Think Bigger. Aim Higher. Go Further.

Month: May 2010 Page 1 of 2

Let’s Argue About the Definition of Productivity Instead

Many arguments rage because of poor definitions to terms. If people cannot agree on a definition, they will not agree on much else. A definition should be definitive – here I will tackle 5 of the most elusive definitions that are at the center of much, if not all, global controversy: Data, Information, knowledge, innovation, wisdom

To state the obvious

It should be obvious that data, information, knowledge, innovation and wisdom are related. The test is simple: if you corrupt one of them, all the others become corrupted. The question becomes; how are they related?

Consider the following definitions

Allow me to provide the following 4 relationships:

1. Information is derived from the productivity of data

2. Knowledge is derived from the productivity of information

3. Innovation is derived from the productivity of knowledge

4. Wisdom is derived from the productivity of innovation

These relationships are very useful.

1. They include everyone, they exclude no one.

2. They are personal enough to reflect individual value system yet discrete enough to not contradicting the value system of another.

The question now resides in how we define productivity, that is a much simpler, more efficient, and far wiser problem to be arguing about. Besides, a singles solution solves 4 problems.

Financial Currency vs. Social Currency

The difference between the current economic paradigm and the next will balance on the difference between financial currency and social currency. Let me explain:

The flawed calculation

Obviously, the Gulf Oil Spill was a result of a flawed calculation. As a result, the rig was not equipped with an “acoustic trigger” in the event of an explosion – should the dying surface workers fail to hit the manual cut-off – this device would automatically shut the well.   The device costs 500,000 dollars.

The estimated damage at 1 month of constant spilling was estimated at 14 Billion dollars with no solution in sight. The residual social cost in unemployment, health and destruction of social fabric could easily double that score. The long-term cost to industries and natural ecosystems could double that number again.

Score: 500,000 dollars vs. 50 Billion dollars; The financial currency to social currency ratio = 1: 100,000

Ted Nugent, a fervent and vocal Republican, Tea Party spokesperson, 2nd amendment activist, hunting enthusiast, and hard rock guitarist accuses this nation of losing it’s culture of accountability. His quote on CNN this weekend “I never had a fire, but I have a fire extinguisher in every room of my house. The spill was a criminal act of negligence”. In this case, I would have to agree with ‘The Nuge’.

Accountability is a calculation

When a company performs a cost benefit analysis, they look at the remediation cost of peril and the cost of mitigating peril and the probability that the peril will occur. The problem arises from the valuation of remediation cost; quoted in financial dollars “subject to litigation” when it should be actually be quoted in social currency. Litigation risk is not a proxy for social currency.

In the example of the Gulf Oil Spill, this equation was off by a factor of 1:100,000. Every other possible failure calculation that could have occurred was likewise flawed by the same ratio. Therefore, there is 100% probability that none of the perils were properly mitigated, hence, accountability was zero. I am sure the 11 workers who perished would have agreed.

Scraping the Deep Web

So what would accountability look like? We see that Social Media, in general, provides a remarkable system to punish low integrity and reward high integrity. Could this medium of exchange in social currency provide an accountability standard to hedge financial currency?

If Facebook can map the human consumption genome, technologists certainly have the data scraping ability to develop a true value calculator that can compare financial value to social value for any venture, prior to the venture being executed. In fact, we should be able to predict what ventures are more likely to occur given the relative values of social and financial currencies. The fear, of course, is that this will hurt business.

True leverage calculator

A true value calculator would, in fact, be better for business because it improves business intelligence shifting opportunities to meet true market demand. A true value calculator would not eliminate markets, it would liberate the true demand of a market. And if that is not enough, consider the 100,000:1 market leverage that the trade in social currencies could have over financial currencies.

Now that’s a business to consider!

The Wisdom of Wisdom

1011442.largeObviously data are related to information and information is related to knowledge and knowledge is related to innovation and innovation is related to wisdom (whew!). But how are they related? What few people realize is that if you take out any of these components, the whole relationship falls apart.

data > information > knowledge > innovation > wisdom

For example, if data are corrupted, then everything that follows becomes corrupted; hence the advanced mathematical equation: “garbage in = garbage out”. Few people realize that at the end of the relationship, the wrong wisdom creates the wrong data and therefore “garbage out = garbage in” starts the process all over again.

Going from one component to the next is called transformation. If the transformation fails, no value is created. Google Transforms data into information. Human intellect transforms the information into knowledge. Knowledge is shared among other people and transformed into innovation. The success and failure of innovation is transformed into wisdom. Community wisdom, through the behavior of individuals, is transformed into data.

