abacusWhat is a Non-quantifiable Exchange?

The term “Non-Quantifiable Exchanges” was the title of a panel session that I attended at the recent Future of Money and Technology Summit. In researching the subject, it appears that a “non-quantifiable exchange” is more notable for what it is not rather than what it is. Case in point – after the precursory Google Search, the term and a modern definition does not exist – but the room was full !?!?!

With all of the talk about cloud sourcing economies and romantic notions of emerging organic currencies, it would seems that people could just get along fine without a central mechanism for storage and exchange of value. Instead, each individual would assess the value of the transaction in terms of what it means to him or her. Currency could then take the form of a person’s reputation, productivity and general usefulness for assessing value and helping others to do so in their community (reference)

If it’s not an asset…or a liability, then what is it?

Traditional valuation systems for businesses immediately start tugging at a host of standard assumptions for measuring “performance” – many of which are no longer meaningful. Land, Labor, and capital cannot be deployed to the same efficacy whereas social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital are being liberated to social media with astonishing results.

Nobody can produce an accurate ROI for social media, however, social media presence is becoming a substantial factor in the valuation of a company.

Likewise, reverse access to personal information about customers on Facebook is both the lifeblood and poison of new engagement marketing. The general public have become “external intangibles” to the business plan – where the heck is that on a balance sheet?

Goldman Sachs claims that those who bought their worst subprime products were sophisticated investors whose obligation it is to understand the quality of the underlying components. Their defense is that the customer failed, not the system of disclosure.…what? How long would Dell last if this had been their response for poor quality?

Cloud Economics or Inversion System?

Vapor is quantified by the balloon that contains it. A cloud is quantified by the weather system that surrounds it. The atmosphere is quantified by the mass of the planet and it’s proximity to a sun, and so on. Therefore, the term “non-quantifiable”, and the word “exchange”, are mutually exclusive. If there is an exchange, there is quantification.

Suppose I was to suggest that value stored in social currency may exceed the value stored by financial currency. The paradigm shift now becomes, who quantifies whom?


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.


hypocriteI don’t often run a full repost from other people on this blog, but this post by Seth Godin was just too rich to leave alone.

I have been posting a lot lately on the irony of social media devolving to spammers spamming spammers, especially the recent Twitter plan to charge advertisers for jumping to the front of the line by exploiting data provided voluntarily by the users (Twitter Me Elmo).

All of this tells us that Social Media is up against the ropes on the monetization plan. As a result it is starting to consume itself. This may be the first indication that the Dollar is NOT the currency of trade in the social media space, it’s a yet unnamed Social Currency. This definitely tells us that something new must happen soon.

Of course, The Ingenesist Project specifies an alternate financial system that can accommodate a social currency, but the lure of the almighty dollar remains strong enough to blind the choir itself and out-pitch the humble whisper new economic paradigm evangelists.

Anyway, here is Seth’s post in it’s entirety. Buy his books and read his blog, get his feed for daily email enlightenment. Seth, I apologize in advance for posting without your explicit permission…etc…just trying to “keep the convo rolling….”

*****

Cannibalism and spam

By Seth Godin:

So, these two cannibals are eating a clown, and one says to the other, “does this taste funny to you?”

We don’t often have conversations about cannibalism. We don’t trade recipes or talk about health issues. That’s because it’s off the table, not permitted, inconceivable.

Marketers should feel the same way about spamming people. Spamming them by email, by text or yes, by calling their cell phones with a robot, repeatedly, just because it’s cheap and because they can.

Tweetswomma

Womma

If anyone should know better, it’s the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. And yet, not only did they spam thousands of people by phone, they want us to “keep the convo rolling”. And when I spoke to their Executive Director, she had a hard time understanding that what they were doing was spam.

Spam is unanticipated, impersonal, irrelevant junk I don’t want to get. Not only that, it costs them less to send it than it takes me to figure out what it is and deal with it. That doesn’t scale. In fact, it destroys the medium.

Why would anyone join, pay their dues, go to their meetings or want to engage with an organization that’s willing to cross a line like this? Even once? (and then brag about it!) Maybe I’m getting cranky, but the relentless march of marketers into our lives is really getting to me.

