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Tag: derivative

Bitcoin is Already a Derivative

derivativeMany a Bitcoin company executive seeks a way to hedge the balance sheet risk of their business.  It would be useful to have a liquid (ostensibly, dollar backed) futures and options exchange market that would provide hedging opportunities for speculators while providing much needed price stability.  It sounds like Bitcoin is already a derivative.

What is a Derivative:

In the most basic definition, a derivative is something whose value is derived from the value of something else. Derivatives have no intrinsic value in and of themselves. Their value is based on the expected future price movements of the underlying asset.

Bitcoin is Already a Derivative

A bitcoin does not have an intrinsic value in and of itself, rather, the value of a Bitcoin is derived from the value of all the glorious things you can do with Bitcoin which cannot be done without Bitcoin.  Indeed this value is significant: bitcoin adoption promises to eliminate the gatekeepers of banking, insurance, law, and even governance.

Hey wait, Aren’t all those gatekeepers derivatives too!!!

Bankers, insurance brokers, lawyers and politicians do not have any intrinsic value in and of themselves either.  They produce nothing intrinsically edible, healing, nor comforting for anyone.  Like Bitcoin, the value of banks and insurance companies and legislators is derived from all the things that you can do with them which cannot be done with out them. These include capitalizing seed or machinery for growing food, or constructing a home or factory for increasing human productivity, or providing a salary to a teacher or doctor (in the conspicuous absence of a currency not of the gatekeeper’s design).

What isn’t a derivative?

The food we eat, the clothes we wear, the building that keep us warm and dry, the machinery that transports us and makes us healthy and the teachers that show us how to do useful things are NOT derivatives.  They have intrinsic value in and of themselves.

What is an Integral?

In mathematics an integral is the a function of which a given function is the derivative.  Creating an integral is the reverse of creating a derivative. That is the direction we should be headed in.

For example, integral of a teacher may be the school building within which everyone gathers.  As such, the value of the teacher can be derived from the change in value of the building that keeps everyone warm and dry during their lessons.  The integral of the food we eat is the machinery that allows the farmer to be more efficient.  In this case, the value of the food (nutritional) is derived from the quality of the farming practiced that created it.

The Opposite of a Derivative is an Integral.

When all is said and done and we’ve followed the integral to its origin, we will always find an Ingenesist. An Ingenesist is someone who invents, creates, designs, envisions, and brings forward into reality something that supports the health, welfare, and safety of people and environment.  Those are the only intrinsic values that truly exist.  Seriously, what else is there?

So when the financial world is contemplating derivatives of derivatives of derivatives of derivatives, we are contemplating the integrals of the integrals of the integrals.  Bitcoin is already a derivative. Ingenesist is already an integral.

Decentralized CRM With Curiosumé

Photo credit: New York Times

(Photo: New York Times)

Modern CRM (Customer Relationship Management) emerged from the boiler rooms of corporate sales departments. They needed a way to keep track of contacts, leads, calls, and ping schedules.  Soon they added client information like DOB, Spouses name, neighborhood news, etc.  The customer responded remarkably well, in fact, perhaps too well – they started asking for things like better service, warranty claims, and “can I get that in purple”.

Salespersons, being so closely tied to the revenue, began telling the service department that they are choking revenue,  and telling the warranty department when customers are defecting, and telling engineering to introduce new features.  They got away with it because they had management support as a revenue driver.  Pretty soon CRM systems began migrating across the enterprise evolving along the way. Ironically, CRM now finds itself losing touch with the customer despite the ever increasing amount of data that now populates the hit sheets.

Recently, we were asked to consider scenarios for Curiosumé applications in a CRM role in the financial industry. There are several important features of Curiosumé that can reconnect the customer to the enterprise.

Top level ontology in the commons
Instead of controlling people’s information, set it free and watch where the client leads you.  When all market channels pull their information from the same network of nodes and branches, they can always be current and synchronized. When the client adds information to the commons, this becomes available to the vendor outside of a firewall eliminating many security issues.  You don’t necessarily need (or want) to know the ID of the client in order to serve them better.

Anonymity layer / autonomous matching:
AUPOT (Anonymous Until Point of Transaction) allows clients to deploy anonymous personas so that they will be more willing to;

  • reveal true intentions to the commons,
  • perform their own pre-analysis in the commons
  • increase their insights and contribute that to the commons.

Customer Controls Their Data:
Help the client own and control their own engagement data.  Give them the same tools and opportunities to experiment as researchers as the Big Data wonks have.  Allow them to delete, save, edit or have as many different personas as they want. Let them deploy and retract personas as a way of finding you.  A better and more efficient relationship will emerge between both sides of a transaction.

User interface layer:
Instead of leading your client like cattle through an arbitrary ontology tree, show them photographs that corresponds to nodes in the common ontology.  These can then be matched algorithmically to advisors, products, or different departments in the firm, in real time.   In essence, you can create a multi-agent algorithmic game in a user interface that could be fun, engaging, and sticky as heck.

Advisor interface:
When a client chooses to engage the advisor or a product or a transaction,  they can submit their persona into the algorithm to select specialized advisors or a team of advisors. Only at the point of mutual acceptance, both players cross the firewall and engage in honest, trusting commerce. Layers and layers of bureaucracy, vetting, and security breaches can be eliminated until the actual exchange is made.

(Photo: The Philadelphia Orchestra)

Powerful Feature:
One of the most powerful and least recognized features of Curiosumé is the ability to constrain a “score” to a number or a range. One reason for this is to create imbalance around the mean – when the system is not balanced, it can never be static and will always have some movement (regression toward the mean).  It will become largely self-managing, self centering, and even a little joyous.

For example: if we constrain the client to having a Curiosumé score of zero; that means that for the total of all (+) sigmas, they must also accumulate an equal and opposite total of  (-) sigmas such that their net total is zero, in order to pass “go”. When we lay this back on to the top level ontology (Wikipedia), we can find a series of paths that unite the (+) sigmas to the (-) sigmas.  This path tells us a GREAT deal about where the client wants to go.  Likewise an older client may prefer a net (+) portfolio where a younger client may prefer a net (-) portfolio.  Decentralized CRM with Curiosumé can also be applied to risk pooling in the same manner. The deviation s from the mean and resulting movements are precisely how we would price the derivatives of intangibles, i.e. tangibles.

