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.

Bank-of-Wal-Mart-Note--40279The New Reverse Order

If someone can track your spending, they can predict your behavior.  It is also true that if someone can track your behavior, they predict your spending.   The next economic paradigm is simply a higher order of the same.

On the next higher order, if someone knows your “Knowledge Inventory” they can predict how you will manage changing conditions – that is, how you will innovate.  Likewise, tracking how people innovate exposes the development of new knowledge assets (the ‘gold-standard’ of conversational currency).

Everyday some new headline shows that we are getting closer and closer to that point – for better or worse – where humanity learns to manage an innovation economy.

Profound Issues Arise.

The following article about Wal-Mart adopting the debit card (Wal-Mart to Staff: Bye-Bye Paycheck, Hello Debit Card) as a means of issuing paychecks represents a quantum leap in the monetization of knowledge assets.  We expect many more will closely follow in one of the most important financial developments in financial history – virtual currency.  If food stamps can be delivered on a debit card, why not frequent flier miles, Disney Dollars, coupons, rebates, tulip bulbs, beanie babies, or a new global currency such as the Rallod?

A Vetting Zoo

The only questions that remain are related to Vetting.  By all accounts Social Media is developing into the mother of all vetting mechanisms.  Who controls the card? What system is it replacing? Who can pull money off?  Who charges fees to whom and why? Who gets the business intelligence?  What is the PR spin?  Can advertisers interact with the card to apply discounts and rewards?  What types incentives motivate what types of people and can it go on a debit card?

A Steep Departure

Each of these questions, and the companies they spawn, will live or die by Tweet and Blog – this is a steep departure from the past.  For example; 30 years ago, if every American were told that their social security number would be tied to a credits score that is tied to their driving record, employability, insurance premium, health care, mortgage rate, and, yup, their debit card – the cities would have burned in protest.

Nobody could have seen this future except those who designed it.  Today, the designers are you and I – see the future now, see the future here at Conversational Currency.

The idea of trust as social currency is appearing in more articles, conferences, and books.  This is all highly consistent with the TIP thesis on Innovation Economics which describes the necessity of a vetting mechanism among the knowledge inventory as a means for the emergence of a currency in a market – that is, a conversational currency.  People need to trust the currency if they are to trade the currency.

Shefaly Yogendra provides some excellent insights below.  Keep in mind that American Culture does not have a monopoly on the definition of trust.  It should not be an American expectation to define the conversational currency in our own image.  Indeed, convertability of such currency will be, and must be, global.

I kept the analysis sparse on this article because it is a valuable exercise to form one’s own perspective on trust prior to diving into someone Else’s opinion.  After all, it’s your currency – you own it.  Good luck.


by Shefaly (please see her Bio here)

Trust is a non-negotiable essential in business. The post linked here refers to web-based business-to-consumer interactions. But as social currency, Trust is the most significant in interactions amongst organisations, customers, employees and regulatory bodies.


Wikipedia defines social currency as “information shared which encourages further social encounters“. Social currency is different from social capital which refers to “connections within and between social networks and individuals“.

Social currency – some characteristics

a) No distinction between ‘physical’ and ‘virtual’ worlds

b) No distinction between ‘individuals’ and ‘corporate entities’

c) No distinction between validity of negative or positive normative labels

Determining the value of Trust as social currency

a) Verifiable Identity and antecedents

b) Consistency

c) Reliability

d) Peer recognition

e) Value of the network

f) Individuality and collaborative consciousness

The original article can be found here and it elaborates on each of the points above.

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The Ingenesist Project Community concerns itself with the value of social reach since this will most certainly impact he relevance of  those conversing as well as the relevance of the conversation to some business activity.  Obviously, innovation is about having the right team in the right place at the right time.

Furthermore, business activities such as marketing and advertising need to make their communications more relevant and less wasteful of their audience’s limited bandwidth – lest they risk being perceived as “anti-social”.

Stated somewhat more clinically; the most worthy knowledge surplus must be matched with the most worthy knowledge deficit in order to produce the most valuable outcome.