Entrepreneurs are concerned with transformation – this is where value is created. The entrepreneur identifies assets operating at a lower level and transforms the asset into a higher level. That is what entrepreneurs do.

The key to monetization is not coffee beans, it’s the transformation of $0.20 worth of coffee beans into a $2.00 Latte.

Transformation is where the most value is created, but it is also where the most risk exists. As such, it is the area where most entrepreneurial opportunity exists to manage risk, eliminate risk, diversify risk, and mitigate risk. To control the node of the transaction is to control the entire transaction. This is where the garbage enters. This is where the garbage is eliminated, this is where the garbage moves on. It’s all about the transformation.

Any asset that fails to change fails to remain an asset. Value is derived from the rate at which assets change. If I produce more in less time, I become more valuable. The RATE OF CHANGE in a phenomenon carries the most interesting and valuable information about that phenomenon. This is an important distinction that many people just cannot wrap their heads around – but they must if they hope to prosper in the next economic paradigm.

Transformation of the wisdom of crowds in social media is the next great opportunity, don’t trash it.

Group Buying vs. Social Buying

“Group Buying” was an idea that first surfaced during the “dot com” boom and ultimately failed to build any momentum. The idea is again gaining popularity in the era of social media where scalability can be introduced as aggregation cost diminish on applications such as Facebook and Twitter.

Ditch the gatekeeper, axe the marketers, lose the spam.

My first reaction is to find the most unsavory business transactions today and eliminate all the unnecessary middle men and their costs, gateways, noise pollution, and inefficiencies.

Why can’t there be one cell phone store where I can buy anything for any mobile device? Why do I have to pay to use my credit card and pay to not use my credit card? Why am I still treated like a terrorist precisely when I am doing everything that I can to avoid terrorists?

There are some glimmers on the horizon.

Applications such as SocialBuy, Groupon, and Living Social, use their social media platforms that offer vouchers for steep discounts on a variety of goods, once a minimum threshold of consumers is reached. People have an economic incentive to promote products in their social network (on Facebook and Twitter) in order to reach those thresholds more rapidly and consistently.

Social Buying

Suppose the group buying experience could aggregate packages of products. Strategic products would then be aggregated as “A Network of Products” that together increase net value. Yes, you heard me…a ‘combination of products’ with Twitter followers. A zip car, a movie ticket, Segway rental, and a dinner coupon could be aggregated into an entertainment / shopping package.

This is not so strange.

Apple’s enduring success is very much a model of commercial social aggregation. Nobody can compete with an iPhone without also offering iTunes, iMovie, iPad, and all the social trappings of the iStore. Perhaps Google, with its social commercial network can compete resulting in a duopoly. Group buying can empower the smaller players and bust monopolies in an infinite array of combinations.

Why not air travel?

The door-to-door travel time and social cost to fly between two small cities, say, 500 miles apart using commercial airlines is greater than just driving. There is no other alternative, sans high-speed rail, and the economic result is that the two cities remain small with very little new commerce or diffusion of new ideas that air travel benefits a region. People just don’t travel much between, say, Omaha NE and Cheyenne, WY.

Yet, small city pairs within 500 miles have strong extended family roots, migration patterns, and social network density. It would be relatively easy to offer Group Buying on a 20-25 seat private airplane for less than the cost of driving; and in 1/10 the time!

The travel package could include ground transportation, shopping coupons, and maybe even a A zip car, a movie ticket, Segway rental, and a dinner coupon could be aggregated into an entertainment / shopping package.

Every small city economic development agency in the country should be in this business of building social networks and matching them with product networks between other small city pairs…

The Devaluation of Social Currency

Corporate biasThere is a great deal of conversation about collaborative environments built on trust and engagement within corporations or across corporate relationships. The problem is that when layoffs come around, people will throw each other under the bus.

It reminds me of the old backward tipping demonstration where the team dynamics leader would have everyone fall backwards into the arms of their co-workers to demonstrate “letting go” and trusting thy colleague.

People who “Let Go” …  get let go

I’ll spare you the dissertation on Capitalism, competitive markets, and all those nifty sports analogies; the dichotomy is that people are held captive within a corporation and are constrained by the corporation – when they leave, they are invisible to the world. The unfortunate side affect is that they are invisible to their communities as well.

We’re all “Derivatives”

Today, human knowledge is mapped relative to the corporation and not relative to their peers or their open community. The value of human knowledge is derived from the value of the corporation. People are not mapped to their complementary knowledge assets in a community. Intangible assets are estimated to represent 70 percent of the value of a corporation in dollars. But, by definition, they represent 100% of the value of the community – and the trade an invisible social currency.