Outcome:
Decentralized CRM with Curiosumé is readily ready to happen. We know that people, advisors, and products can be brought together in personal and emotional engagement when they intersect paths of common interest. This is the weakness of both the barter system AND modern technological Capitalism  If we can envision interests flowing dynamically along vectors, we will have the ability to align human incentives and the markets that depend on them.

The Wall Street Hack

In the first post of this series, we identified the 5 components of a financial system and suggested that Zertify, Gamidox, and Exoquant would serve to simulate their functions in a parallel economy before ultimately being adopted completely.

In this post we will identify the hack on the Wall Street Financial instrument regime.  Although exoquant is a bit technical, the basic hack is quite simple:

  • Everyone knows that money is created through the creation of debt.
  • Everyone also knows that debt is a promise to produce something more in the future.
Likewise:
  • Everyone also knows that innovations increase human productivity.
  • Everyone also knows that innovation is a promise to produce something more in the future.

Here’s the hack:

Therefore, a currency backed by debt and a currency backed by innovation are both backed by future productivity.  As such, two currencies backed by the same underlying asset are fully convertible with each other.  Water dissolves water and innovation dissolves debt.

Here is how the Wall Street algorithm works: 

  • People produce stuff in exchange for money
  • Bankers do not care about money, they care about the rate of change of money over time.  This is called the “interest” rate.
  • Stockholders do not care about interest rate, they care about the rate of change of interest rate over time, this is called growth rate.
  • Hedge fund managers do not care about growth rate, they care about the rate of change of growth rate over time, this is the margin on their bets; options, and derivatives, etc.
  • CDOs and other financial exotica become increasingly divorced from the fact that people produce stuff for money.

The Exoquant Analogy:

  • The value of information is derived from the rate of change of data over time
  • The value of knowledge is derived from the rate of change of information over time
  • The value of innovation is derived from the rate of change of knowledge over time
  • The value of wisdom is derived from the value of innovation over time.
In order to “see” innovation before it happens, all we need to do is identify and measure rates of change of information in communities…and so on. Technically, this is a derivative, i.e., something whose value is derived from the value of something else.   All of these metrics can be seen quite readily in the Zertify, Gamidox data sets.  Each is a “derivative” backed by the stuff that people produce rather than the fiction of debt.  The ability to predict future productivity is superior with an innovation backed currency and therefore superior to debt forced productivity – often compared to slavery.

The Silver Bullet

Innovation is a magic word.  The hack is true to the Wall Street math as well as American culture.  Anyone running for public office would not attack the proposition of an innovation backed currency.  Therefore, the hack will not trigger an antigen.
 The next and final post, The Currency Hack, will formulate this innovation currency in more detail.

Calculus for Dummies and Capitalists

Mathematics Dysfunction Disorder

I am continuously astonished at the reactions I get from people every time I make a reference to mathematics, especially Calculus. Most people politely glaze their eyes over and stare at an inanimate object somewhere behind my head. Others launch into a diatribe of how the linear thinkers destroyed the world in the first place. Others will simply say, “I have [insert Deficit Dysfunction Disorder here]”

Puzzled by Limits?  Perplexed by derivatives?

The truth of the matter is that everyone already knows Calculus, they solve differential equations all day long – they just don’t know that they already know what I’m talking about.  If you take away all the strange terms, squiggly lines, and alphabet soup notation,….

Calculus is astonishingly simple


  • The Banker does not care about money, he cares about the rate of change of money.
  • The Stock Market does not care about risk, it cares about the rate of change of risk
  • The Politician does not care about votes, they care about the rate of change in votes
  • The Meteorologist does not care about weather, she cares about the rate of change in weather
  • The Pilot does not care about lift, they care about the rate of change of lift
  • The Gymnast does not care about motion, she cares about the rate of change of motion
  • The Artist does not care about color, he cares about the rate of change of color
  • The Doctor does not care about your health, she cares about the rate of change in your health
  • The Baker does not care about dough, they care about the rate of change of dough
  • The Farmer does not care about crops, he cares about the rate of change of crops
  • The Scientists does not care about data, they care about the rate of change of data
  • Google does not care about information, it cares about the rate of change of information
  • Entrepreneurs do not care about knowledge, they care about the rate of change of knowledge
  • Markets do not care about innovation, they care about the rate of change of innovation
  • Our children do not care about our wisdom, they care about our rate of change of wisdom

When people can learn how to understand what they are really doing in instead of what they think they are doing, then and only then, will we be able to see, and subsequently, build the next economic paradigm.  That is why I use mathematics and that is when Social Media Becomes a Science

The Capitalist does not care about value, they care about the rate of change of value

Social Currency and Time

I recently published a video suggesting that Social currency is backed by Time as part of my series on Social Capitalism.  I made the argument that time is the true scarce commodity because it is not easy to debase, counterfeit, or forge; it is therefore the perfect basis for a currency.

Still, a few people always come back with the idea that influence, reputation, game tokens, tweets and more recently “checking in” (a la Foursquare), are all social currencies – citing the experts, of course.

There are several problems with this.  First, none are really scarce – I can find an honest person anywhere.  None are actually commodities because nobody is deploying the identical influence as any another person.

The idea that “currency” as the storage and exchange of value is also insufficient – a glass of water stores value as does a digital camera or a even a goat.  Nobody in Silicon Valley is twittering feverishly about the latest surprise goat farm acquisition.

Indeed influence and reputation are valuable and may act like a financial Instrument but until the purveyors come out and actually describe it as such, I need to call them on their choice of words – and I have.  A typical response is, “Well, uh, you know what I mean”.  My response: “…And, uh, you DON’T know what you mean?”

Beanie babies, tulip bulbs, and CDOs were financial instruments too.  Seriously kids, clarification is extremely important because the consequences of misconception, especially in this important emerging subject area, are tangible. Real people trying to make the wrong ideas real actionable are wasting their real precious time.

Here is what they mean to say:

a Derivative is something whose value is derived from the value of something else.  So when we talk about influence, the value of a person’s influence can be derived from the value of many things.  If you are in a burning building, the influence of the firefighter is different than an endorsement from Shaq, yet both may be valuable at different times.

