The Perfect Storm:

We are at an historic time in human history; one that may never repeat itself again. The current financial crisis may provide just enough disruption for a completely new economic paradigm to emerge; the Innovation Economy.  We cannot squander this moment arguing over common logon for our Twitter and Facebook profiles; a far greater integration is required from Social Media.

Advertising is not the correct revenue model.

It is astonishing that Social Media, in general, has not figured out how to make money.  Social Media IS money.  All wealth on Earth was created from the social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital of people – wealth creation is already crowd sourced.  Now, there is an opportunity for Social Media to harness this engine of economic growth and wealth creation – if they could only see it.

The problem is simple: Globalization is proceeding as if economic growth can occur before technological change. Some time in the past, we got these two things up mixed. It does not take money to make money; it takes innovation to make money.  Technological change MUST ALWAYS happen before real economic growth can occur.  Anything else is a transfer of wealth, not the creation of wealth. All that is unsustainable today – the economy, the environment, natural resources, energy – is due to this itsy bitsy anomaly of current market economics.   Today, we can easily correct this little flaw with almost a flip of a switch – but the window of opportunity will be short – and we need to be clever.

The idea that human knowledge is tangible and behaves individually and collectively like a financial instrument is still considered impossible.  The ability to place a market value on the social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital of a team, community, or geographic population of people – let alone a social network – has never been accomplished.  This idea remains the Holy Grail of finance and one that Social Media is uniquely positioned to capture.  If the finance industry can invent “tangible derivatives” out of thin air paper, then we ought to be able to do the same with knowledge assets that live and breathe tangibly all around us.

If it looks like money, it will behave like money, guaranteed:

First, we need to build a knowledge inventory system that includes everyone; and which can be anonymously codified and amalgamated with logic in machine readable format (the Universal Decimal Classification System is a good candidate). Second, we need to sample our inventory in a community using the proverbial “Bell Curve”. Third, we need to develop a search engine that returns the probability that a strategic combination of knowledge assets can execute a given objective. Fourth, we need an innovation Bank that will “pull” knowledge surplus and “pull” knowledge deficits together from diverse communities.   (Please see the IEc101 at

This should not sound too weird; it is the same game that Wall Street plays.  The switch is flipped when we engage our innovation system with the financial system.

Go where the money is:

Social Media is perfectly positioned to develop these features in their products and in our communities. We first must understand that innovation is predictable.  We may not be able to say exactly where the innovation will lead, but we can be sure that if we place a group of strategically diversified persons in a room, innovation will happen.  If the fact of innovation is predictable, risks related to the invented can be pooled, morphed, or diversified.  If risk can be diversified, it can be hedged to zero.  If innovation has zero risk, Wall Street will salivate to issue “innovation bonds” to finance diverse communities of practice.  If innovation capital is inexpensive and accessible, a great amount of innovation will occur.  The anomaly of capital markets can be reversed, and the result will be sustainable economic growth.

Naturally, the compensation structure will be in the form of dividends, both financial and in social welfare.  New corporations will emerge and the old corporations will become more efficient. What is invented will tend to reflect social priorities rather than today’s short term Wall Street priorities.   America must innovate at an intense and sustained rate in order to compensate for the imbalance of debt economics that has been created in its absence.  Social Media can be, and must be, the infrastructure upon which an Innovation Economy is built.  Again, this opportunity is staring us straight in the eye.  This is the conversation that must be having today if we will meet the challenges of tomorrow.

It is very interesting to watch Social Media follow familiar trajectories as earlier paradigms in finance.  I see many social media platforms struggling to make human knowledge tangible in their respective markets.  The challenge is so simple, yet so complex.  Let the litmus test for knowledge tangibility be as follows; “Can you buy groceries with it?”

The Romans Empire had a similar problem; how to sack Europe and bring home the booty.  The only thing most people had at the time were sheep, fish, and wine.  So the emperor created a coin that represented a peasant’s productivity in raising sheep, catching fish, and making wine – and it was a lot easier to collect taxes.  The conquest of a continent has far more to do with the social acceptance of the currency than the actual pillaging – pillaging, after all, would be counter productive in a social network.

