Think Bigger. Aim Higher. Go Further.

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The Conjuring of Intangible Values

Conjure valueMy prior post “The Tale of Two Cities” demonstrates that the intangible social value conjured into existence by the bridge that connects two fair cities far exceeds the ‘tangible’ value of that bridge.  Yet, only the tangible value of the bridge is accounted for on a balance sheet such as GDP.

The Conjuring of Intangible Values

This may seem trivial until you observe that people are paid for their intangible assets (knowledge, creativity, and engineering calculations) as a percentage of the far lower number while the bankers, government, and corporate interests compensate themselves as a percentage of the far higher number.  The difference appears to be unaccounted for.

The Tail of Two Cities article concludes that the value that is conjured into existence by both the bridge and the fractional reserve system must be equal, by definition; otherwise the metaphorical breezeway that connects the two worlds would fall.

Bitcoin suffers from a similar curse as The Tail of Two Cities.  The prevailing argument against the crypto-currency is that it has no intrinsic value.  I have personally argued that a currency must represent human productivity intrinsically or else no other human would be willing to work (be productive) in exchange for it.  An article by Paul Bohm “The Value Of Bitcoin is Decentralization” makes a good point that the intrinsic value of Bitcoin is based on the value conjured into existence by increased productivity to society by what can be accomplished with Bitcoin that otherwise would be impossible without Bitcoin.

So if the valuation of a bridge crossing the river and the valuation of Bitcoin crossing the broker both suffer the same curse that there is no accounting system for intangibles, wouldn’t it make sense to solve that problem first  – i.e., measure into existence the intangible value of the Ingenesist – and then release those millions of human intentions (bridges and Crypto-currencies, not withstanding), into the system of trade?  This is the problem that Curiosumé proposes to resolve.

I believe that we first need to solve the under-mining problem that there is no accounting system for intangible assets.  Only then can there be intrinsic value in the conservation of those assets

… then maybe none of this would seem so mysterious.

What EVERY Engineer Must Know About Bitcoin

engineering-image-17A bitcoin (lowercase b), as a currency, has several flaws that will continue to limit its ability to replace money as we know it.  There are millions of words published on the subject, so I’ll leave it to the reader to assess arguments on both sides.  However, Bitcoin (upper case B) as a “protocol” for the transfer of value is an extremely important innovation that engineers must not ignore.  

The opportunities for the profession are sweeping and vast, but only if they take action and build this ecosystem their selves – it is so powerful, that others will gladly do it for them.   I will try to explain this opportunity in this short 1125 word article, but please feel free to contact me with in-depth questions.

The Block Chain Protocol

The Bitcoin protocol is a brilliant innovation that cannot be un-invented – it is here to stay and it will appear in many forms long after it sheds the “bitcoin” moniker.   Formally called the Block Chain protocol,  Bitcoin was designed to solve an age old problem of double spending a currency, specifically, a virtual currency.   A currency created on a computer can be easily copied by a computer and thus negates the real productivity that a currency is supposed to represent.   The same is still true for money – paper currency is becoming increasingly complex so that it cannot be easily copied, etc.

Today, there are vast institutions from banks, corporations, a legal system, prison system, and unfathomable volumes of legislation (all imposing respective brokerage fees) acting on the behalf of sanctifying the dollar.  However, volatility in these very institutions is what threatens the value of the dollar and all currencies upon which the World depends for very basic needs.  How well is this working, really?

So, What’s the big deal?

The stakes are high.  To invent a new secure and resilient means to rapidly transmit value can in one fell swoop eliminate the friction of the massive institutions on our economy, while also decreasing the volatility and economic friction imposed on society.   This is the reason behind the media hype, congressional hearings, declarations of nations, billionaire press conferences, etc.  They are all scared to death of the disruptive potential of this little beast.  Unfortunately, bitcoin has fallen victim to many of the same deficiencies that it proposes to correct.  But these will likely be corrected in the next iterations.   

The Train Leaves The Station

The backbone of the Bitcoin protocol is called the Block Chain.  There are now hundreds if not thousands of Block Chains in existence independent of Bitcoin.  Consider the Block Chain like going down to the train station.  At some predetermined time, a train arrives and the doors open.  Everyone piles into the train and after a predetermined amount of time, the doors close.  The corollary is that the doors cannot be opened for a predetermined amount of time and no changes, copies, or corruption can take place within that time stamp, no matter what.  Only when the train reaches the next location, the doors will open. Once the doors close for a second time, they never open again and a new block is formed.  Also, there is no way to retract this process, except by repeating it forward in a reverse transaction.     

The protocol has a few more features that I’ll leave to the reader to research including a public ledger where all transactions are open for everyone to see; and the train gets infinitely long with each new opening.  The transactions are opened and sealed cryptograpically and incentives are in place that compensates exchanges (the station masters) and well as those who solve a cryptographic puzzle that creates and maintains the integrity of the public ledger (miners).  

Smart Contracts

Everyone knows that money and contracts are intimately related.  In fact, money is a contract.  A contract is defined as a meeting of the minds.  As such, where the Block Chain protocol can efficiently transmit “currency”, so too can it transmit contracts.  In fact, it is so effective for articulating contracts that it’s potential to do so far eclipses its ability to replace the existing fiat currencies.  But again, money and contracts are so closely related that even this becomes a grey area – both can exist within the Block Chain.  This is hugely significant.     

So what’s in it for the Engineering profession? 

