The Direct Economy

I’ll cut to the chase with this.  What comes after the industrial economy?  The economic system that will power us through the 21st Century?

It’s not a post-industrial economy (that only tells us what it isn’t).   I’ve been thinking about this for a long, long time.  I believe it’s best termed the direct economy.

It’s an economic system we can see emerging all around us if you look in the right places.  The reason it’s been so hard to see is because it’s not merely an economic system that pushes industrial processes to the edge, it’s an economic system that minimizes the formal structures used for bureaucratic and market based decision making.


Making this jump is the hard part.  It’s an economic system that is organized on a person to person level.  A place where the method of peering person to person is dynamically determined by the software platform used (read this as many different ways to interconnect!).

Let that sink in a bit.  The direct economy allows almost unlimited variation in the methods used for peering.  It can be sharing based.  It can be a competitive game.  It can be collaborative or constructive.  It can be event driven.  It can even be left to the individuals connected to it to determine.

So, what does this mean?

  • It minimizes the role of middlemen.  Finance.  Retail.  Lawyers.  Government.  The toll takers of the old system.
  • It unbundles stuff we used to relied upon industrialized bureaucracy for in the past.  From education to science to manufacturing to…
  • Blindness.  It is something the entire edifice of the old economy can’t even see, so don’t even bother trying to explain it to them.  There’s also crossover between the two economies, but sooner than later, the direct economy will dwarf the old (in terms of value to participants and the rate of innovation that occurs).

So, why does this matter to my exploration the future of the American dream on HomeFree?

The direct economy is extremely fluid.  It’s also granular (it works at close to the level of the individual rather than the company, town, or nation).  A system that fluid and that innovative is dangerous (it can devolve into toxic noise very easily) if it doesn’t have a stable foundation upon which to operate.

One idea I’m trying to suss out here, is whether it’s possible to build a home that serves this purpose.  A home that provides the stable base that allows you to not only survive the ongoing decline of the old economy, but the rise of the next.

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Discussion — 22 Responses

  • jorge juan October 24, 2013 on 1:04 pm

    We are working with a similar aproach in an small village, Vellosillo, in Castilla, Spain. We have finished our first home prototype that will be used as a open lab.

  • david December 7, 2013 on 6:48 pm

    We’ve got algorithms to enable this. Want to talk?