Saturday, July 16, 2005
from Jonathan Field,Executive Director
If you're reading this, you have digital access. And chances are that the area where you live often feels overwhelmed by ads. People and businesses selling something, whether it's on billboards, gas pumps, or even people's bodies. The planet today seems driven by a system generating ever more products and marketing. I'm part of that marketing, helping businesses brand themselves. I have experienced a world without much explicit marketing.
First, for a summer as a teen, living with a family of blacksmiths down in a town south of Oaxaca, Mexico. The next time was in the early 1990s, when I spent four months on a sparsely populated Greek island. They were very different regions and experiences. But both shared a similar sense of energy. Which at first feel seemed awfully quiet. There just wasn't much to buy. Not much to shop for. Except food. It made me realize that so much energy comes from our markets. Even in those places, that's where the buzz was - whether it was the selling and buying of oranges or freshly caught fish.
I nearly failed my first college course in economics. But coming to know Los Angeles-based media economist Titus Levi, he made it clear to me that economics is simply the study of how people and communities share and trade things of value. Fish, oranges, or ideas. We live in a world of markets. Many of us wonder why - given how our markets help generate and distribute many brilliant products, why is there so much second rate creations clamoring for our attention? There's one way to answer that which is to look at Hollywood, which similarly produces a few masterpieces and lots of shlock. Even the system that gets things so right often gets things totally wrong.
Capitalism has a wonderful spirit that taps directly into imagination. The desire to make "things," enjoy "things," share "things." To be part of a community and, by extension, a market. But it's far from perfect. Thinking about these issues led me and Titus to use a blog/podcast to explore existing markets and economies. The hope is to either find alternatives or simply identify the values of what exists and what gets in the way. We're looking broadly at economics, money and markets. Trying to find the needs, ideals and desires that drive them. That's the roots of developing That’s Capital, create a space to host an ongoing conversation about such questions and issues. Hope you enjoy.