There is a special type of contract that engineering societies such as the NSPE, ASME, IEEE, etc., should have a laser focus.  These are called Oracle Contracts; also known as adjudicated contracts, (except subject to scientific judgement rather than necessarily a judgement of law).  For example, a client would retain a contractor to build a structure or machinery.  They would deposit funds into an escrow account managed by “smart contract” in a block chain.  This means that the computer will flip the switches instead of an accountant, banker, or attorney.  At certain points in contract and “oracle” – a third party vetting mechanism – will verify that the conditions or performance of the agreement have been met, then they would flip a switch that releases the funds to the contractor or back to the client (or through a predetermined decision tree), depending on objective observation.  

It’s All About Efficiency

This is efficient for the contractor because they don’t have to worry about getting paid as long as they meet the conditions of the contract. The client does not need to worry about getting ripped off because they are assured that the conditions of their agreement will be met.  The system is efficient because high integrity is rewarded and there is little incentive to cheat which minimizes lawyers,  accountants, social dysfunction, and all manners of corruption in a public ledger that provides extraordinary analytics available for societal learning in the public domain. 

For the vast majority of projects, products, or policies in the United States and the world, a licensed professional engineer and related scientific bodies are the ONLY qualified Oracles that can be deployed to vet an astonishing variety of Smart Contracts.

Smart Contracts can be written for almost any transaction, but it is inherently an intangible transaction since a “meeting of the minds” is the true nature of the value that they articulate.  The implications of an abundant intangible economy vs. a scarce tangible economy are vast.  Silicon Valley is pumping millions of dollars into virtual currency start-ups like Ripple Labs while companies such as Ethereum  promise to make smart contracts on public ledger block chains as easy to build as dragging and dropping puzzle pieces into a web page.  This is here today – it is not a theory.

Banks, insurance companies, and attorneys will be the first to adopt smart contracts because they stand the most to lose by not doing so.  Meanwhile, engineers in the US and indeed the World are relegated to the contractor sweatshops or smothered under the weight of towering hierarchies. Tragedies such as the Oso landslide and global warming remind us of the absence of engineering oracles advocating for society and our planet.  It is imperative, now, that engineers embrace Block Chain Protocol Technologies and the deployment of Smart Contracts to elevate the profession to the top of the proverbial food chain before there someone else does it for 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.

The All You Can Eat Option

The proverbial “all-you-can-eat” business model works great for some products and not-so great for others.  The opportunity, of course, is to be able to transform non-viable business methods into viable one’s using social media tools and data.  In this article, we explore how the AYCE model can be improved.

Netflix for the Sky

The Netflix model for movies has been touted as one of the greatest business innovations in the modern era of technology – not because it is new, but because it works.  Now, consider that the AYCE model has been applied to transportation, club membership, and telecommunication (cell phone data plans), etc.  Some work better than others….

I found this recent article about American Airlines experience with the AYCE model – which became their worst nightmare.  In 1981, you could buy a lifetime all access pass to first class travel on United Airlines for 250,000 dollars. While touted as a good way for AA to raise a lot of quick money, it proved to have long term liabilities that far outstripped the performance of the fund raising.  Today, a small carrier called Surf Air is now trying to use a subscription based system on a limited circuit using executive turboprop aircraft.

What is the comparable human behavior?

AYCE models impact human behavior in often unpredictable (read “unprofitable”) ways.  We’ve seen the unlimited plan for cell phones becoming a thing of the past.  Taxi drivers have not yet introduced the subscription travel plan but certain bus routes and commuter modes lend themselves to unlimited passes where an alternate single use rate and behavior record can be used as a price comparison.

I recall a wise and successful colleague in the insurance business revealed the dark truth about unlimited subscriptions.  “They are like extended warranties, the only people who should actually buy extended warrantee are those who fully intend to beat the crap out of the item that they are covering”.  Like gym subscriptions, low use members are needed to subsidize high use members.

Simulated Economy

Another way to simulate the effect of an unlimited prescription without leaving the business with an unmanageable long-term liability is to create an option-like instrument.  The buyer would hold the right without the obligation to purchase the service at a discount during a specific period of time where behavior will be regulated by market forces.

Holding the option would be priced relatively cheap so that the buyer does not feel a deep loss for not exercising the option, yet sufficient to subsidize the activity of those who do exercise the option for discounted service.  Another feature is that the option can be traded allowing holders to build a proto-economy around the asset that they possess.    This would decrease the marketing costs of the provider as the price of the options floats to meet the needs of the market.

These strategies are commonplace on Wall Street but a statistical construct for their deployment on Main Street may be emerging.  New “platforms” will arise which produce and  aggregate data in the right format to support an options type of instrument for the trade or exchange of any number of goods and services in a non-cash environment.

Maybe the all-you-can-eat buffet of the future will resemble a cornucopia of options for assets that everyone shares.  Bon Apetite.

The Science of Change

Calculus has been called the greatest achievement of the human mind.  Yes, it is a little difficult to understand … until one day it becomes the simplest, most obvious, and glorious form of expression ever imagined.  Like a musical instrument, there is a point where all the symbols and lines can disappear and the artist can express himself or herself in the medium of the art – leading to many more great achievements of human mind.

The Science of Change

Calculus is amazing because it can make the invisible visible.  From sub-atomic particles, gravity, silicon circuits, diffusion of medicine through cell walls, to the discovery of new planets in distant solar systems – none of which are directly visible to the observer, yet their existence enables human imagination, innovation, cooperation, and social development at the most fundamental form.

Changing Wall Street

Wall Street lives quite comfortably in our homes, political system, our food , and our occupations – without being seen directly. Wall Street is utterly invisible.  Most of their work doesn’t even happen on Wall Street.  How did they accomplish this?  How were they so successful in occupying Main Street without being seen?

