Think Bigger. Aim Higher. Go Further.

Month: April 2011

Data: The Ultimate Shared Asset

People always ask me how The Value Game will work and how The Value Game will scale, and how The Value Game will make money.  These are great questions, albeit straight from the b-school crib sheet; good questions nonetheless.

At first glance, The Value Game as we are deploying in Social Flights looks like a rich kids party barge.  The idea is that people can share an airplane just like they did with that stretch limo on prom night.  Yes, the idea is the same – the jet is a shared asset and status on prom night is special.

The Value Game also produces a lot of very important data that is owned by the players.  So when the passengers arrive at their destination, their data can now transform the hotel into a shared asset. As such, a new Value Game plays again.  If the players own their data, and they only share it with the other players in the associated Value Game, they can command substantial value for the collaborative purchase of hotel rooms – or any shared asset.

Likewise, the players will need restaurants, tour guides, golf courses, concert tickets, entertainment, etc.  Their data – if they own it – is their discount coupon…like a Group Coupon, except relevant to the need and exercisable on-demand.  By the time the trip is over, their Value Game data can result in hundreds or thousands of dollars in discounts for the individuals in a travel tribe if, and only if they own their data.

The next time they want to take a trip, their data is not only a discount coupon; it becomes a passport to opportunities that money cannot buy. In the End Game of the Value Game, data are the shared asset.  This works if, and only if people own their data and they can share or restrict it from view of others.

Seriously, think about that for a minute.

You give your data away for free.  Companies collect this data and they have no intention of sharing it with you.  Data is a multi-billion dollar industry.  Why?

Aren’t most life lessons about figuring out who is NOT playing The Value Game and avoiding those people and situations?

Lead By Getting Out Of The Way

By giving people power and observing what they do with it, a leader can learn a great deal about available opportunities.  The problem is in getting out of their way, and consequently, getting out of your own way.

Human capital refers to the set of skills and knowledge that can produce an economic value.  Everyone has distinct combinations of social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital, which they deploy uniquely. The entrepreneurial spirit in indomitable.

Likewise, the education, experience, and abilities that people deploy to their communities, employers, social organizations, and for the economy as a whole, are hugely valuable; unless you try to contain them – then they become volatile.  So, no matter how proud you are of your own accomplishments, it’s probably not a good idea to get in the way of others’.

As we build out the Travel Tribe Leader functionality, we do not attempt to model the community leader after ourselves or any archetype, instead, we seek to model Social Flights around the human capital of the community that the leader represents.

Then, Lead by Observing

As we develop Social Flights, we listen to a great diversity of ideas from our extraordinary Board of Advisors.   The hardest part for some of us on the executive management team is to stay out of the way as these brilliant people tear away at our own creations, preconceptions, biases, and even our hopes and fears for the outcome of our work.  This is not easy to watch yourself getting in you own way.

We give our advisory board the power to criticize us.  We give them the power to change us.  We give them the power to hurt us and we give them the power to make us better.  We watch, and we learn and we are grateful to them because we will give that power to travel tribes.  This set’s up a very powerful incentive to play The Value Game.

A Game of Derivatives

On of the biggest complaints of the gamefication movement is that people will always figure out how to game the game.  by contrast, at social Flights, we intend for the players to game the game.  This is the fundamental backdrop of The Value Game. – it’s a game of derivatives not unlike many types of financial derivatives, except in an alternate currency.

This does not mean that we’ll fly blind and vulnerable.  It means that the value of Social Flights will be a direct reflection of the value that people create in communities organizing themselves around Social Flights.  This is a different type of business method and a stark contrast to the way that market capitalism holds people in boxes, surveys their private information, and places roadblock in their path trying to influence there every turn.

Try that with your battleship.

The Flight Of The New Entrepreneur

Structural Folds: Generative Disruption in Overlapping Groups

Entrepreneurship is the invisible hand of Capitalism.  Basically, this means that you can have all the Land, Labor, and Capital in the world, but unless you have entrepreneurs to interact with it, you don’t have much of an economy.

