Think Bigger. Aim Higher. Go Further.

Month: May 2012

The Value Game For University Outreach

The question that persist for many college and university administrators is what actions must they take to optimize all of their relationships in a manner that reinforces their own value to their community.

The Value Game is an ideal solution for this type of scenario (if you are unfamiliar with TVG, please visit this primer link).  The first step is to identify the asset. The recent graduate is the university asset because they are the customer and the product being advanced.  After all, the life worth of that graduate will reflect upon the institution that prepared them for professional service.

Next, we identify the players that will interact with that graduate over the course of their lives.

A* = The Graduate

  1. The graduate will interact with their Alma Mater
  2. The graduate will interact with their alumni association
  3. The graduate will interact with Their broader community
  4. The graduate will interact with corporations and entrepreneurs

Now, Let’s review each of the relationships and the economic incentives that drive them:

A-1: The graduate relies on the university reputation with players 1,2,3 as an extension of their own capabilities.

A-2: The graduate relies on the influence and success of prior graduates who hold an affinity towards each other in fraternal social networks.

A-3: The graduate will interact with their community for friendships, residency, recreation, and support.

A-4: The graduate will rely on strong and equitable employers / entrepreneur base where they may self-actualize as productive citizens.

Now, let’s review the relationships and incentives that each of the players has with each other:

1 – 2,3,4: The university has an interest in preserving the community because a motivated and educated workforce attracts opportunity far and wide in the form of business, travel, tourism and economic growth (Jacobs Externality).

2 – 1,3,4: Alumni seek to preserve the value of their alma mater because of the direct reflection upon their careers.  It is in their best interest to support the university, it’s graduates, employers and the wider community.

3 – 1,2,4: The community relies on the university graduates and alumni to provide equitable and fair innovations that provide sustainable living standards.

4 – 1,2,3: Employers compete globally for talented, stable and engaged employees and service providers who are attracted foremost by a vibrant entrepreneurial economy and sustainable communities.

Data, information, knowledge, innovation, and wisdom

The Value Game is now played by university administrators who direct university facilities, influence, and resources to bringing at least 2 of these four groups together.  Each time there is an interaction, the university will capture the data associated with the interaction.  That data can be compiled to form information which gives the university administrator knowledge about what their next action must be.  University feedback to the community will tell all of the players what interactions create the most social value upon which all players will innovate in their best interest.

As the game continues over time, the university gains the wisdom to understand the values of their assets and surrounding community. The community will act in the best interest of the other players as a means of acting in their own best interest (Social Capitalism).

Data is the ultimate shared asset

Over time, the University will become the physical “Search Engine” for data, information, knowledge, innovation, and wisdom in a community instead of just a vetting mechanism for book learned material. The University can now deploy this wisdom to their own internal programs and curricula as well as becoming an external reference source for government, industry, and economic development.

*(The University of New Haven is in no way affiliated with this post except I (the author) am a graduate of the UNH Engineering school (go Chargers!) and needed a realistic example that probably would not sue me – thanks guys)

The Value Game Primer

This reference post serves as an introduction to The Value Game (TVG).   The Ingenesist Project will be posting Value Game Solutions to many specific scenarios that our readers and clients propose.  Having this post as reference will help those new to The Value Game catch up quickly.

The following 12 minute video gives some historical perspective of The Value Game as we have applied to the aviation industry (see SocialFlights.com).  This video also expands the idea to any shared asset and provides important insight as to how to generalize The Value Game across the economic spectrum.

Introduction to Value Games

  • The Value Game is a new class of business methods that manufactures New Value.
  • New Value represents all value that is not normally convertible to U.S. Dollars; i.e., creativity, community, sustainability, resilience, compassion, trust, etc
  • Currently, The Value Game begins and ends with dollars, however, all New Value created within the game is denominated in “social currency” which has no physical manifestation.
  • The Value Game converts between Social Currency and Dollars; i.e., business plans that are not viable in dollars may become viable when social currency is included in the bottom line

Building A Value Game

  • The Value Game starts by identifying any asset, tangible or intangible, that a group of people would share.
  • The next step is to find 3 or more communities that have a vested interest in the asset
  • The New Value Entrepreneur is able to discern which communities and which assets will interact successfully in a Value Game.
  • In general, once a value game is started, it will improve itself since only those who have a vested interest in the asset will continue playing.
  • Players that are inappropriate for the given asset and related communities, will drop out or find another value game
  • All players will eventually find and play value games that correspond most closely to their natural interest and passions.

