Communities organize themselves:

Most people do not listen completely in conversations because they are too busy planning their response to what they think the other person is going to say.   Often what seems like astute response is a template that may fit a moment but can kill a conversation.  The successful conversation occurs when all participants speak to what the others are listening for. Not an easy trick.

I Heard the Ocean

When I first got into this social media stuff, I had a lot to say.  Then I figured out that nobody was listening; I learned a lot since then. As soon as I started to listen, people started listening back.   Today these people are my heroes, I hang on their every word, their generosity is roughly 70% of my social media world – where did they come from and where can I find more people like them?

Well, that’s all I have to say about that, so let’s listen to Janet Fouts. Part of her quote is a product pitch, but that illustrates an important point in Innovation Economics; conversation is currency and this currency has value:

“Before you dive into social media for any reason, listening should be your first step. What are people talking about and where are they doing it? Is there buzz out there about you or your product that you didn’t know about? Who should you be connecting to? Has there been a recent event you want to find out more about?

Setting up listening tools from free to paid versions can give you a tremendous amount of information and help you find even more things to talk about. I’ll give working examples of listening tools, outline a strategy for effective listening and give you some ideas to use this information in a real world setting.

This short 30 minute session will include links to both free and paid listening tools and creative scenarios for use.

You will learn how to:

  • Set up a set of listening tools to cover multiple platforms
  • Identify the right listening tools for your own needs
  • Identify the best networks for you to participate on
  • Evaluate what you find
  • Creative ways to engage and communicate your message
  • Find new topics to populate your blog and online discussions
  • Evaluate how effective your social media campaign is

Thanks Janet, Now here is a hint at the product pitch at Conversational Currency:

“In a few months, events such as Janet’s may need not  be funded by the participant.  Rather, our sponsors will support events for those most worthy of  participating.  Why would sponsors do such a thing?  Maybe they too are learning to listen, after all, roughly 70% of the US economy is consumer spending.  Will roughly 70% of ad budget be allocated on listening?”

What does all this mean?  keep listening!


The Ingenesist Project Community concerns itself with the value of social reach since this will most certainly impact he relevance of  those conversing as well as the relevance of the conversation to some business activity.  Obviously, innovation is about having the right team in the right place at the right time.

Furthermore, business activities such as marketing and advertising need to make their communications more relevant and less wasteful of their audience’s limited bandwidth – lest they risk being perceived as “anti-social”.

Stated somewhat more clinically; the most worthy knowledge surplus must be matched with the most worthy knowledge deficit in order to produce the most valuable outcome.

Brynn Evans offers the following observation:

The future of search  involves social networks, social graphs, or social filtering in some capacity.  Companies will live or die by whether they get the “social” part right: creating the right level of intimacy, trust, reliability, social connectedness, and accuracy in their results listings. Of course, this specifically means that their user experience must at least meet or, preferably, exceed that of Google’s.

To achieve this, we must first stop arguing over the different flavors of search.

Real-time search. Social search. Semantic search. These distinctions are essentially meaningless, especially when we can’t even agree on definitions and when each of their boundaries remain undefined. Instead, we should recognize that they’re all part and parcel of personalizing and contextualizing search for individual users. Let’s stop playing the “name game” and start thinking holistically about how each (and all!) affects and improves what we think of today as “search.”

Defies analysis, defies control:

Ms Evans’ excellent analysis continues to identify numerous problems with attempting to classify Social Relevance – each system is merely trumped by new issues related to semantics, context, and proximity.  It seems as if the more you try to “control” social media, the more it defies control.  The more you try to study it, the more it shows you a mirror of yourself.  Introspection is the irony of extroversion.

The great big Sucking Sound

While nobody, including Ms. Evans can tell you how to increase your social relevancy, we can probably all agree on what does not.   If your message sucks, your social relevancy will also suck.  If you are trying to sell a product that does not actually save people time and increase their net productivity, your product will fail and your social relevancy will suck.   If you are in any way trying to match unworthy knowledge surplus with unworthy knowledge deficit, your social relevancy will suck.