Today the dollar also represents human productivity – except a ‘necessary flaw’ was introduced to finance innovation leading to fantastic worldwide economic growth from which many people benefit greatly.  Now, this flaw threatens to topple the whole system.  Money still represents productivity, except it now represents future productivity allocated to paying debt.  As long as innovation increases fast enough to outpace debt, everything is OK.  Problems happen when debt exceeds our structural ability to innovate.

We do not need to restructure the financial system – we need to restructure the innovation system.  The human race is exceedingly fortunate that the end game for debt economics will happen at the exact moment in history that the technology required to start a new game of sustainable innovation economics has arrived.   If done correctly, Social Media (computer enabled society) can become the most important human invention since to the printing press.

Today, human knowledge, in the form of social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital, is captured and hidden inside corporations.  Each corporation has its own business plan, lexicon, culture, organization, structure, and processes by which human knowledge is exchanged in the creation of a “product”.  Outside the corporation, however, true knowledge assets are either invisible, incomplete, or only appear as a proxy of the corporation.  This leads to stagnation, silos, mis-allocation, vulnerability to external shock, and greatly limits the diversity needed for sustainable innovation.

In the 1700’s Banks printed their own currency – these were called “bank notes” because they were little notes that declared who had a surplus and who had a deficit of money relative to the bank.  People would trade these notes in society to purchase things, buy feed or seed, and to keep track of things.  Everyone had a job to do and the general flow of these notes is what “incorporated” townships. Unfortunately, such banking also lead to industrial stagnation, silos of wealth, and lack of diversification leading to corruption, bank failures, and ‘bottle necks’ in the flow of capital.

Barely 150 years ago, the U.S. government established a central banking system with common currency, common practices, common accounting, and common regulation. The system became much more efficient, diversified, and accessible across the landscape.  The industrial revolution, manufacturing revolution, lots of wars, the era of information, and the Internet Industries were all financed through a central banking system.  Human productivity increased at a tremendous rate and the relative wealth that we enjoy today is a tangible result of innovation.

Now the Pied Piper has come to take the children to sea.  The banking system needs to invent new, exotic, and increasingly risky financial instruments for trading your productivity in order to keep the game alive.  Meanwhile, the tangibility of human knowledge is stuck in an 18th century banking system.  There is no common knowledge inventory, there is no common accounting practice for skills and abilities, there is no way to measure social capital and creative capital – the system is too biased toward “intellectual capital” measured by Ivy League degrees and access to wealth.  Knowledge assets are not tangible, organized, classified, or collected in a society in any structured way.  “Can you buy groceries with it yet”?

With the emergence of Social Media, we have an extraordinary opportunity to make knowledge tangible outside the construct of a corporation much like banks notes became tangible outside the construct of a single township.  There are vast and crushing problems in the world today.  The only way out of this mess is to massively increase the rate of innovation in society.  Like off-shore drilling – vast wealth in the form of social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital lays hidden beneath thousands of layers of philosophical limestone.  Social Media and the first amendment = drill baby, drill.

The only thing separating us from a debt economy and an innovation economy is social agreement. The philosophical chasm holding us back is about to be broken by The Ingenesist Project: In the current paradigm, money is backed by future productivity allocated to pay off today’s debt.  In the social media paradigm; money will be backed by future productivity created by today’s innovation.  At the end of the day money still represents productivity.  The conquest of a continent has far more to do with the acceptance of the currency than the actual pillaging.  Hey, why not buy groceries with it?

Knowledge Tangibility should be the most important conversation in Social Media circles given the current financial situation in America.

I lived through financial devaluation in another country and the effects were crushing: after the run on the banks, there will be a run on Walmart.  People will buy TVs, small appliances, shoes, and useful stuff that will hold more value tomorrow that they cost today.  These items may become a de facto currency of trade.  Americans will be astonished by how fast a devaluation event plays out; hours and days, not months or years.  When things settle down, the government will retire the old dollar and introduce a new currency at an exchange of, say, 1 megabuck equals 1000 old dollars.  Then the chips are cleared, assets are transferred, and the same game can start all over again.