Corporate Bias

If tangible assets are counted with a financial currency, intangible assets must be counted using an intangible currency. It would seem that there would be a high incentive to put a true “Par” value on knowledge assets and apply a clear understanding to intangible currencies.

Instead, social currencies are caste against the wall of the corporation as a means of ascertaining value. In this light, social values appear as a function of the corporation, not the community. This is the corporate bias.

The Devaluation of Communities

It is typical for a country to respond to hyper inflation with a simple reboot of the the economy by dividing the entire financial system by 1000. For example; Mexico once had a “peso”. Then after their devaluation in the 1970’s, came the nuevo peso = 1/1000 of a peso. So if you had cash. you lost it. But if you carried debt, you were able to erase it. The end game is a mad rush to have equal parts debt to assets, so the system would reboot itself with no net effect on people with ability to access credit.

A financial currency devaluation is, in effect, a transfer of social value. A currency devaluation is the invisible process of “harvesting social currency” from people and transforming it to financial currency. When people are kept below a certain economic level, they fail to organize their communities.

What if everyone were a corporation?

But consider this, Social Currency may be undervalued as much as 1:000 against the dollar. As such, a 50 Trillion dollar debt obligation becomes a manageable 50 billion dollar debt obligation if accounted in social currency.

What are the alternatives

This post is not some big-government-socialist-manifesto – something different will happen this time. Social capitalism is capitalism in occurring with minimum Government AND minimum Corporate influence.

Social media is organizing people around a substrate of social internet applications. These applications are not perfect but they are getting better. Eventually, the pillars of the financial system will be duplicated in social media and an alternate financial system will form in parallel.

Georgism; When Old Ideas Become New Again

Henry George was discredited for many ideas which are now emerging in with the increased economic influence of Social Media, social capitalism, trade of limited natural resources, and the trade of social currencies in reaction to the demise of financial currency.

The new film “The End of Poverty?” begins with the same question which Henry George asked in P&P:

Why does poverty become a deeper problem as a society becomes more prosperous?

While times and technology are far different than 110 years ago, early ideas are sometimes essential to peel back the complexity and look for the “truisms” that drive the Human Condition. Only then can we find both our common ground and our common direction.

From WikiPedia: Henry George (September 2, 1839October 29, 1897) was an American writer, politician and political economist, who was the most influential proponent of the land value tax, also known as the “single tax” on land. He inspired the philosophy and economic ideology known as Georgism, which is that everyone owns what he or she creates, but that everything found in nature, most importantly land, belongs equally to all humanity.

[The following is a lose adaption from a 1993 article by Robert V. Andelson which can be found here with links dutifully provided by Stephen Nacci, 2010]:

…The method of discrediting Henry George is described in “The Corruption of Economics

The book describes basically taking Classical Econonomics and distorting it by
artifically merging land into capital, and distorting Classical economic thought
with NEO- Economic thought, and pushing this agenda through media and
institutions… over the last 100 years…

Henry George’s first book, Progress and Poverty: An inquiry into the cause of
industrial depressions and of increase of want with increase of wealth… The
Remedy
was self-published in 1879. It went on to become the best-selling book ever on
political economy,* and in the 1880s and 1890s was said to be outsold only by
the Bible.

*Political economy is the science which deals with the natural laws governing the production and distribution of wealth and services.

He went on to write several other important books including Social Problems, The Land Question, The Condition of Labor, A Perplexed Philosopher, The Science of Political Economy, and (published posthumously) Protection or Free Trade, and a number of articles and speeches, including The Crime of Poverty, Ode to Liberty, Thou Shalt Not Steal, Thy Kingdom Come, Causes of Business Depression, and Justice the Object, Taxation the Means.

In 2006, Bob Drake* did a thought-by-thought updating into contemporary language of Progress and Poverty, which was published with the subtitle “Why there are recessions and poverty amid plenty — and what to do about it. Or, download and listen to Bob’s MP3 here

We hope you’ll explore Henry George’s answers — and his remedy. We are persuaded that the problem of poverty can only be solved through recognizing what George taught.

Cory Doctorow In Seattle

Activist, Science fiction writer, and blogger Cory Doctorow spoke at in Seattle to a full house at the Sunset Tavern in Ballard. He performed a reading from his latest book, “For The Win”. Cory has an interesting sense of abstraction. He’ll spot a trend – or collection of trends – and extrapolates them into the future dutifully revealing all the complexities of the human condition.