The Trojan Proxy

Wall Street is a mathematical construct – it exists in the form of symbols and numbers, or, “proxies” for making stuff – but not the actual stuff itself.   That is the vulnerability that we can easily exploit.  If we are smart, we can dismantle Wall Street brick by brick and they will happily walk right through the door because “our door” – the knowledge asset inventory – can be made indistinguishable from any other “proxy” for making stuff.  (I write extensively on this strategy in the prior posts).

There is a bigger message here that I hope does not get lost in the clamor.  There is likewise a very easy way to occupy Wall Street, however, it’s going to take a little mathematical cleverness. How do we make them visible to us and ourselves invisible to them.

The key is that we need to change ourselves. We need to transform, not them.  We don’t need to occupy Wall Street, we simply need to occupy Main Street because that is where they occupy us.  It is not enough to marvel at our numbers, civil disobedience, and cardboard signs.  We need a Science of change so that we can do so.

The Game and The Counter-Game

The term “Gamification” is pretty cool, except that it is meaningless.  Anyone who has ever worked a day in his or her life knows that the World is already gamed.  Anyone who follows politics and world events sees the game playing out constantly.  Everyone, including the winners, know that the game is stacked.  The last thing anyone needs is another game layer.

If you are like the majority of people on Earth, you are given a game that you can’t win playing by the rules.  If you are like the majority of people on Earth, you would do anything for a chance to play a game that you CAN win.  Imagine the value of an IPO for a gaming company with that prospectus.

What is a Counter Game?

Wikileaks – love them or hate them – is a Counter Game because they turned the lights on a game that was being played in the dark.  Bloggers play a Counter Game because media was editorialized by powerful interests.  Twitter is a Counter Game because it drives the narrative instead of being driven by it. In fact, any place where there is a broker – someone or something that benefits from you NOT having complete information – is an opportunity to introduce a Counter Game.

An astonishing array of Counter Games is forming in social media and the brokers are falling out of the sky like hailstones.  Power brokers, mortgage brokers, energy brokers, media brokers, even Google is gamed by Counter Gamers.  The better they get at hiding information; the better the Counter Gamers gets at rooting it out.  The harder they try to control a message, the better the Counter Gamers gets at disclosing the truth behind the message.

The game creates the Counter Game.

Likewise, to kill the game is to kill the Counter Game. As such, the only way to kill the counter-game is to kill the game. Think about that for a bit…Do we really want to do that?

The Holy Grail of the Counter Game is the global monetary system. Money is supposed to represent human productivity; otherwise people would not go to work to make things that everyone else needs.  The Game has caused Money to become increasingly divorced from actual productivity.  People who produce the most value are exploited while those who produce the least are most grandly rewarded.  The Game is stacked with money.

The Holy Grail of The Counter Game is to replace monetary currency with a True Value Currency.

The financial system stands on 5 pillars: currency, inventory, vetting institutions, entrepreneurs, and value arbitrage. All of these are slowly being replicated, mimicked, or duplicated in Social Media.  When the 5 pillars integrate in social media systems, a new currency will emerge.  People will use it to store and exchange the value that they create through their work. It will be a no-brainer

The Value Game

The Value Game is outlined in this short video using the now proverbial “Corporate Jet” as the turning point in the global economic paradigm.  The Value Game does not kill the Financial Game, rather, it challenges, corrects, and improves it.  The Value game has reached a critical milestone – it has been funded in dollars by investors.

This is not insignificant.

Outsourcing Fail

Gambling with Jobs

The US Senate recently blocked a measure designed to reduce the outsourcing of US jobs that many corporations pursue in the relentless drive to reduce costs.

Modern Globalization is a system

Globalization must be analyzed like a system. Data, Information, knowledge, Innovation, and wisdom are profoundly related in a system. If you take away one of the components, the others become worthless.  If you destroy one component, the entire structure could fail.

Everyone knows that data, information, knowledge, innovation, and wisdom are related.  If I corrupt the data, then the associated information, knowledge, innovation, and wisdom are also corrupted.  Likewise, if I eliminate any of these elements, the system fails.

Focus on Core competency – what core?

The standard argument for outsourcing is that knowledge workers are better allocated in innovation jobs so “we can better focus on our core – and heck, we can all save a little dough in the process”.  But when we outsource our knowledge economy, the innovation economy is choked off.    The knowledge economy is the source of the Innovation Economy.  The Knowledge economy is also the recipient of the information economy which transforms data and information into useful tools, ideas, and products.

Rate Of Change is Innovation

The rate of change of the innovation economy is directly proportional to the INCREASE not the OUTSOURCING of the knowledge economy.  This is the calculus of outsourcing.  If, on the other hand, it is in you best interest to keep a population poor, weak, and unable to organize into powerful collectives, then yes, outsourcing is an effective method.

The Innovation Banker

Future of Banking

When I use the term “Innovation Bank”, people conjure up the image of a cheery place where anticipation reigns as starry eyed depositors arrange their intellectual property in neat cubby boxes, Patents fly like cash register receipts and companies troll the halls looking for a cure for their bottom line blues.

This is not exactly what we have in mind, nor is it too far off either. An innovation Bank is simply a knowledge inventory that contains knowledge assets that exists in the format of a financial instrument and can be deployed for the purposes of increasing productivity.  In the process, it makes 10X more of itself every time it is deployed.  It mints its own money.

The Innovation Banker

This is not much different than a financial bank. In fact, in the financial bank, everyone assumes the borrower has the knowledge to execute the business plan and the bank lends the money. Oh, by the way, the money makes more of itself  10X over (fractional reserve system) every time it is deployed.

With the innovation bank, everyone assumes the entrepreneur has the money to execute the plan, and the seek to borrow the knowledge. Other than that, they can be considered identical. The key is in the scope, depth, and format in which the knowledge assets live in a community as well as the ability to track and preserve the creation of new knowledge in a community.  An innovation banker is a knowledge banker

A Virtuous Circle

Together with the financial banking, these two system engage in the dance of the virtuous circle of innovation enterprise. Apart, they collapse into the swirling cesspool of eternal debt and infinite interest (pun intended).

