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Tag: anonymity

The Six Tenets of Curiosumé

Over the years we have identified several features of Curiosumé that every VC and “investor” wants to change – but these features are so fundamental to the operation of Curiosumé that to change them would render the application useless. More clinical, the Math falls apart.

On the other hand, this phenomenon serves as a very powerful test of human nature. Violating one or more of the six tenets represents the temptation of control and power over others – people who seek to exploit other people cannot resist this temptation and will shortcut or manipulate one of the following 6 tenets, thus guaranteeing failure. Those whose hearts are truly focused on empowering people can easily resist, and even thrive, in an environment of collaboration and inclusion, thus guaranteeing success.

The Six Tenets of Curiosumé

You are forewarned, each of these six tenets pass directly against the grain of traditional venture capital and investment systems making the work difficult to fund by traditional means:

1. The topmost ontology must belong to the Commons.  We specify Wikipedia, or other public databases for Curiosumé.  There will always be a strong tendency from investors to want to own the private database or to define the ontology because this is the most tangible form of control. In Curiosumé all data must reconcile upward to the single ontology owned by the commons. Investors will have a strong desire to own the ontology and privatize the database – we must resist this.

2. Non-competitive ranking system. Our culture is steeped in tradition of competition; war, sports, even evolution (survival of the fittest), etc – all purport the necessity of competition as a means of arriving at the best solution. It was very difficult to find a suitable rating systems that does not invoke some form of competitive hierarchy. But in reality, Nature exhibits many more examples of collaboration than competition, yet collaboration is not intuitive to the Capitalist psychology. We are not saying that competition is bad, it is just inefficient on a crowded planet. Instead, there should be a perfectly valid market for everyone. There will be a strong tendency for investors to rank people on a hierarchy – we must resist this.  

3. Self-selecting: People must self-identify their participation in a community. That way, they cannot cheat because they would only be cheating themselves. There is a strong tendency to tell people what to do, how to behave, and how to appear to a “market”. We must avoid this. If we can eliminate the incentive to cheat, then we can avoid the crippling friction of a punitive vetting mechanism in our processes. There will be a strong desire by investors to have a means of punishing people who game the game. We must resist this. Instead, we need to develop a system that allows people to game the game to improve the game. This is where creativity and innovation will come from.

4. “Learn-collaborate-teach” scale. It is extremely important that people are ranked ONLY on units of learning, units of collaboration, and units of teaching. The reason is that students and teachers do not compete with each other. Besides, people who is unwilling to teach others in an organization are just as useless as people who are unwilling to learn new things. Nobody knows everything and everyone knows something that can be taught to someone else. Learners represent demand for knowledge, teachers represent supply of knowledge, and collaborators represent factors of production in our new proto-economy. There will always be a temptation to create winners by producing and abandoning “losers”, we must avoid this.

5. Anonymity until the point of transaction (AUPOT): There is no reason anyone needs to know your identity until there is a tangible transaction, then and only then you must show your cards. Lack of privacy is what makes Big Data both invasive and unreliable. People acting anonymously behave differently (for better or worse) than those whose identities are known. The intrinsic unbiased activity data has completely different meaning than biased, impulsed, or controlled behaviors. The utility of such data would inherently be more beneficial to markets and society. There will always be a strong desire from investors to own the one-way communication channel (advertising, propaganda, control, etc) where they may impose controls – we must resist this.

6. Formation of the Asset: An asset can only be described in terms of a Quantity and a Quality of something. 100 gallons of drinking water is a completely different asset than 100 gallons of irrigation water. “100 gallons of water” without specifying the qualities of the water is not an asset. Curiosumé a claim as a “quantity” and a validation as a “quality” as a means of formatting a knowledge asset. This is called a unit asset and represents a node in the network. Investors will often want the asset to be described in terms of money where the components are explicitly risk vs return. We must arrive there a different way.

Conclusion

We are open to any new ideas on how we would build the Curiosumé application. However, the 6 tenets discussed here are non-negotiable features of Curiosumé that must remain intact otherwise the whole project will fail. Each one of the tenets rubs against the grain of current VC models, corporate investment models, even academic commercialization models. Obviously, these 6 tenets have made funding for our programs difficult.