Give up Control in order to gain control:

Business intelligence is the science of knowing what sucks and what does not.  Let Social media carry your message wherever it wants to carry it. The sooner the market tells you what it wants, the sooner you can adapt your products and services to meet the needs.  Things happen fast in social media space and the corporation needs to be faster.  This may mean corporations need to give up control in order to gain control of both the threats and opportunities of the future.  After all, even by the playbook of Corporate America : survival of the fittest is the only relevant social rank.

(Ed: Brynn Evans is a PhD student in Cognitive Science at UC San Diego who uses digital anthropology to study and better understand social search)


If it looks like a buck, and talks like a buck, and quacks like a buck – it’s probably a buck.

So when your money gets “free will” and starts walking out the door door, that’s bad enough.  When flies out the window en mass enabled by the same social media that  brings money in the door – serious management issues arise.  Should organization choose fight, flight, or cooperation?

Battle lines are being drawn:

  • “Among large U.S. companies, 33% have employees on staff to monitor e-mail messages — up from 15% last year, one survey found. The Proofpoint study also found that 31% of companies had fired workers who breached confidentiality via e-mail, and 8% had fired someone over a social-networking leak. The survey found 41% of respondents are worried about potential leaks via Twitter. ZDNet (08/10)”
  • “Marines banned social networking sites from their computers Tuesday due to security concerns, and the Pentagon announced a policy review. But Pentagon’s top officer will still tweet (Christian Science Monitor 08/05)

There are literally thousands of articles on this subject but none of the few that I read came to any conclusion, so I will:

Money is becoming intangible (cannot be contained) and Social Media is becoming tangible (has become the container)

The very structure of organizations is changing.  Trying to control the temperature of the room when the windows have been blown out will only destroy existing controls faster.  A completely new economic structure is emerging complete with new factors of production, incentives, institutions, accounting, and currency.

Swap or swamp?

Easier said than done?  Not really; all we need to do is swap the same methods that we use to manage tangible assets with those same methods that we use to manage intangible assets.  There are in fact people and organizations trying to do this (specifically this author) but you won’t find then in corporations anymore.

Companies have no choice but to understand migration patterns, flock actualization needs, motivation, and environmental issues.  Going from an economy where the corporate charter is only “to deliver shareholder value” to one of safeguarding the health and welfare of people and their property” is a huge leap.

The discussion of Conversational Currency is required to understand the underlying economic forces that drive social media and the emerging institutional structure for corporations to create value in a computer enabled society.


Many companies are flocking to Social Media as the great new tool for pitching products.  The results have been mixed; there are winners and there are losers.  At first, there was no clear path toward certain success but now the differences are becoming increasingly clear. Humility is rewarded and arrogance is punished.

If “Nice guys finish last,” is the mantra of the old world, then “The last will be first,” is the motto of the new.  To understand why humility works in social media, we need to understand what humility is.

Cashing the Reality Check

Humility does not mean looking down on oneself or thinking ill of oneself.  It really means not thinking of oneself very much at all.  The humble are free to forget themselves because they are secure.  So when they mess up, the humble don’t have to cover up.  They have nothing to hide.

All this is simply a way of saying that the humble are in touch with reality.  If the definition of insanity is being out of touch with reality, then in the old world, “nice guys finish last” illusion is clearly insane.

Strength in numbers

Since the humble are secure, they are strong.  And since they have nothing to prove, they don’t have to flaunt their strength or use it to dominate others.  Humility leads to meekness.  And meekness is not weakness.  Rather, it is strength under control, power used to build up rather than tear down.

You can’t buy happiness

Back in the early 90’s, I worked on an ad campaign in Hollywood.  The producer told everyone; “The objective of this commercial was to steal the thing that people love about their self, and sell it back to them for the price of the product”.

The marketing message has been for many years much along those lines.  Make people believe that they need something that they don’t.  Make people believe that they can buy happiness, love, and community.  Make people believe that reality is something that can be escaped.

