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Musings and articles by Jacob aka Unfather.

Category: Business

Ordinance 2505 in Chico, CA: Defying Cannabis and Democracy

If you live Chico, California and care about cannabis in any form, recreational or medicinal, please take the time to read this, otherwise it will become nearly impossible to acquire cannabis in Chico, CA starting Dec 6th, 2017 due to the passing of ordinance 2505.

beautiful Chico

This is everything you need to know about ordinance 2505.


What is Ordinance 2505?

Ordinance 2505 is a bill under consideration by Chico city council that is coming to final vote on Dec 6th. It intends to explicitly ban commercial cannabis and prohibit certain unwanted behavior such as public smoking, but is terribly overbroad and essentially bans cannabis cultivation, use, and possession in nearly all circumstances, even going so far as to nullify the existence of medicinal-type cannabis. This is clearly counter to the intent of Prop 64 and AUMA which on Nov 9th 2016 legalized both recreational and medicinal cannabis across the state, receiving a majority vote at the state, county, and city level.

Democracy has spoken in every way: Californians, Butte county, and the citizens of Chico want access to both adult-use and medicinal cannabis. 4 of 7 members of Chico city council, however, are attempting to deny that explicit request, and so too the will of our democracy.

What does Ordinance 2505 say exactly?

You can view and download the entire ordinance here, starting on page 4 (the city attorney’s letter above that is also informative): http://chico-ca.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=2&event_id=264&meta_id=54782

In essence, as summarized by the city attorney, it intends to:

“(1) Explicitly prohibit all commercial marijuana activity;
(2) Implement a permitting and regulatory scheme for indoor personal marijuana cultivation; and
(3) Explicitly regulate the locations where smoking of marijuana is prohibited.”

There are 6 uses of the word “reasonable” as in having intent to be so, and twice the word “intent” is used in the context of following the intent of Prop 64 AUMA. But the AUMA already regulates everything that this ordinance covers reasonably, so that is not what ordinance 2505 ultimately does.

Worst of all, one of its two fundamental arguments (the other being a reasonable concern for the public) is that cannabis activity cannot be allowed because “pursuant to Section 19.02.020(E) of the Chico Municipal Code, if a proposed use of land is not specifically listed under any zoning district or designated zone as a permitted or conditional use, the land use is not allowed.”

Instead of regulating such land use in the Chico Municipal Code so economic activity can continue, cannabis is being banned in almost its entirety, and with very little reason given.

What specifically is bad about Ordinance 2505?

Before we start, know that Prop 215 (California’s original medical marijuana program since 1996) will be rescinded at the start of 2018 and replaced by AUMA, which means its protections will not exist against ordinance 2505, crippling medical access as well as recreational adult-use. Butte County (wherein Chico resides) has also restricted commercial cannabis activity, which means cannabis will not even be accessible outside city limits.

The burden of access is now hours outside of town. For many patients, the poor, and those who are just plain busy, this isn’t acceptable.

Now, we must accept two fundamental, objective truths about cannabis (aka marijuana or weed):

  1. Cannabis is NOT substantially harmful, and is objectively less harmful than alcohol, which for contrast is legal and accessible in nearly any grocery store across the entire world. Say what you will about alcohol, but if alcohol doesn’t get banned then logically neither does cannabis.
  2. Cannabis prohibition has NOT substantially reduced crime in any way. Arguably, it has created a black market that wouldn’t exist with reasonable, careful regulation. Instead of being that regulation, ordinance 2505 instead prohibits the possibility of regulation even being considered. Thus it will only propagate Chico’s cannabis black market.

Within only the last decade, growing research has increasingly confirmed millennia of human experience enforcing the unimpeachable truth that cannabis not only doesn’t hurt people, it more often than not helps them: it almost instantly ends many kinds of seizures, reduces depression to workable levels, helps with certain forms of schizophrenia, mediates many kinds of neurological activity for the better, and reduces pain at a minuscule fraction of the cost of painkillers, without the risk of addiction that has evolved into the opioid epidemic crippling the nation today. Cannabis, by the way, has been shown to reduce opioid addiction too.

We must understand what actual, real-world effect the ordinance will have if passed. Regardless of the intent, the actual text of the ordinance is what’s legally practicable. The text as it is now will only create an enormous number of serious medical concerns, economically inhibit the prosperity of the city, and potentially lead to a flourishing black market which everyone wants to avoid.

