifying or covering up - people they know made mistakes and experiments went wrong. The authors are emphatic to this point, impact investing is not a silver bullet.

For my purposes, the more interesting section of the book comes in part two - what will the future hold? They address this in two ways - the practical and the predictive. They identify several sectors where impact investing opportunities are likely to grow and offer guidance for interested investors to pursue such opportunities.

Sadly, this section lacks some of the critical reflection of the previous sections - especially in their positing of an assumed positive growth future for impact investing. What is their argument for this assured growth? Because everywhere you look there are failed states, philanthropy can't solve the problem of the failed state, and thus we need market based offerings. My problem with this equation, and it extends far beyond Bugg-Levine's and Emerson's presentation of it, is that it asks us to overlook BOTH the failures of markets and financial systems (which have been as critical in shaping world history since 2008 as have state failures) AND the role of markets in creating some of the underlying inequities. As they turn their attention to the growth opportunities for impact investing, the authors sadly silence their nuanced presentations of public, independent, and market intersections and become pragmatic promoters.

This continues as they address the critical issues of policies for impact investing. I am relieved, thankful, and intrigued by their policy proposals. Relieved because they realize the key role that policy frames and regulations play in how this industry, as all industries, works now and will work in the future. Thankful, because too many authors on financial issues or the social sector cringe from the role that regulation plays and end up either ignoring the subject all together or damning all regulation as bad. And I'm intrigued by their proposals because these two authors have thought as hard about the regulatory barriers and opportunities for impact investing as anyone (at least in America) and we need these kinds of ideas being discussed and debated.

To be fair, the book is about impact investing and the policy issues and ideas that the authors promote are intended to facilitate and assist the industry in growing. However, do not equate that with facilitating and assisting our societies to solve our shared social and environmental problems.

Impact investing - as the authors emphasize in the beginning but slow slip away from over the course of the book - is one ingredient in a mixture of public money, private capital, and philanthropy that fund social value. It is one type of river running into their metaphorical ocean. It is impossible to believe that one can focus on changing the rules for one part of this mix - that we can reroute one river - and not disrupt the delta and thus the ocean with both good and bad effects. Many of the regulations and ideas that the authors promote, from tax breaks for impact investments to new forms of corporate enterprise are already in place. We can already point to their intended benefits and some of their unintended consequences. The book would benefit from more than the consideration of how these new innovations and policy proposals bridge "the bifurcated systems" of old, but for what they will do to contribute, along with existing tools and rules, to solving our shared problems.

Finally, let me state for the record my one continued gripe with promoters of impact investing and my only real disappointment in this book. Impact investors lead their movement with an emphasis on return, measurement, and accountability. They aim to bring the best of financial practice to bear on the toughest of shared social problems. So far, so good. But why, why, can't they tell us how big they are? How much money is available for impact investing? How much of it is new money that otherwise would not have been available to produce social outcomes and how much of it is being directed from existing resources for social good? I wanted, really wanted, this book to tell me one thing: How big is impact investing? I wanted a sentence, a paragraph, a few tables a chart and some footnotes to tell me, "Impact investing, defined as XX, had $YY billions in assets under management in 2010 and has been growing at/is projected to grow at ZZ% per year." The two studies of this question that I know of - both of which are referenced by the authors - provide a possible range that is itself billions of dollars in scope.That's a bit too wide to be useful. It may not be the authors' job to pinpoint the market size but they need to at least acknowledge this glaring gap in what we know.

Without such a benchmark, with all its necessary caveats, it's hard to know how much these tools and ideas matter. The authors do an important and credible job of telling the history, envisioning the potential, and preparing the steps for the field and future enterprises and investors. But the greatest promise of impact investing, in my mind, is its potential to draw in actual new money for social problem solving. If it does this, impact investing will be transformational. If billions of dollars that would not otherwise have been available for social value production are brought to bear on our shared social issues, that will matter. It would be the first financial innovation in a century, since the creation of the modern foundation, to attract game changing quantities of private resources to public problem solving.

Without those market measures we simply don't know if this is happening. From a policy point of view, from a public incentive perspective, what we need to know about impact investing is this, "Is it really drawing in new capital to solve social problems, and if so, how much?"

It''s not simply a matter of bigger will be better. And it is to the credit of impact investors that they are hard at work answering other critical questions such as does impact investing work? When and under what circumstances? What does it really do better than philanthropy and better than the public sector? - in a policy shifting way. These questions of evidence and impact are key - and the book does a good job of telling us how the industry is making progress toward answering them.

