I came across an interesting business model for the deployment of a social currency. Stock Harmony, quite simply, sells itself to interesting people. Those people then interact with each other adding social value to Stock Harmony. The more social value is created, the more the original shares are worth. The more the shares are worth, the more interesting people will join further increasing the value of the shares. From that position to deploy social value, Stock Harmony can amplify the voice for social priorities over Wall Street priorities, effectively re-allocating factors of production.

Actually, the same thing happens all the time in typical social circles, networks, affinity groups, and political action committees. However, I am not certain that anyone has yet been successful (ethically) in using social circles as a way to store and exchange value. That is why Stock Harmony is interesting.

It sounds so simple, right? Well, … not really….

It’s all about structure. The way that a process or system is structured determines how people interact with it. Structure also determines how governments, markets, laws, politics, and even public opinion interact with the process or system as well. Interestingly, the structure of facts often keeps secrets tight. In short, structure shapes human behavior and human behavior shapes structure.

Companies sell shares to raise money. Per SEC regulations, the “sale of shares” must comply with certain disclosure and accounting standards. The SEC regulates companies in the sale of shares as a means to safeguard investors.  In other words, it is illegal to sell shares without government oversight.

Raising Money

The possibility that anyone can sell shares in themselves or their private enterprise as a means of raising money is, by default, relegated to the banking system. A person essentially sells shares on their productive time on Earth to buy a house, a car, or a business, etc. The structure begins to crumble when the employment contracts begin to crumble. As people leave the old system, they take their value with them and tend to create new ones. This is where Stock Harmony treads.

What if the shares are issued in non-dollar denominations?

Today we see many non-dollar denominated structures arising apparently at the same rate that the financial system is failing. Google secretly invests 100M in Zynga – a gaming company with a common gaming currency. Facebook established a system of currency-like Credits. Groupons deploy social currency to incite monetary discounts, etc, and PayPal stands ready for the next killer currency app. Any of these transaction systems are poised to hold a black market currency if fiat currencies fail. If the fiat currencies fail to recover, the black market becomes a gray market and ultimately a legitimate market. So, there is a lot at stake.

Currency must act as a proxy for human productivity;

So this is what makes Stock Harmony interesting. The successful “next currency” will be the one which best represents human productivity. Only then will someone be willing to trade their productivity for that of another person using a currency note as an exchange mechanism. This is where other alternate currencies fall apart and where Stock Harmony shows greater strength. After all – what would you rather accept in exchange for your services – Farmville gaming currency or a currency backed by the harmony and productivity of real people in real community?

It will all come down to structure.


The top ten reasons for business failure are due to a lack of knowledge, not a lack of money. In fact, the lack of money is itself a failure of knowledge.

Top 10 reasons why businesses fail

1. Lack of an adequate, viable business plan
.

2. Insufficient sales to sustain business

3. Poor marketing plan: unappealing product, poor customer identification, incorrect pricing and lackluster promotion

4. Inadequate capital, misuse of capital and poor cost control

5. Poor management skills: lack of delegation, leadership and/or control

6. Lack of experience and knowledge

7. Lack of managerial focus/commitment

8. Poor customer service

9. Inadequate human resource management

10. Failure to properly use professional advice: i.e. accounting, legal, financial, etc.

No excuses:

Lack of a viable business plan is an act of negligence where research, scenarios, and assumptions have not been tested. Market ignorance is not an excuse nor is the failure to know one’s customer. Death by poor marketing plan is knowledge deficiency related to product appeal, customer identification, pricing structure, and lackluster promotion. Obviously, one needs to know how to manage a company in order to be focused, let alone correctly estimate capital needs. Lack of customer service knowledge is deadly in the age of social media. Inadequate HR is an oxymoron – if it’s inadequate, it’s not a resource – human or otherwise. Finally, failure to listen to knowledgeable people is ego driven irrationality.

The financial system is not the only problem;

The innovation system (or lack of) is a crucial element. Information, knowledge and innovation, by any definition, are profoundly and inseparably connected. A failure in one kills the other two. So, just because an entrepreneur does not have the knowledge, does not mean the ‘knowledge’ fails to exist – it simply means that entrepreneur failed to find it.

So where is the knowledge?

Unfortunately, there is no public knowledge inventory – people do not know what each other knows. With social media raging all around us, there still is no way that anyone can assemble the knowledge needed to execute a business plan with a known probability of success given the information available. As such, there is no way to finance public innovation.

The emergence of Social Media technology presents an extraordinary opportunity to organize a knowledge inventory outside the construct of a corporation and marry it to the financial system, much like a corporation.

Tangibility of Knowledge

Knowledge tangibility must be the most important “innovation” in the pipeline today if we expect to meet the crushing challenges that await us. Just because we cannot predict innovation does not mean it cannot be predicted – it just means that we do not know how… yet.


Money is a convenient way to store and exchange value. Unless the world enters into a free trade agreement with Martians, Earth is the physical boundary of all existing value.