The premise of my argument is that the basis of all currency is in Time.  Time is limited for everyone.   A good reputation saves people time.  The right influence applied in the right places at the right time saves people time.  Passion, purpose, productivity and persistence are measures of how someone spends their time.  Checking in at the trendy hotspot on foursquare is an expression and commitment of time. Co-location is a function of place and time. Like love, the value of time is in the eyes of the beholder. Valuable yes, currency, no.

Talk about how your product lives in time and you’ll earn all the social currency that it’s worth – not the other way around.

 

The Devaluation of Social Currency

Corporate biasThere is a great deal of conversation about collaborative environments built on trust and engagement within corporations or across corporate relationships. The problem is that when layoffs come around, people will throw each other under the bus.

It reminds me of the old backward tipping demonstration where the team dynamics leader would have everyone fall backwards into the arms of their co-workers to demonstrate “letting go” and trusting thy colleague.

People who “Let Go” …  get let go

I’ll spare you the dissertation on Capitalism, competitive markets, and all those nifty sports analogies; the dichotomy is that people are held captive within a corporation and are constrained by the corporation – when they leave, they are invisible to the world. The unfortunate side affect is that they are invisible to their communities as well.

We’re all “Derivatives”

Today, human knowledge is mapped relative to the corporation and not relative to their peers or their open community. The value of human knowledge is derived from the value of the corporation. People are not mapped to their complementary knowledge assets in a community. Intangible assets are estimated to represent 70 percent of the value of a corporation in dollars. But, by definition, they represent 100% of the value of the community – and the trade an invisible social currency.

Corporate Bias

If tangible assets are counted with a financial currency, intangible assets must be counted using an intangible currency. It would seem that there would be a high incentive to put a true “Par” value on knowledge assets and apply a clear understanding to intangible currencies.

Instead, social currencies are caste against the wall of the corporation as a means of ascertaining value. In this light, social values appear as a function of the corporation, not the community. This is the corporate bias.

The Devaluation of Communities

It is typical for a country to respond to hyper inflation with a simple reboot of the the economy by dividing the entire financial system by 1000. For example; Mexico once had a “peso”. Then after their devaluation in the 1970’s, came the nuevo peso = 1/1000 of a peso. So if you had cash. you lost it. But if you carried debt, you were able to erase it. The end game is a mad rush to have equal parts debt to assets, so the system would reboot itself with no net effect on people with ability to access credit.

A financial currency devaluation is, in effect, a transfer of social value. A currency devaluation is the invisible process of “harvesting social currency” from people and transforming it to financial currency. When people are kept below a certain economic level, they fail to organize their communities.

What if everyone were a corporation?

But consider this, Social Currency may be undervalued as much as 1:000 against the dollar. As such, a 50 Trillion dollar debt obligation becomes a manageable 50 billion dollar debt obligation if accounted in social currency.

What are the alternatives

This post is not some big-government-socialist-manifesto – something different will happen this time. Social capitalism is capitalism in occurring with minimum Government AND minimum Corporate influence.

Social media is organizing people around a substrate of social internet applications. These applications are not perfect but they are getting better. Eventually, the pillars of the financial system will be duplicated in social media and an alternate financial system will form in parallel.

To Accelerate Serendipity, The Whuffie Factor

Tara Hunt; Future of Money and Technology Summit 2010

Tara Hunt; Future of Money and Technology Summit 2010

In 1999, Cluetrain Manifesto flipped everything we knew about online behavior on it’s head. The integration of information being published on the Internet reached a tipping point indelibly articulated for all time by Doc Searles: Markets are Conversations”

The Whuffie

In 2003, Cory Doctorow published Down and Out In The Magic Kingdom where he introduced the concept of Whuffie as a form of reputation currency that accounts for social value in a fictional future society. In Cory’s thesis, people who produce things that represent social value were awarded Whuffie. People who produce anti-social value were punished Whuffie. The twist was that everyone has equal say as to who is awarded Whuffie and who is punished Whuffie. In retrospect, the concept of Whuffie, stands today an important metaphor marking the beginning of the social media revolution.

The Whuffie Factor

In her book The Whuffie Factor (2009), Tara Hunt identifies the facts of a reputation backed exchange among real people, communities, companies, and social interactions – with all their associated human complexities. By the gift of wisdom or intuition, Tara’s choice of the modifier “Factor” is an important distinction. In mathematics, a “Factor” is a multiplier against some other quantity.

Social Capital

In Tara’s book, Whuffie is roughly synonymous with ‘new’ social capital – a hugely complex financial instrument that is currently emerging before the eyes of all practitioners of social media. In 2010, everyone still struggles to articulate social capital with a 1999 vocabulary of new conversations living in old financial markets. There simply is no word for the phenomenon of social media daily manifesting in so many new and valuable ways – it’s just too new.

Yes, Tara has critics, but most I believe are short sighted. The term “Whuffie” is as good a word as any, so deal with it. The term “Factor” is what Tara is really talking about, so lets move on.

Love ’em or Hate ’em, Whuffie is a Derivative.

From Wikipedia: a derivative is any agreement or contract that is not based on a real, or true, exchange ie: There is nothing tangible like money, or a product, that is being exchanged. For example, a person goes to the grocery store, exchanges a currency (money) for a commodity (say, an apple). The exchange is complete when both parties have something tangible.

If the purchaser had called the store and asked for the apple to be held for one hour while the purchaser drives to the store, and the seller agrees, then a derivative has been created. The agreement (derivative) is derived from a proposed exchange (trade money for apple in one hour, not now).

Infinite Possibilities

In short, the current value of the relationship is backed by the past and future value of the many other relationship(s) formed. The twist is that social media has vastly equalized people’s impact on the true value of relationships – this remains consistent with Doctorow’s thesis. Tara takes us a step further where the underlying asset can be generalized as simply “value” where the Whuffie Factor is a derivative against this value. This is consistent with Searles’ thesis.

Social Currency

In my opinion, The Whuffie Factor will become one of the seminal books of its time period. Indeed there are many excellent books in the genre of collecting, building, engaging, storing and exchanging trust, reputation, or influence in Social Media. What sets Tara’s book apart is that, like Doc and Cory, she had the guts to call it something real.

Elevate the conversation or get out of the way

Tara Hunt effectively nails this profound abstraction to the floor so that the rest of us can now walk through to define and articulate the Holy Grail of our generation; a true Social Currency. Bravo Tara, Bravo

To Accelerate Serendipity, that’s the Whuffie Factor.