On the other hand, the reasons why nobody has copied us is because they would have the same problems in funding. Breaking this legacy funding mold will be absolutely essential to emergence of a new economic paradigm.  

Is Curiosumé is a Bad Investment?

Burn MoneyOver the years we have identified several features of Curiosumé that every investor wants to change – but these are so fundamental to the operation of Curiosumé that to change them would make the application useless.

However, the follow-on applications could be so hugely profitable that we make the claim: “When hundreds of millions of entrepreneurs see the format of the data output from Curiosumé, they’ll know exactly what to do next”.  The hurdle is to build Curiosumé right while dodging the VC “gauntlet” of control.

Is Curiosumé a Bad Investment?

The following is a list of Curiosumé tenets that we hold critical to the development of the application and why each of these pass across the grain of traditional investment community to make the application difficult to fund:

A. The topmost ontology must belong to the Commons.  We specify Wikipedia, or other public databases for Curiosumé.  There will always be a strong tendency from investors to want to own the database or to define the ontology because there is a legacy ideal that this is where the value is. Private data, such as corporate wiki, can certainly be used to run Curiosumé, but MUST reconcile upward to the commons data base at higher order definitions. There will be a strong desire to own the ontology – we must resist this.

B. Non-competitive ranking system: This will be tough enough for the culture to accept – but we all must change ourselves at least as much as we expect others to change.  Our culture is steeped in tradition of competition; war, sports, even evolution (survival of the fittest), etc – all purport the necessity of competition. It was very difficult to find a suitable rating systems that did not invoke hierarchy and competition.  In reality, Nature exhibits many more examples of collaboration than competition, yet collaboration is not intuitive to the American psychology. We are not saying that competition is bad, it is just inefficient on a crowded planet because it manufactures more uncompensated losers than compensated winners.  There is always a strong tendency for investors to rank business components on a hierarchy – we must resist this.   There is a legitimate market for everyone.

C. Self-selecting: People must self-identify their participation in a community – a great deal of thinking, intention, and VALUE is created and deposited into the system through this extremely important process of self expression – this is where assurance is mined. The only way for it to work is to eliminate the incentive to cheat. The only way to eliminate the incentive to cheat is to eliminate the component of competition. If we eliminate the incentive to cheat then we can disaggregate hugely expensive vetting mechanisms that too often add crippling friction to a system.  There will be a strong desire by investors to rank other people in their own image and to sit on top of a hierarchy to control people – we must resist this.

D. “Learn-collaborate-teach” scale provides demand- production-supply metric. This is extremely important that the selection criteria provide these components that form factors of production for a proto-economy based on intangibles. Later we can design other non-competitive scales as they arise, likely as a smart contract application.  For now, there is so much baggage associated with competition in society that we should best stick with Learn-collaborate-teach scale for now.

E. Anonymity until the point of transaction: Big Data is valuable to the degree that it allows people to perform scenario testing with the community (commons) data. Anonymity allows for the benefits of big data to occur without any detriment of self-identifiable markers and associated moral hazards.  Like Craigslist – when two parties choose to interact with each other, they can then expose their identities in a P2P/block environment and communicate directly with each other equitably. There will always be a strong desire from investors to create a one-way communication channel (advertising, propaganda, control, etc) especially because Curiosumé data format will be near-perfect for targeted ads – we must resist this. However, advertisers can interact on a P2P basis with agents on a mutually agreed (economic) basis. This will be the interface to smart contracts.

F. Formation of the Asset: An asset can only be described as a [quantity] X {Quality} of /something/.  For example: . [100 gallons] X {potable} /water/ is an asset.  Likewise [2014] X {BMW} /SUV/ is an asset.  [2000 likes] X {Pepsi} /Facebook/ is an asset, etc.  Alone, “SUV”, “100 gallons”, “200 likes” are not assets and cannot be traded.  As such, from critical elements above, the ASSET must be defined as [A]X{B}/C/.