No matter what a monetary currency is called or how it behaves in the financial system, by definition, it can never represent any more than the value that exists on Earth.

Value is reflected by  “Market Capitalization” of corporation, Roads, Bridges, infrastructure, armies, education, food, real estate, and all so-called tangible things. Intangibles such as human resources, public assets, and shared natural resources are only valuable to the extent that people depend on those resources for survival. Not surprisingly, “tangible” means all things that can be controlled and “intangible” means everything else.

However, if you look at how all value is created, it all eventually boils down to human knowledge.  All control and influence over human knowledge boils down to the individual. All Value on Earth is stored between our collective ears.  In order to fully assess the global financial system, there must be a corresponding global inventory of human knowledge.  There is no body of any influence in the world proposing this as a means of defining solvency.

Meanwhile, the social media revolution is slowly introducing a global knowledge inventory to financial markets with effects that are becoming increasingly profound. In case you have not noticed, money no longer represents value, it represents the control of value.  Social media is disrupting who, what, when, where, and how all the value can or cannot be controlled.

With every new exotic financial maneuver, the monetary currency becomes increasingly divorced from the value of human productivity.  With every new advancement in social media applications, human productivity is becoming less controlled by money.  Watch the news – the battle fields are all about who what when where and how someone can control what is between your ears.

Not surprisingly, governments, marketers, advertisers and even academia are the first and most public victims of losing control of their message.  Their message is being re-written by forces outside their control.

This is serious – Don’t let anyone try to convince you that the value of social currency is not hedging the value of financial currency.

Today, we are on the cusp of the greatest revolution that the world has ever known. The control of money may go to the banks but the control of value will not.  It will happen when people decide it will happen.  Perhaps they already have…2012 anyone?


Tara Hunt; Future of Money and Technology Summit 2010
Tara Hunt; Future of Money and Technology Summit 2010

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”

The Whuffie

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.

Social Capital

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).

Infinite Possibilities

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.

Social Currency

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.

Photo Source/Credit; Jesse Lara


The subject of privacy and anonymity are again rising up with the latest move by Facebook to integrate updates across the Internet onto the Facebook platform.

Conspiracy theories about Facebook and the CIA continue to flourish.  Meanwhile, the marketing and advertising industry seems poised to reboot their dwindling influence under a new cloak and dagger of social media data hustling and predictive demographics rather than playing by new rules of engagement.

Money is one thing and value is another.

I am astonished that people willingly and freely give up huge volumes of information about themselves when they really don’t have to.  In earlier times, marketers and advertisers would pay a great deal of money for far less information that people give them for free.  People do not understand the value that is stored between their ears or how easy it would be to set up an alternate economy that trades in social currencies.

If advertisers can pay someone to cold call me, to graph my data across the web, or sneak around my social networks, then they can certainly pay me to answer the phone.

The Ingenesist Project specifies an Innovation Economy built on the platform of social media.  While that thesis is extensive, let me summarize that the primordial soup of the Innovation Economy is called the Knowledge Asset Inventory.

Anonymous assets

One essential element of the new economic paradigm is the ability to combine knowledge assets so that innovation becomes predictable and therefore capitalized. However, a side effect is that such code makes the individual containers anonymous.  Marketers will have to pay you to find you.  here is why:

Now think about it this way – if you remove 20-dollar bill from your wallet to buy a Latte, you do not know (nor do you care) whether the last transaction performed by that 20-dollar bill was a donation to a charitable cause or a drug deal.  The dollar bill is anonymous – but you, as an asset, are not.

Social Currency is a Social Imperative

Dollar denominated money is a system to control social currency at a leverage factor of 1000:1.  Take away the dollar currency, and the leverage disappears.  Add a social currency and the national debt disappears.

Almost as a bonus, it is an absolute impossibility for marketers and advertisers to store and exchange value denominated in a social currency without extraordinary changes to the way they engage their clients….like, uhm, …don’t waste our time.

If we are smart, we can shut down the privacy issue in a hurry – anonymity of knowledge assets is the key.


What’s the difference between money and value?

Today, I saw yet another doom gloom economic forecast with the proverbial exponential graph of interest-on-debt climbing out to the stratosphere. The prognosis is the same; all bad, very ‘all bad’ things will happen.

So I wonder, to whom is all this interest being paid? Where is all that money stored? It has to belong to someone or be represented by something on the planet Earth, after all, money makes the world go around.

The 1000:1 rule

If I were to take, for example, NOA, the National Oceanographic Agency, and ask someone a Goldman Sachs to place a value on it, they would add up the replacement value of all the ships and weather satellites and come up with a number like, say, 4 Billion Dollars.

Now, if I were to calculate the increase in human productivity that result directly from the ability to forecast the weather – for the purposes of food production, managing all modes of transportation, Energy production, and tangential resource allocation – the value of NOA would be in well in excess of 4 Trillion dollars. This is a factor of over 1000 between the value of the same object in financial currency and social currency.

