maritimeMystery

OK, the social media buzz is getting a little stale folks.

  • Yes we know that social media is valuable.
  • Yes we know that lots of folks are doing it.
  • Yes we know that the predictive web is predicted.
  • Yes we all know that all this activity will mysteriously “monetize”

Show me how everyone is related and I’ll show you a new economic paradigm. Here is how they are not related:

  • They are not related by “earning” people’s trust today so you can shove your product down their throat tomorrow.
  • They are not related to collecting thumbnails.
  • They are not related to giving the g00gle alg00rithm an 00rgasm.
  • They are not related by “The 6 Steps to [Fill in The Gap]”.

The next economic paradigm is related to transformation.

  • People transform data into information
  • People transform information into knowledge
  • People transform knowledge into innovation
  • People transform innovation into data

Under a set of fundamental assumptions that:

  • All people are socially talented
  • All people are intellectually talented
  • All people are creatively talented
  • All people are good at something
  • Nobody is good at everything

This is how value is generated. This is where the mystery of monetization hides.


I will be introducing a number of applications of Innovation Economics in Social Media as continue writing part 2 of my book. The objective is to identify new business opportunities by disrupting the old economic paradigm with new ways to organize people around social media. In this case, a troubled industry would team up with communities that are not their direct customers:

Corporate-jet-001I live in Edmonds Washington near Paine Field – home of the sprawling Boeing manufacturing site of the 747, 777, and 787 aircraft. For years, the county executives have been trying to lure major airline service into Paine Field Airport claiming the economic benefits would far outweigh the drawbacks. Paine Field is about 1 hour north of Seattle Tacoma Airport and about 3 hours South of Vancouver, BC.

Many efforts over the years to locate another airport in this gap have hit political and environmental land mines. Paine Field expansion is no different. For years, the county, state, and FAA have been funding “improvements” that look a lot like accommodations for scheduled airline service. The county executive has been courting carriers, lobbying ‘unaffected voters’ and corralling legislators to this grand economic development cause.

The citizens of neighboring communities have not stood still. They have commissioned studies of every environment and quality of life factor from home value impact to distracted learning at the local schools. They cite urban blight, social deviance, and under development at other similar expansion projects. Political careers are made and broken over support or opposition to the airport expansion.

So far, the market has not proven large enough to support a major B737 sized scheduled service. Ironically, there have been very few studies of the impact of private aviation service expansions. Little data is discussed related to the noise foot print of small jets versus large jets. Very little data is presented to the community about distributed vs. concentrated air and car traffic flows and the upscale effects of a private aviation presence.

To the community’s advantage, small private carriers can soak up and diffuse the market that would eventually support a major carrier. These battles are raging all over the country against the political mantra of Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! Local communities are running out of money, lawyers, and stall tactics to fight them.

With the price of seat on a (full) private Jet about the same as a business class ticket on a major airline, local communities may want to go into the travel agency business. By using community media, website, a booking website, twitter alerts, and tourism agents to identify and match travelers to destinations combined with some proactive social media marketing, Citizen Airlines LLC can stave off an airport expansion by competing with it.

Meanwhile, unemployed citizens are available to manage an on-line Community Branded jet service (operated by a private carrier). Advertising and marketing can be transferred to the community in exchange for reduced rates and shared access to private aviation reports and data which would help them fight airline expansion.

This requires that the private aviation industry empower communities who are not necessarily their direct customers but are stakeholders none the less. Social Capitalism is the act of elevating oneself by elevating the entire community rather than opressing then for capitalist gains. By giving people a voice, the economy gets a bullhorn.


corporate news

Visionaries Ho!

There are no shortage of intelligent and visionary social media celebrities.  They write great books about markets, social media tools, strategies, and on-line reputation for the benefit of the millions of people stuck on any part of the slippery social media learning curve.  They are infinitely generous with their knowledge and share it freely at countless conferences, blog posts, and syndicated articles.

There is, however, one thing that most of these Guru’s have in common – they consult to and are paid by large corporations. I could be considered part of this crowd for whatever my influence is worth.  So the question about causation is due – will social media develop as a function of corporate interaction with it?

