Futurespotters Video Interview: Alessandro Mambelli in Yerevan, Armenia

Meet @Alessandro Mambelli:

Alessandro is an engineer and entrepreneur, and he has a new idea - he wants to help people find projects that they care about - instead of going to work just because you have to, you should find something you care about and bring those values to a project that resonates with those interests. In that way you can find a more fulfilling worklife and it should make everybody happier, because if you’re a motivated worker, you also work better.

This is not specific to Armenia or any other region, it’s quite universal. The whole point is to make the motivation behind your work the central aspect. To promote yourself based not just on what you know and what you have done by why you did those things. “What do you do?” is really not enough to understand your story. When you focus on the why you can find connections with work that makes you feel more useful and more purposeful.

Alessandro at this stage is undecided as to whether he should go down the startup route again, or perhaps try some kind of unStartup approach, with the help of the Edgeryders community. Both directions make sense in different ways. Suggestions for business models/sustainability models are more than welcome!

It’s a project with a big vision - to inspire people to do what they want, and do it as a job, not just at the end of your workday.

The first product Alessandro wants to build takes its inspiration from the CV, which is a broken way to advertise who you are, it doesn’t give you a full picture, and it’s only in the job interview that follows where can you find out what this person is all about.

Alessandro’s idea is to use visual information rather than text-based information. your personal information about what you did in the past is spread all over your social networks etc. so you should be able to gather all of this data and present it in a visual, infographic way. Once these infographics exist, he wants to make them interactive, so it’s not just something static but rather something that you can navigate, browse, filter etc. It can give you context, images, more information about the project and the knowledge and experience you gained from it, which these days is what an employer tries to discover in the interview stage. So the process can be much easier and faster from a recruiter point of view which is a big selling point.

How you can help:

-get involved in the discussion. Right here, right now. what thoughts do you have on this idea? are there any precedents or examples of others working in this field? do you have ideas or resources which you could contribute?

-if you believe in the cause and have relevant skills or just motivation and enthusiasm, by all means get in touch with Alessandro and join the team!

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+1 for unStartup

(hmm, something funny is going on with Youtube at the moment, I’m going to reupload this video and repost it soon)

Hi Alessandro, to follow up on our discussion in Yerevan, obviously it’s entirely your own decision what you do with this idea but as the frothy-mouthed open source fan I am, I can’t help but lay out my arguments for building this as an open source / open standard project.

You need people to help research, build, use, market and maintain this product. If you go the traditional startup route, each of these stages require monetary investment. The more investment, the more pressure to earn big profits, exploit user data, skew your users’ experience for profit, etc…

If you decide to build an open source community, many of these monetary investments are drastically reduced, or non-existent. However, trying to guide a community requires careful thought, planning and execution (just ask @Noemi or @Alberto)

More people are willing to engage at a higher level and get involved in building the process if they see that a) the goal of the project is aligned with their own goals and b) the main organisation/developer can be trusted and has a commitment to the community.

This commitment to the community starts with an open source license. This says ‘I trust and respect the community and I hope my work can be of value to them.’ It tells the community ‘if you have a great idea, you already have permission to try it out’.

It allows others to build businesses around and upon the core project, which in this case perfectly mirrors this project’s bigger goal - allowing people to make a living doing what they love. An open license also gives the community some insurance - in the worst possible scenario, if you go rogue and turn the project into something completely contrary to the project’s original goals, people can still fork the project or at least customize it to suit their needs.

Of course the license is just the start, there is a lot more which can and should be done to show your community you’re trustworthy and to engage developers, users etc. But I won’t get into that here.

Secondly, the standard you’re ‘competing’ against, the CV, is ancient, and spread throughout every sector of the economy.

A proprietary approach to taking on the CV (LinkedIn for example), might be where one company creates one standard for everyone to use, or perhaps different versions and flavours of the core product depending on perceived interest / use cases / potential revenue from different demographics. LinkedIn has the business community down, sure, but it’s completely useless for many creative industries, subcultures, etc. But who cares, those sectors aren’t profitable, right?

Well, in an open source environment, different users and communities can take the original product and adapt it to suit their needs, however niche. Their improvements are also published under an open license for others to use. This has the nice side effect of serving as a highly unpredictable but surprisingly effective extra R&D department for any business built around the open project.

designing for openness allows others to answer the questions that you don’t have the answers to, but its greatest power may be that it allows others to ask the questions that you haven’t even thought to ask.” Roman Mars, 99% Invisible.

And what if there are other companies/organisations with the same or a similar goal to you? You all expend energy competing against one another, building your own walled gardens and duplicating each others’ work writing distinct proprietary code which largely does exactly the same thing as everyone else’s. And eventually one winner emerges, regardless of whether it suits everybody’s needs, or if it’s technically the best possible solution. The other businesses wither and die, and the successful business gets sold to Facebook/LinkedIn/Google for 10 billion dollars.

I’m sure there are other people/companies with similar goals to you, and with the right coordination, you can collaborate on areas where you share goals, and have more time and resources to focus on finding your own niches and services to specialise in.

In Yerevan I mentioned the idea of looking at the Wordpress ecosystem as a template, to think about a possible ecosystem which could develop if you designed this as open source - many different businesses doing customisation and services, contributing back to the core project. Check out this article and see if any ideas come to mind: What’s going on in the Wordpress economy?

