Teachers are “threatened” with layoffs. In some cases, the profession is openly mocked. Meanwhile, corporations are staring blankly at the knowledge gap in their industries. The older generation is retiring, moving on, and taking their knowledge with them. Teacher’s unions are busted and disappearing. Apprenticeships are a thing of the past. Everyone is asking “where are the jobs – there is plenty of work to do”
Education is obviously a financial instrument. Think about that for a minute – it is an investment like any other investment. Wall Street has an arbitrage instrument for every market anomaly – why not education?
What would happen if teachers were given an equity position in their students? Isn’t this what families do to prepare their kids to take over the family business? Isn’t this what happens in corporations where executives pick proteges? Isn’t this what happens in politics where knowledge is traded among a closed group?
A school like Harvard University or MIT certainly hold and equity position in their students. What if every community viewed every child as an asset instead of a liability?
I am deeply concerned with the Liberal / Conservative flame wars. Countless Facebook discussions start with a casual reference to one position or the other, then quickly devolve into deeply divisive language. I see it in forums, Chats, Comments on blogs, news articles and YouTube Videos.
It’s getting worse – people can no longer agree to disagree.
I do not believe in big government. On the other hand, I do not believe that corporations should be the sole protectors for safeguarding the social charter. Call me an idealist, but I truly believe that given the right incentives, people can govern themselves to a very large degree.
Weapon of Mass Reconstruction
We have at our disposal the most powerful tool ever created for the potential benefit of humanity. Societies since the beginning of our time would have envied us beyond words – as their villages were pillaged, as the plague spread, or as the hurricane hit shore – if they had a system that could unify and organize people as we can do today with social media.
My fear, is that we will use this tool to divide instead of unify. Traditional media and the advertising industry are in deep trouble as people go online to self-select their news and content.
Trust me, I’m your friend
Unfortunately, traditional media (TV, print, and Radio) are under extraordinary pressure not just to maintain ratings, but to increase ratings to subsidize less successful areas of the enterprise. As a result, the content must become more and more sensational in order to keep people watching commercials. If I earned one dollar for every minute of YOUR time that I could waste, would you trust me? Yet people do.
The Terrorist Within
I am terrorized by the notion that Americans will turn against Americans. The problems facing this nation are so complex, so controversial, and so far reaching into the past and the future that it is unlikely that any intelligent person is more qualified than any other intelligent person to hold the highest office. Barrack, Hillary, Sarah, John, would all have the same pressures pushing back on every move leading them down 95% similar paths. None could be better and none could be worse – we’re officially in this together.
So until the super-star with extra-human discernment rides out of the clouds, People should really really be looking for a third way through this. Pure Communism is a Failure, Pure Socialism is a failure, and we are quickly learning that Pure Capitalism also runs out of track.
America’s Uncivil War
The Next Great American Civil War will be a battle against ourselves – all of the artifacts of past generations that pull at our subconsciousness; the reactionary fight or flight instinct of our ancestors. We are being called to something new. Let’s get on with business and find out where this road leads – together.
Most applications of game theory are controlled from in-house or deployed against a competitive landscape. The Value Game is deployed external to the corporation and in a cooperative landscape where rewards are given to those who organize people around a “highly leveraged product” in valuable ways.
There are 5 elements to The Value Game
The first is what we call a highly leveraged product such as a conference, experience, convenience, ZipCars, or reunion – we’ll see that almost any product can be leveraged.
The next element is a secondary product vendor such as a hotel, restaurant, transportation, clothing, or equipment supplier – we’ll also see how almost any product can be deployed in the secondary role.
The third element is a consumer who seeks to minimize financial cost and maximize social value.
The fourth element is a 3rd party entrepreneur who is able to organized people in social networks and leverage primary and secondary assets in unique combinations.
The fifth Element is a true value calculator called the Social Value Index (SVI). The SVI is the scorekeeper that calculates the actual value of the leveraged product after all of the discounts and social value factors are counted.
