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Trust as a Social Currency

The idea of trust as social currency is appearing in more articles, conferences, and books.  This is all highly consistent with the TIP thesis on Innovation Economics which describes the necessity of a vetting mechanism among the knowledge inventory as a means for the emergence of a currency in a market – that is, a conversational currency.  People need to trust the currency if they are to trade the currency.

Shefaly Yogendra provides some excellent insights below.  Keep in mind that American Culture does not have a monopoly on the definition of trust.  It should not be an American expectation to define the conversational currency in our own image.  Indeed, convertability of such currency will be, and must be, global.

I kept the analysis sparse on this article because it is a valuable exercise to form one’s own perspective on trust prior to diving into someone Else’s opinion.  After all, it’s your currency – you own it.  Good luck.

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by Shefaly (please see her Bio here)

Trust is a non-negotiable essential in business. The post linked here refers to web-based business-to-consumer interactions. But as social currency, Trust is the most significant in interactions amongst organisations, customers, employees and regulatory bodies.

Definitions

Wikipedia defines social currency as “information shared which encourages further social encounters“. Social currency is different from social capital which refers to “connections within and between social networks and individuals“.

Social currency – some characteristics

a) No distinction between ‘physical’ and ‘virtual’ worlds

b) No distinction between ‘individuals’ and ‘corporate entities’

c) No distinction between validity of negative or positive normative labels

Determining the value of Trust as social currency

a) Verifiable Identity and antecedents

b) Consistency

c) Reliability

d) Peer recognition

e) Value of the network

f) Individuality and collaborative consciousness

The original article can be found here and it elaborates on each of the points above.

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Does Social Relevancy Matter?

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

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

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

Brynn Evans offers the following observation:

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

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

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

Defies analysis, defies control:

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

The great big Sucking Sound

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

Give up Control in order to gain control:

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

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

If it Quacks like a Buck…..

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

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

Battle lines are being drawn:

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

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

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

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

Swap or swamp?

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

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

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

Next Economic Paradigm; Part 1

Technological change must always precede economic growth. We are going about the process of Globalization as if economic growth can precede technological change. This is the singular flaw of market capitalism that needs to be reversed.

The Next Economic Paradigm will be an Innovation Economy. Unfortunately, this will not be delivered by corporations, Government or Academia. There no single person, country, ideology, or philosophy that can meet the challenges of the future alone – everyone will be required to participate because everyone has a stake in the outcome.

The Ingenesist Project outlines a very optimistic future. The problems ahead have a relatively simple solution that can be implemented today using existing tools and infrastructure. These tools acting in the right system can have profound impact on future economic growth and the sustainability of our resources.

The Ingenesist Project identifies a core problem:

This is the human productivity chart. Every time humans invent better ways of doing things, they become more productive. Where more people are more productive, the economy gets bigger. This is a fact.

About 50,000 years ago, humans began to make tools using tools and innovation increasing exponentially. Tools made hunting and gathering easier. As farming developed so did the emergence of cities. When people could produce more than they needed, they had time to think about things like philosophy, art, astronomy, written language. This led to a scientific revolution that continued to make new observations about the world. These observations were applied to systems that made people still more productive. The industrial revolution followed. Industry produced a lot of information. The ability to process that information using computers led to the information revolution. Soon people began seeing new trends among the information, facts, and data. This ability largely defines the knowledge economy that we see today.

Obviously, There were economic “eras” in the past and there will be more in the future; of this is not the end of human economic development. Something else will happen after the knowledge economy. This next economic paradigm is not easy to see.  Many people have a sense that civilization is changing – it must change.

Looking at the productivity chart, we notice a few interesting trends.

  • Every level of economic development was derived from the prior level of economic development.
  • That transformation was achieved by integrating the tools that were developed during the prior economy.

The two greatest tools in the knowledge economy are the Internet and Social Media. The Innovation Economy must integrate these tools.

Now, this is the Human Gross Domestic Product Chart. This is obviously very similar to the productivity chart except that the bottom axis is labeled with Global Gross Domestic Product over the same time period. The global GDP of 50,000 years ago was about 200 Million in current dollars.

