Life With Alacrity

A blog on social software, collaboration, trust, security, privacy, and internet tools by Christopher Allen.

Tag: Business

Speaking at Consensus 2015

I'm heading out today to New York City to speak at Consensus 2015, where I am speaking on the panel ‘Bitcoin and its Antecedents: A Look at the History and Evolution of Digital Cash’: Bitcoin is far from the first attempt at creating a form of digital money with the potential to upend existing systems. Our panelists will look at bitcoin's predecessors and close cousins. Nathaniel Popper wrote the book Digital Gold, which delves into bitcoin's genesis; Christopher Allen is an internet security expert who has been involved in digital cash systems including Digicash for decades, while Garrick Hileman is CoinDesk's lead analyst and an economic historian at the LSE, specializing in alternative and private monies.

10 Design Principles for Governing the Commons

In 2009, Elinor Ostrom received the Nobel Prize in Economics for her “analysis of economic governance, especially the commons”. Since then I've seen a number of different versions of her list of the 8 principles for effectively managing against the tragedy of the commons. However, I've found her original words — as well as many adaptions I've seen since — to be not very accessible. Also, since the original release of the list of 8 principles there has been some research resulting in updates and clarifications to her original list.

Mini Resume Card for Conference Season

Between the business of the March/April conference season and leaving Blackphone, I've run out of business cards. Rather than rush to print a bunch of new ones, I'm created this mini-resume for digital sharing and a two-sided Avery business card version that I am printing on my laser printer and sharing. Not as pretty as my old Life With Alacrity cards, but effective in getting across the diversity of my professional experience and interests.

Deep Context Shared Languages

If you consider yourself a futurist or an agent of change, you should read this article from The Atlantic "Shaka, When the Walls Fall". Yes, it uses a Star Trek episode as an allegory, it is a bit confusing and has a lot of complexity and depth, but it is a good introduction to a topic I care about — Deep Context Shared Languages. I consider one of my missions in life to be to "create tools that allow people to communicate about complexity".

Dyads & Triads — The Smallest Teams

(by Christopher Allen with Elyn Andersson and Shannon Appelcline) Two years ago, the Bainbridge Graduate Institute ( faculty gathered to radically reinvent their sustainable business curriculum for the next decade. Our goal was not only to update course content, but also to significantly update how the material was taught. We wished to make our teaching process (our pedagogy) more interactive and also more effective for students graduating into a 21st-century work environment, where people increasingly work in teams-both online and offline.

Paying for Favors

One of the common practices in the independent movie industry is to share favors to keep production costs low. I loan you use of a camera and you later do some editing for me on the cheap. Of course, it is often actually less direct then that: I loan you the camera, the community knows that I am generous, and when I need some editing time on the cheap, my social capital in the film community makes the resource available to me.

Facilitating Small Gatherings Using “The Braid”

I was musing as I was preparing for next week's Intensive at BGI that I have 21 students in my class, an uncomfortable size. That's because it lies between a smaller size where good conversations naturally occur, and a larger size where you can take full advantage of different activities that work well for larger groups. I talk about this a bit in my Group Threshold and Dunbar Number posts, where I call the group threshold size of between 10 and 24 people the “Judas Number” nadir, or low point.

On Being an Angel

In the last month or so I've received a number of links to Life With Alacrity as a venture capital blog, and to myself as a venture capitalist. However, I don't consider myself a venture capitalist. Instead, I am what is known as an "angel investor". This week has also seen a new topic enter the blog zeitgeist: the topic of reforming or reinventing venture capital. This topic was initially raised by Dave Winer, followed by Robert Scoble, Doc Searls, Jeff Nolan, Michael Arrington, Thatedeguy and many more.

Future Topics

I've been working on an ambitious list of topics that I'd like to cover over the next year. I offer them to you here so you can have some idea the areas that I am thinking about. Office Architecture for Innovation -- Over the years I've built or converted three offices to my specifications. From this I have learned a number of things about about how to create a productive environment innovation-oriented businesses.

Progressive Trust

I believe that as we evolve social software to better serve our needs and the needs of the groups that we are involved in, we need to figure out how to apply an understanding of how human groups behave and work. One useful concept I use I call "Progressive Trust". The basic idea is to model how trust works in the real world, between real people, rather then solely relying on mathematical or cryptographic trust.

Post RSA Conference Wrapup

I spent most of last week at the RSA Conference in San Francisco. Like last year, I found little that excited me. I overheard from a convention staffer that they had 30% more attendees, so the conference is growing again, but my week there also reinforced my opinions regarding the industry as a whole as I describe in my previous blog posting The Bad Business of Fear. I asked a number of random people what they thought of the conference.

Security & Cryptography: The Bad Business of Fear

As I head out next week to the RSA Conference I realized that it has been 13 years since I attended the first one. I remember fondly the potential and power of cryptography technology in 1991 -- public keys, digital certificates, new possibilities for privacy, digital cash, etc. After 8 more years I left the compujter security industry on March 15, 1999. The computer security industry also seemed to be filled with as much potential as it did back in 1991.