Brynn Evans offers the following observation:

The future of search  involves social networks, social graphs, or social filtering in some capacity.  Companies will live or die by whether they get the “social” part right: creating the right level of intimacy, trust, reliability, social connectedness, and accuracy in their results listings. Of course, this specifically means that their user experience must at least meet or, preferably, exceed that of Google’s.

To achieve this, we must first stop arguing over the different flavors of search.

Real-time search. Social search. Semantic search. These distinctions are essentially meaningless, especially when we can’t even agree on definitions and when each of their boundaries remain undefined. Instead, we should recognize that they’re all part and parcel of personalizing and contextualizing search for individual users. Let’s stop playing the “name game” and start thinking holistically about how each (and all!) affects and improves what we think of today as “search.”

Defies analysis, defies control:

Ms Evans’ excellent analysis continues to identify numerous problems with attempting to classify Social Relevance – each system is merely trumped by new issues related to semantics, context, and proximity.  It seems as if the more you try to “control” social media, the more it defies control.  The more you try to study it, the more it shows you a mirror of yourself.  Introspection is the irony of extroversion.

The great big Sucking Sound

While nobody, including Ms. Evans can tell you how to increase your social relevancy, we can probably all agree on what does not.   If your message sucks, your social relevancy will also suck.  If you are trying to sell a product that does not actually save people time and increase their net productivity, your product will fail and your social relevancy will suck.   If you are in any way trying to match unworthy knowledge surplus with unworthy knowledge deficit, your social relevancy will suck.

Give up Control in order to gain control:

Business intelligence is the science of knowing what sucks and what does not.  Let Social media carry your message wherever it wants to carry it. The sooner the market tells you what it wants, the sooner you can adapt your products and services to meet the needs.  Things happen fast in social media space and the corporation needs to be faster.  This may mean corporations need to give up control in order to gain control of both the threats and opportunities of the future.  After all, even by the playbook of Corporate America : survival of the fittest is the only relevant social rank.

(Ed: Brynn Evans is a PhD student in Cognitive Science at UC San Diego who uses digital anthropology to study and better understand social search)

If it looks like a buck, and talks like a buck, and quacks like a buck – it’s probably a buck.

So when your money gets “free will” and starts walking out the door door, that’s bad enough.  When flies out the window en mass enabled by the same social media that  brings money in the door – serious management issues arise.  Should organization choose fight, flight, or cooperation?

Battle lines are being drawn:

  • “Among large U.S. companies, 33% have employees on staff to monitor e-mail messages — up from 15% last year, one survey found. The Proofpoint study also found that 31% of companies had fired workers who breached confidentiality via e-mail, and 8% had fired someone over a social-networking leak. The survey found 41% of respondents are worried about potential leaks via Twitter. ZDNet (08/10)”
  • “Marines banned social networking sites from their computers Tuesday due to security concerns, and the Pentagon announced a policy review. But Pentagon’s top officer will still tweet (Christian Science Monitor 08/05)

There are literally thousands of articles on this subject but none of the few that I read came to any conclusion, so I will:

Money is becoming intangible (cannot be contained) and Social Media is becoming tangible (has become the container)

The very structure of organizations is changing.  Trying to control the temperature of the room when the windows have been blown out will only destroy existing controls faster.  A completely new economic structure is emerging complete with new factors of production, incentives, institutions, accounting, and currency.

Swap or swamp?

Easier said than done?  Not really; all we need to do is swap the same methods that we use to manage tangible assets with those same methods that we use to manage intangible assets.  There are in fact people and organizations trying to do this (specifically this author) but you won’t find then in corporations anymore.

Companies have no choice but to understand migration patterns, flock actualization needs, motivation, and environmental issues.  Going from an economy where the corporate charter is only “to deliver shareholder value” to one of safeguarding the health and welfare of people and their property” is a huge leap.

The discussion of Conversational Currency is required to understand the underlying economic forces that drive social media and the emerging institutional structure for corporations to create value in a computer enabled society.