Today, the Global GDP is about 65 Trillion Dollars.

If this curve was to continue, and it can, the next level of economic development could easily value in the Quadrillions. However, this cannot happen without some adjustments to the current system:

The only way to create more money is to increase human productivity and the only way to increase human productivity is to Innovate. This is the guiding principle of an Innovation Economist.

The problem is that the financial system is highly organized while the “Innovation system” is nearly random.

Economic growth with “money” as the scorecard lives in a complex, global and highly integrated system where billions of dollars circle the globe daily at the click of a mouse.

By contrast, human innovation lives in the patent system which is extremely slow, static, and prohibitively expensive. Of course, innovation certainly happens in places like Silicon Valley, Government Laboratories, Universities, and let’s not forget the proverbial “Steve’s Garage”; but these sources are not integrated and they do not behave like a system – except at the mercy of the financial system.

Innovation is market driven, markets should be innovation driven.

It is clear; there is no Innovation system to match the financial system in speed, efficiency, and integration. The objective of the Ingenesist Project is to specify an innovation system that integrates the tools of the knowledge economy into a structure that mimics the financial system. If it looks like money, it will behave like money and people will trade it.

The Next Economic Paradigm must duplicate the same 5 essential components as today’s economy.  These 5 components interact with each other as a system.

The 5 Essential Components of an Economy

1. A Currency to store value

2. An Inventory to account for the storage and exchange of value

3. Institutions that are supposed to keep the game fair

4. Entrepreneurs to do the “fuzzy math”

5. Business Plan or philosophy such as “Capitalism”

If any of these pieces are missing or corrupted, the market will fail. All 5 of these elements must be operational and integrated in order for a market to be efficient.

In the next several articles, we will go through each of the 5 elements and develop the corresponding knowledge system that will be integrated as we create the structure of the Innovation Economy.

If you give people a game they can win, they will play it all day long. In this regard, human behavior is highly predictable.

Who Owns Your Content?

The epiphany:

Something very interesting happened when Facebook changed their terms of service.   People who use the Facebook platform (for free) organized themselves using the (free) platform to threaten the core validity of the same (free) platform.  This could not happen in any other industry.

Saving face?

Ownership is largely characterized by the ability of one party to restrict the access of another party.  Judging by the results of this uprising, it seems that for all practical purposes, the users own their content and their impressions no matter what the TOS says.  This is a very strong argument for the tangibility of social, creative, and intellectual capital.

Ownership Economics:

The fact that people own and care for their content is what makes Facebook work.  Ownership is an extremely powerful force that drives intense participation and  innovation.  People will attend to their property, improve it, make it valuable, and create value for themselves and those around them.  Really, when was the last time you washed a rented car?

Historical perspective:

Most history books present the Homestead Act of 1862 as the product of a wise and benevolent government seeking to reward worthy citizens of a great young nation for populating the vast Western territories.  But that is not really true. Most of the land was already occupied by squatters who arrived disheveled, found a nice spot, built their small cabin, and farmed or hunted to sustain themselves.   They could not be evicted or charged with trespassing because a “jury of their peers” was also composed of squatters.

Problems arose when squatters could not borrow money to improve the land because they did not hold a title to it.  Legitimate landowners could not value their property if the land next door was untitled.  Border disputes resulted in gun battles.  Stealing was rampant. The children of squatters could not inherit the land without proper title. There was little incentive to produce anything beyond sustenance. When services and capital projects were required to support the increasing population, there was no tax base.  Not unlike Facebook, this new frontier could not be monetized.

Wisdom in Government; not always an oxymoron:

Perhaps the greatest moment in government came with the realization that it is impossible to change the behavior of people, rather, the best strategy would be to accommodate what they are going to do anyway.  So they legalized the squatters and gave them deed to their land. The occupants could sell or capitalize as they wished.  Investment capital flooded the region and entrepreneurs improved the land and created enterprises.  The government could then collect taxes proportional to the productivity of the citizens. The result was the development of the Western States as economic powerhouse that we know today.