The New Value Entrepreneur

Just like with any business venture, it is up to the entrepreneur to identify and engage all of the right components required to build any enterprise; this is no different for Value Games.

  • The objective of the new value entrepreneur is to organize three or more communities to interact around a shared asset
  • The interaction among these communities acts to preserve the asset rather than consume the asset.
  • Each community acting in the best interest of the other community is, in fact, acting in their own best interest.

The material that references this post will help identify what types of assets are suitable for value gaming and what types of communities would make worthy participants.

The Ingenesist Project is currently building Value Games for clients in aviation, construction, education,  affinity groups, and social service communities.  Please let us know how we can serve your New Value creation enterprise.  

With Respect To Time

Yesterday’s post “This is what I believe” I make the following 4 statements:

  • Information is proportional to the rate of change of data with respect to time
  • Knowledge is proportional to the rate of change of information with respect to time
  • Innovation is proportional to the rate of change of  knowledge with respect to time
  • Wisdom is proportional to the rate of change of innovation with respect to time

In clinical terms, this is called a “Differential Equation”

I always get a lot of questions about these.  Most people’s eyes glaze over as their expression goes blank with far off images of high school Calculus class.  Few people realize that these relationships are so common and so intuitive that we are all  performing “Calculus” in many of their thoughts, words, actions, opinions, observations, and conclusions about the world around us.

But, just in case there is any doubt about the pervasiveness of differential equations in our culture and thinking, listen to the experts:

***

Move fast and break things” – Mark Zuckerberg

The idea here is that it’s OK to fail because this is how learning happens (rate of change of knowledge) but make sure you do it fast (with respect to time) because the objective is to innovate, not to not make mistakes.

honor your creativity and you don’t ever ignore it or go against what that creative image is telling you. – Lady Gaga

Here she is referring to the proportionality component of creativity. The magnitude of the inspiration (rate of change of one’s knowledge of a matter) is greater than all other thinking moments, but it is constrained in time (with respect to time).

“The Googly thing is to launch [products] early on Google Labs and then iterate, – Merissa Mayer, Google VP

Marissa is talking about Wisdom.  While innovation is proportional to the rate of change of knowledge, wisdom is proportional to the rate of change of innovation.  The speed at which Google can innovate is how Google creates wisdom of what to do next.

***

Here are a few more. See if you can spot the differential equation:

“What Mark worries about the most is the lack of change, the lack of innovation” – Sheryl Sandberg, COO Facebook

“Every new thing creates two new questions and two new opportunities.”– Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon.com

“It’s always about timing. If it’s too soon, no one understands. If it’s too late, everyone’s forgotten.’” – Anna Wintour, Editor in Chief, Vogue Magazine

All technology starts as a spark in someone’s brain”. – Nathan Myhrvold, Intellectual Ventures (hint: sparks travel at the speed of light)

“As people innovate and learn faster, they help generate new ways of performance improvements for everyone while progressing toward their own higher goals” – John Hagel, The Big Shift

Differential Equations are used to describe a vast array of phenomena in our physical universe.

These include the the forces of particles in motion, diffusion of medicine through cell walls, the decay of radioactive substances, and effects of gravity on bodies, weather, energy, chemical reactions, even the creation of money itself.  It should not be a shock then that bankers, CEOs, politicians, and all “investors” are not actually concerned with money, they are concerned with the rate of change of money with respect to time.

The question now becomes, why would their NOT be an algorithm for human values of knowledge, innovation, and wisdom when there is an algorithm for everything else with respect to time.  