Photo Source/Credit; Jesse Lara

Facebook Derivatives

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.

The New Economic Paradigm; Part 5: The Entrepreneurs

There is no shortage of entrepreneurs in this world.

6 Billion of them wander the Earth looking for assets that exists at a low state of productivity waiting to be elevated to a higher state of productivity.

The entrepreneur must first be able to identify an asset as an asset.  Next they need to identify the lower level of productivity and they need to be able to imagine the higher potential level of productivity.  The entrepreneur must identify and manage some risk, perform leadership tasks; and as a result, elevate the asset to the higher state of productivity.  Profit is the difference between the lower and the higher state – minus expenses.

Unfortunately, today this process starts at the forest and ends at the junkyard.

This is how our economic system is organized.  The next economic paradigm flips that idea over.  Instead of accounting for natural resources as the tangible element and human knowledge as the intangibles element; the next economic paradigm must account for the natural resource as the intangible element and the human knowledge as the tangible element.

The current problem is not that knowledge is intangible; rather, knowledge is simply invisible.

The Ingenesist Project will make knowledge assets visible by provisioning all of the information that an entrepreneur now needs to identify the knowledge asset and the associated states of productivity.  Entrepreneurs can then increase human productivity using knowledge assets applied to natural resources, instead of natural resources applied to consumption.  The implications are vast.

Returning to the financial analogy:

With a financial bank, the entrepreneur assumes that they have the knowledge required to execute a business plan and the go to the Financial Institution to borrow the money.

With an “Innovation Bank” the entrepreneur assumes that they have the money to execute the business plan, and they go to the innovation institution to borrow the knowledge.

While this may sound trivial, the implications are vast:

1. A virtuous circle now exists between society and the financial system
2. Profit is derived from increasing human productivity not natural resource exploitation.

Economics is the science of incentives:

A financial Bank seeks to match a surplus of money with a deficit of money.  It is in the best interest of the bank to find rich people who will not need their money for a while, and poor people have the best likelihood of paying the money back in time.  The process assumes that the borrower has the knowledge required to execute a business plan when they seek to borrow money.  However, that FICO score does not measure knowledge explicitly, so little incentive exists to make it tangible.  All of the top ten reasons why businesses fail are due to failures of knowledge.  The financial system is collapsing under the weight of failed knowledge.

By contrast, the Innovation Bank seeks to find people who have a surplus of knowledge and people who have a deficit of knowledge about what they intend to produce. The innovation bank then uses a series of statistical calculus (the same calculus as the credit/insurance/risk management professions) to match most worthy surplus of knowledge assets to most worthy deficit of knowledge assets.  Here, the opposite assumption is made; everyone assumes that the borrower has the money required to execute the business plan and they go to the innovation bank to borrow the knowledge.  People have an incentive to accumulate knowledge.

Simplicity that defies comprehension:

The business plan for the new entrepreneur is deceptively simple to do and nearly impossible to monopolize; anyone can do it not just the wealthy and their chosen few.  The next 3 modules will outline how new enterprises will be constructed from the virtuous circle created between the financial bank and the innovation bank.  This changes everything …. and did I mention that the implications are vast?

The Next Economic Paradigm; Part 4: Institutions

In part 1, we introduced a new paradigm of economic growth; the innovation economy. In part 2, we identified information as the currency of trade for an innovation economy and we defined that currency’s relationship to knowledge and innovation.  In part 3 we demonstrated a structure for a knowledge Inventory that would enable an Innovation Economy.  In this module, we will discuss the institutions in social media that could keep an Innovation Economy, free, fair, and equitable.

In civil society, there are laws and regulations that protect our constitutional rights; these are essential institutions.

The legal system of the United States is extremely expensive, however, the expenditure is necessary to keep the society upright, productive and prevent it from falling into chaos.  Where a country’s legal system fails, so does its economy.  Entrepreneurs do not invest in places without a good legal system and where property rights are not protected. It is that important.  Investment abhors risk.

Arguably, the most important element of the Innovation Economy will be the vetting mechanism.

Fortunately, social media has the potential to serve this function; in fact in many cases it already does.  A feedback system supports Ebay ($35B Cap), community flagging supports Craigslist (40M ads/mo), peer review supports Linkedin (150M users).  These are not small numbers.  All markets must have a vetting mechanism in order to operate efficiently and if done correctly, social vetting has vast economic implications for an Innovation Economy.

First, let’s return to our financial analogy.

In the old days, the banker was the person to know if you wanted to be successful in town.  But with the emergence of the credit score, the “banker” became digitized; now a Saudi Billionaire can lend money to a young couple in Boise to buy their first home – and neither is aware of the other.  The credit score is responsible for the creation of great wealth because many more entrepreneurs could borrow money to invest in enterprise.

The credit score is statistical in nature; it isolates about 30 or so indicators of your financial activity and puts them on a bell curve relative to everyone else.  These include how much debt you have, how much your assets are worth, your income, etc.  These ratings are run through the FICO Equation and out pops your credit score.  Anyone can now predict the likelihood that you will default on your obligation.

All of the data that feed FICO are collected from public records, your employer, and the people who you borrow money from because these same organizations have a vested interest in a system of correct credit scores.

We are competing with ourselves.

It is interesting that you and I do not compete for our credit score because it is not a ranking system. On the other hand, with no credit, we are invisible and the system shuts us out.  With bad credit, the system shuts us out. We lose some freedom and privacy, but we accept these terms well because they provides us with tremendous benefit to finance a business, automobile, or a home without needing to save cash.

Now we will draw the comparable analogy from the social media.

In the old days, the hiring manager was the person to know if you wanted to get a job.  They would read your resume and compare it with “bell curve” in their experience about what has worked or not worked in their past.  This worked great in the industrial economy, but it falls far short in the innovation economy.  Innovation favors strategic combination of diverse knowledge where the Industrial economy favored identical packets of similar knowledge.

Not unlike the FICO score, the knowledge inventory is a collection of statistical variables and the social network is the reporting agencies who have a vested interest in a system of correct values.  Unlike FICO however, the variables are infinite and it responds to positive event input.
Social networks are by far among the most exciting and important new technology for an Innovation Economy.

Social networks must now evolve to become the vetting institutions for knowledge assets.