The game starts when everyone joins the same social network underwritten by a mobile electronic debit card platform and sets their filters for what information can enter (and to block out spam). The highly leveraged product in the middle acts like a ball in play whose value is dependent on the interaction of the other elements. Secondary vendors will deploy incentives into the field. Third party entrepreneurs will organize people around the incentives and take social profits. The Social Value Index will keep score.
Example 1: A ZipCar costs about 8 dollars per hour; this business model does not encourage social activity; it encourages fast shopping. Suppose that a person pays for the ZipCar on their debit card. Local restaurants will be made aware of the purchase and then deploy coupons against the ZipCar to the buyer’s debit card. Next, a 3rd party entrepreneurs may improve the SVI by organizing a ZipCar swap so that the person does not have to leave in the same ZipCar that they arrived in and can spend more time shopping. Another entrepreneur may organize events for families and friends that increase the passengers in each ZipCar, or by capturing any inventory from the community such as movie tickets or family experiences to deploy against the ZipCar. After the event, the SVI updates the net cost of the ZipCar from 8 dollars per hour to, say, 1.42 per hour. This is 80% savings on the ZipCar and 33% savings on a day out with the family over using their own car.
In effect, the leveraged product buys itself in a convertible social currency
Example 2: Suppose that a popular aerobics instructor has 40 students. The local health food store may authorize her to give away 1000 coupons for 5% discount on store products. In return, the aerobics instructor gets 5% of total purchased. The health food store already spends 10% of revenue on advertising. It is in the instructor’s best interest to give the coupons to people who are likely to spend the most at the store. After all, if 1000 people spend 100 dollars each, she stands to gain 5000 dollars. The health food store stands to gain loyal customers without advertising. The aerobics instructor may maximize her profits by joining with a health food chef to teach classes in healthy cooking. Or, she may join with a caterer, wedding planner, or hotel to supply an entire event for which she will receive social and financial value. She may give them to colleagues who also become authorized to give away coupons – and she negotiates for a percentage of their output as well. She will become knowledgeable about the products at the store and talk about them with her friends. She may even sell the face value of the coupons for cash since it is likely that a high bidder would also be a large customer for the health food store. The Social Value Indexfavors this store, this aerobics instructor, and this social network – higher than competitors. SVI registers with Search Engines and bargain hunters seek the Aerobics Instructor for deeper information and services.
Millions of applications will arise limited only by the imagination of communities not Wall Street
When I use the term “Innovation Bank”, people conjure up the image of a cheery place where anticipation reigns as starry eyed depositors arrange their intellectual property in neat cubby boxes, Patents fly like cash register receipts and companies troll the halls looking for a cure for their bottom line blues.
This is not exactly what we have in mind, nor is it too far off either. An innovation Bank is simply a knowledge inventory that contains knowledge assets that exists in the format of a financial instrument and can be deployed for the purposes of increasing productivity. In the process, it makes 10X more of itself every time it is deployed. It mints its own money.
The Innovation Banker
This is not much different than a financial bank. In fact, in the financial bank, everyone assumes the borrower has the knowledge to execute the business plan and the bank lends the money. Oh, by the way, the money makes more of itself 10X over (fractional reserve system) every time it is deployed.
With the innovation bank, everyone assumes the entrepreneur has the money to execute the plan, and the seek to borrow the knowledge. Other than that, they can be considered identical. The key is in the scope, depth, and format in which the knowledge assets live in a community as well as the ability to track and preserve the creation of new knowledge in a community. An innovation banker is a knowledge banker
A Virtuous Circle
Together with the financial banking, these two system engage in the dance of the virtuous circle of innovation enterprise. Apart, they collapse into the swirling cesspool of eternal debt and infinite interest (pun intended).
Sure Bro…Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin are great for broadcasting across the Ocean, but how good are they for meeting your neighbors? As wonderful as all this global chatter appears, nothing tangible happens until the rubber meets the road.
Don’t Worry, Be Neighborly…
Nothing “Economic” can happen is Social Media until real people get together to build things. Sure, Marketers are trying their hardest to penetrate the last mile, but communities are trying to defend it too. This is the final battleground of Social Media. The end game must be as follows: Social priorities must ultimately drive Wall Street priorities – not the other way around. That is the only sustainable thesis for the next millennium.