Social Contract Broker

Most social contracts are made today by Brokers who have the ability to connect supply and demand.  Brokers, for the most part, gain their influence from the natural or unnatural divisions that may normally restrain information from the supply side to the demand side, and vice versa.  “Social Brokers” are extremely important for exchanging information across different parts of a community that do not normally intermix.  However, such “Trust Economics” depends on a closed system where community accountability is strong.

Trust economics and an open economy are mutually exclusive.

In an open economy, the job of the broker shifts to the job of administrating social accountability – a completely different animal.  The moral hazard, of course, is that communities with great entrepreneurial potential are instead brokered for profit. Many “special interests” have crept up through the years in everything from banking, real estate, second-hand markets, international trade, airlines, politics, and even corporate M&A activity – that protect broker interests.  As a result, brokers create structured holes at the expense of social inter-cohesion.

A Different Approach

At Social Flights, we take a different approach.  We unite several completely different communities; travelers, vendors, and airplane operator around a shared airplane asset.  In the middle, we place a community leader – an entrepreneur who is enabled to see all the diverse connections and combine information in new and useful forms.

Instead of forming better brokers as a principle driver of economic growth, Social Flights introduces a Value Game that forms a greater degree of intercohesion among disparate communities simulating a closed economy within an open economy.

The Social Flights Manifesto

We know that there are millions and millions of entrepreneurs in our communities who can create tremendous value if they are given a game that they can win – or not get ripped off.  The underlying entrepreneurial force is that people will always combine several old ideas in new ways to create the new ideas that incite new actions.  We depend on entrepreneurs to drive these ideas and drive these actions.  For this reason, it is in our best interest to set them free and keep them free.

The Social Broker’s Commission: Social Profit

We create an environment where it is in the best interest for communities to share deep information in a closed economy where trust dynamics can take effect.  Then we provide a way to transport their trust economy into the open economy.  But it goes much farther than that – it goes as far as an airplane can take you.

(Note: this article was inspired by segments of two wonderful papers titled: Structural Folds: Generative Disruption in Overlapping Groups, by Bala ́zs Vedres Central European University and David Stark Columbia University and Structured Holes Versus Network Closure as Social Capital – By Ronald S. Burt, University of Chicago)

Tricking The Debt Monster Antibody

The last post “How To Kill a Debt Monster” ended with the following line: How do you inject the debt monster in the head with New Value antibody without messing everything else up?  Hint: stop whacking it in the foot.

Of course, this is a silly analogy but still quite fun to riff on…

Many of the brilliant ideas in the New Value movement are too rich to ignore.  The problem that many face is that these efforts can only be articulated as grassroots start-ups or single entrepreneurs battling in the morass of relative anonymity against the titans of convention. The Debt Monster Process Manual states explicitly that those not pre-ordained must work their way up from the bottom of the food chain where resources are scarce and economic forces are harsh.

Then, when one becomes successful, the debt monster assimilates the innovation into it’s fortress of influence.  Get too radical and the debt monster will squash you, bury you, or slander you.  So, we can’t beat this thing by whacking it in the foot, we need to go for the head.

Collaborative Consumption At The Top of the Food Chain?

So why am I designing Social Flights?  Social Flights is a social media application that helps people fly on corporate jets.  A corporate jet burns more fossil fuel in a hour than I’ll burn all year in my car. Private jets are the most visible display of excess for the wealthy, powerful, and exclusive members of society who can afford to isolate themselves from the huddled masses. Private jets are extremely expensive relegating huge amounts of capital to sit in waiting for their master to beckon them to the tarmac. Why would I be doing this? (disclosure: I love airplanes and the majority of my professional career is in Aviation and Space Transportation)

Electric cars were not sexy until Tesla built one that smokes a Ferrari – albeit, 23 minutes at a time.

The answer is simple – applications of the New Value Movement need to be introduced at the top of the food chain not at the bottom.  Social Flights is a collaborative consumption game based on the The Value Game. It takes an inefficient industry and makes it less so – at a profit.  Travel Tribes essentially convert inefficiently allocated capital into more efficiently allocated capital – and take a profit for doing so.  If you look closely, this is a reversal of the direction of most culprit Capitalist flows, yet it remains entirely Capitalist – at a profit.