That same black market, though, is eager to contribute tax income as legit operators, but can’t because 4 people on Chico city council refuse to regulate cannabis appropriately. In 2016, Colorado’s cannabis industry produced one billion dollars, $200M of which went to state taxes and programs that further increase citizen prosperity. If Chico refuses commercial cannabis, it is certainly refusing hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars of income for its people besides tax revenue.

What cannabis activity is allowed under Ordinance 2505?

Ordinance 2505 is overbroadly expressed and literally narrows down the legal circumstances under which someone over 21 may interact with cannabis, to this:

ONLY you may smoke the cannabis YOU grew INDOORS with a permit, and you may only smoke it INSIDE your home in such a way that it is not detectable to the public from anywhere in literally any way (sight, sound, smell, heat; everything).

Where specifically does it say the above, that cannabis use is almost entirely prohibited in every way?

Search the section titles below to find these quotes in the actual ordinance (here). I tried to make it as short as possible, and nothing is changed. I don’t blame you for skipping this, but this is everything you could possibly want to know.


19.75.010 Purpose

A. The purpose of this Chapter is to expressly prohibit commercial marijuana activity in the
City of Chico, whether the marijuana is for medical or recreational purposes.

This clearly intends to prohibit any cannabis activity in which money changes hands, or where an action could be interpreted as promoting the commercial interest of a cannabis entity. No doctors can recommend cannabis, no marketing companies can work with cannabis companies, no printing t-shirts with cannabis branding, no sales of soil to cannabis growers, no selling equipment to an individual representing a commercial cannabis operation.

 

19.75.020 Definitions

G. “Delivery” shall mean the transfer of marijuana, including the use of any technology
platform to arrange for or facilitate the transfer of marijuana, by any business, cooperative, or
collective, whether or not carried on for profit, to or from any location within the City of Chico.

It’s important to highlight this definition because it essentially encompasses literally any form of transportation for cannabis, whether you are a delivery, a distributor taking product to a manufacturer, or even a website that facilitates such transfers (Weedmaps, Leafly, even Craigslist). Under no circumstance may cannabis leave the permitted residence it was grown inside of.

 

19.75.030 Prohibitions

A. Commercial Marijuana Activity. Commercial marijuana activity, whether the marijuana is
for medical or recreational purposes, is expressly prohibited in all zoning districts and designated
zones within the City of Chico. No person shall establish, operate, maintain, conduct, cause,
allow or engage in commercial marijuana activity anywhere within the City.

As stated above, all commercial cannabis activity of any kind cannot occur under ordinance 2505.

B. Medical Marijuana. The establishment or operation of any medical marijuana collective, cooperative, dispensary, delivery
service, operator, establishment, or provider shall be considered a prohibited use in all zoning
districts and designated zones of the City.

19.75.030 A and B effectively restricts ALL cannabis activity besides PERSONAL adult-use. As such, there is no such thing as medicinal cannabis in Chico under any context. The only legal use of cannabis in Chico is effectively personal adult.

C. Personal Marijuana Cultivation for Recreational Use. With the exception of … no more than six (6) plants in a
private residence by first securing a permit, personal marijuana cultivation shall be prohibited
and considered unlawful in all areas of the City to the extent it is unlawful under California law.

19.75.030 A, B, and C effectively restrict literally every type of cannabis activity besides 6 plants grown indoors for personal use. Literally everything.

D. Property Owners. A property owner shall not rent, lease, or otherwise allow, cause or allow
any business that engages in commercial marijuana activity.

This effectively places property owners under liability for reasonable cannabis use. This forces them to evict tenants and restrict property access to anyone who could feasibly be involved with ANY kind of cannabis use or cannabis business (ex. a tenant can’t make webpages for a cannabis blog), INCLUDING MEDICAL, besides explicitly permitted personal-use. 

E. Deliveries. Delivery of marijuana or marijuana products, whether the marijuana is for medical or recreational purposes, to or from the City of Chico is expressly prohibited. No person shall conduct or perform any delivery of marijuana or
marijuana products where the delivery either originates or terminates within the City. Nothing
herein prevents the use and traversing of public roads within the City of Chico by a lawful business pursuant to state law.

