It seems ironic that people are using Facebook to urge others to quit Facebook. If they take their own advice, they would no longer be able to give their golden advice to others. If we took their advice, we would not be able to heed the advice of others in this matter.

Is Facebook too big to fail?

The human race is becoming a super-organism of connectivity. Companies like Facebook are duplicating the functions that governments have performed – by various methods with diverse consequences – since the dawn of civilization. There is nothing new about Government organizing society and pandering to corporations. There is nothing new with people protesting governance. There is also nothing new with forms of governance being replaced by an evolution of human consciousness.

The Next Wave of Innovation in Social Media?

First; Facebook itself has no value other than the value of the people and their networks. As such, Facebook behaves like a financial derivative – it is not the actual item of value, it is simply a utility contract representing value.

Second; Facebook can only deal in information – it cannot deal in “knowledge”. Your information is a derivative of your “knowledge”, not the knowledge itself. The real value of a social network is in what lies between the ears of the members. Therefore, one way to encrypt the information is to encrypt the knowledge.

Third; Suppose that your “resume” were coded as a list of numbers and operations representing the quality and quantity of the things you know. Suppose the people in your network were also coded in a similar fashion. As such, your network, would be a combination of these codes. If you really “know” someone, it would be easy to find them. If you don’t know someone, it would be impossible to find them.

Fourth: The game changes because the incentive now is to “Mind Meld” with real people. Marketers can only then profit by telling the absolute truth about what the product is and the affinity that the product serves – anything else defaults to a “no-sale”. The person can then set filters to be notified of products and services that can make them more productive in pursuing the things that they love and care about – their community.

An Emerging Evolution

Many People cite Cluetrain Manifesto (1999) as the start of this higher consciousness. Cory Doctorow introduced a concept currency called the Whuffie (2003). Tara Hunt, Chris Brogan, Brian Solis, Seth Godin, Clay Shirky, Jay Deragon, and many others expanded the idea of trust and reputation in the formation of social capital and associated social reorganization. As these ideas are reconstructed, especially in a form that is independent of the construct of the Corporation, Social Capital is emerging as a highly complex instrument – not unlike a derivative.

If not human knowledge, then what?

Now we notice that Facebook, Whuffie, and Wall Street Dollars are all built on derivatives where the underlying value is human knowledge. That is where all the man-made value on Earth is stored, period. The value stored by Human Knowledge hedges all bets. Nobody has a monopoly on it, but everyone is trying to figure out how. To do so would be to destroy it.

Code knowledge to set it free.

Despite all of the grumbling about Facebook, Wall Street, and all issues Political, there is a clear path toward a higher purpose in all of this. We should ponder this and be quite grateful.


m-viaIf necessity is the mother of invention, then the Future of Money and Technology Summit 2010 was Paul Revere. There were many innovations that seek to change banking as we know it using a new denomination called social currency. This article (and more to follow) will identify the difference between two business methods – one that squanders social currency, and one that liberates social currency.

m-Via, is a money remittance company focused on allowing consumers to use any mobile phone to make international money transfers. m-Via focuses on the huge flow of remittances from the US to Mexico. I am personally directly aware of the challenges related to money transfers across international borders specifically Mexico; bank fees, extra ID, teller costs, time, risk, conversion fees, etc.

It is obvious to me that M-Via is looking very closely at how, why, and when people interact with a the banking system. The Banks are doing the same thing. The difference is that Banks seek activity thresholds and then design limits that seem to trigger artificial and exorbitant fees. Instead, m-Via seeks to reduce the friction in the transaction to meet the lives, schedule, priorities and concerns of the customer.

m-Via is trading in social currency

Banks are squeezing the least deserving by charging hidden fees for services that cost them nothing. For example; most people transfer small amounts of money on a steady cash flow schedule. Most people can’t spend the time to travel to a western Union on one side on each side of the transaction where travel expenses and security issues may be a constraint. Money is often redistributed among family members once in the target country. This is the reality of people, not an opportunity to set artificial thresholds to drive profit.

Paying money to a bank for the privilege of paying money to the bank…what?

m-Via drives a social currency by reducing risk, increasing yield, and helping people organize in the manner that suits their reality – not that of the banking industry. Most people who need money, don’t necessarily have the ‘money’ to absorb high transaction costs of time, risk, and inflexibility. Current banking practices extol a high social currency cost that amounts to “negative” interest rate against the consumer – in other words, people need to pay the bank in order to pay the bank to use the bank.

m-Via is already seeing a week over week growth of 15% in participation. I expect this growth to continue especially as many other technologies arrive to build out the infrastructure of transactions and business methods that are supported by a social currency.

Disclosure; m-Via was a sponsor to the Future of Money Summit and Technology but has no formal relationship or position in the Conversational Currency Blog.


abacusWhat is a Non-quantifiable Exchange?