This is called a unit asset and represents a node in the network. A persona is then constructed from this node and its relatedness to the public database (wikipedia) Personas can be combined and all the nodes will remain attached and compared by degrees of separation. Degrees of separation will define relevance and VALUE. This formation must be indelible until the agent changes it – this makes it a good candidate for block articulation.

In summary, I have described at least 6 elements of Curiosumé that will always be rejected by traditional investors, yet are absolutely essential to the ability to set ourselves free from the oppression of market capitalism.  Is this a coincidence?

Is Curiosumé a Bad Investment?

Social Value Creation; A Blank Canvas

The evolution of money

Money has evolved from coins to paper to electronic accounts. Now we see the emergence of mobile electronic accounts. Money may represent value but does it actually represent the value creation process? If not, then what does and which is more important?

PayPal wants to be like the electrical socket that all mobile payment innovations plug into.   In fact, they have a standing invitation for all technology partners in the mobile payment space to integrate with them. This is called an externalization strategy (much like Facebook, Twitter and Windows), where there are so many developers, users, and participants that NOT being on the platform becomes the competitive disadvantage.

The PayPal offer represents the separation of money from the value creation process.  This exposes a very interesting point to consider.

The Frictions of Monetization

The assumption is that PayPal et al will store and exchange dollars, and only dollars.  As such, they are contained within the financial system: credit score system, a person’s name, birth date, and the social security number as a personal identifier, the IRS reporting jurisdiction, and commercial code vetting mechanisms, etc.

Similarly, the drive to monetize in Social Media is pushing applications toward the same containment within the financial system.  Not surprisingly, the complaints of privacy and data security in Social Media stem precisely from association with credit scores, IRS, personal identifiers, Social Security Numbers, etc.  But “Big Social” presses on – they know not another way. Ironically, this is precisely the battleground; the source of all intermediary tactical and social friction that hinders monetization in the first place.  It has little to do with the creation of value – only containment of value.  To win is to lose.

A Better Proxy for Value

The reality of governance dictates that all business ventures begin and end in a standard currency of commerce such as the dollar.  However, there are NO restrictions on which currency must be traded in between to “create value”.   Nor is there any schedule that determines when a venture must begin, end, or be liquidated to dollars.

While The Social Value Game may start and end with dollars, the value creation process is carried out in a social currency using a “Social Credit Score”, an anonymous “Unique Identifier”, and a collection of “Social Vetting Institutions” independent of government or corporate jurisdiction.  The Value Game is a frictionless, tax-free and self-regulating environment without the guy wires of the financial industry.  The game simply leverages existing value socially to make new social value.

Social Value Specifications

The Social Value Creation Process is a blank canvas and we are writing the specifications today.  If a social currency becomes a better proxy for productivity – it may also become a stand-alone currency fully capable of capitalization and securitization. Theoretically, a social currency may never need to be converted to financial currency any more than a dollar ever needs to be convertible to silver or gold – it simply becomes another ledger entry on an accounting balance sheet.

Is Money Irrelevant?

The value creation process is the hard part.  Transformation of Social Currency into Financial Currency will become easy – anyone can do it.  In other words, if PayPal becomes irrelevant, the money evolution chain will be broken and money will become obsolete.  The market is wide open for a money competitor who can simply transcribe a social currency transaction into a ledger entry for financial currency. It’s a lot easier and closer to reality than many people think.

The Capitalization of Silence

"Silence" by Horst Schmier

Coupon Madness

The business concept of rewards coupons is not new. S&H Green Stamps were among the original applications of the concepts. The fact that coupon cutting is now going on-line is not surprising to anyone. A second major trend is in the area of data collection. Supermarkets have learned that it is valuable for them to “pay” the customer in exchange for data that makes stocking and distribution more efficient. When combined, coupon + data is a tremendously valuable marketing and logistics tool.

The next development of coupon + data model is the notion that if a person likes a product, so too will their friends. This is the coupon + data + association model. Not surprisingly, the marketing value of the combination of these linked data increases almost exponentially.