Additional information can be fount here: Exoquant; an algorithm for Social Capitalism 

This Is What I Believe

  1. There is a tiny flaw in Market Capitalism that can be easily corrected
  2. Technological change must always precede economic growth; we are going about the process of globalization as if economic growth can precede technological change.  We got it upside down, that’s all.
  3. Anything that can be made by allocating scarce land, labor, and financial capital can also be made by allocating abundant social, creative, and intellectual capital.
  4. For every dollar of tangible value, there is at least 100 dollars worth of  ‘intangible’ value that is really just ‘invisible’.
  5. The global debt is trivial in comparison to the invisible value that exists with no accounting system to represent it.
  6. There should be no economic incentive for anyone to make anything other than what they are most talented, interested, and passionate about.
  7. Nobody knows everything.
  8. Everybody knows something they can teach any other person.
  9. Students, by definition, hold an equity position in their teachers.
  10. Therefore, teachers should hold an equity position in their students – this will fix a lot of things.
  11. Nothing economic happens until two or more people get together and build something.
  12. Competition is over rated.
  13. Collaboration is under rated.
  14. All monetary things are valuable but not all valuable things are monetary.
  15. There is a perfectly legitimate market for everyone.
  16. A new currency will be the last thing that happens, not the first.
  17. You can’t eat Gold
  18. Information is proportional to the rate of change of data with respect to time.
  19. Knowledge is proportional to the rate of change of information with respect to time.
  20. Innovation is proportional to the rate of change of knowledge with respect to time.
  21. Wisdom is proportional to the rate of change of innovation with respect to time.
  22. If you want to create wisdom, go increase the rate of change of innovation.  If you want to create innovation, go increase the rate of change of knowledge, etc. Now, flip over the series 15-18 above.  See, you’ll do just fine.
  23. Money represents past, present, or future productivity – otherwise nobody would work for it (think about that ).
  24. Therefore, a currency backed by debt and a currency backed by innovation would become the mother of all hedge funds.
  25. Securitization is a miracle of scale if done correctly, a disaster of scale if not
  26. Time is the only valid basis of a currency.
  27. My singular objective and greatest aspiration is to make “intangible” value tangible.  I am confident that my children – and yours – will know what to do next.

Growth Beats Austerity 100 to 1

Bridge Over Troubled Water - by Cairn

Suppose a team of 10 engineers designs a bridge that spans a body of water connecting two small towns and cutting 1 hour off the alternate route for 14,000 people per day.  Over the 75-year life of that bridge, those 10 engineers are responsible for 380 Million hours of increased productivity.

At 25 dollars per hour per person whose time is saved, 10 engineers create nearly 10 billion dollars of NEW VALUE.  As such, only 100 engineers and a 10 bridges could create the same amount of New Value as Facebook is worth in an IPO.

Now compare the Old Value of the engineers.

Suppose that during the course of those same engineers’ careers, they could each borrow (capitalize) around 1 million dollars in personal debt for cars, homes, credit cards, and family education – debt that they would need in their lifetime.

By the miracles of the fractional reserve system, their 1 million dollars may be multiplied into 10 million dollars of new money available to the financial system for distribution.  As such, those same 100 engineers would be worth approximately 1 billion dollars as economic beings in the Old Value economy.

100:1 Ratio

So in review, 100 engineers are worth 100 billion in New Value versus only 1 Billion dollars in Old Value.  Of course, I purposely picked an example that would make the numbers come out all nice and orderly, but the most important point is that New Value leverages Old Value by several orders of magnitude.

Only two possible outcome of the global debt crisis.

1. The first is for all the countries of the world to get together and lop 3 zeros of the global accounts balance sheet and reboot.  As such; 40 Trillion dollars becomes a quaint and manageable 40 Billion dollars.  If it happens quickly, that’s called hyperinflation.  If it happens slowly, that is called Austerity.

2. The second outcome is currently raging in Europe today with austerity protests toppling governments in France and Greece with the idea of growth vs. austerity.  New candidates are promising to “grow” the economy out of its crisis.  While this may be a bold and populist idea that is sure to spread, nobody knows exactly how it will be implemented without triggering number 1.

The New Value Movement:

By making so called “intangibles” tangible, vast amounts of  New Value can be added to global accounts balances which could stave off wholesale collapse of the financial system.  This will not be without hardship for some people; social priorities must drive Wall Street priorities, not the other way around.

We don’t have a financial crisis, we have a value crisis.  One thing is emerging as a certainty, new value leverages old value by several orders of magnitude  and The Value Game provides the capitalist model to access this astonishing wealth creation  – in case anyone is wondering.

The Facebook Basket of Goods

Facebook does not produce anything.  Facebook sells personal information to advertisers. This is not to say that Facebook is not worth a lot of money, but it certainly deserves a little perspective.  In order for Facebook to be worth anything, people must be doing things, making things, and organizing things – otherwise, there would be no need for the utility that Facebook provides.