Rising Tides float all ships

The great brand messages, the successful blogs, and the viral communications in social media all have one thing in common.  They provide true and real value to the most people.  They produce correct and practical insight for the most people. They empower the most people to help their selves.  They amplify the priorities of the most communities. They help the most people to be successful in their clear and present reality.

Soul Searching

Ironically, it will take great introspection in the hearts of many corporate brands that follow the old rules of marketing.  These corporations need to look backwards into their own corporate philosophy and business plan to re-identify what they represent and how they represent it.  This new identity must reach into R&D to define what innovations are developed and what features they provide.  This cannot and will not be easy for most.

Since the humble are secure, they are strong.  Likewise, when Brands are humble, they too are strong and they don’t have to flaunt their strength or use it to dominate others.  The power of social media is to build up rather than tear down.


There is not much more ‘federal’ about the “Federal Reserve” than there is about Federal Express. Except, the Fed is a private company for whom the US government is the “Legal Tender”; literally and figuratively.

We could analyze this cozy relationship or we can realize that the value of any currency is a social agreement among people who trade it for goods and services. There is nothing keeping each and every one of us from “legally tending” a currency in communities to exchange for goods and services – as long as there is a social agreement.

The Semantic Web:

The word “currency” has several meanings. It can mean a “medium of exchange” such as “bank currency”; or it can mean a placement in time such as a “current edition”; or it can mean the flow of something such as the “river’s current”.  Money is, in fact, all three; it is exchanged, it changes with time, and it moves things. Therefore, anything that does these three things can be used as currency.

Social Media space has awarded civilization with an extraordinary capacity to create, maintain, and design social agreements. Social agreements are founded on conversations between people.  Conversation is the medium of exchange for the trade of goods and services long before the money is distributed (or not).

The Value of Value:

The value of the dollar is not changing, but the value of the social agreement is. Conversations about Land, Labor, and Capital are transcended by conversations about environment, health care, social justice, human rights, and global freedom. The social agreement that once supported the value of a dollar is now supporting something else. The value that the dollar once contained is being transferred someplace else. The people that once controlled the value of currency are being replaced other people. The social agreement is being replaced by another one.

To understand the new social agreement is to understand the currency of currency. To support the conversations that define the new social agreement is to support the value of social currency. To support the value of social currency is to support the value of money.

Humility: The New Economic Paradigm

In order to intersect the flow of money people need to be trading a conversational currency.  In today’s economy, in order to find value, we need to ask someone else where it is. In order to create value, we need to tell someone else where it is. In order to stay “current” we must engage with others. In order to preserve value, we need to preserve the value in others.

Most importantly, especially for those who want to hold a great deal of money or power or control: in order to hold value, they must give it away. In order to hold power, they must empower others. In order to hold control, they must give up control to others.

Conversely, Humility is the new gold standard and the bad guys will always try to steal it. Does this sound familiar?


How big is this opportunity?

Roughly 10% of the US gross Domestic Product can be attributed directly to the process of evaluating or examining transactions.  This represents a 1.4 Trillion Dollar of value in a system that may be better organized, captured, and preserved through social networks and the conversations that they produce.

Social vetting on a scale that would allow social networks to monetize would require that communities organize their knowledge assets specifically for deployment to a market.  All that an entrepreneur needs to do is fill this need.

What happens if they don’t?

The true cost of vetting may be calculated by what happens in the absence of oversight, transparency, and disclosure. When the vetting process fails, so too does the industry.  The continuing financial crisis of 2008 was fueled by a failure to regulate mortgage backed securities.  The financial Crisis of 2002 arose from a failed accounting (CPA) profession.

The losses due to the absence of vetting mechanism exceeds by many times the cost of having a system in place.  The financial crises of 2002 and 2008 have together wiped out nearly 20 Trillion dollars of value and incurred high volatility to financial systems due to failed vetting mechanisms.   The people who held the knowledge about the impending doom had no effective medium to share.

Who vets KNOWLEDGE assets?