For The Win

His reading centered on the “exploitation” of young adults who are hired to play online games where they work to achieve levels, rewards, virtual currency, and game status which is then sold to rich Western players. Some players become highly valued for their knowledge inventory of game world monsters, strategies, power points, and the uncanny ability to assess the knowledge inventory of their opponents who’ll get suckered into a virtual dual with predictable consequences. The kids literally “mine gold”. As always, gold corrupts the most innocent hearts resulting in situations and behaviors at least as strange as the game itself.

The Activist

Cory has long been an activist for digital publication rights and rules. Not surprisingly, the Q&A was dominated by privacy, security, and exploitation of information issues. Cory recently closed his Facebook Account which caused quite a stir in the blogsphere. Ironically, every big name in world-class privacy violation had recently been in the news for Mr. Doctorow to eloquently spit roast on an open flame. It was quite entertaining.

There is a reason that it’s called Monetization

While Mr. Doctorow did not specifically mention this, what struck me most was hearing him talk around this emerging battle for control of people’s information. While this idea is not new, the reasons behind it may be new. As Money is losing it’s capacity to store and control value, human knowledge is increasing it’s capacity to store and control value – this is hugely accelerated by social media. The desperate attempt to control people’s information is really a proxy for the desperate attempt to control knowledge, therefore to re-control the value that money once represented.

Unfortunately, controlling information also destroys value.

People actively participate and share on social media to achieve levels, rewards, and status which is then sold to corporations in the form of predictive marketing by third party aggregators like Facebook. Some people become highly valued for their knowledge inventory of real-world game perils, influencers, and social mavens and become celebrities of the craft. Many develop the uncanny ability to assess the knowledge inventory of their opponents who get suckered into a virtual dual with predictable results.

Suddenly the News started sounding like one of Cory’s Science Fiction Novels…

Event Sponsored by: The Stranger

Enterprise Prediction Markets Summit

(Editor: I’ll be speaking at the following event on June 4th. If you are in the area or blogging issues in this genre of ideas, let me know and drop by. Look up the other speakers and you’ll find an extraordinary group of visionaries preparing to make this PM Cluster Summit a truly enlightening event.)

Enterprise Prediction Markets Summit:
Leading Enterprise Prediction Markets

Friday, June 4 2010 8:00am – 5:00pm

EVENT LOCATION: The Boeing Company: Integrated Aircraft Systems Lab Building 2-122, Conference Room #102L2 (Conference Center) 7701-14th Avenue South Seattle, Washington 98108 USA

EVENT REGION: US –Pacific Northwest


EVENT PURPOSE: This summit is for executives, directors, mangers, users and practitioners having immediate needs to apply collective intelligence networks and enterprise prediction market mechanisms to advance business outcomes through mastery of collective wisdom.


EVENT SPEAKERS: Dennis P. O’Donoghue (Boeing), Sharon Chiarella (Amazon.com), Arik Johnson (Aurora WDC), Dan Robles (The Ingenesist Project), Dr. Richard O. Zerbe, Jr. (Evans School of Public Affairs), Christel Alvarez, ConsensusPoint, George Neumann, George Daly Research Professor of Economics, (Iowa), Olav Opedal (Microsoft, Internet Security)


EVENT COST: $99

EVENT WEBSITE: http://pmclusters.com/Prediction%20Markets/SEA10.htm


EVENT CONTACT NAME: Jennifer Hulett

EVENT CONTACT PHONE: 714-784-0754

CONTACT EMAIL: Jennifer.Hulett@pmclusters.com


MUST ONE RSVP: Yes! No on-site registration

ATTIRE: Business Casual

BUSINESS CARDS: YES – Bring Business Cards


EVENT NOTES: The conference sessions are focused, practical and conversational. They are for executives, directors, mangers, users and practitioners having immediate needs to apply collective intelligence networks and market mechanisms to advance business outcomes through mastery of collective wisdom.


ORGANIZATION NOTES: The Prediction Market Clusters, founded in 2004, are the global industry commons and open community for prediction markets and collective intelligence networks worldwide. The open, agnostic network is a focused collaboration of vendors, academia, traders, users, developers, markets, regulators and stakeholders. The goal is to provide awareness, diffusion, adoption and pull-through for enterprise and consumer prediction markets. The Prediction Markets Cluster is the worldwide Next Practices network for collective intelligence networks practices, tools and theories.

PM Clusters

Prediction Market Clusters
http://www.pmclusters.com

Trading Money in for Value

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?

To Accelerate Serendipity, The Whuffie Factor

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

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