Again, all commercial activity as well as transportation of any sort is banned. An outside party may pass through Chico on business, but likely would be liable if they, say, stopped and met with someone with whom they also shared cannabis, perhaps after patronizing a local night club.

F. Outdoor Cultivation. Outdoor cultivation of marijuana is expressly prohibited in all
zoning districts and designated zones of the City of Chico.

Considering that cannabis is a plant, this should be preposterous on its face: plants need sunlight. Instead, ordinance 2505 forces personal-use cultivators to weigh down the power grid with lighting, route additional water to their indoor growing area, and expose buildings to sustained cannabis pollen which will reduce property values, and further incline property owners to discriminate against cannabis users.

 

19.75.040 Indoor Personal Marijuana Cultivation

A. Purpose and Intent. It is the purpose and intent of this section to enact and enforce
reasonable regulations to reasonably regulate the ability of an individual twenty-one (21) years
of age or older to possess, plant, cultivate, harvest, dry, or process, for personal, noncommercial
use, not more than six (6) living marijuana plants indoors and to possess the marijuana produced
by the plants, all in accordance with the Adult Use of Marijuana Act of 2016. The cultivation of marijuana for
personal noncommercial and recreational use may only take place in accordance with this Chapter.

This again explicitly outlines the intent to restrict access down to ONLY personal, noncommercial, recreational cannabis. There is no reason to eradicate medical and to do that flies in the face of how Prop 64 was passed in the first place (by way of two decades of medical marijuana). With absolute certainty, this section will be especially pertinent in court.

C. Indoor Personal Cultivation Permit.

2. No more than one (1) permit per private residence shall be issued and maintained at any
one time, regardless of the number of persons dwelling or residing in the private residence

Further restrictions on cultivation and personal use: you may only smoke from the 6 plants you grew, and any household may only grow 6 plants regardless of how many people live there.

D. Indoor Personal Cultivation Regulations.

  1. a. All planting, cultivation, harvesting, drying, and processing … shall be conducted entirely within
    the interior of a private residence or accessory structure.

This would likely lead to odor damaging the structure, and no ventilation is allowed either, as this would make everything detectable from the outside, which is prohibited later on.

h. No living marijuana plants, marijuana cultivation activities, or equipment, shall be
visible, and no odor, light, heat, or other environmental impacts associated with personal
cultivation shall be detectable, from a public place, right-of-way, neighboring public or private
property, or beyond the bounds of the grounds of the private residence at any time.

This is an impossible standard to maintain. Imagine if you could drink alcohol, but never in such a way that anyone could possibly know about it; they can’t see it, smell it, see you drink, or even see bottles in your garbage can on the curb. This also makes revoking licenses based on minor ordinance complaints extremely easy.

l. The lighting used for cultivation shall not exceed 1200 watts.

Cannabis, like all plants, needs light to grow, and 1200w for 6 plants essentially restricts their size, but most importantly their yield, to much less than even natural sunlight would provide. This is likely an attempt to weaken output, meanwhile it also hurts medicinal efficacy and unreasonably restricts legal use further.

m. No nuisance shall be caused or maintained on the grounds of the private residence,
including but not limited to those conditions set forth in Chapter 1.14 of this Code.

Another overbroad restriction likely intended to make revocation of permits much easier. Any noise complaint, say during a rowdy game of post-turkey family football, could be grounds to revoke a permit.

E. Enforcement and Inspection Authority

1. Upon seventy-two (72) hour written notice, the Community Development Director, and
any City police officer or code enforcement officer, shall have the right to enter into and upon
the grounds of any private residence, and into or upon a private residence or accessory structure,
for which a permit has been issued pursuant to this Chapter for purposes of conducting an
inspection to ensure compliance with the requirements of this Chapter and the Adult Use of
Marijuana Act. A permittee’s refusal to allow said inspection shall be grounds for revocation of
the permit.

This portion is truly terrifying and aims to give both police and city officials the right to enter private grounds without a warrant. Thankfully, only a lawful judge can issue a warrant to search private property, and no ordinance can revoke your Fourth Amendment rights. One doesn’t need to be a lawyer to see that this clause absolutely will not stand in court.

F. Sale or Transfer of Marijuana Prohibited

1. It shall be unlawful for any person or permittee to sell, or otherwise transfer for any
consideration whatsoever, marijuana plants or the marijuana produced by the plants, to any other
person.

