Monday, February 02, 2009

What Makes Craig Newmark Stand Out Above the Rest?

In a world where the problem of scarcity has been solved, and there is more than enough to go around for everyone, why is it okay that one-fifth of humanity prosper at the expense of the other four-fifths of humanity who continue to live in poverty?
Moreover, why is it okay, that as wealthy as our country is, that so many of our own citizens live in squalor? At the same time, what did an individual hedge fund manager do to "earn" the equivalent of the budget of a nation? These questions and many more just like them require our attention in order for us to emerge from this crisis as the United States of America.

The realities that exist today will not tolerate greedy, power hungry, elitist leaders whose only incentive is the acquisition of wealth. We the people must make our and economic leaders understand that the market is nothing more than a mechanism that is not immoral or moral, but amoral. The market doesn't care, therefore it is up to us to create and maintain its "social conscious".

Approximately one week ago I blogged about Internet entrepreneur Craig Newmark's - The Wave of the Future: Reluctant Capitalism and Nerd Values? - people-centered philosophy, which promotes the idea that all of us, should have an opportunity to contribute our views, ideas, experience and knowledge in what he calls a "culture of participation".

What makes Craig Newmark stand out is his willingness to walk the walk and truly live by the Google rule, 'don't be evil'...something the Google leaders haven't always lived up to. Newmark has been able to resist the allure of power and greed that has overcome the best of intentions many times over. The strength to stand up to the seduction of power will be the true test of leadership as we head into the future, because by its very nature, power for the sake of power strips the person of his ability to collaborate and share his humanity.

In the article, Jeff Jarvis Asks: Is Google an Evil Empire? Dave Kansas interviewed Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do? (WWGD). Jarvis credits Newmark with his third rule regarding WWGD:

"Get out of the way. This is actually Craig Newmark's law. As Google built the most powerful tool imaginable—the entire world of digital knowledge revealed behind a simple search box—so did Craig build a simple tool that changed society (and newspapers and real estate and more) without prescribing how we should use it. They create platforms to enable us to do what we want to do and then, instead of giving us rules about their use, then they stand back and put us in charge."
By combining knowledge with a certain level of humility, Craig Newmark harnessed the power of the Internet and transformed society. He did so without succumbing to self-worship and self-promotion all the while challenging the fundamental assumption that is wholeheartedly accepted by most business leaders and that is Milton Friedman's belief, that their only "social responsibility is to make as much money for their stockholders as possible".
The way power is currently distributed, the workplaces are factories of authoritarianism and you can’t go to work everyday, 8 hours, turn off your brain, take orders, have no voice in decisions that affect your life and then go home and become an engaged citizen in the big issues of public life. -- Elaine Bernard


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