If so, then it is not social media – it is corporate media.

This is no surprise, nor should there be any apparent concern, after all, everyone has to make a living and it is better that the corporations pay people to create content that benefits me.   The practice is conducted quite ethically too -most readily disclose where their financial support comes from and we all benefit from free information that helps us keep the playing field as level as it can be.

But at the end of the day, it’s all about eye-balls and bullhorns.  In order to produce eyeballs and bullhorns, people must be sitting at a computer or, at least, staring at a handset.  The longer you can keep people interacting with the brand instead of interacting with each other, the better off everyone is, right?

Social Media Consumer Advocate

A consumer advocate is someone who helps look after the best interest of the consumer for product safety and false advertising.  Social media is pushing the envelope of the corporate interaction with consumers.  “Advertising” no longer lends itself to the objective review of a billboard, commercial, or public statement.  Social Media Marketing is increasingly sophisticated and manipulative.  The vulnerable people; children and elders are no less vulnerable on social media, and may be more.

Social anomalies?

Some of the emerging research related to social media is surprising with increased instances of what can be considered social anomalies:

Infantilism; adults doing childish things like playing silly games in ‘public’
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; constantly checking for updates and new photos,
Depression and loneliness; preference of social media over real live interaction
Narcissism; The excessive love or admiration of one’s image of their self.

Is it social because it is media or is it media because it is social?

We need to ask ourselves what is the difference between computer enabled reality and computer simulated reality.   If we lose “causation” the entire body of analysis can be called into the question: is social media or is it corporate media?


transparentIt looks like everyone is buffing up their predictions for another year of astonishing growth by social media. The last several years have brought so many surprises that the next several are promising to yield a bumper crop of “I told you so” fodder from the “pithier than thou” crowd.

My prediction for 2010 is that nothing is sacred, including the onslaught 2010 predictions. Therefore, I’ll will go way out on a limb and make my 2011 predictions in 2009.

In General:

The interest coming due on our national debt will consume increasingly more of the money that institutions need to provide basic services. As these institutions weaken, they will increasingly be replaced by social media enterprise. These structurally weakened institutions will drive social media innovation more than any other factor.

Specifically:

  1. Social vetting will catch everyone by surprise. Google buying Yelp is the game changer that will shake markets to the core. A market can only be as efficient as its vetting mechanism. To control vetting is to control a market – ask any despot. Where the vetting institutions of the old paradigm break down, they will be replaces by social media vetting. Nothing is sacred – the SEC, AMA, Federal Reserve – everything is vulnerable. Google knows this and will usher in an era of social media applications that will completely disrupt the gatekeepers.
  2. Everyone says that social media will monetize. It will, but not like anyone expects. 2011 is the year of the Deep Web; the deep web is the vast universe of unprocessed data that exists like dark matter in the Google-verse. Social media will monetize around data because data is the only thing that corporation, governments, and other people are willing to pay for. Google created economic initiatives for legions of entrepreneurs to create information content. The new Deep Web Search engines will create economic incentives for legions of entrepreneurs to create databases.
  3. The convergence of data will create the “new monetized innovation economy” defined by the way people interact with data. Highly localized data that will reflect the knowledge inventory of a community and will be represented by a virtual currency.
  4. It will become increasingly apparent that many of the functions of a corporation can be duplicated outside a corporation by new vetted social media applications. Networks of people will become “corporations” and trade knowledge assets through the trade of virtual currency contracts.
  5. Corporations will become technology centric rather than industry centric with open source architecture liberated to armies of diverse entrepreneurs. For example, breakthoughs in one industry will shoot across all industries like iphone apps – especially effective in environmental and “community organization” innovations. Nothing is sacred.

So there it is and be assured that 2012 will not disappoint even the hardiest eschatologist!

Sorry for not repeating the “real-time is king” mantra or singing the “people will finally pay for content” tune, or reciting the “every department is the marketing department” manifesto. Something much bigger is about to happen. The evolution away from the current financial system will drive social media more than any other factor.