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On visual and interactive replacements for CVs

That is a great idea on its own already, since it allows to carry reputation (for example by embedding your StackExchange profiles). So, it proves that you have the skills you claim to have, while in CVs you can basically only claim to have some skills.

I just looked, and indeed “my” EarthOS document had some tips for you :-)  … stuff that could help you build this system, because, you know, a good programmer is a lazy programmer:

To startup or to unstartup

Adding from my (of course purely anecdotal) experience from building startups: it is really, really hard, to build a self-sustaining startup if that shouldn’t just mean a precarious way of sustaining yourself. Except maybe if you have a well-funded partner organization to get you started and make you well-known. Or maybe by starting alongside whatever you’re working in right now and see when it catches on and gets traction … it can happen surprisingly fast at times, this is a networked world after all, and then that would be the point where you can make it a full-time startup then.

Personally I can relate a lot to “working for what you care about rather than just having a job”. To me that’s a major trait of freedom, while “jobs” are often borderline to forced labor … . That pursuit of freedom / self-determination is also the reason why I am still in the startup world after 6 years of very moderate success.

And that was also the reason why I started to rethink the way we do business, tracing the difficulty of creating sustainable startups back to the scarcity of money as a medium of economic exchange. There’s so much wasted time and other resources that we could exchange if it wasn’t limited by always-scarce money. So in the end, I developed a tool to replace money :slight_smile: (together with a brother of mine and input from the Edgeryders community). It should allow to engage in much more exchange, and could be an in-road for sustainability for all the initiatives that you will inspire your “clients” to start. For tax reasons, one will always also have to earn some money at some point, but it should make the start much simpler.

Tell me what you think about it … that Makerfox tool is just launched, so we’re also looking for collaborations and ways to make it useful for the people :slight_smile:


I actually stumbled upon you EarthOs some time ago. From what I could understand, your proposed approach is similar to other experiment/projects that I saw around the world, such as Christiania in Copenhagen or Damanhur in the north of Italy for example. I know they are both quite peculiar, but in many respect I see similarities.

For their very nature though they tend to be hyper-local realities, with little networking, and still dependent on the outside society one way or another, whereas you would propose to internationalise the whole project, correct?

A lot of questions come to my curious mind, maybe to be taken live in Tiblisi if you will be there, especially around your opinion about competition and …what would history become in a future with only small autarchic communities?  :slight_smile:

As for your experience in the startup world, I agree that it is a hard path, I can see it from the inside since I am living it right now, but it’s an effective way to give yourself the chance to build the future that you want to see. In the spirit of pure 'edgeryding", you seem to aim to a pretty radical set of solutions, a major shift in society, which is quite different from trying to participate in society and making it better -if possible- from the inside.

Will showcase EarthOS in Tbilisi!

Alessandro, you already have a pretty good idea about EarthOS smiley Indeed, Christiania was an inspiration, and so are Calafou and Open Source Ecology and SeaSteading. But you’ll also have noticed that the global aspirations in EarthOS are tongue-in-cheek. It’s a utopian steampunk sci-fi novel, written as a tech spec and to-do list. But then again, visions often come as novels, and maybe I’m just saying I’m not fully serious (but in reality I am) to avoid being declared outright mad in mainstream society? wink

In any case, the practical relevance right now is EarthOS as a systematic reference of open tech solutions - you’re welcome to join my session on EarthOS in Tbilisi (just published it today), and we can have a detailed chat on EarthOS and history etc. then, too. Also I’d love to bring EarthOS into a much more useful shape, but so far I did not find the resources for this … but it’s open source itself, so maybe others will :slight_smile:

We will be there!

Anxious for listening about EarthOS!! Did you listen about the «phyle» movement? It is «real community»-small scale, but as it made by nomades cannot be said that has small networking :slight_smile:

An approach to our «software»

We also used the free software metaphora and some time ago we even published a «phyle installation guide» you probably will like, with the main tools which survived after our first ten years of experience in las Indias. Juanjo, from Phyle Aesyr, will be in your workshop too, so probably he will like to share their most used free software tools for developing deliberation, etc. in their phyle.

so what r the updates for the Un start up

@Alessandro Mambelli

I assume that u already went for the un start up way - from the twitterstorm - or u haven’t decided yet .

what r the updates and how is it going with the team building

for me I don’t have much to add to back up the open source track  - but I believe it is a better way to go , building a start up is hard anyway but making it more open gives it more chances to survive especially in the early beginning  .

Hi @Hazem,

Hi @hazem,

The team is coming together, we are three at the moment, and I will be hosting a session at the Tiblisi conference about where we are and what we are aiming to achieve. Are you going to be there?

yes and waiting for the session :slight_smile:

Open-source does not mean unstartup

so I really liked Sam’s comment, I feel the open source is really great way of building a community around software but equally having is truly dedicated team around you who are motivated by more than just the goal can be very exciting because money is more than just a motivator it’s a way of measuring an idea’s success. For example in this case if you built an open source community but only ended up with 5 developers contributing and let’s say 2000 users on the platform, you’re left with a challenge to decide whether or not to continue and the motivation will quickly die unless those numbers dramatically increase. Whereas money or returns can drive you past this early adoption phase and give you the resources to grow and market your idea to the world.

It can go hand in hand, by building the core open-source, but equally building a company on the platform. And possibly innovating one step ahead with the company…