Consumer Value Index

In order for people to do things and make things, there needs to be basic infrastructure like energy, clean water, telecommunications, food,  roads, bridges, and airports.  There needs to be housing, education, and health care.  There needs to be an effective and fair legal system, equitable political representation, and civil decency.

Debt or Human Potential

Facebook adds value to the human productivity potential that already exists.  It is precisely that invisible human potential that seems to be worth most of the money that Facebook commands.  When we estimate a value of 100 Billion dollars for Facebook –  an astonishing 99 times their advertising revenue – we estimate that the market believes that intangible value exceeds tangible value by a factor of 100:1; versus, say, Apple at 16:1 or Google at 20:1

Nothing economic happens until people get together to make something

Charles Munger, CFO of Berkshire Hathaway uttered these deeply foreboding words at a conference at Seattle University in reference to the Enron debacle;

“it’s bad enough when we lose the accounting profession, but dear God help us if we lose the Engineers”.

Suppose a team of 10 engineers designs a bridge that spans a body of water cutting 1 hour off the alternate route for 14,000 people per day (connecting 2 small towns).  Over the 75-year life of that bridge, those 10 engineers are responsible for 380 Million hours of increased productivity. At 25 dollars per hour per person whose time is saved, 10 engineers create nearly 10 billion dollars of NEW VALUE.  As such, only 100 engineers could create the same amount of New Value as Facebook is worth in an IPO.

You are worth what is measured

We need to ask ourselves what is more efficient; making things that act as a proxy for the things that we are trying to sell, or measuring the real value of things that we make.  Perhaps Facebook would be worth 10 Trillion dollars on such a balance sheet.  Maybe Facebook would be worth nothing if true value were in fact measurable. Who knows?

Well, that’s exactly the problem – nobody knows.

Facebook acts as a proxy for human productivity, just like money is a proxy for productivity, but with no intrinsic value itself.  Perhaps this explains their Wall Street convertibility.  However, if we backed Facebook with New Value of human potential, rather than a basket of debt-able goods, perhaps we would not have a financial crisis to deal with, just a value crisis.

I wonder what Charlie Munger would say

Gambling With New Value

What if the origin of political division in this country could be traced to a simple glitch of the generally accepted accounting practices?  Let me explain:

The Economist magazine recently wrote an article in favor of airlines unbundling fees; Ancillaries; You Know They Make Sense

“By charging fees, once neglected baggage service departments have become star revenue performers for airlines. Department managers can now justify new technology and equipment. Where before, baggage service only represented a cost, it now provides millions in revenue”.

In other words, charging money for baggage essentially transfers this service from the liability column to the asset column of the accounting statement. As a liability, it can only atrophy under the weight of austerity measures.

And Then The Carousel Starts Spinning

What happens next is quite remarkable.  The airline PR machine twists this into a veiled statement of American individuality, claiming “freedom is about having choices” and touting themselves as the protector of all that is good and great in America.  Then, they BLAME the traveler for expecting that mustachioed Soviet-era entitlement to unlimited [baggage] service.

Just give it a French name 

Passengers will continue to complain about being nickel-and-dimed, but it may be that they are making false comparisons … “When a la carte shopping is successfully implemented, it’s not an evil method. Quite to the contrary, it’s the ultimate compliment to the consumer—it acknowledges their right to choose.”

Roll in the legislators

The resemblance to political discourse about a whole myriad of issues is uncanny and would make anyone suspect a larger conspiracy.  But what if the problems are real simple? What if the genus of political division in this country could be traced to a simple but widespread accounting anomaly?  There is no accounting system for human values.

For example; consider the fact that Motherhood does not count in American Gross Domestic Product, but Day Care services do.  So in order to stimulate economic growth, legislators subsidize day care so a parent can go to work while in the same breath witholding services if the mother “fails” to work. Don’t forget to always blame the customer when things don’t go right.

Gambling With New Value

Similar paradox never seems too far from key social issues such as education, health care, Internet privacy, Immigration, International Trade,  Homeland Security, even Banking and Finance Reform:

From Fox News coverage of the JPO Morgan 2 Billion dollar loss:

The basic problem is that regulators have been working for the last two years to define the difference between hedging and gambling, and can’t. Either the rules would be too severe and shut down banking, or would permit reckless risk taking that could take down a huge bank, and potentially put the taxpayer on the hook to pay off depositors through the FDIC.

