Umair Haque on Obama

What does “yes we can” really mean? Obama’s goal wasn’t simply to win an election, garner votes, or run a great campaign. It was larger and more urgent: to change the world.

Bigness of purpose is what separates 20th century and 21st century organizations: yesterday, we built huge corporations to do tiny, incremental things — tomorrow, we must build small organizations that can do tremendously massive things.

And to do that, you must strive to change the world radically for the better — and always believe that yes, you can. You must maximize, stretch, and utterly explode your sense of purpose.

Read the rest here.

A journalistic legend

I just wandered into a bookshop in SF where Carl Bernstein was giving a talk. One half of the Watergate team, Bernstein has just published a biography of Hillary Clinton. I haven’t read it, but I will do now. He was very good.

According to most Dems I’ve met on this trip, the political debate now is about who will be Hillary’s running mate. It will take a fairly major upset for her not to win the nomination. And okay so I’ve only been on the coasts but people expect her to win the Presidency as well.

Bernstein said something interesting when someone in the audience suggested that there hadn’t been any good journalism to bring down Bush. He said American journalism is as good now as it’s ever been but what has changed is the system that forced Nixon to resign in the 1970s. Washington is now a different beast to the one where he made his name. Money plays a much bigger roll. Makes what Larry Lessig is looking at all the more important.

Nearly past it

Steven Johnson links to a feature about America’s generation Y increasingly starting up businesses. Some really interesting stuff in there.

Generation Y, born between 1977 and 1994, may well be on its way to becoming the most entrepreneurial generation in our nation’s history — and for very good reasons. They took their baby steps during our first true entrepreneurial decade, the 1980s; watched their parents “restructured” out of what were once lifetime corporate jobs; (and) saw barriers to entry collapse as technology democratized the business start-up process…

Although I have no data to back it up, it certainly feels like it’s happening on this side of the pond too. I’ve been hanging out with Make Your Mark quite a lot over the past year and been amazed at the level of energy around the campaign from young people who are sometimes on their second or third businesses. And as Steven mentions, this generation is certainly the most political for quite a while. Frustrated with the old structures of politics and ways of doing things, we’ve created our own.

Which all means I’d better get on with it before I’m over the hill… I turn 30 in two months time.

Opening up Cabinet appointments

Gordon Brown is in a fairly unique situation in that he knows that he will be Prime Minister in six weeks time. Normally in the UK, leaders become Prime Ministers overnight. So how about using the advance notice to get people to apply for Cabinet posts and opening up the process a bit?

It might go something like this:

  • Gordon decides what posts he wants in the cabinet
  • Invites people to apply (I’d suggest only Labour MPs to begin with and that people can apply for a maximum of three posts)
  • Applicants send a proposal for what they would do in the job, how they would do it and their relevant experience in the form of a CV
  • Gordon and an elder Labour statesman (Neil Kinnock springs to mind) interview the best candidates.
  • New Cabinet is announced on 27th June and their applications made public

Crazy idea?

Open Coalition Building?

Just a thought for all the coalition negotiations that are going on this weekend in Scotland and Wales following the elections — why don’t they video their meetings and make them available on the web afterwards? It would be really interesting to see how they’re done and demystify the secretive world of backroom political deal making.

In the words of Vanilla Ice…

Stop, collaborate and listen.

Demos have a new collection out today called The Collaborative State. I’ve got two pieces in there: One on the online response to Hurricane Katrina (co-authored with Niamh) and another about how Government can use online collaborative tools more generally called Flesh, steel and Wikipedia (written with Molly).

Simon and Catherine had an op-ed article (sub req’d) in the FT yesterday which sets out the overall argument of the collection. The book also includes a piece by the brilliant Yochai Benkler, whose Wealth of Networks I reviewed last year.