Gross domestic product (GDP) is a basic measure of an economy’s economic performance.  GDP is the market value of all final goods and services made within the borders of a nation in a year measured in Dollars.  Globally, GDP is equal to the total monetary income generated by production of goods and services in a country.

Gross Domestic Product does not take into account many important variables accelerated by Social Media and growing exponentially in economic influence.

GDP counts only industrial output, but…

Industrial output is becoming increasingly dependent on social networks and social innovation.  GDP does not take into account such non-market transactions such as open source development, crowd sourced innovation, conversational currency, social capital, creative capital, or intellectual capital exchanged between people in diverse social networks

GDP reflects Wall Street Priorities, but…

Wall Street Priorities are increasingly challenged by social priorities. GDP does not account for sustainable business practices, heroism, mentorship, activism, volunteerism, social networking, uncompensated innovation, and community involvement.  GDP does not account for quality improvements and social multipliers such as aggregation of social media, increasingly powerful computers, acceleration of conversations, online etiquette, multi-media, and social editorial services.

All of the above exclusions are valuable, because…

These exclusions add value, they store value, they create value, they distribute value, and they exchange value.  If we called it a financial instrument that is highly convertible, extremely liquid, and easily transported it would describe a currency by any definition of the word.  For the purpose of this discussion, call this currency the “Rallod” – or Dollar spelled backwards.  The Rallod is the currency of the new American economic and production paradigm.

The Invisible Currency

For Example; Twitter is doing in Iran what America has been trying to do in Iraq for 8 years.  Face book, LinkedIn, and the entirety of social media space is producing many times the effectiveness of the $200 Billion U.S. advertising industry in terms of driving people to specific action. Social vetting platforms such as blogs, commentaries, groups, and content aggregation have increased the efficiency of markets by vastly reducing arbitrage opportunities while also identifying scams and corruption.  Human productivity is being converted to Rallods and there is no politician, executive, or white collar criminal anywhere in the world who is not deeply concerned about this invisible currency.

The Best is Yet to Come:

The “Last Mile of Social Media” is analogous to the last mile of broadband Internet – the marginal cost of reaching every person in every household and tightening social networks to extremely high resolution, is diminishing rapidly.   The Last Mile will bring communities together to vet local politicians, corporations, products, and policies.  The Last Mile will formulate a knowledge inventory combines with close proximity of knowledge assets and a percentile search engine to predict outcomes.  The Last Mile of Social Media will duplicate every function that exists in a corporation except it will be built upon the social media operating system; aggregated, amalgamated, sustainable, and reflecting social priorities.

So what happens to GDP?

GDP by current measure will reflect only the value of the “dollar”, not necessarily the value of the human productivity.  Perhaps it already does.


Problems and opportunities are moving very fast. Problems are often so complex and so integrated across the globe that no single person can accumulate in a lifetime the experience needed to manage effectively.  The “top-down” management structure no longer has a statistically relevant sample of prior experiences from which to make essential decisions. Actions without wisdom have unintended consequences for yet unknown victims.

The Wisdom of Management

Managers manage through experience.  After many years in an industry, they can observe a situation and compare it to prior situations that they have encountered either through experience or formal education.

An effective manager can identify an issue, determine the probability that it will become a problem, and discuss the consequences of action or inaction.  Then they make similarly calculated decisions that either solves or manages the consequences of the problem.  The depth and breadth of a manager’s experience is called wisdom.

Duplicating Wisdom

In order to duplicate wisdom in a laboratory, scientists generate statistical events.  By duplicating a scenario 20-30 times, a range of outcomes becomes statistically relevant for predicting future outcomes and identifying the way things can influence the outcomes.  The idea behind the peer reviewed journals is to display the experiment to everyone for vetting.  If it survives vetting, it becomes part of the human body of knowledge until otherwise challenged.

Managing consequences

The rate of change has become extremely high and problems too complex to manage. Vetting mechanism are breaking down like levies against the dam in industries such as Banking, Insurance, automotive, medicine, education, environment, etc.  We are in a crisis of consequences where we can no longer manage the symptoms, only the consequences – forget about curing the disease.

Social Media: The Operating System of an Innovation Economy

The business plan of the new millennium will be the art and science of making information “less imperfect”.  In a condition of perfect information, everyone associated with an issue has the same information as everyone else.  Perfect information is what makes markets efficient and decisions rational.  Agreement is perfectly mutual, supply and demand are perfectly aligned, all risks are perfectly predictable and cause and effect are perfectly transparent.

Wisdom of Crowds

No single human can accumulate enough experience in a lifetime to manage the totality of human problems.  Perhaps the wisdom of crowds could be used to simulate one person that does.   This cannot, however, be a random collection of people acting in haphazard process.  The challenge is in finding the correct group of people who collectively replicate a condition of “perfect information”.  Then we must transform the perfect information into knowledge.  Finally, we need to transform that knowledge into innovation through entrepreneurial activity.

