Palo Alto – In 18th and 19th century America the abundant resource was land. This abundance, according to C Wright Mills in his landmark book “White Collar,” (75) launched the era of the entrepreneurial middle class and nurtured a society with remarkable levels of meritocracy, diversity and resiliency. Now, let’s try a thought experiment… What do you suppose would have become of America’s social fabric if, instead of opening up the Western territories to generations of “settlers,” early explorers such as Lewis, Clark, and others simply exercised the prerogative of founders/discoverers and laid an ownership claim to these vast new lands? Would America have earned the designation – land of opportunity?
In the first decade of the 21st century information was the new abundant resource. And yet, by 2013, we were in grave danger of plunging the country and the world into years of economic upheaval due to the ways that powerful interests were aggregating and monetizing our personal information assets. By the twenty teens we were ready to take back control of our information assets and reinvent the dream of an entrepreneurial middle class with the creation of the Personal Enterprise Network (PEN) platform. Inspired by innovators such as author and game designer Jane McGonegal (77) from the Institute for the Future, these networks harnessed the control paradigm of multiplayer games to redefine the boundaries of the traditional “firm” and invent employment structures that follow an entirely new set of rules for participation in the ownership of the enterprise.
PENs made it possible for smart mobs of network members to define a new project, attract partner companies, and raise investment capital as a dynamic, self-governing cooperative of peers. The most powerful aspect of the PEN Economy is that virtually all of the 5 billion smart phone toting people in the world now play these exciting new global enterprise games!