The future?

A few years ago I met with Dan Schley. He bought a software company in the 80’s and years later sold it for millions. He gave me some advice. Identify the trends and get involved to ride the wave once it hits mainstream. It was 2005 and he had recently bought www.hybridcars.com.

In my short lifetime, I have seen technology affect every facet of my life.

It used to require massive equipment to professionally record, market and distribute music. Due to the internet and basic recording tools like garageband, the tools allowed decentralization of the music industry.

Similar story happened with video. Youtube, camcorders, and basic video editing software have allowed anyone to create content, again decentralizing video production. Some may argue the quality sucks, but the reality is the tools allow anyone to create brilliant content, the problem are people just don’t know how.

At Alt last week I learned about blurb. Again allowing anyone to self publish and decentralizing book publishing.

During the last election President Obama raised millions with small donations from millions of contributors, thus changing the landscape of political fund raising. Regardless of your political leanings, it was brilliant.  This same idea was utilized to raise money for Haiti, $5 at a time.

Even companies like Kiva.org, prosper.com and other social lending sites symbolize the beginning of the end for banking as we know it.

Even blogging, has spelled the demise of magazines and newspapers, by allowing the masses access to publishing tools but also an audience.

While there will always be a market for centralized services to some degree, the reality is, each of these industries was forever changed by putting individuals in charge of production and meeting the needs of the market one at a time.

What I wonder is what the future of Philanthropy holds? We have seen fund-raising change, but I wonder if the future doesn’t hold something much greater. I can see organizations like the red cross, which require huge amounts of overhead, become obsolete. In it’s place I would love to see networks of individuals come together to solve social problems, ad hoc. Earthquake in Haiti? The network could mobilize volunteers and have people on the ground just as fast as the red cross does today, but would be more efficient because the amount of money needed for overhead would be eliminated. We already know money can be raised immediately, we just need to network. I’m excited for the future, and want to be a part of it.

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