Use it or lose it:

A very similar opportunity is presenting itself to Facebook and now the road to monetization should be crystal clear.  They should go out of their way to create terms of service that protects the rights of each and every member to own and control their content in its entirety, forever.

Next, Facebook should develop applications that allow advertisers to bid for impressions directly with the users compensating them for their time.  Users will build profiles that attract those seeking opinion, knowledge, feedback, wisdom AND SALES related to their products.  Users should be able to control every aspect of their content including any means that they can dream up to legally create revenue from their social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital.  Facebook should develop a knowledge inventory of what users know and make it available to others like a “Public Library or knowledge assets”.  Then they should develop applications to match knowledge surplus to knowledge deficit, etc. Let the trading begin.

The answer in their face:

If smart people can make money using Facebook just by doing what they are going to do anyway, they will flood the system with the most tangible forces in nature; social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital. If Facebook can’t figure out how to monetize the asset staring them in their face, they will soon encounter a more powerful competitor – their own users.

The US Financial System – Tail Wagging Dog

The financial system is not the problem.  The Innovation System is the problem – or did you notice that we do not have an “innovation system”?  Finance and Innovation in the US has engaged in the dangerous dance of tail wagging dog.  Innovation is as Wall Street does; not the other way around.  This is wrong, this is very wrong.

Doers, not shakers

[Our economic strength is derived from the doers, the makers of things, the innovators who create and expand enterprises, the workers who provide life to companies and, with their earnings, support families and invest in their future… This is what drives economic growth.] – Barack Obama

These are sobering words.  It make one wonder how everyone else makes a living; the brokers, the agents, the middlemen, the gatekeepers, the spinners, the flippers, the money managers, and everyone else in the game with their hands “in the flow of money” dragging the system into a tailspin.  Many of these people publicly criticize the working class, who have finally run out of steam, for gumming up their game.

It is also amazing that the engineers, educators, technologists, medical professionals, and public servants could produce so much for so long; enough to feed everyone else – except, as of recently, themselves.

[The financial system is central to this process, transforming the earnings and savings of American workers into the loans that finance a first home, a new car or a college education, the credit necessary to build a company around a new idea.] – Tim Geithner

Meet the Master:

The financial system is supposed to be the servant, not the master.  Innovation takes time, effort and resources before the payback can be realized.  For this reason only, the financial system bridges that time gap to allow for increased future productivity to generate new wealth for use by all.  That is the only reason why the financial system should exists.  But somehow we have gotten it backwards.

We got it backwards:

Technological change must precede economic growth.  We are going about the process of globalization as if economic growth can precede technological change.  The invention of the wheel, wedge and the pulley came before the invention of the Collateralized Debt Obligation (CDO) – there is no excuse for this oversight. This is clearly unsustainable and the process must be reversed.

An easy fix, almost:

The Ingenesist project specifies 3 web applications that will allow social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital to become tangible outside of the bloated and failing financial system.  These applications will make innovation success predictable.  If success is predictable, then cash flows are predictable.  Using the same calculus as Wall Street, the cash flows can be combined, diversified, and split up into innovation bonds with superior returns that can be issued to fund new and sustainable innovation enterprise. Problem solved.

3 steps away from a quantum leap:

This can be done today playing by the rules and using existing technology – 3 simple applications.  That is how close we are to achieving the most important evolutionary step in human history.  The Government needs to empower the people to release themselves from the shackles of debt created by those who create little else.  For this reason, Obama is on the only correct path – buying time so that this important social media technology can mature.

That Pesky Little Problem With Market Capitalism

Technological change must always precede economic growth.  We are going about the process of market capitalism as if economic growth can precede technological change.  Somewhere along the line we have gotten the cart in front of the mule.

It seems that this situation can be fairly easily corrected – after all, it’s the same cart and the same mule.  All we need to do is get the same driver to point the same carrot on the same stick in the opposite direction; and the system should turn itself around.  Impossible we ask? Well, maybe not….yet.

The same species…

Economic growth and technological change are the same species; each is represented by human productivity.  If I take a loan to buy a house, the debt is “counted” as economic growth backed by my future productivity.  If I go to work and invent a method that provides a better way for people to accomplish something, that same productivity increases with my innovation.  They should hedge each other much like insurance.  The problem arises when we forget to count the mule.