A hedge acts on both sides of the accounting balance sheet while a gamble does not.  What if that’s what it’s all about; all the fighting, and slander, and division, and prejudice, and injustice, and violence, etc., caused by a simple accounting system problem.

When we do not have an accounting system for human values, we can only gamble with them.  To hedge, New Value must be must be tangible.  The problem is simple; it is a failure in the accounting system for New Value Movements.

The Reality Platform

Today, we do not have a financial problem as much as we have a value problem.  The challenges that face our civilization are far too great to be solved on an “Advertising” platform.  Whatever happens next, it must start with a Reality Platform.

2012: A Space Odyssey

Back in the railroad days, a platform referred to the surface upon which passengers stepped in order to enter or exit the train.  Later, the platform became a computer operating system.

In 2012,  the “platform” refers to one of the big four space stations on the Internet; Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple.  On the backend, they each sort products and people into their appropriated categories.  On the front end, they deliver the consumer to the product and vice versa.  Everything is done electronically; wherever possible, even the product is electronic.

A Platform for Reality

Compared to the Big Four – which collect data behind secure walls, analyze with proprietary algorithms, then serve up  content that is most beneficial to the platform (not necessarily the user) –  The Value Game is revolutionary. In one application of the Value Game, a company called Social Flights collects four separate streams of data, converts the data to a single usable form, then shares the data back to the separate streams.

For example; an airplane operator submits data regarding the inventory of their aircraft.  The hospitality industry submits data relative to their inventory of support services,  Travelers submit data relative to their likely destinations, and event organizers submit data regarding their events.

Music is a combination of rhythm, sound frequency, and timbre

Social Flights captures all of these streams, organizes the data and feeds it back to the market in a more usable form.  Aircraft operators learn the optimum use of their aircraft resources.  Hospitality and tourism learn how to best allocate their inventory.  Event planners  learn to access their markets for attendees. Finally, Travelers learn the exact door-to-door cost AND TIME to achieve their objectives.  All the connections are made WITHOUT advertising.

Social Value is literally “manufactured” because it is in the best interest of each player that the other Players are successful.  Communities become vested in each other – not unlike an ensemble.

Advertising extorts passion

Today, nearly all social organization is now funded – and influenced – by advertising. People do not wake up in the morning aspiring to follow the Kardashians. If left alone, people aspire to follow their friends, to pursue their natural interests, and develop their natural talents.  The sole objective of the advertiser is to convince people to do something other than what they aspire to do naturally.

Manufacturing Social Value

The Value Game is a real and valid social value manufacturing engine. The same system deployed to aviation can also be used for any shared asset or experience; cars, roads, infrastructure, corporations, education, and even government, all with the New Value data platforms that are under development.

The problem can never be the solution – we need a new platform.

***

*2001: A Space Odyssey is a story that deals with a series of encounters between humans and mysterious black monoliths that are apparently affecting human evolution,

The All You Can Eat Option

The proverbial “all-you-can-eat” business model works great for some products and not-so great for others.  The opportunity, of course, is to be able to transform non-viable business methods into viable one’s using social media tools and data.  In this article, we explore how the AYCE model can be improved.

Netflix for the Sky

The Netflix model for movies has been touted as one of the greatest business innovations in the modern era of technology – not because it is new, but because it works.  Now, consider that the AYCE model has been applied to transportation, club membership, and telecommunication (cell phone data plans), etc.  Some work better than others….

I found this recent article about American Airlines experience with the AYCE model – which became their worst nightmare.  In 1981, you could buy a lifetime all access pass to first class travel on United Airlines for 250,000 dollars. While touted as a good way for AA to raise a lot of quick money, it proved to have long term liabilities that far outstripped the performance of the fund raising.  Today, a small carrier called Surf Air is now trying to use a subscription based system on a limited circuit using executive turboprop aircraft.

What is the comparable human behavior?

AYCE models impact human behavior in often unpredictable (read “unprofitable”) ways.  We’ve seen the unlimited plan for cell phones becoming a thing of the past.  Taxi drivers have not yet introduced the subscription travel plan but certain bus routes and commuter modes lend themselves to unlimited passes where an alternate single use rate and behavior record can be used as a price comparison.

