Wealth (of networks) transfer

Courtesy of Innovation Insider, I found this truly interesting estimate of the global volunteer economy on the onPhilanthropy web site. Alvin Toffler estimates

that there is avast, worldwide economy at least as large as the global GDP of $50 trillion or so that is hidden - it's the 'work' done by volunteers, by families, by consumers who actively change the products they buy. Toffler calls this group 'prosumers' and it's the basis of his latest theory of change, which values transactions that do not include money.

Tom Watson, who writes on trends (this is my first encounter with onPhilanthropy), elaborates on the theme in his column:

For all the modest optimism in science and technology and innovation on display here  [Milken Institute Global Conference] this week, there was an equal (and possibly heavier) negativity around the areas of leadership and human behavior. And when leadership comes up, it's time for anyone in the philanthropy sector to pay attention. I think this feeling was best summed up during a panel of Nobel Laureate economists, a frisky bunch and much given to pessimism in general - at least when it's humans on the scale, and not indexes. The topic was healthcare, the variables were market size, costs, and changing attitudes of people toward their health. The first two were easy. The last was not. Said Daniel Kahneman, Princeton professor and 2002 Nobel Laureate for economic sciences: "I am frankly pessimistic about changing human behavior."

Therein lies the rub, because so much philanthropy these days is not mere charity - not providing succor to the poor and downtrodden - but rather, is aimed at effecting change, in changing human behavior.

Some thoughts: This reminds me of Yochai Benkler's Wealth of Networks. Can this virtue economy change behavior? What happens to our notions of "government" when collaborative action happens on such a large scale? What happens between governments?