Ingenesist.com

Music by Phil Felicia

How Obama Will Save The World

Do the math – Interest on National Debt can go all the way up to infinity while Austerity measures can only go down to zero.   There is tragedy looming at both ends of the political spectrum and the Golden Goose can’t fly much longer.  Captain Obama is in a tough spot.

Someone will eventually need to gently lay the economy down in a nice soft spot with a just a few critical social programs intact. A task comparable to US Airways Pilot  Capt. Sullenberger who successfully landed his stalled airliner on the freezing Husdon without ripping off the wings, catching on fire, splitting the hull, or sinking the ship with all the passengers inside.

Here is how the endgame is shaping up:

Through some secret signal, all of the World’s money barons will come together and agree to simultaneously lop off three zeros (000) from all financial balance sheets.  This will effectively reboot the world economy.  A $50 trillion debt obligation now becomes a quaint and manageable $50 billion debt.  Unfortunately, a $500,000 dollar pension becomes worth about $500 bucks.   The game will reset with champaign toasts and business-as-usual in a race to conjure new debt into existence.  The recovery is on … for some.

Those who have exactly as much debt as they have tangible assets will enjoy a net zero impact.   Those caught at the extreme ends with too little debt or too much cash will lose spectacularly.

A stoic and sober Capt. Obama is at the controls, should we be worried?

Well, maybe. Just to give you an idea of what’s happening in the cockpit: Capt. Obama will project his glide path into the visible horizon.  If he can’t make it out to Hillary’s term, he will probably try to set it down right after he is re-elected and can still blame the GOP.  The GOP will try everything they can to wrestle it down before 2012 – split hull or not – so that they can claim the presidency.  If they win 2012 without the landing, they’ll land it soon after 2012 and blame it on Obama.  Note that none of this has anything to do with aerodynamics.

Why should this inspire anyone’s confidence?

There are a few people in the back seats working really hard to build a parachute that will hedge their fall.  None of the people near the cockpit, boardrooms, or stock exchanges have any idea what these passengers are doing – they don’t seem to care – instead, they are too busy topping off their debt to equity ratios for optimum survivability upon impact.

But, the hedge instrument is playing out in Social Media, slowly siphoning the factors of production into a new economic system. Some passengers are only inches away from jump-starting an alternate economy using a social currency backed by real productivity, not debt, in a new form of capitalism.  All they need is an instrument that is only a little better than what’s flying now.  Then, all the money in the world will convert to the hedge currency.

Now THAT’s monetization.

The guys near the cockpit will never see it coming – they’ll only see it leaving.  That’s how Obama will save the World. Let’s hope he can swim.

What’s Your Cut of the $5 Trillion Knowledge Economy?

People accumulate a wealth of knowledge in their lives as they pass from project to project and industry to industry.  Each of our social, creative, and intellectual pursuits and exposures combines to form the person who we are and the contribution to society that we represent.

Your knowledge and experience also helps others predict what preferences you may have and what decisions you may make. Corporations, advertisers, banks, insurance companies, and politicians all want to know this and they will go to extreme and expensive measures to get it – why not just sell it to them?

Peace sells, but who’s buying?

Management of companies, little league teams, Rotary Clubs, even raising a family, is extremely valuable knowledge to a wide variety of situations. Civic service, spirituality, military service, and philanthropy provide a basis for a host of knowledge attributes.  Academic accomplishment, physical achievement, artistic expression, manual dexterity, and whole body coordination provides great insight to the application of all knowledge.  Physical challenges, grief, personal struggles, and the experience of injustice further add to the wealth of knowledge one accumulates in a lifetime.

Every person is unique with a different set of knowledge than any other; therefore, everyone has something to offer to someone else.   Each person’s combination of formal and informal education is valuable in it’s uniqueness.  With the proper system and incentives in place, trillions of dollars are on the table to bid for access to your knowledge.

The Den of Thieves:

The resumes that we post on Monster.com are woefully inadequate and so heavily gamed that predictive utility related to your future decisions and innovative capacity is severely compromised.

The credit score also measures past behavior by tracking negative events; many of which are outside the control of the subject such as a layoff, fraud, medical emergencies, etc.  Again, the credit score is quite useless as a predictor of future decisions and innovative capacity.

Now we have Social Media and the mad scramble to be visible in social media space.  The scourge of marketers, spammers, and fraudsters are close behind chasing your information that they are all too happy to sell to the aforementioned “clients”.

Take a Step Back … and get a grip

We are talking about your information that describes your knowledge attributes which predicts your preferences, your future decisions, and your innovation.  Yet complete industries exist to collect it from you for free, organize it, and sell it to others for a great deal of money.  There are 5000 job boards collecting resumes, 300 Million credit scores being securitized by Wall Street, and 12,000 social media sites aggregating your creative content, relationships, and knowledge attributes.

Join The Ingenesist Project:

The Ingenesist Project specifies a system where your knowledge attributes are expressed in a packet of code that you control, distribute, regulate, withhold and track as you wish.

The result is that you will be paid to learn, to know, to practice, and to participate in life as you wish.  It becomes in your best economic interest to produce exactly what you are best at, and have a talent for producing.  It will be in the best interest of corporations, marketers, Wall Street, insurance companies, and Politicians to support you in these pursuits so they can “farm” the knowledge today that will buy their products tomorrow.

Two Sides Of The Social Value Equation

There are two sides to the Social Value Equation – the creation of social value and the destruction of social value. There are countless examples where innovation destroys the value of prior technologies. There are also many instances where “progress”, perhaps in the form of a freeway or public structure, divides a community where strong social bonds once acted.