To Pay Dearly

Brands are now willing to pay dearly for information about the transaction as well as the social networks associated with a transaction. With the ability to track several layers of transaction and association, vendors can paint an extraordinarily accurate predictive model that can be used in their favor – and in competition against market challengers.

The half-life of noise

The hype is brisk and often short lived as most companies eventually run up against the proverbial viral backlash. Someone somewhere can just as easily elevate their own influence by challenging a big influencer. Privacy issues, fair trade issues, corporate responsibility issues are all fair game. Social media forces transparency in an organization too as controlled data can quickly become uncontrollable data.

The battlefield is strewn with the corpses of marketing campaigns gone horribly wrong. Even Groupon, once touted as the champion of mom and pop shops across the land is now accused of dumping economic “sugar calories” into a zero sum game where size does matter – a lot. Groupon is now used by competitors against each other thereby wrecking havoc on Mom and Pop Shops across the land.

Help, I need a Guru

Social Media Gurus continuously pound home the message that they must find their customers grazing in their own pasture and engage them in order to be truly accepted into the herd.  Now the Gurus have all the vendors looking like wolves in sheep’s clothing – nothing could be more obvious or look more ridiculous.

The inherent flaw is that companies are designing and delivering products predicted to interact with people in their own setting. Instead, they must develop a set of products and services that are designed to facilitate human interaction with each other in their own setting – and as a consequence, filter out all the noise that wastes valuable social time.

Coupon + knowledge inventory + anonymity

Learning what people know does not mean that they need to give up their identity.   Joining people who have complimentary knowledge is a superior value creation mechanism than harvesting relationships already played out. The ability to protect and empower the customer in their home setting is the greatest branding opportunity on Earth. The ability to filter out the noise is the single greatest competitive advantage that any marketing campaign can ever enjoy. The ability to bring communities of people together to solve the problems of their own choosing is far more powerful than trying to convince people that they have a problem for which only you have the solution.

This is the capitalization of silence

Image by Horst Schmier

Social Currency and Anonymity

The subject of privacy and anonymity are again rising up with the latest move by Facebook to integrate updates across the Internet onto the Facebook platform.

Conspiracy theories about Facebook and the CIA continue to flourish.  Meanwhile, the marketing and advertising industry seems poised to reboot their dwindling influence under a new cloak and dagger of social media data hustling and predictive demographics rather than playing by new rules of engagement.

Money is one thing and value is another.

I am astonished that people willingly and freely give up huge volumes of information about themselves when they really don’t have to.  In earlier times, marketers and advertisers would pay a great deal of money for far less information that people give them for free.  People do not understand the value that is stored between their ears or how easy it would be to set up an alternate economy that trades in social currencies.

If advertisers can pay someone to cold call me, to graph my data across the web, or sneak around my social networks, then they can certainly pay me to answer the phone.

The Ingenesist Project specifies an Innovation Economy built on the platform of social media.  While that thesis is extensive, let me summarize that the primordial soup of the Innovation Economy is called the Knowledge Asset Inventory.

Anonymous assets

One essential element of the new economic paradigm is the ability to combine knowledge assets so that innovation becomes predictable and therefore capitalized. However, a side effect is that such code makes the individual containers anonymous.  Marketers will have to pay you to find you.  here is why:

Now think about it this way – if you remove 20-dollar bill from your wallet to buy a Latte, you do not know (nor do you care) whether the last transaction performed by that 20-dollar bill was a donation to a charitable cause or a drug deal.  The dollar bill is anonymous – but you, as an asset, are not.

Social Currency is a Social Imperative

Dollar denominated money is a system to control social currency at a leverage factor of 1000:1.  Take away the dollar currency, and the leverage disappears.  Add a social currency and the national debt disappears.

Almost as a bonus, it is an absolute impossibility for marketers and advertisers to store and exchange value denominated in a social currency without extraordinary changes to the way they engage their clients….like, uhm, …don’t waste our time.

If we are smart, we can shut down the privacy issue in a hurry – anonymity of knowledge assets is the key.

