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Introducing Colin and the Changem Ideology

December 6, 2010

Hi all,

It being finals week and all, I’ll attempt to keep this short.  My name is Colin Lethem, I am a co-founder of ChangeMachine and I’d like to take a couple of minutes to talk about what I think ChangeMachine is all about.

I took a class this term that focused on classic social and economic thought as it relates to modernity.  While I did enjoy the class, I found that relating these thinkers to modernity was, for the most part, an exercise in futility.  When Adam Smith was writing, agriculture and small scale manufacture was the major economic activity-the driving force behind economic growth. When Marx and Weber were writing, it was industrial production.  Undeniably, we now live in an information age and by all accounts the information era is just beginning.  I believe that now, and for years to come, innovation and creativity-spread over the internet at the speed of light-will not only be the new engine for economic growth but also the primary impetus for social progress.  Networks will define our age and this is where ChangeMachine comes in.

The internet holds the tremendous power to reverse the apathetic, “what can I do? I’m just one person”  mindset that has seeped into our modern consciousness. We see examples of this every day whether it’s a blogger sharing ideas, a creative solution to world hunger, or even a couple of college roommates starting a website out of sheer boredom. The power of the individual to drive change has never been greater.  However, Creativity is not a solitary process. It happens within networks. It happens when talented people get together, when idea systems and mentalities merge; and this is a major problem for traditional micro-volunteering engines in which micro-actions are performed by individuals acting alone.  ChangeMachine hopes to address this issue by introducing an innovative system of organization where volunteers are members of user-managed “task-forces” that utilize live, online collaboration to promote creativity and innovation in problem solving.

Similarly, I see the possibility for ChangeMachine to become an invaluable asset to emerging non-profits as a hub for the development of new ideas.  Suppose an entrepreneur has a fantastic idea for a new non-profit but no idea how to get it off the ground. Now suppose he stumbles upon a website that connects him with talented people willing to develop marketing and social media campaigns, design a website,  offer legal advice, analyze data and so on and so forth.

More on this later, I hope you’re as excited as I am.

-Colin

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Francesca permalink
    December 19, 2010 8:19 pm

    I disagree. I think ours is the social age. our entire economy is run on socializing and leisure. Sure leisure always existed, but it was never TRULY embraced by the establishment and acceptable for all individuals of all classes and walks of life. The information age is behind us. We currently live in an age where all sectors of society are supporting the luxury and leisure of the developed world. That is why TOMS is a successful if not booming social mission business. That is why the Gap’s RED campaign works so well. Attached to leisure is the act of socializing and connecting with individuals.

    This is why volunteering works so well for our age. Volunteering is a collective act. Even if you volunteer on your own, you feel connected to another community of individuals or to a larger cause. There is no information running this exchange, only selfish-altruism in the hopes of connecting to a larger group of individuals. In the past volunteering, or charity, was done in hopes of appealing to a higher power. Today more and more individuals volunteer to fulfill dreams of their community as well as their own.

    Once again, the baseline is social.

    keep up the good work guys. I believe in you!

    • Paul Kaplan permalink*
      December 20, 2010 8:54 am

      Thanks for the support and discourse, we are from UChicago so we love these issues (especially debating them until 4 in the morning)

      In what way do you mean the information age is over? Almost all new technology is for the express purpose of getting MORE data to MORE places in LESS time. All around you see the products of an information age: Data is much more free and open to all, companies that try to keep data private (cough, US Gov’t v. Wikileaks?) are tanking, anyone who tries to make the dissemination of data either difficult or expensive (read here: newspapers) are falling apart.

      Certainly the next reasonable step was to integrate humanities social drive into the superfast data channels, but it doesn’t mean we have left the age of information. Data processing, data distribution (whether it is crowdsourced like wikipedia or proprietary like high-frequency stock trading) is the king of the town, now and (I believe) forever.

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  1. Introducing Paul and the L3C vs. Nonprofit Debate « ChangeMachine

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