The difference is that for the first time in history, there is a window of opportunity for social media technology to break this cycle. Please let me explain:

Suppose that a BMW costs $50,000 dollars and a KIA costs $10,000 dollars.  These prices reflect the quantity and quality of the car in terms of availability and popular amenities such as, handling, road noise, comfort, status, etc. Suppose the government introduces a new currency called the “megabuck”.  Suppose the government pegs the megabuck to cars saying that all cars will have a value of 30,000 megabucks. Since these cars are not equal, people will begin trading; the BMW will be bid up to 50,000 megabucks and the Kia will be bid down to 10,000 megabucks based on supply and demand – right back where they started.

Admittedly an oversimplification, but the point is does not matter what you call the currency – the most important thing is the quantity and quality of the asset.  This brings us back to the idea of knowledge tangibility.

Suppose that, on average, 1 hour of human labor is worth 20 megabucks.  As above, hard labor will be bid up while soft labor would be bid down.  The same is not really true with knowledge because knowledge is invisible and it can’t be counted with bricks or bushels.  There is no knowledge inventory in America’s communities.  Therefore, there is no way to establish supply and demand for knowledge assets.  People in a community do not know what other people in the community know. This is where social networks will make a huge difference.

Human knowledge, if formatted correctly, would make an excellent asset upon which to peg a currency. Today, accountants say that human knowledge is “intangible” but social media demonstrates otherwise; human knowledge is simply invisible – hidden inside corporations under the thumb of Wall Street. Social media demonstrates that knowledge assets are itching to be release to the public domain in a highly tangible manner.  Believe it or not, we are now 95% of the way toward real knowledge tangibility today.   We should be very excited about this because everything changes.

Like the example with the cars, we need to have a comprehensive inventory of the knowledge assets in our communities so that they can be strategically combined into productive organizations.  This inventory must be formatted in terms of quantity and quality and include all knowledge living including social, creative, and intellectual capital.  If done correctly, it will not matter what happens to the dollar or what currency is used as a scorecard, the value of human knowledge assets will remain intact.

Again, the value is in the asset, not the currency – it is in you, me, and our diverse communities who will favor community priorities rather than Wall Street priorities. This is how where we will find equity, sustainability, and fairness in a capitalist system.

The Ingenesist Project has specified exactly how to create knowledge tangibility in a capitalist model using 3 simple web applications for Social Networks; a Knowledge Inventory, a Percentile Search Engine, and an Innovation Bank. Please read the intro and the articles on page IEc101.  If you agree, please pass it on.  If you do not agree, please help us make it better.  If you don’t understand, email me. This needs to happen fast and unfortunately nobody will do it for us – we must do it ourselves.

We have set up a new game for entrepreneurs to play called Innovation Economics. We have defined a currency and an inventory where knowledge is visible outside the construct of the corporation – and resident in social networks. We have also described a way for entrepreneurs to visualize the knowledge asset and the supply and the demand for knowledge assets. We have given them a tool for matching assets for profit. We have described how social networks will keep the game fair. We have outlined the structure of new business plans; the brain storming session, product development cycle, the neural network, and the multiplier effect. Future businesses will be built upon combination of these four structures and whatever else entrepreneurs can dream up.

We have described all of the pieces needed to form a new economy. Now we need to connect with the financial markets so that knowledge is readily convertible to other currencies.

For review;

With the financial bank, the entrepreneur assumes that they have the knowledge to execute a business plan and then they look for the money. The risk is that the entrepreneur does not in fact have enough knowledge.

With the Innovation Bank, we assume that we have the money, and we go to the bank to search for the knowledge. The risk is not having enough money to purchase sufficient expertise.

With both banks acting together – the risks cancel each other out and the innovation economy tends toward a ‘risk free’ cycle; the more knowledge you can assemble, the more money you can borrow. The more money you can assemble, the more knowledge you can assemble.

Now we have a virtuous circle. The more knowledge you have, the more money you can borrow; and the more money you have, the more knowledge you can borrow.

There is no shortage of money circling the globe – only a shortage of risk free places to put the money. The innovation economy is an environment of very high return for a very low risk and will attract a great deal of money to fund innovation enterprise.