If A = C and B = C, then A = B

If any two currencies are backed by the same standard, they should be readily convertible.  If Euro’s and Dollars are both backed by Gold, they would be convertible between each other and the market can simply choose to trade one or the other.  Arbitrage opportunities would keep the system balance.

This is the same case with debt and innovation; two currencies represented by the same standard, i.e., productivity.

What if a new currency was introduced and pegged to human productivity?  That currency would also be proportional to the dollar. Arbitrage opportunities between debt and innovation currencies would seek a balance. The two scorecards would hedge each other as they should.

It is going to happen eventually, why wait?

While this may seem odd to talk about one State, two currencies, it is not so odd to talk about what happens if the dollar fails.  People will start trading a different currency.   The Plumber will trade ideas with the lawyer who will trade with the doctor, carpenter, teacher, grocer, laborer, etc.  A computer enabled society will build a knowledge inventory of who knows what.  Reputations will arise thus organizing knowledge in the form of a financial instrument.  This social medium will be the tool that organizes trading schemes and establishing supply and demand.  An Innovation Bank will keep track of who owes what to whom and distribute wealth in the form of tangential innovation.  Venture “capital” will be the cheapest money in town – it’s like money in the bank for an innovation economy. This is in fact, the nature of society and largely the function it has served for thousands of years.

Little carrot on a big stick

The difference between now and any other time in history is that society is computer enabled.  Human knowledge has been held hostage behind the construct of “intangible assets” on a corporate balance sheet for too long.  There is a great deal of energy building up and it can now find a productive outlet through social media.  The best government policy is to accommodate what people will do naturally.  It would be extremely inexpensive to empower society to form an innovation economy to hedge market capitalism. People need a currency that is first and foremost natural for them to trade.   Later, Wall Street can convert and gamble at their peril. But first, point the stick in a different direction and the system will correct itself.

[The Ingenesist Project (http://www.ingenesist.com) has specified three web application which if deployed to social media would allow social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital to become tangible inside social networks.]

The Great Convergence

Hey Kids, It’s 3D:

The objective of this article is to discuss the Great Convergence of computer enabled society. Social media must not be allowed to converge to a single apex – rather, it must converge to 3 distinct and tangible dimensions.

The factors of production for the industrial economy are land, labor, and capital.  If you lose one, you can’t use the other two to build an SUV, for example.  The factors of production for an innovation economy are social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital. All production in the new economic paradigm will result from the allocation of a “secret sauce” of social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital.  Again, if you lose one, you can’t use the other two to build anything meaningful.

The congregation of congregations:

In order to find The Great Convergence, we simply need to examine Social Media to discover where social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital tend to congregate.

One of the more obvious illustrations appears to be playing out between LinkedIn, Facebook, and Myspace.  Many people use Linkedin for professional contacts (intellectual Capital), other people use Facebook for friends, family and more diverse associations (Social Capital), while many others use MySpace to post videos of their rock band, Artwork, or to discover the latest Mash up (Creative Capital).  Of course there are many more social networks, lots of cross talk, different demographics, rants and raves, etc.  I intentionally leave this analysis sparse as these conditions simply reflect the nature of The Great Convergence.

The Next Economic Paradigm:

We need to watch The Great Convergence with laser focus and deep personal interest because it will be extremely important for the development of what comes after the knowledge economy.   Whatever form this next economic paradigm takes, globally and locally, will depend upon The Great Convergence.  The Innovation Economy is the only wrench left in the toolbox for resolving the vast global problems that we face today.

The Innovation Economy must end global warming, restore financial accountability, enact sustainable enterprise, and institute renewable energy – or not.  This is a huge burden to ask of the next “greatest generation”.  It is clearly in everyone’s best interest to identify, encourage, and support The Great Convergence to form in 3D, before the old single-apex game “resets” and starts all over again, perhaps for the last time.

[The Ingenesist Project discusses this concept at length and identified various predictions, methods, and scenarios, including specifications for an Innovation Economy.]

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