The Social Imperative

Social Networks need to form complete and detailed inventories of resident knowledge cataloged on a ‘bell curve’.  Social Networks must codify social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital so that scientific methods can be used to predict and assemble unique collection of knowledge assets that capture statistically relevant collections of experiences. That unique set of knowledge assets must then be deployed precisely in a market.

By all indications, this is the direction that the integration of social media is trying to go.  It is now our social imperative that it gets there.


Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) are a type of structured asset-backed security (ABS) whose value and payments are derived from a portfolio of fixed-income underlying assets. In the case of the current financial crisis, the underlying assets were home mortgages.  It is not necessary for the CDO buyer or seller to know who lives in the home and what they produce; the asset is a contract backed by future productivity.

CDOs vary in structure and underlying assets, but the basic principle is the same. To create a CDO, a corporate entity is constructed to hold contracts as collateral and to sell packages of predictable future cash flows to investors.  The more money handed out in home loans, the more money could be collected in CDOs

You are a liability.

While corporate leaders proclaim that people are the greatest asset, corporate accounting practices specify otherwise.  Employees are an expense and their salaries, benefits, and pensions are liabilities to be reduced any time the opportunity arises.  So what’s the problem?  Liabilities can’t innovate.

Suppose for a moment that people were in fact an asset on the accounting sheet and their salaries, benefits, and pensions were “investments”.

Collateralized Innovation Obligation (CIO):

The CIO would obviously be a type of structured asset-backed security (ABS) whose value and payments are derived from a portfolio of fixed-income underlying assets, specifically, the output of productive and motivated people.

Like the CDO, a CIO would vary in structure and underlying assets, but the basic principle is the same. To create a CIO, a corporate entity is constructed to hold assets as collateral and to sell predicted future cash flows to investors.  It is not necessary for the CIO buyer or seller to know who is innovating or what they are producing; the asset is a contract backed by future changes in productivity. The more money handed out in innovation loans, the more money could be collected in CIOs.  For all practical purposes, we could call it an Innovation Bond.

Enter Social Media:

Social media is teaching us an important lesson about innovation.  Every time you get a diverse group of people together to share ideas, new ideas form.  Every idea is useful as long as it is shared; thousands of bad ideas must expire before the good one appears.  Conversational currency is the vetting mechanism of all ideas.  While not every good idea becomes a great invention, every great invention is built from good ideas.  Machines cannot produce ideas and no single company, country or person holds a monopoly on ideas.  Innovation and the creation of all wealth arise from the social, creative, and intellectual interaction of people.

Conversational Currency: The underlying asset

The underlying asset that supports both the Collateralized Debt Obligation and the Collateralized Innovation Obligation is a person and their ideas; one is an asset and the other is a liability.  Both types of people go to work every day to interact with other people.  They both share ideas and create better ways of doing things.  People increase human productivity through fault tolerant networks and support systems. They transform information into knowledge and innovation – and both pay their mortgage.


Innovation economics has a way of forcing us to look at the mirror image of conventional wisdom.  This article will look at knowledge assets as they might appear on an accounting balance sheet.  You may be surprised at what happens at the bottom line.

Wall Street will often reward a company that has a large backlog of orders. This can appear in the eyes of most observers as an asset. After all, who would not want a backlog of orders?  However, in the world of social media, a huge backlog causes a serious problem – it represents commitments made that have not yet been delivered. An unfulfilled promise in a social network is a liability and not an asset.  By extension, a backlog in an innovation economy is a liability and not an asset (note: climate change).

Applying conventional wisdom to an innovation economy, we find that most companies have an excellent inventory of the “liability” but a poor inventory of the “asset” that will execute those promises. All of their plans, specifications, blueprints, job descriptions, policies and procedures, etc., are liabilities in an innovation economy because these define the promise that is unfulfilled, not the asset that will fulfill them.

Until recently, companies assumed that the right knowledge assets will always be available – an assumption that for a long time has limited the level of productivity that humans can achieve, specifically, the sustainability of natural resources. The absence of a knowledge inventory limits the complexity of problems that humans can solve much like industry was limited to custom machinery before Eli Whitney demonstrated the concept of interchangeable parts less than 200 years ago.

Further, if the product line is expected to have a life cycle of more than a few years, the knowledge inventory must extend beyond the doors of the company and into the surrounding community.  Therefore, the knowledge inventory must take on the taxonomy of the community, not the taxonomy of the corporation such as skill codes, levels, titles, etc. The requirement is now clearly in the domain of social networks.  Yet, I still hear grumblings in the blog sphere that social networks cannot be monetized – nothing should be further from the truth.

So, let’s talk about the bottom line.  For example, Boeing announced today that their greatest future challenge would be the availability of engineers. Boeing has a market capitalization of $34B and a $300B backlog.  Money has a 10:1 multiplier as it travels through and economy.  For a balanced accounting statement, what would be the real value of a social network that can capture the correct knowledge inventory to support Boeing; 34B, 300B, or 3T?

In general, valid estimates of the bottom line can vary by 2 orders of magnitude depending on the point of view of Wall Street, corporate management, or the social network community.  Who would be the better steward?