All the pieces are almost in place; now we need to develop a new type of search engine.

The Percentile Search Engine is generic term for the ability to make statistical predictions about all types and combinations of knowledge Assets in a network. Conceptually, the percentile search engine is where all of the equations that we use to analyze financial assets are now applied to knowledge assets.  The main characteristic is that the search engine returns probabilities for the entrepreneur to test scenarios.

For example; an entrepreneur may want to know if her team has enough knowledge to execute a business plan.  Perhaps the team has too much knowledge and they should try something more valuable.  Maybe the team does not have enough knowledge and they should attempt another opportunity or accumulate training.

The search engine can look into a network and identify the supply and demand of a knowledge asset. If it is unavailable or too expensive, the search engine can adjust for price, risk, or options that may emerge at a later date.

Talent will bid up to their productivity value, and brokers will bid down to their productivity value.

Competitors can scan each other’s knowledge inventory to compete, cooperate, acquire, or evade. If a key person retires, the entrepreneur would simulate the knowledge that is lost and reassign people strategically. All of these scenarios can be examines prior to spending money. They can be made during the project cycle, or after the project is completed.  Lessons learned can be used to adjust the algorithm perfecting it over time.

For example: companies such as Disney and Boeing both use Engineers, each would have proprietary algorithm of knowledge that represents their “secret sauce” of success. These recipes can be adjusted and improved to reflect and preserve the wisdom of an organization.

When the innovation economy will catches fire….

Over time, these algorithms will far more valuable then the Patents and Trade Secrets created by them – this will allow technologies to be open sourced much more profitably and shared across more industries.

In the next module, we will talk about the entrepreneurs.

The Next Economic Paradigm; Part 3: Knowledge Inventory

Welcome back to the New Economic Paradigm Series.  The objective is to develop an innovation system that emulates the financial system.  In order to do this, we look for the social component that could best duplicate the function of the closest corresponding financial system component.

Part 2 discussed the currency of trade.  Part 3 will discuss the inventory of knowledge assets.

Most companies have an inventory of every nut, bolt, rivet, or panel that they need to build something tangible.  In innovation economy, we will need to have an inventory to assemble knowledge assets so that we can build something tangible and support the currency.

Your resume is like a book about you.  Conversely, every book that you have read has become part of your knowledge inventory.

Every experience you have had, every conversation you have participated in, every new idea that tried, successful of failed, is part of your knowledge inventory.  The things that you like to do, things that you do not like to do, and things that you do not know are part of this inventory and the way it is organized in your consciousness.

The Dewey Decimal System is a way to catalog information in books. Keep in mind that The Dewey System is archaic; however, it does provide us with some key insights:

From our earlier definition; to organize information is to organize a proxy for knowledge and innovation.

The decimal classification structure has a great advantage for the computer and mathematical analysis.  Additionally, tens of thousands of librarians are fluent and most people in the US have at least a minimal familiarity with it.

For a quick review, the body of written information is divided into 10 main categories.  Each main category is divided into 10 more categories and each of those are divided into 10 categories – and this can go on forever.

It is useful to note that the Dewey Decimal classification has a bias toward the three factors of production for the innovation economy; Social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital:

Most resume reading programs just pick up key words, so why have any other words?

Your resume can be a series of Dewey numbers instead of words and computers can tag the numbers as they do key words today. For example:

302, 307, 330, 607, 17, 500, 519

If your mind were a library and you attempted to map it all out, one would see that everything is related in some way – intuitively, this is what defines you. If we looked into your world, we would discover a huge network of experiences, books read, lessons learned, and people encountered.

We would find a system of knowledge rather than random facts that you have organized.  Your likes and dislikes would be reflected in what you do and do not want to do. Everyone is different – nobody is the same.  Everyone innovates, everyone has knowledge, and everyone shares information.

If we add some mathematical symbols and Boolean logic, perhaps we could capture the system of knowledge a little better. Your resume may now look like this:

{20,12};[302 AND 307], (330):[607 AND 17] OR [500/519]

Now need to make this look like money.  Before our knowledge can behave like a financial instrument we need to add one additional factor – the quality of the knowledge.

In American society there is a persistent ideology of winners and losers; there can only be one winner and the rest are losers.  We rank things in a very linear way; 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.  Our culture is to protect one’s position at all cost, shield away all attackers and decimate our competition.  This way of thinking was effective in the industrial economy, but today it keeps us from understanding how knowledge actually exists in a community.

We need to switch to a bell curve distribution for knowledge assets because it better reflects reality and eliminates unproductive competition; there are no winners or losers, just different markets.

There is a perfectly legitimate market for a Porsche as there is for a Toyota.

Statistical distributions are used extensively in finance to value financial instruments; we need to do the same now for our knowledge assets. To make financial sense out of our random world, we must classify knowledge assets on a bell curve.  Consider the following resume:

{20:95%,12:80%};[302 AND 330]70%:(607 AND 17)80% OR [500/519]90%

This person is a specialist in Social Interaction and economics at the 70th percentile related to educational research at the 80th percentile. She (or he) has a Background in applied mathematics and physics at the 90th percentile. She (or he) is a trained ethicist at the 75th percentile, philosopher, and artist specializing in musical theory and orchestration at the 50th percentile. Fluent English and Spanish

Now, we have a system of numbers and symbols represent the knowledge of the person in a tangible manner.

Keep in mind that this is only a demonstration, however, we see some key advantages:

1.    The Inventory is Infinite and expandable to any field of knowledge
2.    Paints a picture of knowledge and not simply a list of information about a person.
3.    Machine enabled, programmable, and readable.

Now, all of the tools, methods, and equations in the world of banking, finance, and insurance can be used to combine, amalgamate, and diversify knowledge assets in an innovation market.

Your resume can now be combined with other resumes to represent the collective knowledge of a community.  This expression carries all of the information that an entrepreneur needs in order to estimate the probability that the community can execute a business plan.  We will discuss predictive characteristics extensively in future modules.

In the next section, we will talk about the institutions that exist in our communities through computer enabled society which will keep this game free, fair – and most importantly, equitable.

The Next Economic Paradigm; Part 2, Currency

Welcome to part 2 of the New Economic Paradigm series.

In part 1 we determined that money represents human productivity and the only way to sustainably create wealth was to innovate.