This explicitly denies all transfer of cannabis under any circumstance. Again, you may only use cannabis you have grown yourself, inside your own residence, for recreational purposes.

G. Grounds for Permit Denial

d. The applicant is in violation of a provision of the Chico Municipal Code or owes taxes,
fees, or penalties pursuant to this chapter or any other provision of the Chico Municipal Code.
e. The applicant of a new permit, or for the renewal thereof, has had a permit denied or
revoked by the City within the preceding twelve (12) months.

Your permit can be denied if you owe taxes under the Chico Municipal Code, or if you had “a” permit denied in the last year”, which can be read as meaning ANY permit. So if you tried to build extra space into a room you now want to grow cannabis in, but 7 months ago Chico denied your permit to expand the room (which is why you decided to grow cannabis instead), now you can’t grow cannabis either.

J. Permit Fees. A filing and processing fee, in an amount established by resolution or
ordinance of the City Council, shall be submitted with each application for an original permit, or
applications for permit renewals. The fee provided for in this section is imposed to cover the cost
of processing and reviewing permit applications, and to cover the cost of site inspections
provided for in this Chapter. The fee provided for in this section may be amended from time to
time by resolution of the City Council.

This section allows for a permit fee, which is intended to pay for the cost of issuing and enforcing permits. Those permits would not be necessary if outdoor cultivation were legal per state law. Essentially, this clause creates free income for a permit no one wants, which can be increased at the city councils discretion and spent on whatever qualifies as “enforcement” (paying for a committee lunch meeting, for example).

 

19.75.060 Smoking

A. No person shall smoke or ingest marijuana in any public place.
B. Smoking of marijuana shall be prohibited in any building, structure, location, area or place
where the Code currently prohibits the smoking of tobacco.

Again, under no circumstance can you use cannabis besides that which you grew yourself for personal use, and you must use it in your own home, or perhaps in the home of another while they watch, because it’s illegal to give them any, and it was illegal to transport it anywhere else in the first place.

 

19.75.080 Violations

B. Any person violating any provision of this Chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. Any such person
shall be guilty of a separate offense for each and every day a violation of the provisions of this
Chapter is committed, continued, or permitted to be continued by such person.

Anyone who aides those involved in commercial cannabis in any way is guilty of a misdemeanor, and its a new misdemeanor for every 24 hours it’s allowed to happen.


That is everything in Ordinance 2505 that you must know to stay informed.

How did the state, county, and city vote on Prop 64 AUMA?

57.1% of Californians voted “YES” in support of AUMA. That’s 7,979,041 people and a majority, and so it passed.

42.9% of Californians voted no, or 5,987,020 people. That’s 15% less. A rather huge margin, frankly.

In Butte, 51, 034 people voted “YES” in support of AUMA while 44,697 voted no. Another healthy majority in support of cannabis.

Chico also voted “YES” to AUMA (numbers are coming as soon as I can find a verifiable source).

Merely 4 people on the city council are defying tens of thousands of city residents, and they have given little reason for this.

Who voted for Ordinance 2505, and who voted against it?

Councilmembers Ann Schwab, Karl Ory, and Randall Stone voted “NO” in opposition to Ordinance 2505. They are interested in reasonable cannabis regulation that protects all of Chico and its future economic, industrial, and healthcare interests.

Chico City Council

The four who voted “YES” in support of Ordinance 2505, which refuses reasonable regulation and provides for an increased black market for cannabis within our community, are: Mark Sorensen, Andrew Coolidge, Vice Mayor Reanette Fillmer, and Mayor Sean Morgan.

What can we do to stop Ordinance 2505?

The best course of action would be for one of the 4 “yes” votes to change to a “no” vote by December 6th, stopping the ordinance in its tracks. Then the city could work with the community to develop appropriate cannabis legislation for Chico, and until then the AUMA state law would hold, as intended.

Alternatively, I and many other cannabis professionals in Chico are working to gain 5000-8000 local signatures that will force a referendum on Ordinance 2505. That means instead of any changes, for now the law will stay as is (following current state and city regulations) until June 2018 or later when it will be put to ballot and the people of Chico can, yet again, declare with democracy their feelings on cannabis.