In case you missed the first part of our show, the future of marketing is based on permission. It’s based on sending messages to people who want to get them, who choose to get them, who would miss you if you didn’t send them. It’s not easy and it’s not cheap to earn permission, but so what? This is my attention, not yours, and if you want to use it for a while, please earn the privilege.

PS If I ran Twitter, I’d build my new ad service about a socially acceptable way for corporate users to build large lists of followers, people who would give permission to get news and discounts and insights from advertisers. Twitter knows who likes what and they have permission from users to be a bridge between the user and those that might want to talk to them. That’s a powerful place to be.

Using cheap technology to spam people is not.


Elmo

Dorothy the goldfish is imagining Elmo reading his Twitter stream… and what would it say? Who would he follow? And who would follow Elmo?

Elmo; “Computer, who’s following me on Twitter? Starbucks, Microsoft, and WalMart? Hey wait, Twitter is selling advertising. What’s up with that? Let’s ask Mr. Noodle.”

Mr. Noodle (in mime) “Everyone is promoting something on Twitter otherwise nobody would use it.”

Murray Monster: “Hey, I thought that Twitter was supposed to give everyone an even playing field. Otherwise, nobody would go to school to learn how to actually produce anything. Ovejita!!!

Ovejita (translated from Spanish): “Yeah, everyone spends time and energy building social capital in their community. Now Twitter lets rich guys can come along and just buy access. Why then should the rest of us work so hard?”

Big Bird: “Sponsored Tweets allow Brands to buy a seat at the head of the line. What about my Tweets? Does this build or diminish my social equity?”

Grouch: “Yeah, isn’t that great, Twitter is built on social currency. Now you don’t have to produce social capital, you can just buy in. Watch the social currency devalue!!”

Count Von Count; “ah ah ah, I can count the people leaving Twitter, ah, ah, ah… 50, 40, 30, 20 million,… ah ah ah”

Abby Cadabby; “I’m comfortable with who I am in a pink dress and can just cast a barrage of nasty Tweet spells on those unfair Tweeters”.

Baby Bear: “The only ones who really benefit are National and International Brands – what do they care about what happens here on Sesame Street, let alone in the forest where grandpa bear still lives?”

Grouch: “Quit complaining, the big Twitter moments will be revolutions, airplane crashes, assassinations, natural disasters, celebrity indiscretions, political extremisms, etc. I know that only the most respectable Grouchy brands will jump into any trash can that’s burning with eyeballs….can you say Voyeur?”

Burt and Ernie: “Who said Voyeur?”

Gordon the Shopkeeper: “Then there is the subject of conflict of interest. Can a brand dispel, displace, or disproportion negative Tweets by purchasing out the social media space? Will Mr. Hooper’s store have to buy tweets just to be stay in business?”

Elmo: “Thanks guys. If Twitter makes a little bit of money and goes public, they will eventually want to make more money and more money and more money until people are fighting over the next Christmas Toy Craze. Will this invite a competitor, a disruptive technology, or speculators? Let’s ask a Baby.”

Baby: [confused look]

Elmo: “Thanks baby, What does the future hold? Even Elmo has to worry about profit margins on character marketing. It’s only a matter of time before I will Tweet and my tweets will be followed – but the question becomes; by whom?”


angry-engineerEngineers are money.

China and India are producing millions of engineers as part of their global economic dominance strategy. Engineers increase productivity and productivity creates wealth. Why? Because money is only a means for storage and exchange of value and engineers create the value.

America has no idea who the engineers are

I heard an interesting comment on a group discussion board recently; “there are so many engineers on the streets that employers have their pick of the crop”.

First, I find the reference to “crops” ironic. Second, why should engineers need to fit every nuance of a job description? Engineers tell us the things that we don’t already know – who exactly writes those job descriptions if they know what they don’t know? Or in practical terms, why isn’t an Aerospace Engineer immediately qualified to be an Energy Engineer?