The flow of money lives and dies by the vetting mechanism.  CarFax, Experian, Ebay, Google owe their existence to the ability to vet information – However, they do not vet knowledge.  The ability to deliver the right knowledge asset to the right place, at the right time for the right price is tantamount to being able to “manufacturing innovation”, that is, to print money.  Inversely, the ability to foresee the result of specific knowledge assets deployed to specific business conditions is the Holy Grail of entrepreneurs.

Social networks can carry out this very important function of the Innovation economy; organize, locate, and develop knowledge assets in a form which can emulate a financial instrument.

How are things changing?

Emerging ideas such as conversational currency, relationship economics, innovation economics,. nd new ways to value intangibles are appearing in research blogs across the web.  Disruptions to Global finance, environmental policy, and the emergence of global currencies are setting the stage for a huge transformation in how society organizes itself.  Traditional industries such as print media, advertising, and banking are failing. Nothing is sacred except change.

Where are these communities, and what do they want?

Many communities exist today in a variety of forms and functions such as communities of practice, fellowships, service organizations, professional societies, trades groups, affinity groups, etc.  Increasingly they are moving to Social Media such as Facebook groups, Linkedin groups, Affinity groups, aggregation groups, and political action groups.  Communities are using social media technology to engage the knowledge domain contained within them.

As such, they will soon have ability to foresee the result of specific knowledge assets deployed to specific business conditions.  This is the Holy Grail of modern civilization.


The search engine wars continue as both Google and Bing develop more exotic ways of arriving at the wrong answer.  Both commit the same error as all declining industries in social media space; assuming that they can predict what people want without engaging them in a conversation.

The first development is the predictive search notably pioneered by Amazon.com for predicting future purchases based on past purchases.  While predictive search is an improvement, the next step is the “vicarious” search, that is, when the search engine sees the world through your eyes – or someone Else’s – for your benefit.

The Web is Flat

The Ingenesist Project specifies a standard knowledge inventory that may be represented as a packet of code.  If someone wanted to see the web through the eyes of another person, they could buy a packet of their knowledge inventory.  Likewise, a web article would be tagged with the representative knowledge inventory code of the author.  Each comment or re post to a blog article would contain the knowledge inventory of its aggregated vetters.

The search can be done in reverse as well.  If I find an idea on the web and want to know who can execute it locally, I can simulate the knowledge inventory in one or more local people.  This is not trivial.  It literally allows an entrepreneur to manage knowledge assets that they did not know exists and predict content that does not yet exist.

Been there, done that?

Obviously there are privacy, security, and ethics issues related to others seeing the world through your eyes.  But what if every American was told 20 years ago that their identifier number for an insolvent social security program would be attached to their personal, medical, financial, and civil records then spun through Wall Street algorithms, sold worldwide to advertisers, politicians, banks, insurance companies, demographers, and ultimately hacked?  The cities would have burned.

So why can’t social mediators monetize?

The difference today is that if packaged correctly, we can own and control our knowledge inventory.  We can allow or decline access and we can revoke access – it happens all day long on Face Book, Linkedin, Twitter, and My Space.   On-line communities represent collections of knowledge assets.  The 400 Billion dollar per year advertising budget is on the table – up for grabs.  The 100 Billion dollar “head hunting” budget is up for grabs. The multi-billion dollar election budgets are all up for grabs. What are we thinking?

The likelihood of Innovation

The innovation economy will depend on business intelligence related to society’s knowledge inventory to match most worthy knowledge surplus to the most worthy knowledge deficit.   Entrepreneurs must know supply and demand for knowledge assets as well as where to find them at what cost.  Entrepreneurs need to predict competition, disruption, risks, and volatility in knowledge assets.  They need to conduct scenario tests before expending money.  They need to predict the likelihood of innovation and all of the options that they have in the future related to those innovations.

The Securitization of Knowledge Assets

Entrepreneurs need to securitize knowledge assets in order to finance innovation on the scale that will be required to offset our massive debt. This is how the innovation economy must play out.  We cannot depend on corporations or governments to do this for us.  People must control, regulate, anonymize, and manage  their own knowledge inventory.   If only they could see their world through the entrepreneur’s eyes – perhaps they need a vicarious search engine more than anyone.