The term “Non-Quantifiable Exchanges” was the title of a panel session that I attended at the recent Future of Money and Technology Summit. In researching the subject, it appears that a “non-quantifiable exchange” is more notable for what it is not rather than what it is. Case in point – after the precursory Google Search, the term and a modern definition does not exist – but the room was full !?!?!

With all of the talk about cloud sourcing economies and romantic notions of emerging organic currencies, it would seems that people could just get along fine without a central mechanism for storage and exchange of value. Instead, each individual would assess the value of the transaction in terms of what it means to him or her. Currency could then take the form of a person’s reputation, productivity and general usefulness for assessing value and helping others to do so in their community (reference)

If it’s not an asset…or a liability, then what is it?

Traditional valuation systems for businesses immediately start tugging at a host of standard assumptions for measuring “performance” – many of which are no longer meaningful. Land, Labor, and capital cannot be deployed to the same efficacy whereas social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital are being liberated to social media with astonishing results.

Nobody can produce an accurate ROI for social media, however, social media presence is becoming a substantial factor in the valuation of a company.

Likewise, reverse access to personal information about customers on Facebook is both the lifeblood and poison of new engagement marketing. The general public have become “external intangibles” to the business plan – where the heck is that on a balance sheet?

Goldman Sachs claims that those who bought their worst subprime products were sophisticated investors whose obligation it is to understand the quality of the underlying components. Their defense is that the customer failed, not the system of disclosure.…what? How long would Dell last if this had been their response for poor quality?

Cloud Economics or Inversion System?

Vapor is quantified by the balloon that contains it. A cloud is quantified by the weather system that surrounds it. The atmosphere is quantified by the mass of the planet and it’s proximity to a sun, and so on. Therefore, the term “non-quantifiable”, and the word “exchange”, are mutually exclusive. If there is an exchange, there is quantification.

Suppose I was to suggest that value stored in social currency may exceed the value stored by financial currency. The paradigm shift now becomes, who quantifies whom?


IMG_1468-600-creamy-tuna-sandwichI had a personal breakthrough recently at the Future of Money and Technology Summit. I sat on an excellent Panel discussing non-quantifiable exchanges for an audience of about 70-80 very intelligent people.

Non Quantifiable Exchanges
Moderator: Tara Hunt, The Whuffie Factor
Chris Heuer, Social Media Club
Dan Robles, The Ingenesist Project
Micki Krimmel, NeighborGoods

I will write a post for each of these incredible panelists in the near future because each are building out the infrastructure of the new economy just by doing what they like to do most.  Soon everyone will be doing the same.

My experience

For one hour, we engaged in a remarkable conversation together. For me, it was a watershed event – I grew personally, socially, and intellectually.

Throughout the 16-year history of The Ingenesist Project, my challenge has always been to explain and demonstrate how the simple act of a conversation among informed people does, in fact, create value in a process that extends back to an intensely complicated production system. The value contained, stored, and exchanged by people is a direct result of their accumulated past and the interaction with their own environment. Until this summit – those two ends would rarely meet.

For example:

Reaching into your wallet and pulling out a dollar bill to purchase a can of tuna fish may seem like a very simple transaction. It is, in fact, intensely complicated from the funding of the fishing vessel, compliance with international law, packaging and distribution, all the way to the creation of the dollar in your wallet amplified through the miracles of the fractional reserve system. It is deeply complicated.

When we bite into our tuna sandwich, we take this complexity for granted. We are in fact, consuming the strenuous articulation of a financial system disguised as the simplicity of the checkout stand, the application of mayonnaise, and aroma of toasted wheat bread.

Similarly, for any meaningful conversation, the events prior and the effects after the conversation, for bettor or worse, reinforce the system through which future conversations will be shared.

While it would have been inappropriate to deep dive on this panel – I was able to transact effectively in this conversational currency system. I was able to come closer to communicating this comparison between the financial transaction and the knowledge transaction in a public forum than likely ever before. For this, I am deeply grateful.

No matter how you slice it:

1. The vast majority of value of an exchange has a history far greater, and future effect far longer lasting, than the transaction itself.

2. When the production systems become more integrated with markets value is created, huge shifts in value can be transferred.

3. Conversation is currency

This, I believe is the future of money and technology


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.


I was invited to present at the Future of Money and Technology Summit in San Francisco on Monday April 26. Representing The Ingenesist Project, I’ll be seated on a panel with two very important futurists; Chris Heuer and Micki Krimmel discussing non-quantifiable exchanges. The ever esteemed and respectable Ms. Tara Hunt will be moderating the session.

From the FMTS website:

The Future of Money & Technology Summit will bring together the best and brightest thinkers around money, including visionaries, entrepreneurial business people, developers, press, investors, authors, solution providers, service providers, and organizations who work with them at the convergence of cash and commerce. We meet to discuss the evolving money ecosystem in a proactive, conducive to dealmaking environment.