I recall a wise and successful colleague in the insurance business revealed the dark truth about unlimited subscriptions.  “They are like extended warranties, the only people who should actually buy extended warrantee are those who fully intend to beat the crap out of the item that they are covering”.  Like gym subscriptions, low use members are needed to subsidize high use members.

Simulated Economy

Another way to simulate the effect of an unlimited prescription without leaving the business with an unmanageable long-term liability is to create an option-like instrument.  The buyer would hold the right without the obligation to purchase the service at a discount during a specific period of time where behavior will be regulated by market forces.

Holding the option would be priced relatively cheap so that the buyer does not feel a deep loss for not exercising the option, yet sufficient to subsidize the activity of those who do exercise the option for discounted service.  Another feature is that the option can be traded allowing holders to build a proto-economy around the asset that they possess.    This would decrease the marketing costs of the provider as the price of the options floats to meet the needs of the market.

These strategies are commonplace on Wall Street but a statistical construct for their deployment on Main Street may be emerging.  New “platforms” will arise which produce and  aggregate data in the right format to support an options type of instrument for the trade or exchange of any number of goods and services in a non-cash environment.

Maybe the all-you-can-eat buffet of the future will resemble a cornucopia of options for assets that everyone shares.  Bon Apetite.

How Collaboration Distorts Markets

Adam Smith From the un-encyclopedia

Long before the word “economics” and “capitalism” were even invented, a Scottish social philosopher and political economist named Adam Smith describes how wages are determined by competition between workers and competition between employers – not necessarily competition between workers and employers.

 An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations

Published on March 9th 1776, The Wealth of Nations, in part,  describes the fundamental dynamics of labor markets at the dawn of the industrial revolution.  In essence, when workers compete with each other for a limited number of jobs, wages fall.  When employers compete with each other for a limited number of workers, wages increase.

He also described what happens when workers decide not to compete with each other; and instead form unions.   Unions effectively distort the market toward increased wages.  Likewise, Adam Smith describes what happens when employers decide not to compete with other employers (tacitly or implicitly) for workers.  This activity also distorts the market, except, towards decreased wages.

Why are we fighting again?

Adam Smith does not mention specifically that these mutual distortions manifests in workers and employers competing with each other in lieu of competing with themselves.  Since the 1780’s, vast resources have been committed to preserving the fight without really questioning why the fight needs to exist in the first place.

A fish has no word for water

One of the ways that corporations form tacit collusion is with arcade job descriptions and skill codes.  When a company or an industry develops its own language, this makes it very difficult for outsiders to enter and insiders to leave.   Yet, this is precisely what needs to happen in order for the diffusion of innovation to flow across the entire economic spectrum.

For example;

A medical instrument manufacturer and an aerospace company and a sporting equipment company would have very different ways of describing the environment that they operate in.  However, an engineer designing a carbon fiber composite aircraft structure would be equally adept at designing a composite athletic prosthetics.  Yet today, engineers from multiple industries are rarely interchanged.  In fact, interchange has been largely suppressed.

Innovation Economics

If workers were able to cross industries they would benefit from increasing employment options and the ability to shift rapidly with economic cycles.  In Adam Smith’s analysis, this would drive wages up.  On the other hand, employers would also have a greater pool of qualified workers to hire, which in Mr. Smith’s analysis would drive wages down. Both would benefit from  increased exchange of  knowledge, access to innovation, transfer of wisdom, and diversification of risk.

If workers and employers could produce the exact same labor relations outcome by collaborating among themselves, there would be no need for the massive infrastructure of social division and political rhetoric that we have invested in preserving the fight.

Public Knowledge Asset Inventory

The Internet has made collaboration and interchange vastly more efficient than competing yet our economic system remains in the 1780’s.  We are watching a public knowledge asset inventory forming outside the construct of corporations.  We are watching corporations begin to index their skill codes to the public knowledge inventory rather than their internal ontologies.

We now need to recognize the importance in which we formulate this public asset.  If we do it right, astonishing value will be released.  If we do not, the invisible hand of capitalism will remain, well, invisible. As such, even a distorted image would be an improvement.

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