“Hey, I know a guy who owes me a favor …”

It is only a matter of time until professional contacts will be for sale.  The problem is that the ROI (return on investment model) is such a poor valuation tool for social media. Another valuation tool used in finance is called Real Options.  An option is the right, without the obligation, to act on an opportunity at some time in the future.  Social Networks, friends, family, and professional contacts behave much more along these lines.

Five Easy Pieces:

While the calculation for the value of an option is complex, the things we need to plug in are fairly simple in the context of social media:

1.    There must be an inventory of the assets
2.    The future date when the asset can be acquired must be known
3.    The cost of acquiring the asset must be known
4.    The value effects on the enterprise must be estimated
5.    The uncertainty related to the asset must be estimated

The term “asset” in social media space may include: Knowledge, skill, an undertaking of a new project, or the generation of a new idea, etc.

The Social Networking Manifesto:

The objective of the building a social network is to know where the knowledge assets are, how much they can help you, how much they cost to exercise, and the certainty that they will be applicable, available and useful when you need them.   Conversely, the best way to increase the value of a social network is to be visible to others, tell people what you can do for them, tell people what you need from them, and establish a reputation for reliability.

Most importantly, everyone must have the right, without the obligation, to accept or decline the opportunity.  This is what jump starts ‘supply and demand’ and makes a market a market

Let’s consider all options:

To estimate the value of an option to call on anyone in your network use a financial option calculator tool on the web and plugged in social media numbers.  Let’s use Linkedin as the knowledge inventory; 40 million knowledge assets also hold options with their contacts. Say that the expiration date is 1 year (for tax reasons).  Assume the market value of their skill is 100 dollars and that at some point in the next year, the value of their skill relative to yourself becomes 200 dollars. The right to buy the asset at the earlier price is worth a premium.  Suppose that the volatility of the asset is 50% and the interest rate is 7%.

The value of the “call” is worth about $3.47 dollars.  The Call is an option contract that gives the holder the right to buy a certain quantity of an underlying security from the writer of the option, at a specified price up to the specified expiration date.

The value of options in a network:

For the above scenario assuming all assets are equal in price of 100 dollars; if someone has 10,000 1st and 2nd level contacts on Linkedin, the value of their implied call option is about 34,700 dollars.  If Linkedin were a stock market, the value of the social contracts that people have with each other is 34K x 40M = 1.3 Trillion Dollars market value for the contracts that people hold and trade.

This is not even the value of the transaction – only the right to have a transaction. The value of the social contract is in the conversations that they hold.  Contracts are a financial instrument that can be traded, combined, diversified, and aggregated for real money.  It’s only a matter of time.

The Ingenesist Project specifies the structure of an innovation economy where a knowledge inventory, a percentile search engine, and an innovation bank will facilitate and aggregate the 5 components of Option Valuation.  Social media applications form the operating system for the market in options.


Mentors provide expertise to less experienced individuals to help them advance their careers, enhance their education, and build their networks. In many different arenas people have benefited from being part of a mentoring relationship: Freddie Laker mentored Richard Branson, Bach mentored Mozart, Dr. Dre mentored Eminem, Aristotle mentored Alexander the Great, and Obi-wan Kenobi mentored Anakin Skywalker.

Mentorship: a Valuable 2-way Conversation

Suppose that mentorship could be monetized like financial instruments.  Within the structure of an innovation economy specified by The Ingenesist Project; a knowledge inventory, a percentile search engine, and an innovation bank will match the most worthy student to the most worthy mentor in the respective market structure.  The mentor would take an equity position in the protégé, not unlike taking a stock in a corporation.

For example:  A single mid-career mentor could take on 10 protégés with an option to exercise, say, 1% of the students future salary for every year mentoring upon predetermined retirement date. Say that the average mentorship lasts 10 years.  Likewise, each of the protégés also becomes a mentor taking on 10 protégés of their own.  The Master mentor will collect 1% of the revenue that each of the 100 sub-protégés provide to their middle mentors per year.

