Local emphasis

February 23, 2009 at 11:28 pm | In ideas, innovation, local_not_global, northernvoice | 2 Comments

At Northern Voice 2009 (which I still have to assimilate/ digest), I attended a session on hyper-local blogging and also heard people (myself included) lauding the value of “local.” On the ferry ride home, I had a chance to look through The Wall Street Journal. Peggy Noonan’s column, Remembering the Dawn of the Age of Abundance, was strangely wistful, but she ended on a note that really resonated with what we’re trying to do with MetroCascade:

I end with a hunch that is not an unhappy one. Dynamism has been leached from our system for now, but not from the human brain or heart. Just as our political regeneration will happen locally, in counties and states that learn how to control themselves and demonstrate how to govern effectively in a time of limits, so will our economic regeneration. That will begin in someone’s garage, somebody’s kitchen, as it did in the case of Messrs. Jobs and Wozniak. The comeback will be from the ground up and will start with innovation. No one trusts big anymore. In the future everything will be local. That’s where the magic will be. And no amount of pessimism will stop it once it starts.

You can see that her thoughts veer into several directions in this last paragraph, from garage- or kitchen-based innovation that churns through the world (globally – and big), to an affirmation of the not-so-big local focus. I got the impression that small and local isn’t yet her preferred comfort zone…?

But I think she’s really affirming that the heavy lifting is going to originate locally – and from the ground up, not from the top down.

Which also means it will have to be real, testable, confirmable, measurable, visible, and concrete – vs fantastic, uncontested (except by bullshitters), improbable, amorphous, mirrored, and abstract.

I can live with that.

2 Comments

  1. Hmm. It’s certainly a romantic idea that in the future everything will be local, but is this really realistic?

    I understand the backlash that a lot of people are feeling against big right now, but as a firm believer in balance and moderation, I think it would be premature to adopt the stance that there’s no place for big in our future.

    Perhaps with all of the current innovation until rapid communication, organization, and mobilization of local groups, we will start to see something more akin to the fiefs of old – organizations made up of many different self-sufficient and tightly integrated groups. Oops, we’re back to silos again ;).

    Comment by Adam — February 24, 2009 #

  2. I don’t think the implication was quite that either/or (“…everything will be local…”).
    .
    It’s about energy, really.
    .
    Where do you get energy? And from there, synergy? You can exercise alone, but sometimes it helps if your spouse/partner is willing to commit to a program with you. How many entrepreneurs or creatives can you name, specific to this region? Probably quite a few. We can all work on our own, dithering away, or we can put our shoulders to the wheel and organize “open coffees” or “likemind meetings” or “democamps” and get some of that energy to work synergistically.
    .
    That doesn’t mean it’s a black-and-white situation, where everything is either local or it’s not. It means that the local helps support whatever is global in your enterprise.

    Comment by Yule — February 24, 2009 #

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