The Ingenesist Project identifies 3 types of knowledge assets: Social Capital refers to one’s ability to organize, perform, and manage themselves in teams of other people. Creative Capital refers to the ability to relate seemingly unrelated concepts, objects, and perceptions into new and innovative ideas. Intellectual capital refers to the ability to deploy book learning, objective reasoning, and tactical experience toward specific objectives.

Everyone has ALL of the above asset categories, however, we each posses them in different proportions. People like Steve Jobs have all of these in very high quantities, but the rest of us are somewhere in the middle. Most have a surplus in one or two at the expense of the remaining asset categories. Engineers typically enjoy a surplus of intellectual and creative capital at the expense of social capital.

Social Capital

Should we, as a society, expect engineers to meet meet the same social standards as say, Baristas? The job market favors the young, socially adept, and politically wired people. But engineers are a different – we all need them to be exactly the way they are in order for the rest of us to be who we are. If engineers were “marketers” they would either cease to be engineers or marketing would cease to be manipulative.

Who’s your money maker?

Engineers are responsible for nearly every penny of value stored and exchanged in a modern economy. Roads, infrastructure, medical devices, food production, software, hardware, housing, transportation – anything worth anything is in some way touched by God and an engineer. Engineers are responsible for creating the tangible value we enjoy so dearly but is also so easily corrupted by others.

Who is squandering whom?

So when I hear comments like; “there are so many engineers on the streets that employers have their pick of the crop”. I ask myself, “how exactly did that employer become an employer without engineers”? How does any employer expect to remain an employer without the direct, strategic, and honorable deployment of engineering assets? How does a country expect to arise from financial crisis and insurmountable debt obligation without elevating their engineers to “First-Responder” status?

I heard a story that Haiti is so poor, they would chop down a fruit tree for charcoal. Squandering engineers is like killing the golden goose. Every single engineer in America should be cherished. Every single engineer should have their pick of most qualified employers, not the other way around. Every single engineer should have a job waiting for them as soon as the prior one is finished. Engineers should be paid money, real money – not some “proxy” for money.


At the end of the day, everyone is arguing over money. How are we going to heal the poor? How are we going to police the world? How are we going to bail everyone out? How are we going to preserve the environment? The answer is always the same…it takes money to solve all of these problems.

What people do not realize is that currency is a social agreement, not a disagreement. Money is whatever people agree to use as a storage container for the value of their time, labor, intellect, or other resources. A criminal can steal your time, labor, intellect and possessions, or they can just steal your social agreements and replace them with a social disagreements.

It is easier to steal from the poor than the rich

Stealing money is not as difficult as some may think. Whenever people are held below a certain economic level, they fail to organize in communities that would otherwise protect them from outside influences. These people are often too busy holding a job, paying off debt, or traveling in search of work, or worse, a place to live – they become easy targets.

Blind leading the blind

Currency, by fiat or black market, is just a way that everyone agrees to store and exchange value. So, when people are at each other’s throats over a system of beliefs, they are effectively blinded to their true opponent – their inability to make a social agreement regarding the storage and exchange of value.

The current political strains pulling at this country are dangerous. The real problem is not your colleague or neighbor who is in favor of universal healthcare. The problem is not your old classmate on facebook calling Obama a liar. It’s OK to oppose the government – it’s our right. It’s OK to oppose bankers, they are accountable to a social charter.

The problem is that people are opposing each other.

There is no way to pay off a 50 Trillion dollar debt. All politicians know this. You would need to harvest every fish in the ocean, pump every remaining barrel of oil, and cut down every tree to extract this amount of “value” from what is left of the Earth. To whom exactly would this value be delivered and how? It simply cannot and it simply will not be repaid without some magnificent productivity gains on the order of nuclear fusion or superconductivity.

I will not speculate exactly how the currency fails. There are plenty of examples in history. Instead, I will speculate on what will replace the failed currency in the age of social media.

Social media is taking on some very fortunate characteristics, especially in the area of organizing people and communities around a common goal. Too often that common goal is to oppose another force of social media. This will change, it must change. When the dollar fails, people are going walk out their front door, look at their neighbors, and introduce themselves.