Worst case scenario, the ordinance passes and we must wait until 2019 before it can come to vote again. That would only harm the legitimate cannabis industry in Chico, for approximately 1 year, and prohibit medicinal-use cannabis for citizens for that entire time as well. There are literally no tangible benefits to the ordinance that aren’t already provided by AUMA. It will only hurt, essentially, everyone.

What can I do to help stop Ordinance 2505?

Perhaps the most important thing right now is to get and give signatures in support for our referendum against ordinance 2505. All of Chico’s cannabis professionals are working hard to collect signatures every single day until December 7th. Contact literally any of us and we will come to your door to get your signature.

Please note: you must be a registered voter, and you must currently live in Chico in the residence that you registered to vote under. That’s all you need to have in order to make a very real contribution with nothing more than the flick of a pen.

Ultimately though, the true best course of action is for us all to communicate with our elected representatives and tell them we DO NOT want Ordinance 2505 in Chico. You can do that in a number of ways, and all of them if possible.

Call

It matters if you simply pick up the phone and call using this list of city employee phone numbers: http://www.chico.ca.us/human_resources_and_risk_management/documents/CityEmployeesbyDepartment.pdf

Email

You can find the emails and photos of all 7 Chico councilmembers here: http://www.chico.ca.us/city_council/council_members.asp

Here are the emails for the 4 councilmembers who voted to support Ordinance 2505, and only one needs to change their mind to stop it. Please contact them all individually, and be respectful. We all want to work together to create a safe and neighborly environment in Chico.

andrew.coolidge@chicoca.gov

reanette.fillmer@chicoca.gov

sean.morgan@chicoca.gov

mark.sorensen@chicoca.gov

Visit

City council members must afford time to the public. You can go to city hall and demand to be heard. It is located at:

411 Main Street, Chico, CA 95928 (click for a map)

Mail

Chico City Hall 411 Main StThis is the mailing address. Letters show you really care!

PO Box 3420
Chico, CA 95927

You can find additional contact information for city officials here: http://www.chico.ca.us/contact/

How can I give my support to the referendum against Ordinance 2505?

Copy the link to this article and share it, even if you don’t live in Chico. Google ranks content by how popular it is (ironic, yes) and sharing immensely helps us get the word out. You can also donate funds to your local Chico deliveries, and they will provide a receipt so everything’s above board.

Just as we serious cannabis professionals always have been, and always will be.

We implore the citizens of Chico to unite with us against this sloppy, anti-democratic ordinance against cannabis. Let’s work together and do this right instead.

Please contact me literally any time at omni@sweetamber.co. I am often immediately available to discuss concerns and answer questions. Don’t forget, you can leave replies below!

Leveling Up in Life: The Gamer’s Guide to Success

Success is elusive when video games are so much more tempting, but it’s important to achieve success in order to acquire more time for video games. This troubling duality is the essence of life confronted in the Tao.

I’m a successful, brick-jawed, adventurous blogger who loves to game and I’m here to help you become a success too. What follows are the critical skills, achievements worth earning, and talents to strive for to help you succeed just enough so you can feed your digital addiction and get your mom off your fucking back, mom.

Excellence in any of these skills will lead to success, while improving them all, particularly in order, will certainly make you a better, cooler, potentially less odorous individual.

None of this, however, can make up for a goatee.

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App Ideas That AREN’T Worth Crowdfunding

These days, everyone has a great app idea. Most ideas, however, are complete trash. I’d like to add some to the garbage pile!

  • An app that filters your favorite sitcoms so you don’t see holiday specials.
  • An app that only exists to encourage you to eat McDonald’s fast food.
  • An app for downloading a housepet’s ID chip information and replacing it with another pet’s info.
  • A soundboard app of NPR radio hosts and amateur podcasters eating into the mic.
  • A tower defense game where you defend against the endless onslaught of Republican presidential candidates for 2016.
  • A calorie counter that requires you to weigh food on top of your phone, enter a complete range of dietary information from a long list of preconfigured drop downs, and then averages your calorie burn rate after you import pedometer data from a separate app into the diet app. You can also upload a personalized health score to an internet leaderboard, which is actually a requirement as the app doesn’t work without a constant data connection.
  • An app that guarantees calls from your parents always ring until answered.
  • An app that provides any kind of option to pay for porn that isn’t the kind of porn I’d be ashamed to google repeatedly.
  • A score counter that resets every time you check social network notifications, but also logs your attempts and sends you a shameful report at the end of every week.
  • A GPS app with your census data that audibly instructs you repeatedly to drive carefully while black pretty much everywhere in America.
  • The Wisdom of Tom Sizemore motivational quotes app.
  • An alarm that buzzes if you drive past the gym but haven’t actually gone in the last two days.
  • An alarm that buzzes if you go to the gym but only use the hot tub.
  • A barcode scanner for price checking that also simultaneously shows you the balance in your checking account.
  • Nothing But Miley daily twerking tips.
  • An app that constantly scans the environment for leading comments like “I’m not racist, but…” and then emits an intense, screeching frequency so that you don’t hear the rest of the comment and start feeling awkward around that person.
  • A gardening app developed by Monsanto.
  • An app that gets the bartender’s attention by broadcasting at max volume, “HE’S GOT A GUN!”
  • An app that shows you which politicians you can trust by not existing.