In fact, The Value Game is so similar to the de-Value Game that it will go unnoticed by the Debt Monster’s immune system and therefore not generate a defensive attack.  Millions of dyed-in-the-wool entrepreneurs will quickly identify new ways to create profits without fully realizing that they are, in fact, dismantling the old Capitalist system piece-by-piece (and in the proper reverse order) and replacing it with a corrected version.

Social Flights impacts the Airline Industry, The Advertising Industry, The Travel Industry, and Information Monopolies, and sends them back to school – all for profit.  The same can be done with any shared assets and their associated corporate captors.

The Value Game creates real and fungible profits that articulate social value, human capital, a shared biosphere, collaborative production, and ultimately a higher order of expression for the things that people create, store, and exchange together.

That’s why we start with Jets.

Note to Debt Monster: we’re coming after you.

How To Kill A Debt Monster

The quickest way to kill the debt monster would be to create a source of “New Value” and inject it into the monster’s head.

Let me explain:

Suppose someone discovers a new form of energy that is free for all to use with no negative environmental impact. Suppose that another person creates a device that allows people to communicate telepathically. Suppose someone discovers an anti-gravity machine that can transport people and objects cheaply and rapidly. Suppose someone invents high-yield perennial food crops that don’t need to be replanted every year.

Each would deposit huge amounts of economic value while simultaneously wrecking havoc on the financial system. Oil companies would go out of business, telecoms would go bust, transportation industries would cease, and agribusiness would fail, etc.  Millions would lose their jobs and mortgages would collapse, etc.

The New Value Movement

But that is exactly what may be happening with the introduction of vast new sources of value playing out in the voices and actions of people around the world.  However, this New Value is only now being articulated as such.

For example:

  • Mary Adams at I-Capital Advisors calculates that huge stores of intangible value – as much as 70% of GDP – may be unaccounted for on the corporate balance sheets.
  • The Metacurrency Project from Art Brock suggests that there are many dimensions of value intrinsic to economic activity that money fails to articulate.
  • The sustainability movement,  Greg Wendt, [posits that] “the biosphere must be regarded as the meta economy from which all others are derived”.
  • The Symbionomics Project by Alan Rosenblith and Jay Standish demonstrates that cooperation is the dominant economic mechanism in natural systems, not necessarily competition.
  • The collaborative consumption movement being applied by award winning start-ups like Neighborgoods, demonstrates how people sharing an asset would seek to preserve the asset rather than consume it, thereby multiplying the utility of resources.

The Monetization Paradox

Each one of these movements, and undoubtedly there are many more, have the potential to introduce extraordinary amounts of New Value to an economic system – most likely exceeding the value of the monetary economy many time over.  However, such value acts against the very system that is required to bring them to wide scale markets.  In fact, the act of “going to market” can often negate the value that these innovations create.

But ‘ders Gold in ‘dem Hills

In the old days, gold was carried around in sacks for exchange for goods and services. Soon the gold was replaced with a pieces of paper that “represented” the gold, but was not actually made of gold.   After a while, it was no longer necessary to use gold as the medium of exchange because everyone carried around the pieces of paper.  Soon, paper currency was divorced entirely from the gold standard.  Yet, money can still be buy gold and vice versa.

Likewise, The New Value movement could be represented by dollars, but not actually be made of dollars. Eventually, people would not necessarily need to use actual dollars because the New Value currency adequately represents dollars.  As soon as the New Value currency can be divorced from dollars, so goes the debt monster. Of course, New Value Currency should be able to be exchanged for dollars and vice versa, as needed.

So here comes the tricky part: how do you inject the debt monster in the head with New Value without messing everything else up?  Hint: stop whacking it in the foot

See my next post for more clues.


Collaborative Consumption Is Here To Stay

There is a persistent myth that a “financial deficit” is looming to destroy all that fall in it’s wrath.  The only deficit is the inability for Money – as we know it – to articulate the value that is created in and by communities.

Social Flights is a new venture that combines cutting edge social technology with the universal truth that collaborative consumption of even the most complex system increases the efficiency of that system.