So, There you have it – that’s where all the money went. It is stored and exchanged in our social agreements.


daylight-saving-time-costs-billionsWhoever said “Time Is Money” got it backwards. Anyone who still believes this is now moving backwards in economic time.

Reality is simple: Money is time.

We pay to extend our live, we pay to have a good time, we wonder what time it is, we share time, we exchange time, we invest time. Everybody has a limited amount of time on Earth and everybody is competing for a slice of someone else’s time. Money is just the scorecard in a game of time.

Time is limited for everyone on Earth.

Sure, we often trade our time for money, but we also trade our time for many things; our children, families, travels, experiences, sleep, and consuming products and services. There is no other factor to which our behavior is more determined than time. Everyone does whatever they know to make the best use of their time.

How on Earth can the Whole Wide World go bankrupt?

Easy. The interest on money increases with time. When the total amount of money in existence is less than the sum of the principal plus the interest due, the World is bankrupt. We have long passed this point so what happens next is anyone’s guess, but be assured, something will happen.

Here is my guess, Money and Time will swap places. “Time is Money”, becomes “Money is Time”.  The principal will inflate away while the “interest” will continue to changes with time – but it will be pegged to “people” who also change with time.  As such, People and their knowledge become the medium of storage, exchange, and trade.  Knowledge is contained between their ears as social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital.

Social Media Happens

Social Media saves time and people’s interaction with each other on social media is affecting the nature of money.

Google saves time, Wikipedia saves time, Amazon.com saves time, Facebook saves time, Linkedin save time. Foursquare and Gowalla increase the value of social time because going local saves time. Mashable and Tech Crunch save people time. Bloggers, educators, entertainers, and recreation increases the quality of time related to the intentions of the consumer. Trust, engagement, reputation, conversation, relationships, and tribes save time. Social Innovation saves time.

The Time Paradigm and the next generation of social applications

The next economic paradigm will be time based (as the scarce resource) and will probably look very similar to the one we know and understand today. The difference is that everyone will interact with the clock instead of the dollar.

In the next generation of social media applications we see that value will be derived from time saved or punished for time squandered. People will behave in a manner dependent on how much their time is worth.

The new business models will compete against time, rather than price. Quality will be measurable by anyone.  Precision and accuracy will be rewarded and manipulation will be punished. At the end of the day, Money is Time and the quality of time is the quality of money.

The Future of Money is the future of Time:

It’s hard to imagine any product or service that wastes people’s time surviving past the next decade.  It is hard to image any future innovation that does not save time over whatever it replaces.  It is hard to imagine the basis of any currency without a time value.

Image Source


cubscout-mainMy new favorite rebuttal to any argument from economic ailment to political controversy is: “I’d like to see a social currency thrown into the mix”.

It is really convenient to have the same position on all issues; Health Care, Terrorism, abortion, financial meltdown, education reform, and political scandal – my response is the same. “I’d like to see a social currency thrown into the mix”.

What the heck am I talking about?

Several recent blogs articles (and here, and here, and here) have converged around the idea that social currency is something that people earn from being active in a community, network, or social organization. Social Currency in lauded upon the recipient in many forms such as Google juice, respect, engagement, trust, re-tweets, reputation, merit badges, check-ins, tokens, Whuffie, wiggly worms, etc…

Regardless of what you call it, all social currencies have a very unique characteristic that differentiates them from a financial currency. Social currencies reward high integrity and punish low integrity.

Social Currency can be earned or converted:

Organizing a community around a common goal is serving a need that government and corporations do not have to fulfill in their “Social Charter”. So it has value.

  • Helping a neighbor find a job supplants the work of the government funded unemployment office.
  • Helping an elderly neighbor with their shopping supplements the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Adopting a child alleviates expenditures in the foster care system, abortion, and possibly the courts and prisons.
  • Helping local vendors stay afloat by organizing a community of group buying or groupons reduces the demands on bankruptcy courts and social services.