Then we identified the flaw that money lives in a complex and integrated system while Innovation does not, rather, innovation is isolated, random, non-integrated and subservient to the financial system.

This module discusses the currency of the innovation economy.

A Currency is anything that serves as a medium of exchange, a stored value, and a standard of value.

We  all know that Dollar denominated money is a medium of exchange – but it does not represent gold or silver or even oil, it represents human productivity.  Money, and therefore all financial instruments store value related to human productivity.

When we look into society throughout history, everywhere people are trading information and ideas with each other at some velocity.  The Internet and social media (machine enabled society) has sped this process up to incredible rates.  All of this information adds up to something because obviously things get built and stuff rolls off assembly lines.  Furthermore, people act on information obtained from each other to produce things.

The currency of trade for the next economic paradigm must represent this “stock exchange”

Intuitively we know that information, knowledge and innovation are profoundly related to each other.  In fact, if you don’t have one, you can’t have the other two.  Our currency of trade must represent all three; information, knowledge, and innovation.  Therefore, we need to redefine these terms in a manner that relates them.

First we must define ‘information’. That’s easy, information is facts and data.

Next we need to define ‘knowledge’ in terms of information: Any good teacher can tell you that information must be introduced in a certain sequence and at a certain speed in order for the student to learn. Knowledge is therefore proportional to the rate of change of information.

For the purposes of this analysis, we will use the following definition:  Innovation is defined by the rate of change of knowledge where knowledge is defined by the rate of change of information.  For example; everyone has had an ‘Ah-Ha!’ moment during a brain storming session, or after making a mistake, or after witnessing a profound event. The AH-HA moment represents a very high rate of change in our knowledge that occurs in a very short period of time.

According to this definition, every idea,  conversation, dream, design, sketch, or discovery experienced and shared between two or more people is an innovation.

Math students can see that this definition sets up a differential equation that we can use to model the innovation system computationally – something that cannot be done with the current definitions.

Now let’s look at the “economic outcome” part

The factors of production for the industrial economy are land labor and capital.  Entrepreneurs allocate these three factors in different combination in the formation and growth of corporations.  If any of these factors of production are missing, dysfunctional, or corrupted – the corporation stops producing.

We have learned that in the knowledge economy, the location of knowledge work is highly mobile – so “Land” does not have the same significance for making things as it did 100 years ago.

What about labor? Knowledge workers analyze situations, manage many variables, and create unique solutions.  They do not really produce identical knowledge pieces like a machine operator or a production worker.  Everything they see and do becomes part of their relevant knowledge set: 24/7/365. The idea of an 8 hour day and pay-by-the-hour are no longer relevant.

Capital is money needed to build future structures, buy machines and to pay wages. Today, money provides access to information. The current economic meltdown demonstrates that where the information is corrupted, the money is corrupted – and so becomes everything connected to the money.

We now see that many old economic principles do not work quite as well in the new economies. Yet, the Land, Labor, and Capital theory is still the foundation of much of today’s corporate, academic, government, financial, and social thinking.

Using our definition for innovation, we can see that the innovation economy will emerge from the rate of change of the knowledge economy.  Today we are witnessing an astonishing growth in social media and a breakdown of traditional media for the dissemination of information.

The factors of production for the new currency are Intellectual Capital, Social Capital, and Creative Capital.

Intellectual Capital is also called Human Capital – and suggests that concentrations of educated and motivated people attract investors to employ them and invest in the communities where they reside.  This investment attracts other intelligent people who in turn attract more investment thereby creating a cycle of economic growth

The Social Capital Model suggests that people acting in communities can create better solutions, greater accountability, and more economic growth than management, governments, or bureaucracy can induce on their own.  Examples of Social Capital include Civil Rights Movement, community watch organizations, Democratic Government, Social Networking, and notably, recent political changes events.

The Creative Capital model, suggests that engineers and scientists think more like artists and musicians than like production workers – their ideas come 24/7/365 – and that an environment of tolerance, diversity, and openness promotes creative output.

A Currency is anything that serves as a medium of exchange, a stored value, and a standard of value.

In the current financial economy, the currency is a dollar.  The rate of change of the currency is called appreciation, depreciation, or “interest”.  The rate of change of interest is the growth rate or compounding. These are very familiar conditions in finance and the basis for a company’s stock price.

In the innovation economy, information is the currency.  Knowledge is the rate of change of information, and innovation is the rate of change of knowledge.

This will become a very familiar and useful relationship in the innovation economy.

For example, innovation is difficult to measure directly.  However, we can measure the rate of change of knowledge as a proxy for innovation.  It is difficult to measure knowledge.  However, we can measure the rate of change of information as a proxy for knowledge.

In finance and calculus, these are called derivatives.

In the next module we will discuss the inventory and accounting system for an innovation economy.

Finally, A Definition for Innovation

Innovation: The rate of change in knowledge with respect to time 

[In earlier post we identified the 5 essential elements of a market economy. What would be the currency of an innovation economy? Currency is anything that serves as a medium of exchange, a stored value, and a standard of value. Basically we are asking; What are those things that people are out in the World trading among each other today?]

Today, innovation is repeatedly cited as the only thing that can get us out of the financial/environmental/sustainability conditions that find our ourselves in, yet the most common definitions for this term are deeply and tragically flawed.

Most definitions for innovation boil down to: “a new idea introduced that has an economic outcome” or “something new that is useful”. While these definitions match some observations, they are reflective and “You know it when you see it”. As such, there is little to define innovation before it happens or to make more of it from this definition.  It is like defining “Art” as the thing that people stare at.  Unfortunately, this is just the beginning of our troubles.

“Innovation is a new idea introduced that has an economic outcome” is impossible.

This definition defines one unknown quantity (innovation) with four other unknown quantities: what is new; what is an idea; what constitutes “introduced”; and what is an economic outcome?  From High School Algebra we know that you cannot solve one equation with two unknowns – let alone four.  There is little that you, I or anyone else can do to satisfy this definition.  Therefore, it is not useful.

Granted, this definition sells plenty of ad copy as the guru of the week wax-poetic over those four pesky unknown thingies.  I found one consultant who claims that innovation has 51 variables and only he can solve that matrix – for a price.

What is the truth about the phenomenon of Innovation?

A useful definition must clarify the subject in a manner that is repeatable and measurable.