The Educational Pyramid Scheme

If each protégé becomes at least as successful on average as the mentor, the master mentor can collect the equivalent of their average salary for the duration of their retirement.  If each of the protégés become equally effective mentors, then the master mentor can double their average salary for the duration of their retirement.   A third tier adds another salary to the master mentor.

This is what actually happens in an informal way within companies, government, and Jedi Knighthood; the exception is that social media will enable this to occur outside the construct of a corporation – and such.

Game Theory for the Rest of Us

An interesting social game emerges:  It becomes the best interest of the mentor that each of their protégés is successful in their field and practice high integrity.  It is in the best interest of the mentee to learn as much as they can and become as proficient as they can. It is the best interest for mentees to pick appropriate mentors and it is in the best interest for mentors to take on appropriate mentees.  It is efficient for mentees to form a social network among themselves and for Master Mentors to form a network among themselves. A multiplier effect surges with cross-mentoring.

In aggregate, it is in the best interest for the membership in the social network to cooperate rather than compete because their income would ultimately benefit less from competition than from cooperation.

2.3 Trillion Dollars Market

The American Public education system is in disarray.  Standardized education defies the diversity of the country.  Teacher’s pay has been stagnant. Curriculum takes years to respond to new knowledge. Recent McKinsey research finds that a persistent gap in academic achievement between children in the United States and their counterparts in other countries deprived the US economy of as much as $2.3 trillion in economic output in 2008

None of this has anything to do with the dreams of our children.  None of this has anything to do with the intellect, motivation, and perseverance of our kids.  It has everything to do with Political stalemate and failure of the economic system.  All children can achieve their dreams, and ours, if there were a market for mentors.


Money represents human productivity.

Recent headlines declare that 78 billion dollars worth of fuel and productivity are wasted each year by congestion on highways. 1.2 Trillion dollars per year in productivity is lost due to past failures in education. The US spends 7% more of our GDP on health care than the average of other developed nations leaving nearly 1 trillion dollars of unknown ‘productivity value’ in vapor per year. 200 Billion dollars per year is spent on war, whether necessary or not, that has not increased American productivity in an economic sense.

2.5 Trillion Units of Human Productivity

Without even trying hard, 2.5 Trillion Dollars per year in stuff not produced is wasted on activity that does not increase human productivity (stuff produced). Obviously debt is a promise to produce stuff in the future. But we’re wasting stuff now? At some point the logic falls apart but no matter how you look at it, money represents productivity and the only way out of this mess is to innovate at an astonishing rate.

Conversational Capital

In an earlier article, we conjured up a rough tabulation of productivity gains due to social media:

One billion messages are sent on Facebook every day. Suppose that each Facebook conversation has a net value of $1.00 per person. That comes out to 730 Billion dollars per year of human productivity saved.

Twitter is worth a cool 100 Million tweets per day. Let’s assign a net productivity gain of $1.00 per tweet delivered. That is $36 Billion per year in increased human productivity.

Suppose each blog article published increases human productivity by $0.50 each. With over 100M blogs, that is 10 billion dollars per day – or1.8 trillion dollars per year.

The grand total is 2.5 Trillion Dollars worth of conversational currency.

In Search of Waste Economics:

Now, return to the waste side of the balance sheet let’s reflect on the areas of impact that social media has on: transportation, energy, education, health care, and world Peace:

Social media reviews automobile quality and drives social priorities toward green industry. Social media allows people to find work close to home, social media vets energy systems such as wind, solar, nuclear. Social media is driving journalism to value added roles and away from corporate collusion. Social media provides richer and more current content than textbooks. Social media is driving social priorities over Wall Street priorities in health care, energy, politics, industry, and science. You Tube is seeing a 1700% increase in downloads as people set up video cameras all over the world searching and reporting injustice.  Little Brother is watching.

Social media strikes back

In order to predict where social media will strike next all we need to do is look for the waste economy; areas where world governments, institutions, and corporations are inefficient, wasteful, co opted, or corrupt.