In the presentations that I give, I often cite the value of a bridge over a waterway. The bridge may cost 50 million dollars to build and maintain, but it increases human productivity by 50 billion in the life span of the bridge. We often cite a factor of 1:1000 for the valuation of the dollar to social currency.

Contrary to that, Jane Jacobs (renowned urban theorist and community activist) may argue, the bridge (and roadway) may divide a community or neighborhood. Where the community may once have been scaled for foot traffic, the new boundary may require a car to circumvent. The new road may divert old commercial traffic in many ways that are bad for a community. In such a case, the social capital destroyed by the bridge is in fact the dominant financial outcome.

So here I am, I just destroyed my own best analogy to demonstrate a point. Without vetting the complete transaction in the form of social currency, net “progress” of any kind is as easy to leverage backwards as well as forward at a rate of 1000:1.

Communities that seek to stop a disruptive development program will often organize to protest urban development decisions. Unfortunately, they are usually up against a calculation of economic impact that is dominated by dollar denominated currency. Without a “Social Currency” of their own, quantified and convertible to dollars, communities are doomed. Law suits will play out in the same manner where damages are non-quantifiable, and therefore non-existent.

Jane Jacobs also writes that a community that can place a value on their social currency – although I do not think she explicitly called it that – and can act to preserve value or increase value by their actions. Many communities from Greenwich Village to Boston have thrived under a social currency diverting projects away from sensitive communities. The Big Dig went underground in Boston much like the The viaduct replacement project will do the same Seattle. Granted, the Seattle project mainly preserves water and mountain views for million dollar condos, this concept, in fact, would be more critical to poorer communities than wealthy ones.

Obviously there is no way to impede progress. All innovations destroy prior value in the creation of greater value. The danger is when Wall Street priorities can dominate Social Priorities. Capitalism, for all the greatness it creates, is amoral. Capitalism is committed to dollar currency, and devoid of social obligation except to the degree that obligation is profitable – that is where social currency converts to capital currency.

Through the magic of the fractional reserve system, Banks create money backed by debt vs. deposits at a factor of 1:1000. Therefore, the convertibility of social currency with a capital currency at a similar factor of 1000:1 is essentially the only effective way to convert Social Priorities into Wall Street Priorities.

The Brain-Picking Economy

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

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

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

Taking some clues from the banking industry

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

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

Currency

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

Accounting System

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

Vetting Mechanism

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

Business Plan:

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

An entrepreneur is as an entrepreneur does

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

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

Culture: When Engagement Is Not Optional

pLASMA bALLToday we see Social Media duplicating many of the functions of earlier society by storing community wisdom, applying social vetting, and deploying social currencies.

It takes a Community

Here is an article is about a a person who learned through social media profiling that her fiance was active in hobbies that conflicted with her moral constitution – before the wedding instead of after.  In the old days, the community would also profile each individual based on the social record of their behavior.

Social Capitalism

Here is a video article that discusses how social media is  duplicating many functions of the corporation outside the construct of the corporation. Factors of production increasingly enter the org chart as a social media application.  We now question whether the corporation itself is the sole vehicle of wealth creation.

Social Currency

We see social media duplicating many of the functions of the financial system where currency, credit scores, banks, land, labor, and capital are being replaced by social currency, social vetting, social capital, creative capital, and social entrepreneurs.

Macro vs. Micro

We see divisions of scale from the long-winded one-sided content of the static web presence to the micro blogging applications that more closely resemble a conversation.  Time factors are accelerated to the point where real-time is not fast enough.

Local vs. Global

We see an emerging segmentation between Local Social and Global Social. At first global leverage was the awarded the small entrepreneur with something to offer to the world.  Now ‘Local Social’ enjoys substantial leverage over global corporations by reorganizing the way people prioritize and experience each other and their community.

Everyone is a node

Taking an analogy from the physics of electricity, the term “potential” means the difference in energy between two nodes.  The greater the difference, the bigger the spark and the greater the impact.   The local energy at each node influences the direction and size of sparks between nodes.  As people accumulate ‘Social Current’, their position relative to those around them changes. Likewise, their potential also changes relative to the ‘Social Current’ of others. Everyone has some potential relative to every other node.

Integration has arrived

Much like the knowledge economy integrated, but did not replace, the agrarian economy, Social Media will not replace the corporation, the financial system, dissertation, conversations, localization or globalization.  Rather, everyone becomes a corporation, everyone prints their own social currency, everyone publishes their intentions, everyone has local and global leverage.  That’s what Integration is all about.

A ‘culture of one’ is moot.

It is not surprising then that our culture itself is now being defined in terms of social media with effective aggregation of  social norms, storage of social wisdom, and medium of exchange for community ideals.  The true test of “culture status” is when engagement is no longer an optional.  Without engagement, there is no culture.


Foursquare Economics

foursquareThe Next Economic Paradigm is arriving and the first entries include Foursquare.  Few people understand the significance of this new class of social media applications. Foursquare contains many (but not yet all) of the components of the Innovation Economy that we have been discussing for several years at Ingenesist.com, Conversationalcurreny.com, and Relationship-economy.com.

Here is what Foursquare does have:

Geolocation: Sure, social media has been great sport for chatting with your buddies across the world, but nothing really happens until the rubber meets the road.  people need to be in the same location in order to “build something” together.  We call this The Last Mile of Social Media

Mayor of Popcorn: As silly as this may sound, badging it is a highly sophisticated feature that we have called the “knowledge Inventory“.  In order to build anything, there must be an inventory of parts. “Knowledge” is not the exception as the crude and archaic resume system would have people believe.

