First steps into the Edgeryders learning program: understanding Mazzucato's "Mission Economy"

Heads up: I want to try out that learning program we have been talking about in the RezNet’s meeting earlier in the year. The problem is how to do that without being crushed by overhead and organizing. So:

  1. One hour of conversation on a topic. No slides. Only commitment is preparing a few talking points, maybe 10 minutes.
  2. No hosting. Community managers invited, like anyone else, but with no obligation to care about anyone else.
  3. No promotion/comms. Put in on the platform with a week lead time, make it open, that’s it.

I am starting it next Tuesday. Since @yudhanjaya was interested, I offered to host a conversation on Mazzucato’s Mission Economy. It’s an interesting book, and it might even be relevant to Edgeryder works in some areas. Immediately, I can think of Witnesspedia entries, future consulting gigs and research projects.

People who might be interested are @Worldbuilders, @marina, @amelia, @johncoate, @noemi, @nadia… everyone welcome, no obligation whatsoever. We are meeting on Tuesday 23rd at 17.00 CET at the link below. Done!


Haven’t read the book but I heard her great Ted talk, I want to learn more so I will try to be there

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Amazing! Looking forward to it. Would you reconsider the no slides thing? No slides necessary is totally cool if that’s people’s preferred mode of teaching, but for those of us visual learners / communicators it’s tough to go without visuals for an hour :slight_smile: often helpful for both teachers and learners to have them, even if just for 5-10 min at beginning to illustrate concepts before discussion!

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Oh, yes! I meant no slides for me, this time around. The whole point is not to aggravate people who have something to contribute.

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Haha perfect. That means when it’s my turn I can spare you from my visual-less rambles :smiley:

Super nice initiative and glad you found the time to do it,
I will try to join as well, about 60% yes :slight_smile:

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I’ll tumble along for the discussion. By chance, it’s short notice for me to do my homework, so I may sit quietly at the back.

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I will join you.

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Guys, there is no issue here, really. The ideas expressed in the book are simple to explain. Most of the discussion will depart from the book, and we will try to figure out if, how, and where a mission economy is possible.

Thanks for the discussion, folks, and sorry I had to drop off a bit early. A few other thoughts I wanted to throw in:


Many institutions find it easier to build something than to look after it once it exists. The Mission Economy exacerbates this – there’s a tension between going flat-out to build something, and building it in a form which will be easy to tend in the future. ER’s work on care likely has some relevance here.

Public Engagement

A moonshot might not require a Kennedy, but it does require a public sphere solidly connected to the institution driving the mission. Otherwise, how do you get buy-in?
So I struggle to imagine the EU accomplishing a moonshot, simply because it has insufficient space in the public imagination. But perhaps making the attempt would do it good.

Missions and Authoritarianism

Many of the totalitarian low-points of the 20th century would fit the definition of a Mission – start with the Great Leap Forward, or look at any of Stalin or Hitler’s campaigns to bring the public behind some huge, catastrophic transformation of society.
So a dictator and a propaganda machine can make a mission happen. How do you get the same commitment and public support in a democracy? Maybe the Apollo program was just an outlier – how many failed government ‘moonshots’ have been attempted since then?


Dan, these are all great points. Just one small thing…

Some of these missions failed, Dan. I do not know much about the Great Leap Forward, but James Scott’s magnificent Seeing Like a State covers Stalin’s collectivization of agriculture in the 1930s, and that. without a doubt, failed its stated mission (increase agricultural production and yields). Stalin’s security apparatus could keep his reforms in place despite that failure, but could not undo the failure itself, precisely because the peasantry resisted, for example by shifting effort to tending private herbal gardens and away from the collectivized fields).

I think Mazzucato has a point when she insists on broad buy-in (or “engagement”, as she prefers to say) as a condition for missions to be successful.

Well if they could get support for “humanitarian bombings” of Libya, to cite one of many absurd examples, I am pretty sure they could get public support for a moonshot :wink:

The only question is whether there is a will to employ resources for a certain mission.

Very interesting discussion indeed, I was very tired so almost opted out but I am glad I came.