The following video describes how the components of the next economic paradigm must act locally, but share globally. For anyone wondering what to do next or where the great opportunities are, think about building out the Last mile of Social Media.
Factors of Production (from classical economics) are presumed to be some proxy for land, labor, and capital. Suppose, however, the factors of production for modern society were something like “Social Capital, Intellectual Capital, and Creative Capital” of people and their relationships? After all, these are the assets that are deployed in order to produce the proverbial basket of goods upon which most currencies are compared.
Since these factors of production exist between the ears of each individual person, they are, by definition “privately controlled” and readily exchanged among other people in social networks. If the US Supreme Court can rule that Corporations are people, then it is equally valid that people are corporations. Therefore, Social Capitalism refers to the economic and social system in which the means of production are social, creative, and intellectual assets.
In order for Social Capitalism to become the dominant form of social organization, quite literally, society must reorganize itself to trade “abundant intangibles instead of scarce tangibles”. Then, all the decentralized innovations can integrate. The following video describes a system for reorganizing society so that the new economic paradigm; called Social Capitalism, may emerge.
Reorganizing For The Era Of Social Capitalism
Social Capitalism is similar to Material Capitalism with the exception that society would trade in abundant intangibles instead of scarce tangibles….and, everything changes.
The Article below is from 2010 – more than 4 years ago – when Social Capitalism was just beginning to enter the lexicon of the social media practitioners. This article below quotes the Wikipedia Article on “Social Capitalism”. That article has since been removed by Wikipedia for failure to be a real -ism; I suppose. That is, Wikipedia does not yet recognize the movement as a real form of Social Organization. It is interesting, if not historic, to watch the progress of a social movement from its tenuous inception:
Social capitalism is an old idea taking on an new form in the age of social media where social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital are deployed outside the construct of the prevailing corporations or governments.
Throughout human history, societies have reorganized themselves in response to tyranny, innovation, environment, new wisdom, etc. I believe this to be the root of what Social Capitalism is, and therefore, how it should be defined.
In The Shadows:
The dominant definition of “Social Capitalism” from Wikipedia reflects a social cause cast against the backdrop of market capitalism. This definition acknowledges that economies work better when everyone participates; specifically, the so-called tier 1 and tier 2 people. Tier 1 individuals have steady financial incomes that allow them to function without private or government support. Tier 2 individuals cannot meet the prevailing standard of living and rely on private or government support. Therefore the prevailing definition of Social Capitalism often refers to efforts to bolster tier 2 persons as a means of reinforcing the economy for everyone.
There is an inherent conflict where tier 1 is held responsible to support tier 2 as a means of protecting their tier 1 status. Traditionally tier 2 included poor families dependent on food stamps; children who depend on public education; elderly people who are no longer able to work, and low-income criminals who require police intervention, etc.
Ideally, getting more people from tier 2 into tier 1 is the desirable objective. Indeed political division is marked by the theories and practices on how exactly that objective would best be accomplished.
A worst case:
What happens when tier 2 is simply forgotten; they are simply allowed to fail in the mainstream economy? What if the government becomes too weak to bolster their economic prospects? What happens when a critical mass of tier 1 people involuntarily enter the tier 2 environment bringing along their substantial knowledge inventory. They are otherwise very productive people that had been laid-off, outsourced, underemployed, or otherwise marginalized.
The Special Case:
What happens when Tier 2 deploy new technologies that responding to their priorities, not necessarily Wall Street priorities. What happens when tier 2 people trade a social “currency” among themselves? What happens when tier 2 swells to a size and scope that they are able to bear broad political and economic influence. Many great human struggles emerged from under the hand of a Tier 1 constraint using their own manner to store and exchange value (currency) represented by their own knowledge inventory and productivity. Why would that not happen internally in American Society?