Knowledge is an asset and it will perform as an asset if it is characterized in the form of a quantity and a quality.  “Mayor of Popcorn”, believe it or not, is in the correct form.

Vetting Mechanism: Vendors are an equal part of the social network and will soon provide their coupons, specials, and other economic incentives on Foursquare because advertising any other way is dead meat.  Vendors will live in a system that is in their best interest to practice high integrity rather than low integrity while favoring mom and pop operations that live in the community.  We call this “Social Vetting” as it lives beyond law and government – let the market be the judge.

Here is what they do not have (yet): Currency

The attraction of foursquare is the promise of fun and fancy crowd play.  The incentive is to be seen as connected, mobile, and plugged-in.  As such, people will be implicitly attracted to you like bees to a flower. In actuality, this game takes Social Media right to the edge of becoming a new financial system that can compete with, and challenge, the almighty dollar. No kidding.

Remember that currency is a social agreement.  History shows that people will trade seashells, tulip bulbs, paper notes, and little copper disks as a device to store and exchange value. All value is expressed in terms of human incentives of some kind.  Well here we have it.  Now let the entrepreneurs play.

That is a huge, huge, huge matter.

The dollar represents productivity….well, so does Foursquare.  What will entrepreneurs do in this environment?  How will entrepreneurs organize communities around “things-o-do” – or even – “things-that-must-be done”?

Here is the hint.  The idea that innovation is the exclusive domain of corporations, academia, or government is now as obsolete as Twitter.  Innovation is now related to knowledge as knowledge is related to information.  Anything that increases the rate of change of knowledge in a community can now be defined as innovation in Foursquare.

Debt and innovation represent the exact same thing.

Innovation is a promise of future productivity. Debt is also a promise of future productivity.   It is only a matter of time that all of the activity in this new generation of social media applications will resolve to, and aggregate around, a new form of currency that will compete with the dollar itself.  Mark these words.

The Social Caterpillar Award Goes To Home Depot

Home-depot-4Corporations may be getting social “online” but how are they doing offline?  Anti-social behavior on the ground is the genesis of our not-so-coveted Social Caterpillar Award.

The Social Caterpillar Award goes to companies that have what it takes to become great social leaders and transformational community assets but who somehow fall short due to some management cocoon.

Blockbuster Goes Bust

Last week, I wrote about Blockbuster signing their own obituary.  Today on the news, I hear they are filing for bankruptcy and blaming everyone but themselves – hmmm, maybe there is a correlation?  As such, Blockbuster was the first recipient of the Ingenesist Project Social Caterpillar Award. Who’s next?

Home Depot: Living under a rock?

It would seem that Home Depot gets it with 30,000 Facebook Fans, 20,000 twitter followers, and 4000 Youtube members as well as some pretty slick instructional videos.  The slogan “I Bleed Orange” is quite the graphic branding opportunity – I sort of wonder what exactly does such blood-letting involve.

But a company with almost 2200 stores, 210,000 employees and 100 Billion dollars in annual sales – this social media presence is hardly a blip.  Even the employees don’t show up.

The Last Mile of Social Media

I went to Home Depot recently buy something for a project.  I parked in the most reasonable spot and walked to the nearest of at least 5 sets of doors spaced across the entire building.   The first door stated in fairly crude language “This is and Exit, Use Entrance North of here”.  OK, so I did not bring my compass, and I proceed to the next door.  The same sign appeared.  So I went to the next – it was blocked for forklift activity.  So I returned to the prior door and found that the door on the other side of a partition was actually an entrance with a tiny sign partially covered with something orange… etc.  I think you can see where I’m trying to go with this.

Entering the store was no better.

I was corralled around a set of barriers past the full length of shopping carts and dumped on the side of the store that I did not want to go to.   I asked a manager why they insisted on tormenting customers like rats in a maze and the response was to control shoplifting.  I wondered how much plywood I could fit in my pocket.  I certainly did not feel welcomed.

In other words, the customer is subsidizing the failures of the enterprise to control shoplifting – if that is the real problem.  Like the age old tactic of government, blanket legislation makes all people suffer for the shortcomings of a few because management is too lazy to devise a method for actually solving problems.

So they plod along.

No competition from China, no Internet based Plywood stores, no power tool kiosks at the mall, all the small shops are driven out of business, and the economics of planned obsolescence driving product quality.  Is this a recipe for obsolescence?  Does this invite an innovation disruption?  Will a competitor arise who can float like a butterfly and sting like a bee?

And Now, The Social caterpillar Award Goes Tooooo…..

In Honor of Home Depot lack of imagination in solving their own problems with social media at the expense of their community, we proudly issue our Social Caterpillar award to Home Depot.

When Social Media Becomes a Science

UncertaintyCartoonJay Deragon posted a series of articles recently on his Relationship Economy blog which I found especially exciting. As usual, Jay is bringing forward some very important ideas related to social media components and outcomes, but what really sets this new mindset apart is the fact that Jay is asking the same questions that have been plaguing scientists for 100 years.

In Jay’s posting “The Social Moment is Gone” He describes how organizational decisions are driven by metrics that no longer exist.

In another post: ”Measuring Social Moments”, Jay suggests that if things are in a dynamic state then measuring, a moment becomes irrelevant to what is happening the next moment.

In quantum mechanics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle states that certain pairs of physical properties, like position and momentum, cannot both be known to arbitrary precision. That is, the more precisely one property is known, the less precisely the other can be known.

Scientists figured out that in order to study a sub-atomic particle, they had to stop it from moving. As soon as they did that, the nature of the particle changed. Scientists could only study their interaction with the particle, not the particle itself.

Jay is saying something similar: “How can you measure social media if it is responding as a function of your interaction with it? All you are doing is looking at yourself in a mirror – so stop it”. He‘s right.