Most literature on the subject of Innovation cites diversity as an important component of the innovation enterprise. Unfortunately diversity rides a political narrative rather than practical applications. Polarization is the death of diversity and the political narrative that plagues our country also plagues our ability to innovate.

Process Diversity

Not only does the diversity in innovation matter, the diversity of acceptable outcomes of innovation is also important. In addition, the diversity of attempts at innovation is essential, i.e., failure must be culturally acceptable. Preconception, bias, thresholds, and ideology often spell the end of a economic outcome.

Moving Against the Grain

Unfortunately, the forces acting against diversity are deeply ingrained in each of us whether we’ll admit it or not. For example, if you are in charge of producing diverse groups, processes and outcomes. How does one extract their own personal bias? How does one determine how much diversity is needed? Removing oneself produces randomness. Including oneself produces similitude. Polarization returns.

A Diverse Quagmire

Most companies innovate with existing personnel whose behavior can only be a function of their interaction with the company for their career and retirement prospects. Utilizing external sources does not eliminate this bias and may in fact magnify it.

There may be a way out of this quandary; we must open our observation to include all possible outcomes as worthwhile. Then we must distribute the results broadly. Where diverse people observe the same event, objectivity is achieved.

A striking resemblance to social media

By observing something derived from unobservable events, we can gain a great deal of information. because Social media is experiencing extraordinary growth we can say that a great amount of innovation is occurring. It is our prerogative to capture the innovation and not to expect the innovation to capture us, our government, or our corporations.

Diversity by Proxy

At the Ingenesist Project, we define innovation as outcomes proportional to the rate of change of knowledge with respect to time. As such, all we need to do is look for high rates of change of knowledge and we know that innovation is taking place. We do not know what the innovation is, where it’s directed, or what the market for the innovation may be. However, when we employ diverse observation, these answers begin to emerge.

Social media provides an interesting backdrop to the innovation process. Social Media does not care what you look like, the clothes you wear, or the church you attend. Social media hold no monopoly of opinion on diversity –

Diverse Incentives

If we take a lesson from economics, we know that people will generally act in their own perceived best interest. Then we can apply a set of incentives that modifies the best interests of the people. These incentives may be rewards, access to more incentives, or reduction of risk. Suppose that diversity were in fact a process of self selection or self removal from an objective? That is, people would have enough information regarding the potential outcomes that they could choose to interact with the process or not. In effect, innovating as an economy.

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open-courseWe continue to challenge the relevance of the college “degree” as being an insufficient measurement for what “educated” is, or is not, in an innovation economy. With the cost of a college degree spiraling upward and the value of the degree spiraling downward, the market will tip in favor of the alternative education measurements.

It is important to note that we do not challenge the existence of institutes of higher education, only the “degree” as a unit of measurement. The four year Bachelor degree and two year Masters degree are irrelevant as a title (there is no legal title since the age of the guilds) and arbitrary in duration to respond to the diversity, speed, and scope at which new technologies become available for deployment.

Ray Barton writes: The UK House of Commons in its’ report on Re-skilling in January 2009 stated the useful life of a degree is five years. In high tech professions, the useful lifetime of knowledge can be as short as 1.5 years.

This alone disrupts the current paradigm of higher education in several ways.

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SocialistMickeyYikes…

Unemployment tops 10%.  Add in the under-employed, part timers, young adults trying to enter the job market, the ones who have given up or otherwise marginalized, and we’re well into the 15-20% range.

Mediated Reality:

When will people come to the realization that a new financial system is needed to represent the new social order?  When will people realize that they have in their possession the most important tool ever devised by humanity for the benefit of humanity?  When will they shut off the TV and reject the barrage of mediated reality that blinds them with propaganda at every turn?

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Google 10^100 award voting is Launched.  There are two sectors that we believe would have the greatest impact on the greatest amount of people; building a better banking system and funding social entrepreneurs.  You can’t have one without the other – if Google funds these two sectors in concert, the outcome would be incredible.

Build A Better Bank

In the old banking system we assume that we have the knowledge to execute a business plan and we go to the bank to borrow the money.  In the new banking system, we will assume we have the money and we go off in search of the knowledge.  Social Media is an excellent “public accounting system” for knowledge assets.