Social Value as a financial instrument

Social Flights attempts to demonstrate the inevitable – social value can and will be convertible to financial value. Social value can and will enter the balance sheet.  Social Value will not only impact the bottom line – it will become the bottom line.

The Invisible Hand of Social Capitalism

Social media is emerging as a dominant force behind economics, global politics, innovation, and community organization. Meanwhile; it is the art and science of finance that has failed to keep pace with technology.  Social Flights introduces a new class of business methods that can close this gap.

Social Flights sorts people and airplanes with data, not financial infrastructure.  The Value Game provides incentives for communities to organize themselves around travel and transportation assets.  So instead of forest-to-dump consumerism, a shared asset is preserved by a community for the greatest service life possible.  Social Flights demonstrates this with an airplane; however, a hotel, car, tour package, or a trade show/convention are quickly pulled into their own value game cycle given the airplane game playing out in proximity to them.  In fact all “assets” – social, intellectual, creative, or financial – can be pulled into their own value games in response to those acting around them.

Travel: An Ideal Benchmark Industry

We are starting with travel. Specifically, air transportation because of it’s complexity, high profile, and significance to most people and industries. Furthermore, corporate jets are beautiful, awe inspiring, controversial, and conjure the image of power and grace.  Most importantly, travel is pivotal enterprise and the best system for the diverse high-value transfer of new ideas to occur.

Nothing economic can happen until people get together to build something

The value of most commercial activity may ultimately become dependent on the quantity and quality of the data emerging from the millions of Value Games playing out in communities across the globe. Any and all shared assets – from public infrastructure to money itself – can be shared collaboratively in hugely profitable Value games.

New to the Public Domain

Nothing like this has ever been put together before so there is certainly much to learn.  Many people will fail to recognize where we are going with this. However, the rewards will be high and the implications will be vast if we are successful. There will be an extraordinary amount of knowledge to be share to the public domain.

Collaborative consumption is here to stay because it represents a higher value economy than forest-to-dump consumerism.  The financial deficit is simply the inadequacy of Money to articulate Social Value – not the inadequacy of people to be happy, creative, and productive in their communities.


The Reality of Social Networking

Nothing Economic can happen until people get together and build something, period.

Social Network services are not that.  Social media gives people the impression that they are getting stuff done – but they are not.  Nothing economic is happening on Linkedin or Facebook or Twitter.  Rather, the impact of these services is derived only from what people accomplish in reality.

Yet so many social media services sell advertising.  The objective of an advertising site is to keep you in your seat where you can view more advertising.  The objective of advertising as an industry is to influence you to do something other than what you already want to do.   Each of these things impacts people’s activities, and therefore, much of the crap that people share on social network services.

Race to the bottom

This self–depreciating cycle does not actually create very much nor does it arrive at anywhere interesting or important.  The content that keep people coming back to Social Networks is produced by a relatively few number of entertainers – people who separate themselves from consumption of the medium and instead produce content for consumption by the medium – instead of “For” the medium.  Again, the objective is to keep people in their seats watching more advertising.

Did I mention that nothing economic can happen until people get together and build something?

We are in the middle of creating a different type of social network in Social Flights.  We are billing it as “The Social Network where people actually do stuff” because the objective is to get people out into their community looking for other people who can help them build something.  We’re still experimenting so please be patient if it still seems a little clunky.

The Last Mile of Social Media

The idea is to form travel communities in relatively small geographical areas and enable them to share an airplane to anywhere where there is another travel community.  We call the The Last Mile of Social Media – empowering neighborhoods not Hollywoods.

There is no advertising on social flights; however, local vendors are encouraged to place discount coupons in direct response to a community travel objective.  There is no airline schedule because the objective is for people to share an asset – the airplane. This means that the passengers tell the plane where to fly and when, not the airline.

In the end, Social Flights rewards people, venders, and aircraft operators for interacting with their communities in real life and real time – instead of their computer screens in virtual time.  Now, the social network, laptop, or mobile device becomes a real productivity tool.

Back to economics:

Most logical people will ask “where do I get the money to travel to new places with new people?  The answer is simple: “That is precisely why you need to travel to new places to meet new people”

Nothing economic can happen until people get together and build something, for real.

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