Dark Net and the Economics of Mutual Anonymity

In 2001, Michael K Bergman, an American academic and entrepreneur and one of the foremost authorities about the Internet, published a paper estimating the “Deep Web” to be 400-550 times larger than the known Googleverse.  What does this mean for everything we claim to know about the web, social media, and social influence marketing?

Andy Becket wrote an excellent investigative piece called  The dark side of the internet that I highly recommend reading.  Among many great points, Andy describes the deep web:

“The darkweb”; “the deep web”; beneath “the surface web” – the metaphors alone make the internet feel suddenly more unfathomable and mysterious. Other terms circulate among those in the know: “darknet”, “invisible web”, “dark address space”, “murky address space”, “dirty address space”. Not all these phrases mean the same thing. While a “darknet” is an online network such as Freenet that is concealed from non-users, with all the potential for transgressive behaviour that implies, much of “the deep web”, spooky as it sounds, consists of unremarkable consumer and research data that is beyond the reach of search engines. “Dark address space” often refers to internet addresses that, for purely technical reasons, have simply stopped working.

The implications of the Dark Web are subtle.  Like “Dark Matter” in space, the dark web may behave as a multiplier to account for that which cannot be explained except by some invisible, albeit, constant force.  We can assume consistence because the common thread that transcends the entire Internet is still conversation. The ability to have a conversation as well as the ability to reject a conversation is part of the Dark Web and still a conversation nonetheless.  The opposite of publicity is anonymity – if the universe seeks balance so too can we expect the web to equalize around the average anonymity of conversation.

Entrepreneurial factors also appear rational when applied to the Dark Web, specifically true ownership.  Ownership includes the right to restrict access from others.  In the Googleverse of search rankings and old economics, watered down and largely unenforceable copyright laws create a wasteful game of Cease and Desist among content providers – not exactly a safe place to converse.  The inability to establish ownership and boundaries of user generated content is a primary constraint on monetization.

Meanwhile, the Dark Web utilizes a knowledge inventory where trusted people of known affinity are given free access to share freely – and anonymously.   Ironically, anonymity improves the quality of a conversation by eliminating the irrelevant data that often constrains conversation.   It is worthwhile to consider anonymity as a possibles monetization factor – pay to hide?

Not all anonymity is corrupt and perverse.  People spend a great deal of time and effort developing a database that represents a knowledge inventory and they don’t want someone to just copy it.   Trade secrets are the great competitive financial instrument of capitalism and depend on secrecy.  For better or for worse, political activity in non-free countries such as China, Iran, and Afghanistan also rely on anonymity. The more time people spend on the web, the more of their personal life that would want to keep to themselves – the ability to avoid Google bots is a tangible conversation.

The phenomenon to consider is that people with mutual anonymity are able to share more freely.  Ironically, anonymity improves the quality of a conversation by eliminating the irrelevant data that often constrains conversation.  Conversely, efforts to constrain anonymity destroys freedom of the web.  Tell that to your web analytics team.

Freedom of Speech; Use it Wisely

The recent Google quandary involving that most unfortunate rendering of Mrs. Obama led to many interesting articles about the invisible line between freedom of speech and profiting from indecency against another person (or group of persons).

Among the more intriguing conclusions is that those who exercise their freedom of speech should do so at the price of their anonymity.  As such, the community can likewise exercise their freedom of speech in response…sort of a market incentive system, it seems.

So what exactly would happen if the offensive content were accompanied by the name, address, business, and email of the person who created it?  How would their personal freedom be enhanced or restricted based on their contribution to the “self-discovery” of society?  How does a social medium enhance or restrict the inalienable rights so preserved in our nation’s constitution by our infinitely wise founding fathers?

I suppose that the founding fathers also had an issue with anonymity.  By virtue of their signature on the declaration of independence, they were willing to pay for their freedom of speech with their lives. This singular act is what empowered the document most. They bet their skin to preserve their oppressor’s freedom of speech regarding the same matter of independence.  Today we call that courage but in most communities it is common practice:

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