The Social Organism
A Radical Understanding of Social Media to Transform Your Business and Life
As Senior Advisor to MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative and co-author of The Age of Cryptocurrency, Michael Casey demystifies the blockchain: the decentralized record-keeping system driving the bitcoin revolution. He’s also co-author of The Social Organism, in which he argues that social networks imitate the behavior of biological life. In both works, Casey provides a sweeping vision of how new technologies are empowering people to take charge of their lives in ways that are disrupting middlemen, upending business models, and radically redefining how society is governed.
When coupled with mobile money apps, Big Data-driven banking services, decentralized e-marketplaces, and countless financial technology (“fintech”) innovations aimed at breaking big banks’ dominance, the blockchain’s core concept of a distributed ledger of information could reinvent the economy as we know it. In such a system, where risk is parceled out across thousands of computers rather than dangerously centralized in the databases of New York banks, trillions of dollars in middleman fees could be saved, billions of “unbanked” could be included into the global economy, and money could move as freely around the world as information now does. The potential savings from this disruptive technology are so big that the World Economic Forum predicts that as much as 10 percent of world GDP will be transacted over it by 2025.
“[Vigna and Casey] have produced more than a bitcoin 101: their [book] is a smarter, more holistic take on not just bitcoin, but the potential of all digital currencies to change the way we send each other money.”— Fortune
With clarity and objectivity, Casey explains the concept of cryptocurrency: its origins, its function, and how it impacts everything from government to business to academia. An expert on financial innovation, on global capital markets and economics, and a student of what “money” and “value” really mean, Casey conceives of a new digital society in which software and algorithms will replace our outdated, analog legal systems to bring transparency, objectivity and integrity to the new, knowledge-sharing society that is forming around us.
Currently Senior Advisor to the Digital Currency Initiative at the MIT Media Lab, Casey has two decades of experience as a journalist—most recently as a senior columnist at The Wall Street Journal, covering digital currency, global finance, and economics. In addition to co-authoring The Age of Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and Digital Money Are Challenging the Global Economic Order—a “timely and colorful book [that] is a rewarding place to learn it all” (The New York Times) and “the most thorough and readable account of the short life of this controversial currency” (The Washington Post)—and hundreds of bylines at WSJ, he has written for Foreign Policy, The Washington Post, The Financial Times and many other publications. He is also the author of two prior books: The Unfair Trade: How Our Broken Financial System Destroys the Middle Class and Che’s Afterlife: The Legacy of an Image. His new book is The Social Organism: A Radical Understanding of Social Media to Transform Your Business and Life (co-authored with Oliver Luckett), about how social media functions just like a living being.
Today, we have far less control over the flow, distribution, or quantity of information than ever before. And social media—the most transformative change to communications since the Gutenberg bible—requires a radically new framework to fully understand it.
Enter Michael Casey. In his new book The Social Organism, he argues that social media functions much like a living organism, even obeying seven rules of biological life—it mirrors cellular structure, possesses metabolism and homeostasis, grows toward complexity, reproduces, and adapts and evolves. And, Casey argues, this metaphoric framework carries a wide array of practical applications for businesses, organizations, and individuals alike.
In this keynote, Casey celebrates the organic spread of information, and offers eye-opening insights into how you can embrace, rather than resist, the zeitgeist. It means moving to an open, decentralized structure, allowing your brand to be adapted and replicated by the public. It means creating worlds other people actually want to build upon. And it means creating the right environment and tools for your customers to become your best ambassadors—getting into people’s heads (and hearts) like never before. With reference to massive brands, memes, online humor, and the new celebrities of the YouTube era, Casey offers a invigorating new way of making sense of the digital world for business leaders, marketers, and everyone else online.
Bitcoin became a buzzword overnight. It pops up in headlines and fuels endless media debate. Yet it seems few people truly understand what it is. In this talk, Michael Casey delivers the definitive answer to the question: Why should anyone care about bitcoin? The “blockchain” technology behind cryptocurrencies holds the promise of a financial system without middlemen—a change that’s 500 years in the making. It puts that system in the control of the people who use it and safeguards them from a 2008-type crash. Much more than a new digital form of currency, this technology could integrate billions of hitherto excluded people into the global economy, restore individuals’ control over their private data and identities, and change the way organizations and business relationships are governed. At the corporate, academic, and government levels, well-informed managers and officials are starting to realize that there all sorts of disruptive applications for this technology, with big implications for the broader economy. With lucidity and verve, Casey makes this unfamiliar but important topic accessible, and teaches us what we need to know to be ready for this big shift.