If we look at history we know that economic “benefit” and innovation are mutually dependent – you can’t have one without the other.  Wealth has been created by increasing human productivity through innovation in agriculture, manufacturing, computers, etc.

Next, we observe that information, knowledge and innovation are also mutually dependent – you cannot have one without the other two.  Wealth is created by integrating information, knowledge and innovation.

Next; look at our society; everywhere we turn, people are collecting information from each other, building their knowledge, and innovating together, i.e., coming up with better ways to do things. All of these little exchanges obviously add up to something because things like IPods and Airplanes get built and lots of stuff rolls off assembly lines.

Innovation is anything that increases human productivity

Next we can say that information, knowledge and innovation can be related as follows:

  • Information is defined as facts and data

This should not surprise anyone.

  • Knowledge is proportional to the rate of change of information (facts and data) over time.

This is a little trickier to grasp. But any good teacher knows that information must be introduced in a certain order and at a certain speed before the information can become knowledge – this is called learning. Learning is a mental process for turning information from a book, a lecture, or personal experience into knowledge that can be used later.  Therefore, knowledge is proportional to the rate of change of information and can only exist inside a person’s head.

  • Innovation is proportional to the rate of change of knowledge over time

trickier still, but for example; everyone has had an ‘Ah-Ha!’ moment during a brainstorming session, some incredible event that we witness, or even after some real bad mistake that we made. The Ah-Ha moment is a spike in our knowledge that happens in a very short period of time. Innovation is related to this high rate of change of knowledge.  Then we blurt it out, or write it down, or make a sketch, give a lecture, in the form of information, etc.

Definition of Innovation:

a. Innovation is anything that increasing human productivity.
b. Innovation is proportional to the rate of change of knowledge and information.

Admittedly, not as sexy in the sound bite but this definition does include all conversations, sketches, dreams, and ideas of all people on Earth and allows them to combine with the sketches, dreams, ideas, of all people on Earth to become designs, methods, and processes which further combine to become products, systems, and institutions, etc.

Let entrepreneurs worry about the economic outcome

Since innovation can be difficult to observe directly. Our new definition allows us to use a proxy that is easier for entrepreneurs to see. For example; if you want to identify innovation as it is happening, simply look for high rates of change of knowledge in a community. If you want to create innovation, do things that create high rates of change of knowledge. Likewise, if you want to identify knowledge, look for high rates of change of information.  If you want to create knowledge, do things that create high rates of change of information.

We need to give the entrepreneur a game they can win. The key is that everyone must be included in the game. This is a definition that can be used by anyone and everyone, in fact, it already is.

notes:

[Anyone familiar with differential Calculus can see an equation forming where Innovation is the derivative of knowledge and knowledge is the derivative of information. Calculus is the study of change like geometry is the study of space. Since the mathematics is beyond the scope of this article, I’ll finish with the following analogy for defining information, knowledge, and innovation more intuitively: “Information is to knowledge is to innovation what distance is to velocity is to acceleration”]

Social Media; The Opportunity of a Century

The Perfect Storm:

We are at an historic time in human history; one that may never repeat itself again. The current financial crisis may provide just enough disruption for a completely new economic paradigm to emerge; the Innovation Economy.  We cannot squander this moment arguing over common logon for our Twitter and Facebook profiles; a far greater integration is required from Social Media.

Advertising is not the correct revenue model.

It is astonishing that Social Media, in general, has not figured out how to make money.  Social Media IS money.  All wealth on Earth was created from the social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital of people – wealth creation is already crowd sourced.  Now, there is an opportunity for Social Media to harness this engine of economic growth and wealth creation – if they could only see it.

The problem is simple: Globalization is proceeding as if economic growth can occur before technological change. Some time in the past, we got these two things up mixed. It does not take money to make money; it takes innovation to make money.  Technological change MUST ALWAYS happen before real economic growth can occur.  Anything else is a transfer of wealth, not the creation of wealth. All that is unsustainable today – the economy, the environment, natural resources, energy – is due to this itsy bitsy anomaly of current market economics.   Today, we can easily correct this little flaw with almost a flip of a switch – but the window of opportunity will be short – and we need to be clever.

The idea that human knowledge is tangible and behaves individually and collectively like a financial instrument is still considered impossible.  The ability to place a market value on the social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital of a team, community, or geographic population of people – let alone a social network – has never been accomplished.  This idea remains the Holy Grail of finance and one that Social Media is uniquely positioned to capture.  If the finance industry can invent “tangible derivatives” out of thin air paper, then we ought to be able to do the same with knowledge assets that live and breathe tangibly all around us.

If it looks like money, it will behave like money, guaranteed:

First, we need to build a knowledge inventory system that includes everyone; and which can be anonymously codified and amalgamated with logic in machine readable format (the Universal Decimal Classification System is a good candidate). Second, we need to sample our inventory in a community using the proverbial “Bell Curve”. Third, we need to develop a search engine that returns the probability that a strategic combination of knowledge assets can execute a given objective. Fourth, we need an innovation Bank that will “pull” knowledge surplus and “pull” knowledge deficits together from diverse communities.   (Please see the IEc101 at http://www.ingenesist.com)

This should not sound too weird; it is the same game that Wall Street plays.  The switch is flipped when we engage our innovation system with the financial system.

Go where the money is:

Social Media is perfectly positioned to develop these features in their products and in our communities. We first must understand that innovation is predictable.  We may not be able to say exactly where the innovation will lead, but we can be sure that if we place a group of strategically diversified persons in a room, innovation will happen.  If the fact of innovation is predictable, risks related to the invented can be pooled, morphed, or diversified.  If risk can be diversified, it can be hedged to zero.  If innovation has zero risk, Wall Street will salivate to issue “innovation bonds” to finance diverse communities of practice.  If innovation capital is inexpensive and accessible, a great amount of innovation will occur.  The anomaly of capital markets can be reversed, and the result will be sustainable economic growth.

Naturally, the compensation structure will be in the form of dividends, both financial and in social welfare.  New corporations will emerge and the old corporations will become more efficient. What is invented will tend to reflect social priorities rather than today’s short term Wall Street priorities.   America must innovate at an intense and sustained rate in order to compensate for the imbalance of debt economics that has been created in its absence.  Social Media can be, and must be, the infrastructure upon which an Innovation Economy is built.  Again, this opportunity is staring us straight in the eye.  This is the conversation that must be having today if we will meet the challenges of tomorrow.

