Kickstarting kickerstarter (new models of meaning and value)

My remarks at the recent Futures of Entertainment conference at MIT are now up.  Click here to see it. 

It starts slowly.  And I now look at the hand surfing with a little embarrassment.  In this photo, I am captured trying to demonstrate the mutuality of meaning and value.  (My idea of a special effect.)  

I was opening up the second day, and Sam Ford has asked me to contemplate what we had heard in the first day.  

FoE is always an exercise in severely compromised air traffic control.  The moment you think you have a fix on the array, a new idea, fashioned according to unprecedented aerodynamic properties appears in the heavens, and you have to factor this in.  

As you will hear, I fix upon the distinction between value and meaning.

We are inclined to think of these as mutually exclusive categories.  Value belongs to markets, to pragmatism, to self interest.  Meaning belongs to creativity, to exploration, and self expression.

But I think it’s a false distinction.  It keeps us from creating two things:

1. a model that would show us how value and meaning interact in our world.

2. a market that would allow us to source new value to fund new meaning.  

Have a look at the video to the full argument and please let me know what you think.  

I am especially interested to hear from people in the capital markets on the question of whether we could indeed create venture funding and investment markets for cultural projects. (Whether and how we could kickstart kickstarter, so to speak.)  

7 thoughts on “Kickstarting kickerstarter (new models of meaning and value)

  1. Bob Clark

    Grant – thought provoking post and video. I really enjoyed it.
    If “value” equates to something that has a leverage-able market potential
    (since money’s goal is to grow), then it seems that the intersection of
    cultural projects (meaning) and value is a model that most quickly identifies
    which projects are most leverage-able. Not a satisfying answer for
    the purist, but a likely workable approach. It takes a very astute investor
    to know the real thing which has both. Maybe that is what the market

    I liken it to the few record companies in the 1960s that hung out at local
    bars and immediately signed creative new rock acts that had an original sound
    knowing that it was going to be very marketable. They all got rich and
    a new generation of music was delivered to the masses.

    1. grant mccracken

      Bob, apologies! I didn’t see your comment. Yes, that is the challenge here, seeing where (and how) meaning converts into value and vice versa. That A&R model depended on really great listeners and that is another challenge, building a Time Machine. Just working on that now. Thanks (and again sorry). Best, Grant

  2. Pingback: Grant McCracken: Kickstarting Kickstarter — New Models Of Meaning And Value @PSFK

  3. Henri Weijo

    This is a great presentation Grant.

    I was just wondering, who were you referring to when you talk about the “19th century German distinction” of value vs. meaning, who are you referring to? Simmel?

    1. grant mccracken

      Henri. thanks! I was thinking about Weber and closer to my disciplinary home, Boas, and, yes, Simmel, and others, mostly German, thinkers who were responding to emerging ideas of instrumental reason and rationality with ideas that insisted that culture played a role, that meaning informed even the most pragmatic, interest seeking activities. I mean, they lost this war, as a result, culture is a kind of dark matter for the contemporary world, something that exists but most can’t say what it is or what it does. Thanks again, Grant

      1. Henri Weijo

        Okay, gotcha. I’m just rereading Simmel’s Philosophy of Money and it’s pretty amazing how contemporary the work still is. The early chapters of the book (before he moves on to discuss money) really agonize over (not necessarily in those very words) about the whole meanings vs. value distinction. The book was really ahead of its time.


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