Status Quanta

Keep in mind that this comes in a time when the chorus of social media gurus are still trumpeting the C-Suite Concerto called “ROI or Die”. Maybe someone should remind them that the value of the Corporation that they so fungibly defend is in fact an approximation based on things that cannot be measured. Let me explain:

It is not surprising, therefore, that Wall Street hires Quantum physicists (affectionately known as Quants) to manage money and investments in markets and to “Innovate” new financial instruments.

The Calculus of Social Media…on Wall Street?

Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle lead to the development of a new branch of probabilistic mathematics for approximating both the position and the momentum of subatomic particles. In fact, the science of Quantum physics is entirely contained in probabilities that events will or have occurred and not necessarily based on direct observation – and so are the Wall Street Valuations.

Wall Street uses the same calculus to estimate the probabilities that financial particles will have a specific location and momentum without having to actually witness them. The result is a host of exotic financial instruments that make, bet, hedge, and securitize such approximations for the benefit of stockholders…..

Getting Back to Jay

Markets are conversations. People make products, invent things, design stuff, hold stock, buy, sell and trade everything. Those Quantum Physicists on Wall Street are estimating the position and momentum of people.

All Jay is saying is that now you can do it too.

Social Currency And The Innovation Bank

'Innovation and Growth, Chasing a New Frontier' book launch(2)The real estate market is trashed, money markets are unstable, commodities are in the tank, the banking system is corrupted to the core, inflation is looming around every corner, and the politicians are engorging themselves in a game of Cerebral Gridlock.

Literally, there is no safe place to put your money. Instead, people are investing their productivity in social media – social media is simply a storage device for knowledge assets. Soon it will become a stock exchange for knowledge assets. Investors should not take this lightly – the best place to store your money is in the real productivity of real people.

People are trading knowledge assets in social media. This exchange is denominated by a conversational currency. If we consider the structure of conversations and compare that to both the structure of social networks AND the structure of our financial system, we see a huge opportunity to develop an alternate financial system that can capitalize and securitize knowledge assets in social media.

Ingenesist.com

Music by Phil Felicia

A Community of Knowledge Assets

A Community of Knowledge AssetsOur culture organizes itself around winners and losers. Corporations reflect this competitive nature to the core of their Capitalist doctrine. Sports analogies abound across the enterprise straight through to the HR department always on the lookout for the most amount of superstar for the least amount of money.

Social media has every industry trying to understand the concept of community. Among the most difficult ideas to grasp is that knowledge assets in a community live on a bell curve, not in winner and loser columns. Everyone is an expert at something and nobody is an expert at everything. Someone who is not performing adequately is simply a misallocated asset, not flotsam subject to jettison at the next layoff or outsource “opportunity”.

A Community of Knowledge Assets

Like most assets, there is a perfectly legitimate market for everyone in a community – nobody need be excluded, marginalized or laid off. Social Media is turning the tables on the hierarchy and old winners who don’t play by the new rules quickly become the new losers. Maybe we ought to run our economy like a community instead of losing so badly at trying to be a winner.

A Community of Knowledge Assets

Social Media as a Vetting Mechanism

unhq

Where the vetting mechanism fails, the system fails. This has happened in countless instances from the current financial crisis to nearly every product, market, environmental calamity, or political failure in recorded history – the referees who were supposed to keep their eye on the ball, did not. Likewise, where a vetting mechanism is effective, the system is efficient.

EBay does little more than defend the vetting mechanism (feedback system) and entrepreneurs do the rest. The credit score allows companies and people to capitalize and securitize assets. The US legal system keeps the game of commerce as fair as practical. Police officers and school boards keep our society safe and smart. We often overlook the importance of vetting in our communities.

Today, we find severe problems in finance and government and people are investing their knowledge assets in social media as the place to “store and exchange” their present and future productivity – instead of debt. As such, social vetting is taking many different forms to validate, qualify, and quantify those assets.

While the progression may not be noticeable, there will be a tipping point where the medium has built enough trust that it can support a currency. This new currency needs to be only a little bit more “trustworthy” than the currency it will replace. This is the point where knowledge becomes tangible.

Video: The Calculus of Global Outsourcing

calculus-failPicture credit

The knowledge economy is a completely different asset than the industrial revolution’s Land, labor, Capital economy. Yet, our modern accounting systems and even our definitions of terms such as innovation, work, employment, education, are built from industrial era or military logistic roots.

Modern Globalization is a system – it must be analyzed like a system. Data, Information, knowledge, and Innovation are profoundly related in a system. If you take away one of the components, the others become worthless.

When we outsource our knowledge economy, the innovation economy is exterminated. The Ingenesist project specifies an Innovation Economy built on social media which will capture the knowledge inventory of communities – let’s hope that we have not forgotten how to build an ….

Dollar vs Rallod-A Mirror Image Economy

The problem with the American Dollar is that it is backed by future productivity in the form of debt – that is, our “promise” to pay off the debt. We know this because if America signaled that it was not willing or able to pay it’s debt, the dollar would cease to be used as Dollar vs Rallod-A Mirror Image Economya trading mechanism.

Innovation is also a promise backed by future productivity. By innovating in a new processes, method, system, or product today you are making a promise to increase productivity tomorrow.

Therefore, debt and innovation are blood brothers or mirror images of the other – they are both “currencies” (means of storing value) backed by future productivity. We can build a new economy around this concept which effectively weeds out the bad parts and keeps the good parts of the institutions and infrastructure that are already in place.  After all, two currencies backed by the same underlying asset  would be fully convertable

After all, the definition of a crook is someone who steals someone else’s productivity. May the best currency win.