What I find especially interesting is the incredible collection of technologies for the storage of value and the amazing group of entrepreneurs corresponding to the exchange of value in future markets. The definition of currency is something that is used as a medium for the storage and exchange of valuable. As such, it would be quite the understatement that the FMTS will be a valuable experience.

A great deal of thought, planning, and money has gone into these ventures and now they are together in one room. This can only be attributed to the increasing inability of the current financial system to function as an equitable means to store and exchange value that drives entrepreneurs to new conclusions.

When I witnessed the Mexican Devaluation, the social reaction was to empty out the local WalMart. Those “goods” such as clothing, appliances, and furnishings became an intermediate currency that stored the prior day’s peso value for exchange with tomorrow’s market. The same is true for most financial crises with significant devaluation events in recent history.

The clear and present difference is Social Media.

We now see people busy at work to replace the old currency with improved systems and tools for the storage and exchange of value before the actual calamity arrives. In effect, the new systems are hedging the old one.

It will take many years for the implications and importance of events such as the Future of Money and Technology Summit to make it into the case studies of the major B-school curricula. Ironically, that does not mean that real history is not being made – or shall I say, old history is not being re-made.

So please consider joining us at the conference (details). If you are attending, please, please, please, find me and let’s talk about everything. As always, thank you dear reader because ultimately you are the only reason that people want to talk to me 🙂


hypocriteI don’t often run a full repost from other people on this blog, but this post by Seth Godin was just too rich to leave alone.

I have been posting a lot lately on the irony of social media devolving to spammers spamming spammers, especially the recent Twitter plan to charge advertisers for jumping to the front of the line by exploiting data provided voluntarily by the users (Twitter Me Elmo).

All of this tells us that Social Media is up against the ropes on the monetization plan. As a result it is starting to consume itself. This may be the first indication that the Dollar is NOT the currency of trade in the social media space, it’s a yet unnamed Social Currency. This definitely tells us that something new must happen soon.

Of course, The Ingenesist Project specifies an alternate financial system that can accommodate a social currency, but the lure of the almighty dollar remains strong enough to blind the choir itself and out-pitch the humble whisper new economic paradigm evangelists.

Anyway, here is Seth’s post in it’s entirety. Buy his books and read his blog, get his feed for daily email enlightenment. Seth, I apologize in advance for posting without your explicit permission…etc…just trying to “keep the convo rolling….”

*****

Cannibalism and spam

By Seth Godin:

So, these two cannibals are eating a clown, and one says to the other, “does this taste funny to you?”

We don’t often have conversations about cannibalism. We don’t trade recipes or talk about health issues. That’s because it’s off the table, not permitted, inconceivable.

Marketers should feel the same way about spamming people. Spamming them by email, by text or yes, by calling their cell phones with a robot, repeatedly, just because it’s cheap and because they can.

Tweetswomma

Womma

If anyone should know better, it’s the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. And yet, not only did they spam thousands of people by phone, they want us to “keep the convo rolling”. And when I spoke to their Executive Director, she had a hard time understanding that what they were doing was spam.

Spam is unanticipated, impersonal, irrelevant junk I don’t want to get. Not only that, it costs them less to send it than it takes me to figure out what it is and deal with it. That doesn’t scale. In fact, it destroys the medium.

Why would anyone join, pay their dues, go to their meetings or want to engage with an organization that’s willing to cross a line like this? Even once? (and then brag about it!) Maybe I’m getting cranky, but the relentless march of marketers into our lives is really getting to me.

In case you missed the first part of our show, the future of marketing is based on permission. It’s based on sending messages to people who want to get them, who choose to get them, who would miss you if you didn’t send them. It’s not easy and it’s not cheap to earn permission, but so what? This is my attention, not yours, and if you want to use it for a while, please earn the privilege.

PS If I ran Twitter, I’d build my new ad service about a socially acceptable way for corporate users to build large lists of followers, people who would give permission to get news and discounts and insights from advertisers. Twitter knows who likes what and they have permission from users to be a bridge between the user and those that might want to talk to them. That’s a powerful place to be.

Using cheap technology to spam people is not.


Elmo

Dorothy the goldfish is imagining Elmo reading his Twitter stream… and what would it say? Who would he follow? And who would follow Elmo?

Elmo; “Computer, who’s following me on Twitter? Starbucks, Microsoft, and WalMart? Hey wait, Twitter is selling advertising. What’s up with that? Let’s ask Mr. Noodle.”

Mr. Noodle (in mime) “Everyone is promoting something on Twitter otherwise nobody would use it.”

Murray Monster: “Hey, I thought that Twitter was supposed to give everyone an even playing field. Otherwise, nobody would go to school to learn how to actually produce anything. Ovejita!!!