Social Media; the Integrator of the Innovation Economy

Where are the gray suited diplomats holding each others forearms against a world map backdrop vowing to correct the world’s innovation system?  Where are the politicians joining across party lines about how to inject 700 billion dollars to fix the nation’s innovation system?  When will the Federal Reserve Chairman find the flaw in our national innovation system?  Hey, when will someone notice that we don’t have a national innovation system?

Schumpeterian Economics argues that corporations represent our nation’s innovation endowment. However, the primary function of a corporation is to make money, not explicitly to innovate.  Sure, they innovate if they must – most likely to beat down a more innovative competitor.  But, as soon as bad times hit, most will shift money from R&D to marketing.

If we look back only 400 hundred years, everyone on Earth lived on an average of about 500 dollars per year.  Then the innovations from the prior 2,000,000 years started to converge.  Counting backwards; the knowledge economy was “derived” from the information revolution, which was derived from the manufacturing revolution which was “derived” the Industrial revolution which was “derived” from the scientific revolution, which was “derived” from the agrarian economy.  Each revolution “Integrated” the tools of the prior revolution; The Knowledge economy integrated the tools of the information age and the information age integrated the tools of the manufacturing economy, etc.  By the way, the term “derived” is related to the term “derivative” – the primary hedging tool integrated in our current financial system.

Each economic revolution was marked by a tremendous increase in human productivity – we no longer need to milk our own cow. Victoria trades a dollar’s worth of her time as an airplane engineer for a dollar’s worth of the Robert’s time as an agricultural engineer.  Bill Gates is worth 50 billion dollars because he increased the productivity of a minimum of a billion people by a minimum of 50 dollars each.  I save 5 dollars in gas by not driving to the library when I can just search Google or Wikipedia.

The only way to “make” more money is to increase human productivity and the only sustainable way to increase human productivity is to find better ways of doing things.  Anything else is simply a transfer or redistribution of money.  Both are important – but often we confuse them under the same terminology: “making money”.  Or, we reverse the two by literally making (printing) money and then transferring it to corporations under the assumption that they will innovate enough to support everyone else plus the debt.  This system worked great for many years and in many political forms – it brought us from living in caves to a 65 trillion dollar global economy.  But like the economic revolutions before it, the current economic structure will soon give way to a new paradigm as we are forced to reach for higher productivity.

What the brilliant economist, Joseph Schumpeter did not have in his time was the technological breakthrough of Computer Enabled Society.  Taking a hint from the past; the new economic paradigm will be derived from the knowledge economy by integrating the tools developed during the knowledge economy. That is why we now have Linkedin, Facebook, YouTube – and all the rest.

Everyone agrees that information, knowledge, and innovation are profoundly related.  In fact, we can say that knowledge is derived from information and that innovation is derived from knowledge.  The new paradigm will be called the Innovation Economy and it will arise from the integration of the tools of the knowledge economy using social media. We see terms like open-sourcing, crowd sourcing, social networking, groundswells, innovation exchanges and a host of new Social Media Internet applications.  All of these have one thing in common; the tangibility of human knowledge.  This is the Holy Grail of modern finance and it is not a coincidence – it is now within our grasp.

In the past, human knowledge was only tangible inside the construct of a corporation – the corporate structure integrated knowledge assets to make things people want and need. However, with Social Media, knowledge assets will become tangible outside the corporate structure and integrated by knowledge communities, social networks, crowds, groundswells, etc. Knowledge communities will mix, combine, interact, and share knowledge; inevitably the end result is innovation – to make things that people want and need. These knowledge communities will become the next “corporation” acting directly as the integrator of human knowledge.  Ironically, Social Media “outsources” management.  Traditional corporations will not disappear as the agrarian economy never disappeared – they will just integrate.

Ideally, Wall Street is a simply a horse race where money is bet on corporations to fund innovation.  There is nothing wrong with that.  We don’t need a new financial system; we need a new and improved innovation system.  We have the technology; all we need now is the “integrator”.  The Ingenesist Project is the only viable comprehensive integrator now being proposed.  Perhaps it is not perfect, but the next economic paradigm will be certainly be derived from its improvement.

Social Enterprise; Show Me The Money

The term social capital is thrown around with great ease without really understanding what the word “capital” implies.   Capital is money used to earn more money; that means that social capital must somehow be related to, or derived from money.  There is no shortage of blog posts asking the timeless question “Where’s the money in all this social stuff?”

If social capital is money, it needs to behave like money.  So for our litmus test today, let’s talk about financial derivatives – the same ones that got us into the mortgage crisis mess.  A derivative is something whose value is derived from something else.  The price of an SUV is often derived from the current price of fuel.  Not so obvious are collateralized debt obligations – but they are kind of similar.

So where is the money in all this social network stuff, what on Earth is a social capital derivative, and how can it be “capitalized”?

Suppose I start a social network for my neighborhood. The objective of this social network is to make certain all of the data collected by, and posted on Zillow.com (a real estate valuation site) is accurate.  After all, it is not in anyone’s best interest for an overpriced house to stay on the market too long because it raises questions about the value of the other houses.  Nor it is in the best interest for a house to be undervalued – that too brings down the value of the other houses.  It is in everyone’s best interest that all the houses are correctly priced.  If this could be accomplished, then a discount real estate broker can be used saving 2-6 percent on the transaction.  That sounds like real money to me.

Meanwhile, it is in the best interest of all of the neighbors to help all of the other neighbors to improve those things on everyone’s homes that increase correct market value by the most; kitchen, bath remodels and a little landscaping, etc.  Again, this supports the value of everyone’s house and improves people’s decisions on how to invest their home improvement money.  Wow, that sounds like real money too.

A sample of persons living in a community would surely reveal a whole range of specialized knowledge useful to others in the neighborhood. Neighborhood watch organizations are better crime deterrents than police patrols.  Further, local contractors, banks, stores, and businesses would love to target such an organized and focused group of people. They may even pay the community for advertising on the site… cha ching!  Nobody would dare provide poor service since reputations would be quickly damaged on the community forum; likewise, disputes are handled quickly and equitably since it is everyone’s best interest to do so…

Now for the derivative:

The number one attribute for increasing the value of a home is a good neighborhood.

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