Dollar vs Rallod-A Mirror Image Economy

Update: 03/2015  I recently stumbled upon this definition in a Gamification Wiki concerning the Rallod.  Thanks for the shout out!!

Rallod (Dollar spelt backwards) is concept developed by Dan Robles as a social capital currency which is based on the future productivity of innovation. He uses the Bizarro world featured in DC superman comics to provide an explanation of how his concept works. He distinguishes between normal economics revolving around Land, Labour and Capital and social capital which revolves around intellectual, social and creative capital. What is tangible in the normal world is intangible in the Bizarro world and vice versa. Robles believs the two worlds are mirror images of each other.

Visit www.badgeville.com to learn about the global gamification leader

Video: Intellectual Property in the Social Media Cloud

social_media_cloudThe Patent system is slow, static, and expensive. Sure it’s great for corporations and wealthy institutions, but what about the rest of us? How do we get paid for our intellectual property? We make rapid fire decisions every day that can make or break markets – who’s got time to patent?

Or maybe the last thing that Wall Street wants is for Engineers, Architects, designers, and creative people to get “royalties” on their work. That is What Wall Street does, they collect the royalties of the creative people in America….until now. Social media is a social contract, IP is our currency.

Image credit

Pssst … Wanna Get Wasted?

dont_worry_get-stoned

Many Social Media Gurus are espousing a new culture that their clients should forget about blogging (adding meaningful content) in favor of the ubiquitous widespread “updates”.

Using automated apps, you no longer need to waste time creating content that teaches or expresses, you can populate across social media space carefully wedged in between someone else’s creative content. I find this appalling.

The new marketing mantras go something like these:

  • “Go where your customers congregate”.
  • “Gain their trust by sharing your stuff”
  • “Soon, you can start to influence their behavior”
  • “Once hooked, they will do your deed for freeeee!!”

This is starting to sound more like the neighborhood drug dealer than any sustainable economic paradigm.

Slavery on Steroids

Slavery is a term characterized in part by the coercion of another person to perform or act without compensation. The effects of slavery are not only physical, but mental as well.  The effects of oppression manifest themselves in addictive behaviors.

Social acceptance is an extremely powerful psychotic that can be cleverly turned against any person. The techniques of social media are getting increasingly sophisticated in hijacking and consuming the social capital of others.

Green Marketing

It does not take long to see that the marketing professions are defining the social media space regardless of what anyone says about user-generated content.  The danger is that social media will become just as unsustainable as the economy that it replaces.  People will soon lose the ability to produce the currency that the media demands to support itself.

Ban advertising

t would be high temple sacrilege for any social media monetization strategist to suggest that advertising of any kind must be banned.  Well, not exactly, but the objective of advertising can be redefined if there were a means to do so.

The only sustainable monetization strategy (of which there are terribly few current examples) are the deployment of social media applications that empower people to discover their own individual talents, to pursue what they are naturally best at and enjoy doing most – while also eliminating the clutter and irrelevant messages that distracts them from their personal life goals.

This means that brands should communicate more and not less.  They should identify, educate, and promote the talents and abilities of a million customers instead of 1 superstar athlete or celebrity.

The proverbial sports analogy:

Advertisers should sit in the bleachers and cheer on their favorite customer, but they should not be in the game, blowing the whistle, or running the scoreboard.  Let them pay admission, see my logo, and buy my overpriced beer.  Let them sell to each other on their own dime – but under no circumstances should they be allowed on the field, in the schools, or in the home without explicit and expressed permission of the customer.

Social Media and Foreign Direct Investment

FDIIn the broadest definition, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is an investment outside the economy of the investor. It usually refers to a measure of foreign ownership of productive assets, such as factories, mines and land. Increasing foreign investment can be used as one measure of growing economic globalization.

The Disruption

Social Media has the effect of defining an economy not by an international border, but rather, by associations between people and their conversations. Investment is in the form of time and the exchange of ideas, experience, and knowledge. Ownership is expressed in the form of reputation, search placement, social ranking, hits, etc.

Social FDI

Therefore, FDI in social media refers to an investment applied outside the economy of the investor where:

  1. The outcome is derived simply from who is talking to whom.
  2. Combining different people in conversation results in alternate outcomes.

Likewise, increasing Social FDI can be used as one measure of growing economic socialization. For business, this means that Social FDI would then include investments in people who are not your customers.

For Example:

I recently wrote a post for Plane Conversations – a blog serving the private aviation industry. Thousands of private airplanes that once served the corporate market are grounded because of the financial crisis. The jist of the article was that the private aviation industry could help communities to stave off commercial aircraft expansion by empowering local entrepreneurs to compete with commercial aircraft industry by selling “lift products” provided by the private aviation industry, hence, Citizen Airlines, LLC.

The paradigm shift …

…is that a company that sells corporate jet services would engage, cooperate, and empower people who are not their customers in order to compete more effectively. Who saw that one coming? Can it happen everywhere? Can it happen in every single industry imaginable? What if everyone did it in their personal lives? Can it create entirely new industries altogether?

This is not trivial.

FDI in all forms induces a sharing of risk between the host economy and the investing economy. This provides a stronger stimulus to economic growth in host economies than other types of capital inflows. FDI is more than just capital; it is access to diverse technologies and management knowhow.

Welcome to conversational currency.

Many people who read the title of this post would conclude that the article is about the 100 million dollar Russian investment in Facebook, or how countries outside the US are using Linkedin and Twitter. Perhaps some repackaged assessment of well worn forecasts. Guess what, that is exactly what the article is about.

Innovation Economics 101

Innovation is largely the practice of connecting two useful ideas resulting in a third. Innovation leading to increased productivity is the fundamental source of increasing wealth in an economy. Innovation is the most important thing for the human survival.

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