Social Capitalism is where factors of production in an economy are purely human and technological and less structural:. Specifically, social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital deployed outside the construct of the prevailing corporations or governments. Maybe it should be called “structural capitalism” because that is what is actually changing. We are at an extraordinary time in history where an extraordinary structural reorganization is taking place.
I often make the point that a currency is simply a social agreement. People need to agree that a monetary unit represents their productivity so that they will use it to trade their productivity with the productivity of another person. The test question for any so-called currency (coined by Jay Deragon) is: “Yeah, but can you buy groceries with it?”
I am now seeing a SHARP increase in the social interest for an alternate currency to the dollar. The dollar does represent productivity – albeit future productivity in the form of debt – that’s why it is still exchanged for the work that we do. My suspicion however is that the social agreement regarding the dollar is, in fact, increasingly becoming a social disagreement.
People have a deep seated unease with what the dollar is and what the dollar represents. To escape the dollar is to escape a tangle of influence that impacts everything we say, do, and think about ourselves and about each other. It almost seems that to escape the dollar is to escape ourselves.
That’s just the idea that came to me after watching this video about a soldier questioning the occupations. He is saying something very interesting:
War is simply the soldier’s willingness to fight it. It is a social agreement.
A Troll is a member of a race of fearsome creatures from Norse mythology. Troll mythology is, in fact fairly complex but seems to resolve to common images of Neanderthal type people living under bridges who extort money from passersby, steal babies, and fear God.
In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into a desired emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion [Wikipedia].
In the Intellectual Property world, a troll is an individual or business that holds patent or copyrights with no intention of developing the IP and every intention to enforce against infringement by those who do develop ideas.
Naturally, we seek to anticipate the future usage of the term Troll in a context of Social Capitalism. We can say that someone who was in a position to constrain Social Capitalism has the potential to engage in troll behavior.
The troll does benefit from the eventual success of traveler passing through the constraint; however, they create an unnecessary or non productive friction in a market. This can kill many business plans as troll fees and uncertainties need to be factored into the risks of doing business.
I am reminded of a legal system that facilitates litigation over education, negotiation, and cooperation. Social media has an inherent self-policing aspect that may threaten “regulators” in law and government who seek to hold exclusive vetting privilege over a social market.
I am reminded of advertisers who put lipstick on the pig by pretending to play up the whuffie, trust agent or engagement vibe, but instead lay Astroturf and buy up social media outlets. Spam is spam is spam.
I am reminded of Internet service providers that purposely slow down a connection and charge for speed that costs them less to keep open than to slow down. I am reminded of the demise of unlimited data packages for mobile Internet – now that the user is an addict, pull back the dosing in exchange for compliance.
In short, a social capital troll is any person or organization that seeks to CHANGE the online behavior of an individual and their community rather than EMPOWER the individual and their community to do what they would have done in the absence of the troll.
Fell free to add more for future posts on this subject……..
Activist, Science fiction writer, and blogger Cory Doctorow spoke at in Seattle to a full house at the Sunset Tavern in Ballard. He performed a reading from his latest book, “For The Win”. Cory has an interesting sense of abstraction. He’ll spot a trend – or collection of trends – and extrapolates them into the future dutifully revealing all the complexities of the human condition.
For The Win
His reading centered on the “exploitation” of young adults who are hired to play online games where they work to achieve levels, rewards, virtual currency, and game status which is then sold to rich Western players. Some players become highly valued for their knowledge inventory of game world monsters, strategies, power points, and the uncanny ability to assess the knowledge inventory of their opponents who’ll get suckered into a virtual dual with predictable consequences. The kids literally “mine gold”. As always, gold corrupts the most innocent hearts resulting in situations and behaviors at least as strange as the game itself.
Cory has long been an activist for digital publication rights and rules. Not surprisingly, the Q&A was dominated by privacy, security, and exploitation of information issues. Cory recently closed his Facebook Account which caused quite a stir in the blogsphere. Ironically, every big name in world-class privacy violation had recently been in the news for Mr. Doctorow to eloquently spit roast on an open flame. It was quite entertaining.