These may not be the best ideas in the world, but I’ll take money for them anyway!

Jerry Seinfeld Wonks on Political Correctness

Jerry Seinfeld lamented the state of political correctness on college campuses today during an ESPN interview with Colin Cowherd. When asked if college students are too sensitive in light of recent claims made by Chris Rock and Larry the Cable Guy, Seinfeld responded:

“I hear that all the time. I don’t play colleges, but I hear a lot of people tell me ‘Don’t play colleges, they’re too PC.”

“I’ll give you an example: my daughter’s 14. My wife says to her, ‘Well, you know in the next couple years I think maybe you’ll want to hang around the city on the weekends so you can see boys. My daughter says, ‘That’s sexist.”

“They just want to use these words: ‘That’s racist. That’s sexist. That’s prejudice.’ They don’t even know what they’re talking about.”

When asked, “Does it hurt comedy?” Seinfeld’s quick to answer, “Yes it does. Yes it does.”

However…

Seinfeld isn’t engraving his thesis on the state of politics with “kids these days”, but there are already a handful of problems in this admittedly short excerpt of opinion.

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Emergent Service: Cultivating Spontaneous Success

In the gaming community, there’s a concept known as “emergent gameplay” which refers to unforeseen mechanics that emerge out of the intended mechanics.

One of the best examples is the classic tabletop game Dungeons & Dragons. With relatively few rules explicit, encounters can nonetheless play out in limitless ways. There’s a rule for causing damage with a projectile and a rule for landing a magic-bullet throw, and from them one can deflect a knife off a wall into an ogre’s eye even though there’s no explicit mechanic for bullshit knife throws. In the video game Minecraft players use simple circuits and switches to create machines and even computers that can automate nearly anything in-game. Often there is no official alternative. Encouraging this kind of creativity made Minecraft an immense favorite that continues to be one of the most profitable video games of all time.

Games with strong emergence are popular because they offer more than advertised, some so much that they even spawn completely different, successful games as with Defense of the Ancients. A 3rd-party hit built using the toolset included with Blizzard’s Warcraft 3, DOTA spawned a number of highly successful knockoffs before it was brought into Blizzard’s official catalog. It used the major mechanics of Warcraft 3 but emphasized the heroes, upgrades and base defense aspects in place of the army management and story. The appeal of user-created content was widely proven by that time, but DOTA was one of the first to work within the constructs of the core game while remaining uniquely its own. It sprung naturally from soil laid by Blizzard, a truly talented developer, and even they could not see what they had sewn. But they were smart enough to reap it eventually.

Emergent mechanics oftentimes become so prevalent that they’re integrated with official product. The first combo system in a fighting game came about accidentally during development of Street Fighter II due to a bug that allowed players to link well-timed moves into an indefensible series. This error was abused relentlessly by testers, and now every fighting game features an elaborate combo system. Famously, rocket jumping came into the zeitgeist as a risky tactic from high-level Quake deathmatches, and it’s here to stay despite being the only thing in gaming more ludicrous than female body armor.

Emergent Products

Emergent qualities rise from the silt like gold in the pan. As with gold, prospecting requires time and effort, but every lode might be a big one. Fortunately, gaming isn’t the only place where emergence promises wealth. Nothing benefits from the convergence of ideas more than computer and network technology.

