Monday, September 28, 2015

Thoughts on stranger economy

For me it has been a huge big deal to think of money as being a tool to return a favor to a stranger for something done for you or for something you receive. Like you go to a coffee shop--one of my favorite examples--and a stranger will happily give you a tasty cup of well-brewed coffee, in exchange for some money.

So why emphasize "stranger" and "favor"? Well imagine a very giving community, which freely shares with strangers who simply take, without giving anything back, like food. And imagine that these nice people find they are running out of food themselves! Suddenly that scenario can be more than about morals or what's right, it can be functionally dangerous for that community.

In contrast consider someone within a very close community, who does something for someone within that community. For such a person such a thing can just be part of being a healthy member without concern about an immediate return. And in fact, supporting the community supports everyone. So such support functionally does not lead to lack or need.

So our world has a system, where if you have a contract of some kind, where you have something a stranger wants, and agree to provide it, then you can get money in exchange, which is a social IOU promising a return on that favor, later.

And it works great!

Our modern world exists because of this system, but it helps to understand it, which is why I talk it out so much because I got frustrated years ago out here wondering how things I was doing were supposed to pay off.

Now I think I know some important things like, contracts are usually required.

Generally if you're going to make money, some kind of arrangement has to be established ahead of time. So no, just throwing something up on the web as I've often done is unlikely to work, unless I guess you DO draw vast amounts of attention, but even then you need something in place, like that will show ads, I guess. To me that's a generally held idea which I've never personally verified to be true.

But money is just one reason to put things out here. There are many others.

Importantly I learned that community is a great reason.

Which means that you can also see the world now as a global community, and can do things for that community, without any expectation of any money in return.

And that's mostly it. Part of me wants to make a long post and link to things where I discuss more in-depth my OPINIONS on these things. But people can find those things if interested.

So I like to call the modern world economy--the stranger economy.

It really is designed in my opinion so that strangers can do things for each other without fear of being exploited, which may sound odd to some.

But when used properly, money lets people interact with strangers in a way that is mutually beneficial. So you can travel the world, and buy that cup of coffee, in so many places, from so many people. Personally knowing them? Not required.

James Harris

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Wanting to know

Have become fascinated by those times when I come up with an explanation for something--yes, my own ideas--and suddenly get this sort of surprised feeling, like really? That's why?

And the thing is, I want to know! Am a very curious person and live in an ever more fascinating world, which has puzzles all over the place. And I like real world puzzles of reality. Give me a human made puzzle book, and I just turn to the back to look up the answers.

Can't do that with reality though.

The quest to know and understand is so basic. Which is a way for me to lead into a favorite post of mine on this blog:

How do we know?

When we get answers, it can be such a great feeling. I LOVE getting answers, which may be why it's no good to give me a book of puzzles. Why bother puzzling over something some person came up with when the answers are in the back of the book? Oh, and not knocking it for people who enjoy them. I DO work at puzzles of reality.

There is no choice with reality, either humanity works to figure out the best answers, or our species will not have them.

Answers fascinate me, though I can be ambivalent about them. When you have answers, you can get that sense of fascination about how something in our world works, or how you now think it works.

I both value my curiosity, and the answers to which it leads.

James Harris

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Looking for community, art and the conversation

Most of my life one of the most important words has been "art" which has dominated so many of the best parts. From books to photographs, paintings, and poems, and so much more. But also to my own feeling that science is the art of prediction.

So of course was fascinated when a premiere institution of art, tweeted a great question! And I answered:

Whether you like my answer or not, the conversation to me is also so fascinating. And talking with other people sure beats just talking to yourself, though I enjoy that too.

And SFMOMA retweeted me! Was one of the most exciting days of my social media life.

Ours is no longer a passive world mainly absorbing what is put out by people who can get on television, or radio or gain the interest of newspapers. In our world we can be part of the conversation.

And if you are on Twitter and haven't followed the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, I'd highly recommend you do.

Community is where one can kind of get the feeling that maybe these ideas that run through one's mind aren't completely off-base.

Somehow I think it is just part of being human that need to share with others. And so much better when you feel like that was appreciated. Better when we share.

Community and the conversation are the most important things to me on social media, as you can get so much information which I love, but you can try to add back as well. And get a response.

And so much better when someone asks the questions.

James Harris

Monday, September 07, 2015

Importance of being appreciative

Years ago, back before the 21st century actually, I was a new car salesman, for two months. And there is one sale that weighs a bit heavily on me, so going to try to use my blog as therapy, and get it off my chest.

One day early in my short career in new car sales, a guy walks in with the card of a salesman, who was not there that day. So was handed to me. And I proceeded to help him look at vehicles and he settled on the Honda CR-V I think it was. (Yes, now giving the manufacturer while was coy on subject before). Weird the things that get fuzzy.

But I was a new guy, which is why I'd been given him in the first place, as by the rules of the dealership the sale would be split, with the sales guy he'd asked to see. But because I was such a new guy, they also called in another sales guy to help me complete the sale.

And then the dealership squeezed me out of the middle as they would only split sales two ways and not three.. And a three way split is so tiny, don't blame them.

So I got nothing. Was FURIOUS.

But to the guy who bought the vehicle, I was the guy. We had worked together for hours to pick out just the vehicle. He'd signed the contract with me. And I'd handed him the keys and congratulated him before he drove off from the dealership. So these internal things were invisible to him, and I was too new to fight the decision as I didn't know any better.

And I'm ashamed to say I just did nothing after for my customer. Even if I didn't get paid, he was still my customer. And I just went cold. No thank you note. Or anything and if he's out there and sees my face and comes to this blog, I apologize. I was wrong.

At the end of what turned out to be a two month stint where I learned a LOT fast, I ran into a similar situation! Yet another case where the dealership was going to squeeze me out the middle, and went to the general manager, and said no. And that worked.

I had needed to stand up for myself.

More valuable life lessons learned.

James Harris