Ovejita (translated from Spanish): “Yeah, everyone spends time and energy building social capital in their community. Now Twitter lets rich guys can come along and just buy access. Why then should the rest of us work so hard?”

Big Bird: “Sponsored Tweets allow Brands to buy a seat at the head of the line. What about my Tweets? Does this build or diminish my social equity?”

Grouch: “Yeah, isn’t that great, Twitter is built on social currency. Now you don’t have to produce social capital, you can just buy in. Watch the social currency devalue!!”

Count Von Count; “ah ah ah, I can count the people leaving Twitter, ah, ah, ah… 50, 40, 30, 20 million,… ah ah ah”

Abby Cadabby; “I’m comfortable with who I am in a pink dress and can just cast a barrage of nasty Tweet spells on those unfair Tweeters”.

Baby Bear: “The only ones who really benefit are National and International Brands – what do they care about what happens here on Sesame Street, let alone in the forest where grandpa bear still lives?”

Grouch: “Quit complaining, the big Twitter moments will be revolutions, airplane crashes, assassinations, natural disasters, celebrity indiscretions, political extremisms, etc. I know that only the most respectable Grouchy brands will jump into any trash can that’s burning with eyeballs….can you say Voyeur?”

Burt and Ernie: “Who said Voyeur?”

Gordon the Shopkeeper: “Then there is the subject of conflict of interest. Can a brand dispel, displace, or disproportion negative Tweets by purchasing out the social media space? Will Mr. Hooper’s store have to buy tweets just to be stay in business?”

Elmo: “Thanks guys. If Twitter makes a little bit of money and goes public, they will eventually want to make more money and more money and more money until people are fighting over the next Christmas Toy Craze. Will this invite a competitor, a disruptive technology, or speculators? Let’s ask a Baby.”

Baby: [confused look]

Elmo: “Thanks baby, What does the future hold? Even Elmo has to worry about profit margins on character marketing. It’s only a matter of time before I will Tweet and my tweets will be followed – but the question becomes; by whom?”


brainI come across an increasing amount of posts and discussions related to alternate currencies, social currencies, and knowledge as a tangible asset, etc.  It is as if people are grappling with something that they don’t quite understand or can’t quite grasp – but, soon will.  Really, don’t lose heart – they are definitely on to something.

Sandy Jones Kaminski of Bella Domain provideds a well developed argument against letting people pick your brain by proposing the “no brain picking list”.   While somewhat tongue-in-cheek, the article portrays a common frustration felt by specially qualified people who get too many requests for “brain picking” and not enough turkey sandwiches to justify the time-value of the exchange.

[People who ask to pick your brain are either asking you to work for free or they are trying to bypass the very hard work required to build a social network by asking for your referrals]. While not quite a reason to end brain-picking, it certainly indicates a hugely inefficient market.

Taking some clues from the banking industry

A bank seeks to match most worthy money surplus  (rich people who will not pull their deposits abruptly) with most worthy money deficit (employed people with good credit history).  In order to accomplish this, the financial system has 5 essential components: a currency, an accounting system, a vetting mechanism, entrepreneurs, and business plans.

Now suppose we transpose the rules of finance on the rules of brain picking.

Currency

A currency is defined as a vessle that stores and allows for the exchange of value.  So it’s natural to expect that relationships, networks, “contacts”, “followers” and all the other accoutrements of social mediation are means by which we store value.  We invest time in developing our own knowledge assets and we invest those assets in our relationships.

Accounting System

The balance sheet needs to, well, balance.  The first assumption I make is that every single living breathing person on Earth holds value. It’s only a matter of whether they have a surplus in knowledge assets in that which I have a deficit and vice-versa. Since my deficits far exceed my surplus in the vast majority of human knowledge, I am always looking for a fat juicy brain to pick as well.

Vetting Mechanism

If the game isn’t fair, nobody will play.  Social media provides the most critical element of brain-picking economics.  Any time someone asks to pick my brain, I’ll do a Google search or conduct a social media profile on them. What I find will quickly determine what the initial contact will involve a courtesy email or a 3 hour golf game.

Business Plan:

Buy low sell high.  That’s the mantra of capitalism, but it remains “unspoken” in social media.  If a person is very successful at picking brains, there is an inherent quality in that which may be useful to me. I will study them. If other important people have allowed this person to pick their brain, why not me? If I’m getting a lot of pickers from a certain demographic, maybe that represents a business opportunity, seminar market, or speaking engagement.

An entrepreneur is as an entrepreneur does

Entrepreneurs do nothing more than identify assets and elevate them from a low level of productivity to a higher level of productivity.  I ask my brain picker who they have also discussed the matter with. I also ask them places and dates of those interactions.  I ask them about people in their social network, rumors, concerns, projections.  I ask them their goals an objectives in talking with me – exactly as I would do for any client….

…well before you know it, I’m picking their brain.