Earlier we demonstrated that money represents human productivity. It follows that the places that have the greatest potential for increasing human productivity can create the greatest amount of wealth. Therefore, poor areas and marginalized economies with under utilized knowledge inventories or the injection of specific knowledge inventories, become the highest ROI centers in a risk-free system; a condition the explicitly favors the wealth equalization rather than wealth disparity.

Now we look for a similar situation for Knowledge Markets.

In the cuurent times, the hiring manager is the person to know if you want to get a job. The manager would read your resume and compare it with “bell curve” in their brain about what has worked or not worked in their past. This was a great system for the industrial economy, but it falls far short in the innovation economy.

The world is evolving so fast with new technology, new disciplines, and global cultures that what worked in the past may not work in the future. Innovation favors different combinations of knowledge where the Industrial economy favored similar knowledge. A hiring manager may not accumulate sufficient experience in a lifetime to make a proper assessment in the complexities of a diverse, global, and technical future market.

If we look in society, there are many vetting mechanism in place. Social networks are by far among the most exciting and important new technology that can serve this purpose. Social networks must now evolve to become a local vetting mechanism for knowledge assets.

Just like the reporting agencies in the credit system, Social Networks can serve an extremely valuable function in permitting human knowledge to emulate a financial instrument by acting as the “Recording Agencies” who have verified the asset in terms of quality and quantity. The knolwedge Inventory acts as the independent variables that are used to calculate the probability of market success. The difference is that the credit score measures mostly negative events while the new system will seek only positive events and can be designed to give the participants much greater influence on how they appear to the market.

One thing is missing. The credit score uses the FICO equation; Innovation Economics will use something called the Percentile Search Engine.

We have defined the currency, the factors of production, and the inventory of the Innovation Economy; we destroyed the old resume system and turned it into a computer language that makes knowledge appear like money in the eyes of the entrepreneur.

Now, we need a system that keeps the game free and fair. For example; EBay does little more than protect the feedback system, Craigslist uses community flagging, Linkedin keeps track of comments and contacts, etc. All markets must have a vetting mechanism in order to operate efficiently. Entrepreneurs do not invest in places without a good legal system and where property rights are not protected. When vetting fails, investors leave – It is that important.

In the Innovation Economy, the knowledge market is analogous to the credit market.

In the old days, the banker was the person to know if you wanted to be successful in town. If you needed to borrow money to start a business or buy a house, the banker would review your work history and financial records as well as your reputation in the community where you both live. If you were deemed an acceptable risk, the banker would lend you money from the deposits of local companies and individuals.

Then an engineer named Bill Fair and mathematician Earl Isaac created the first behavior scoring system to predict credit risk. They formed the Fair Isaac Corporation FICO and their invention came to be known as the FICO credit score. With the credit score, the local banker is almost irrelevant; now a Saudi Billionaire can lend money to a young couple in Boise to buy their first home – and neither of them are aware of the other. The credit score is responsible for the creation of a lot of wealth because it made many more entrepreneurs who invested borrowed money in business. The credit score even allows you to recover if you hit hard times – you just pay more a little interest until you prove yourself solvent again.

The credit score isolates about 22 or so measurements of financial activity and puts them on a bell curve relative to everyone else. These include how much debt you have, how much your assets are worth, your income, etc. These ratings are run through the FICO Equation and out pops your credit score. Anyone can now predict the likelihood that you will default on your obligation.

All of the data that feed FICO are collected from public records, your employer, and the people who you borrow money from – all of these organizations have a vested interest in a system of correct credit scores.

It is interesting that you and I do not compete for our credit score because it is not a ranking system. The old saying “No credit is worse than bad credit”, although inaccurate, is cited often because with bad credit, you are visible to the system and it can adjust to find a suitable interest rate. With no credit, you are simply invisible.

We lose some privacy with FICO, but we accept these terms well because they provides us with tremendous benefit to finance a business, automobile, or a home without needing to save cash. Likewise, we lose some privacy engaging each other on the Internet and in our community, however, the benefit of Social Networks far exceed many perceived privacy issues.

My personal complaint with credit scores is that they track largely negative events and seem to predict failure. What if we had a system that tracks success and used that data topredict varying degrees of success.

In the next section, we will identify the institutions that exist in society and how Social Networks can act to duplicate the benefits of the credit score without the downsides….watch