The book is the best overview of impact investing that exists and you should read it. And then you should join me in demanding, or perhaps you could even help to create, measures of the impact investing market.











Induction, deduction, upduction, downduction

This blog is named after the year 2173, the year in which we realize that everything we thought we knew was wrong. (at least on Woody Allen's timeline)

I love examples of how we learn new things and in new ways. I am especially fascinated by how our digital realities and tools are helping us think about "the familiar" in new ways. This is why I'm interested in the digital humanities. For example, historians are now using contemporary GIS and biological systems thinking to reconsider how land formations shaped historical events - it's called spatial humanities.

Here are three examples of this kind of "new tools change how we think about what we think we know." What I like about each of these is how they challenge our assumptions about what is data and what is analysis - what is the information we're using and what are the conclusions - what is input and what is output?

Believing is Seeing - a NYT book review of a new book of photography

Describing place through user-generated content - how we can "map" places by seeing how people "talk" about them


Using news reports and content to "forecast" events (Culturomics 2.0) I was raised in a world where news came on paper and the "newspaper" told us what was going on now and what had just happened. It's kind of amazing that scholars are now mining massive sets of digital news reports to find trends of what might lie ahead.

What does this have to do with philanthropy? It's an opportunity to challenge our own thinking about where change comes from and what information we use, what information we need, and what information we now have accessible.




Ten Tactics for Engagement

(thumbnail of pullout section, The Nonprofit Quarterly)

There is a great pullout section from the Summer 2011 issue of The Nonprofit Quarterly on 10 tactics for public engagement. It breaks the tactics down into collaboration, surveying attitudes, and prioritizing options. The list was put together by Matt Leighninger of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium.

You can download it directly here.

Back to School Philanthropy Reading



(from Jeff Jarvis, Buzzmachine)

I'm currently reading two books (review copies) that are scheduled for publication this Fall. Both are worth picking up when they come out.

Laura Arrillaga Andreessen, Giving 2.0. This is the first of several books currently out on giving that speaks to the non-millionaires among us. The stories reflect more of the diversity of American giving than have other recent "how tos" on the subject, there is an understanding that technology matters in how we find things to support (and how we support them). The author teaches at Stanford's Graduate School of Business and is well aware of the enormous industry and many policy structures that shape American philanthropy. She is equally persuasive about the roles that her MBA background and her relationship with her mother have had on how she thinks about giving All of us bring a personal passion, experience, or hope to our philanthropy - but these elements are all too often given short shrift in the "managerial literature" about philanthropy and nonprofits. For all our managerial rigor and efforts at best practices, philanthropy in the aggregate remains a collection of individual actions driven by familial, religious, and cultural norms. Arrillaga Andreessen's book does a solid job of presenting both the rational business side of this very human and irrational enterprise. John Wiley & Sons is publishing the book, it will be out in October, 2011.

Olivier Zunz, Philanthropy in America: A History. Olivier Zunz is a Professor of History at The University of Virginia who has taken on the massive task of explaining philanthropy in the U.S. In order to present a coherent narrative his chapters on foundations, fundraising, policy, social movements are tempting teases to each subject. In each section he provides enough information to wet the appetite for more and make the reader easily see the contemporary resonance of the issues he raises. His chapters on the relationship between the institution of income taxes, the price of war, and the creation of "mass philanthropy" will make any reader stop and ask deeper questions about the contemporary relationship between those same structures. It's a great overview and should be read by everyone currently active in nonprofits or foundations who has ever asked, "Wait, why do we do it this way?" Publication date, November 2011 from Princeton University Press.

Another resource is Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists by Valaida Fullwood. This beautiful book - that reminds us of the power of photographs and the truly human element of philanthropy - is one result of many years of giving circle work supported by The Ford Foundation, Knight Foundation, Foundation for the Carolinas and dozens of individual and other institutional funders. This is the kind of book I will go back to time and again. The people profiled are as generous in sharing their stories as they are in sharing the time and treasure. Collectively, the stories remind us of the role that mutual support and community play in philanthropy, the importance of faith traditions, and the pure joy that philanthropy can bring. Like Giving 2.o, Giving Back refocuses our attention onto the hundreds of millions of givers who are the real engines of philanthropy.

I'm also looking forward to reading Jeff Jarvis's Public Parts (hey, Simon & Schuster - I'd love a review copy.) Jarvis has written and spoken quite provocatively about the real meaning of our shifting understandings of public and private. His background in journalism and his insights into how organizations work make me sure his thoughts on public, private, how we decide and how we behave now are going to be quite useful.