Social Currency can also be eliminated:

  • Public servants and politicians who squander the trust of their constituents through acts of corruption and impropriety
  • Corporations who decimate local priorities in favor of Wall Street priorities.
  • Breaking the law, endangering others, neglect, fraud, breech of social contract .
  • Consumption far in excess of social contribution.

Take any issue and apply social currency

The health care debate is an excellent example. First, let’s apply a social currency to all of the people voting on the bill. Next, let’s apply a social currency to everyone arguing against the bill. Next, let’s apply a social currency to everyone arguing in favor of the bill. Let that count establish the burden of proof of the argument.

Next, let’s pay for Health Care Reform in social currency, not financial currency. That means people with a surplus of social currency receive health care at a certain rate. People with a deficit of social currency receive health care at a different rate.

Finally, compensation to health care providers would also be biased by a social currency. Providers with a surplus of social currency are paid at a different rate than providers with a deficit of social currency.

What about cheaters?, who pays these subsidies? how do you count it?, It’s a job killer, corporations will go bankrupt, losers still lose, Holy cow, this messes everything up!!!!

Actually, it’s not much different than how we allocate money on a credit scoring basis. It’s not any more difficult to count than the blood-money coursing through the veins of an unvetted financial / insurance system. Most importantly, constraining a Financial Currency with a Social Currency sets up a whole new landscape of benchmarks and incentives that accelerate innovation, in effect, printing new currency.

That’s what I mean when I say; “I’d Like to see some Social Currency in the Mix”



foursquareThe Next Economic Paradigm is arriving and the first entries include Foursquare.  Few people understand the significance of this new class of social media applications. Foursquare contains many (but not yet all) of the components of the Innovation Economy that we have been discussing for several years at Ingenesist.com, Conversationalcurreny.com, and Relationship-economy.com.

Here is what Foursquare does have:

Geolocation: Sure, social media has been great sport for chatting with your buddies across the world, but nothing really happens until the rubber meets the road.  people need to be in the same location in order to “build something” together.  We call this The Last Mile of Social Media

Mayor of Popcorn: As silly as this may sound, badging it is a highly sophisticated feature that we have called the “knowledge Inventory“.  In order to build anything, there must be an inventory of parts. “Knowledge” is not the exception as the crude and archaic resume system would have people believe.

Knowledge is an asset and it will perform as an asset if it is characterized in the form of a quantity and a quality.  “Mayor of Popcorn”, believe it or not, is in the correct form.

Vetting Mechanism: Vendors are an equal part of the social network and will soon provide their coupons, specials, and other economic incentives on Foursquare because advertising any other way is dead meat.  Vendors will live in a system that is in their best interest to practice high integrity rather than low integrity while favoring mom and pop operations that live in the community.  We call this “Social Vetting” as it lives beyond law and government – let the market be the judge.

Here is what they do not have (yet): Currency

The attraction of foursquare is the promise of fun and fancy crowd play.  The incentive is to be seen as connected, mobile, and plugged-in.  As such, people will be implicitly attracted to you like bees to a flower. In actuality, this game takes Social Media right to the edge of becoming a new financial system that can compete with, and challenge, the almighty dollar. No kidding.

Remember that currency is a social agreement.  History shows that people will trade seashells, tulip bulbs, paper notes, and little copper disks as a device to store and exchange value. All value is expressed in terms of human incentives of some kind.  Well here we have it.  Now let the entrepreneurs play.

That is a huge, huge, huge matter.

The dollar represents productivity….well, so does Foursquare.  What will entrepreneurs do in this environment?  How will entrepreneurs organize communities around “things-o-do” – or even – “things-that-must-be done”?

Here is the hint.  The idea that innovation is the exclusive domain of corporations, academia, or government is now as obsolete as Twitter.  Innovation is now related to knowledge as knowledge is related to information.  Anything that increases the rate of change of knowledge in a community can now be defined as innovation in Foursquare.

Debt and innovation represent the exact same thing.

Innovation is a promise of future productivity. Debt is also a promise of future productivity.   It is only a matter of time that all of the activity in this new generation of social media applications will resolve to, and aggregate around, a new form of currency that will compete with the dollar itself.  Mark these words.