There is a reason that it’s called Monetization
While Mr. Doctorow did not specifically mention this, what struck me most was hearing him talk around this emerging battle for control of people’s information. While this idea is not new, the reasons behind it may be new. As Money is losing it’s capacity to store and control value, human knowledge is increasing it’s capacity to store and control value – this is hugely accelerated by social media. The desperate attempt to control people’s information is really a proxy for the desperate attempt to control knowledge, therefore to re-control the value that money once represented.
Unfortunately, controlling information also destroys value.
People actively participate and share on social media to achieve levels, rewards, and status which is then sold to corporations in the form of predictive marketing by third party aggregators like Facebook. Some people become highly valued for their knowledge inventory of real-world game perils, influencers, and social mavens and become celebrities of the craft. Many develop the uncanny ability to assess the knowledge inventory of their opponents who get suckered into a virtual dual with predictable results.
Suddenly the News started sounding like one of Cory’s Science Fiction Novels…
In 1999, Cluetrain Manifesto flipped everything we knew about online behavior on it’s head. The integration of information being published on the Internet reached a tipping point indelibly articulated for all time by Doc Searles: “Markets are Conversations”
In 2003, Cory Doctorow published Down and Out In The Magic Kingdom where he introduced the concept of Whuffie as a form of reputation currency that accounts for social value in a fictional future society. In Cory’s thesis, people who produce things that represent social value were awarded Whuffie. People who produce anti-social value were punished Whuffie. The twist was that everyone has equal say as to who is awarded Whuffie and who is punished Whuffie. In retrospect, the concept of Whuffie, stands today an important metaphor marking the beginning of the social media revolution.
The Whuffie Factor
In her book The Whuffie Factor (2009), Tara Hunt identifies the facts of a reputation backed exchange among real people, communities, companies, and social interactions – with all their associated human complexities. By the gift of wisdom or intuition, Tara’s choice of the modifier “Factor” is an important distinction. In mathematics, a “Factor” is a multiplier against some other quantity.
In Tara’s book, Whuffie is roughly synonymous with ‘new’ social capital – a hugely complex financial instrument that is currently emerging before the eyes of all practitioners of social media. In 2010, everyone still struggles to articulate social capital with a 1999 vocabulary of new conversations living in old financial markets. There simply is no word for the phenomenon of social media daily manifesting in so many new and valuable ways – it’s just too new.
Yes, Tara has critics, but most I believe are short sighted. The term “Whuffie” is as good a word as any, so deal with it. The term “Factor” is what Tara is really talking about, so lets move on.
Love ’em or Hate ’em, Whuffie is a Derivative.
From Wikipedia:a derivative is any agreement or contract that is not based on a real, or true, exchange ie: There is nothing tangible like money, or a product, that is being exchanged. For example, a person goes to the grocery store, exchanges a currency (money) for a commodity (say, an apple). The exchange is complete when both parties have something tangible.
If the purchaser had called the store and asked for the apple to be held for one hour while the purchaser drives to the store, and the seller agrees, then a derivative has been created. The agreement (derivative) is derived from a proposed exchange (trade money for apple in one hour, not now).
In short, the current value of the relationship is backed by the past and future value of the many other relationship(s) formed. The twist is that social media has vastly equalized people’s impact on the true value of relationships – this remains consistent with Doctorow’s thesis. Tara takes us a step further where the underlying asset can be generalized as simply “value” where the Whuffie Factor is a derivative against this value. This is consistent with Searles’ thesis.
In my opinion, The Whuffie Factor will become one of the seminal books of its time period. Indeed there are many excellent books in the genre of collecting, building, engaging, storing and exchanging trust, reputation, or influence in Social Media. What sets Tara’s book apart is that, like Doc and Cory, she had the guts to call it something real.
Elevate the conversation or get out of the way
Tara Hunt effectively nails this profound abstraction to the floor so that the rest of us can now walk through to define and articulate the Holy Grail of our generation; a true Social Currency. Bravo Tara, Bravo
To Accelerate Serendipity, that’s the Whuffie Factor.