A bridge spans a waterway and carries 50,000 cars and trucks per day. An alternate route would take each vehicle at least 1 hour longer per day to cross the waterway. 50 billion dollars worth of social value is created over the life of the bridge that cost 50 million to construct; a 1000:1 leverage ratio.

A single Boeing 747 costs 100 million dollars but increases human productivity (including influence ripples) by 100 billion dollars over the service life of the aircraft compared to the nearest alternative mode of transportation. Again, 1000:1

That’s the difference between money and value.

The problem arises because our financial system is not able to articulate true value of social currency using a dollar denominated currency so social value remains invisible, not non-existant. Maybe the financial system does not want to articulate social value. After all, dollar denominated currency represents control of social value at a ratio of 1:1000. It’s about control

9.6 Trillion dollars was spent to educate every American. Just because a “corporation” does not exist to employ them and utilize their talents to the highest productivity level, does not mean that the talent and value does not exist. According to the 1:1000 rule, The GDP of the US in Social Currency is a minimum of 9,600 Trillion. What deficit?

It is about control. The dollar has a 1:1000 control leverage over social currency. It is not at all surprising to see social media expand at the rate proportional to that which the doom-gloom crowd predicts that the financial system will collapse. They are related, they hedge each other. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

Again, the imminent collapse of the financial system – no matter what the ‘doom gloom’ crowd says – does not mean that value does not exist; it simply means that the dollar will no longer control the value; that is, the social value wedged between people’s ears is free to be capitalized and securitized directly. We need to capture social currency in a new financial paradigm.

Social currency is not a buzz word, it’s an imperative – it is the Ingenesist Project


The following question appeared on a Linkedin Forum that I follow:

Complete this sentence: The ONE factor that is MOST important to innovation is… and here’s why…

I have said this in a few blog posts and I’ll say it again here: The current definition for “innovation” may be the single most disastrous eliminator of innovation.

Innovation Suicide:

Yeah, it kills itself. Really, look it up – it’s a horrible cacophony of buzz bits and weasel speak that amount to nothing more than “Ya know it when ya see it”.

Any definition is supposed to give the reader enough information to duplicate, recognize, and identify instances of the subject – Preferably before the event has ended. Think about it – if the definition for Innovation were clear, nobody would be asking this question.

I am always amazed at how simple the answers to complex questions – and how complex the answer to simple questions – can often be.

Question: THE ONE: Complete this sentence: The ONE factor that is MOST important to innovation is… and here’s why…

My Answer: The Definition of Innovation

Here is why:

Information, knowledge, and innovation are obviously related to each other.

1. You can’t have one without the other two.
2. If you cannot measure one, you cannot measure the other two.
3. where all three are integrated, the system becomes efficient.

Yet, the definitions of each term do not include the other two. Therefore, the current definition of innovation is insufficient to describe the condition. That is why this is the ONE most important factor.

Let me prescribe the following analogy; distance, velocity, and acceleration are obviously related.

1. You cannot have one without the other two.
2. If you cannot measure one, you cannot measure the other two.
3. where all three are integrated, the system is efficient.

This is because distance is the point between two facts, velocity is the rate at which the distance between two points changes. Acceleration is the rate at which the velocity of travel between two points changes.

Therefore let’s re-define innovation as follows:

Information are facts and data. Knowledge is defined by rate of change of information. Finally, innovation is defined by the rate of change of knowledge in a community.

If we can accept this definition, everything changes. Seriously, everything changes.

Now, that’s Innovation!!!

* note: If you are familiar with differential Calculus you may see how a new economic paradigm may arise from this algorithm.


Facebook is delivering incredibly rich data about people, their activities, preferences and knowledge assets right to the doorstep of marketers, employers, and likely, Government.  Is Anonymity an Asset or a Liability?

Uhm…is this what the users had in mind?

“Local Social” is an absolute imperative for monetization of Social Media – every application needs some degree of local integration. Here’s why: Nothing happens until people get together and build something, produce something, or create something together. That is what “an economy” is, that is what “a company” is, that is what “a Market” is, that is what “a conversation” is.

Facebook knows this, but there is a catch; “Local Social” does not need a big platform like Facebook – a small one would do fine. However, Facebook needs the micro platform in order to monetize. In other words, Facebook needs Communities more than Communities need Facebook.

If Facebook is not careful, a huge opportunity awaits a competitor to disrupt the Facebook parade with high value, high segmentation, and high anonymity – and still monetize.

The irony is that Facebook Groups will empower the community to spin off and compete with it.

Here is what will happen:

Facebook must provides consumers with the same information about corporations as they provide to corporations about consumers. Corporations need to be willing to expose themselves to transparency. People will undoubtedly publish the names and addresses of the CEO of the corporations in their communities. Their names, prefered music, groups joined, and Farmville wiggly worms, etc.

If someone goes through extraordinary effort to not be seen, that too will become a data point – distrust.

People are not dumb, entrepreneurs will find a way to make the game fair. Facebook will find itself regulated by its own community. Only then can we expect the level of opportunity and accountability that is required to support a fully convertible universal social currency.

It’s up to Facebook now – I hope they know what they are doing.