Only a decade ago one probably kept their business communications at the office spread across a phone, fax, file cabinet and personal computer, but today any smartphone can handle all that and start the coffee maker too. Someone saw it fit to make the phone, then other people integrated the internet, a mail app and everything else you could need, and from that emerged a whole that is so much more than its parts. The truth, utility and potential of emergence is objectified in the beloved smartphone.

The largest surfers of the tech wave are Microsoft and Apple, each with their own ecosystem of mutually successful products that characterize what I refer to as “emergent service”: providing a flexible suite of products and possessing the agility to identify and nurture unexpected growth. However, they contrast frequently in their successes because they’ve both handled growth differently at times.

In a time long lost, Microsoft’s superior agility in adapting computers for everyday consumption awarded them a practical monopoly over the PC market. But more recently Apple took the lead by predicting and essentially initiating the widespread adoption of smartphone technology. With the tremendous success of the iPhone, Apple was then able to coordinate the development of a variety of products (iPad, iMac) and services (iCloud, iTunes) that complimented those already available, escalating iProducts into essential everyday tools for both personal and professional use, and Apple into essentially the #1 Company In The World.

What’s startling is that Microsoft had every advantage when this happened: the money, market share and an established name. But Steve Jobs and Co. had the flexibility, capital and wisdom to weave a collection of smart ideas into what would become the first genuinely smart phone, and the next wave of the future.

Cultivating Emergence

Of course, replicating Jobsian vision is a puzzle for the ages and I’m barely not arrogant enough to tackle that topic. Still, the question stands of not just how to reap emergence, but cultivate and sew it as well.

One obvious answer is consulting, which exists primarily to nurture strengths into excellent products and services, often times by complimenting them with something consumers intuitively demand and get one way or another. Experts possess the fundamental insight and perspective necessary to trace and encourage profitable avenues, and they make great money in turn, as do their patrons. However, it would behoove anyone with aspirations of greatness to have this kind of talent on-staff lest it be diverted elsewhere, as great talent is wont to do. The nature of emergent success is such that it requires great focus and you do not want your visionaries distracted by competing interests.

It’s more important than ever to seek emergence, too. Microsoft slipped for just a moment and now struggle to maintain relevance in essential markets. They’re chasing their next big breakthrough instead of building from their last like Apple. Windows isn’t even a close third against iOS and Android phones, and with so many operating systems consistently missing the mark, Microsoft is running out of room to back into. The Xbox alone can’t impede the fall of one of history’s largest corporations.

Microsoft failed to recognize the fundamental wisdom beneath the most persistent nerd factoid of all time, Moore’s Law, which states processor speeds double approximately every 18 months. It rather accurately notes a rate of nearly exponential growth in computers (so far). No other market evolves as constantly. Falling beneath such furious churn can easily result in drowning. This is important to remember because it seems that just as gaming is not the only place to find emergence, neither is tech the only place exponential growth expresses itself.

Accelerating Returns and Inevitable Reality

Ray Kurzweil calls it his “Law of Accelerating Returns“. It describes essentially the same thing as Moore’s, which is that evolutionary systems have a tendency towards exponential growth; organic and technological usually, but potentially also social and cultural evolution, too. But both laws face reasonable limits with logistic growth. Exponential increases continue only under the right circumstances and with limitless resources, and plateau or diminish without. So these growth windows are certainly temporal.

Learning to identify these windows is key in both the micro- and macrocosm because they likely manifest quite frequently in unpredictable ways, and will only occur increasingly more in the future. But the most profitable waves will come sporadically, so flexible institutions must ready themselves to take advantage whenever possible.

Observe what generates the most interest and energy and pinpoint what has drawn the attention. Then augment and encourage that with complimentary features, and continue that pattern with each new advancement. Think of the iterative process and the way each step carefully bonds what comes before and after; act iteratively, carefully and with as much data as possible to remain sure-footed. No matter what, you must always keep abreast of the latest advancements in your field and, importantly, how they relate to and encourage your own products and services.

Nearly exponential growth is a tough pace to keep. Microsoft didn’t and now they’re behind; Apple will surely follow in kind soon enough. The pace of progress will only quicken. Fortunately, however, wildfire growth can’t spread forever, otherwise we’d devour ourselves like an Ouroboros. Still, exponential growth outpaces trends quickly, and if you’re not always looking ahead then you’ll certainly end up watching from behind. Tend to your emergencies before it’s too late.

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