One of our goals as the Chaos Collective is to enable what we’re calling the full-time open creative. If we had our druthers, we would work on projects for the good of everyone as our full-time job, make them all entirely open source and accessible, and strive to create useful, unique and amazing things.
Assuming money was not an issue, this would be pretty straight-forward to put into practice. Just do awesome things and don’t worry about a paycheck. But that way of working only lasts so long since most contributors are only able to bankroll themselves for a short window of time. Of course, cash flow and price-setting is a touchy subject with any business; but it’s especially touchy if that business is super feel-good.
Money and love can be a dangerous mix, but they don’t have to be. For example, I’m writing this from a local Seattle coffee shop (Analog coffee, ironically) and I’ve never felt the desire to penny-pinch here. I love the people, the coffee, the craft of what they do, and the chill vibe; I want these guys to thrive. It’s good for the neighborhood, it’s good for me, it’s good for them, and so if anything, I only want to pay them more than what they charge. In fact, if they had a Groupon or some special rate for half off, I’d purposely not use it. They’re real people doing something really awesome — why would I want to short change them?
So if we are to make the dream real and enable a full-time open creative profession, it behooves us to be smart, sincere, and philosophically and morally good. We shouldn’t build it on top of $.99 apps and dollar menu cheeseburgers. The things we create should be well crafted and full of love. They should make our lives better and open new doors to where we collectively want the future to go.
Currently, being a full-time open creative is still a bit of a stretch and raises more questions than answers. How do we do enable this new way of working? What should we start making? How do we convey craft online? How do we generate money to support it without bringing up donations or venture capital? How are contributors held accountable? Can the output be both virtual and physical?
We want to help make the future awesome, open, fair, and sustainable. No make-a-million-overnight start-up whims, but a collective of smart creators building thoughtful things for the greater good. Digital things. Physical things. Products, services, experiences, philosophies, and stories. Anything that strikes us as interesting is on the table.
And we believe that the seemingly contradictory constraints of being open and making a living wage can actually help to enforce good practices. Open finances could help to make clear what it takes to develop something (or catalyze discussions about ways to improve upon it). Open source code shows good-will and confidence, both of which are inherit in what consumers and collaborators of this new economy value. Open processes and planning invite early feedback and offer the potential for early press to fuel an idea forward. There’s an opportunity for accountability, fairness, and morals in a fully open and transparent business like nothing we’ve seen so far.
The concept of the full-time open creative is nothing new (as painters and sculpters from the renaissance surely desired something similar), but the most recent wave of democratizing technologies and perspectives uniquely positions us to finally make it a reality.
There’s clearly a lot more to figure out and explore, but dialog is a start. We have a dream and we invite everyone who shares the dream of simply making awesome things full-time to join us in making it real. Please feel free to share your thoughts and help us all to rethink the way we work.
The future we build together is going to be awesome.