Our current banking system has gotten it backwards.

Technological change must always precede economic growth. The supranational currency may be backed by productivity and not debt.  Social media provides an excellent platform upon which to design such a banking system. People trade “social currency” at a tremendous rate.  This is evidenced by the amount of destructive innovation is occurring in many legacy sectors due to social media.

Better Banking Tools for everyone

“Partner with banks and technology companies to increase the reach of financial services across the world. Users submitted numerous ideas that seek to improve the quality of people’s lives by offering new, more convenient and more sophisticated banking services. Specific suggestions include inexpensive village-based banking kiosks for developing countries; an SMS solution geared toward mobile networks; and ideas for implementing banking services into school curriculums”.

Suggestions that inspired this idea

1.    Enable prepaid cell phone bank accounts for millions of people working in the informal economy
2.    Create a community-level electronic banking system for rural areas
3.    Build IT-enabled kiosks which provide access to financial services
4.    Create a single world bank or supra-national currency, uniform rules and transparent public accounting

Fund Social Entrepreneurs

Venture Capital is ridiculously expensive. Corporate innovation serves shareholders value over social priorities.  Some say that the financial risk of funding innovation is too high. The top ten reasons why start-ups fail are due to knowledge deficits, not money deficits.  A new banking system that trades knowledge as currency would solve this problem.

The key is to match most worthy knowledge surplus to most worthy knowledge deficit.  Google is perfectly able to build a search app for knowledge assets if there were an inventory of knowledge assets.  With the most worthy match, Risk can be reduced and new financial instruments can be developed such as the innovation bond, innovation insurance, tangential innovation markets, and destructive innovation transition contingency options, etc.

Help social entrepreneurs drive change

Create a fund to support social entrepreneurship. This idea was inspired by a number of user proposals focused on “social entrepreneurs” — individuals and organizations who use entrepreneurial techniques to build ventures focused on attacking social problems and fomenting change. Specific relevant ideas include establishing schools that teach entrepreneurial skills in rural areas; supporting entrepreneurs in underdeveloped communities; and creating an entity to provide capital and training to help entrepreneurs build viable businesses and catalyze sustained community change.

Suggestions that inspired this idea

1.    Provide targeted capital and business training to help young entrepreneurs build viable businesses and catalyze sustained community change
2.    Create a non-profit, venture capital-like revolving fund to invest in high-impact local entrepreneurs
3.    Send young American entrepreneurs to underdeveloped communities to help create small businesses that would economically benefit those communities
4.    Create schools in rural areas to teach local people how to become entrepreneurs
5.    Create a private equity fund to help immigrants in developed countries finance business development in their countries of origin


Facebook is testing a virtual currency, because it’s cool and they can do it. They are not alone, the gaming industry has been at it for a long time for people who want to be more “productive” in the game space.

There is no mention, however, whether a Facebook currency could be used as a medium of exchange in the event of hyperinflation and the crash of the US dollar.  I can find nobody, writing anywhere today, that is willing to cross this proverbial line in the editorial sandbox.

I personally witnessed a devaluation in Mexico. Like a tsunami, the “adjustment” happens relatively fast as values ’snap’ fluctuate relative to other currencies.  Then very interesting things start to happen in the community. People will literally empty WalMart because most goods will be cheaper today than tomorrow.

As with other hyperinflation events, black markets form around various items such as gasoline, cigarettes, or Levis as people require some medium of exchange in order to buy necessities such as groceries and cooking fuel.

A Facebook currency may just be what communities will use to get through the event.  However, a Facebook Currency would likely be temporary because it could not be used in Banks to capitalize assets – or, by government who can’t figure out how to tax it.

Now the question becomes, what type of social currency could be intermarry with dollars?

Here is a hint; the dollar is backed by debt which is a promise to be more productive in the future. Conveniently, “innovation” is also a promise to be more productive in the future. Two such currencies are of the same species and can intermarry yielding new economic life.

The degree to which any ‘virtual’ currency is interchangable with the dollar is the degree to which it represents human innovation. Chew on that, Facebook.


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?