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m-Via; Social Currency and Technology

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

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

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

m-Via is trading in social currency

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

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

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

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

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

Who Is Quantified by Whom?

abacusWhat is a Non-quantifiable Exchange?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cloud Economics or Inversion System?

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

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

Social Currency and Anonymity

The subject of privacy and anonymity are again rising up with the latest move by Facebook to integrate updates across the Internet onto the Facebook platform.

Conspiracy theories about Facebook and the CIA continue to flourish.  Meanwhile, the marketing and advertising industry seems poised to reboot their dwindling influence under a new cloak and dagger of social media data hustling and predictive demographics rather than playing by new rules of engagement.

Money is one thing and value is another.

I am astonished that people willingly and freely give up huge volumes of information about themselves when they really don’t have to.  In earlier times, marketers and advertisers would pay a great deal of money for far less information that people give them for free.  People do not understand the value that is stored between their ears or how easy it would be to set up an alternate economy that trades in social currencies.

If advertisers can pay someone to cold call me, to graph my data across the web, or sneak around my social networks, then they can certainly pay me to answer the phone.

The Ingenesist Project specifies an Innovation Economy built on the platform of social media.  While that thesis is extensive, let me summarize that the primordial soup of the Innovation Economy is called the Knowledge Asset Inventory.

Anonymous assets

One essential element of the new economic paradigm is the ability to combine knowledge assets so that innovation becomes predictable and therefore capitalized. However, a side effect is that such code makes the individual containers anonymous.  Marketers will have to pay you to find you.  here is why:

Now think about it this way – if you remove 20-dollar bill from your wallet to buy a Latte, you do not know (nor do you care) whether the last transaction performed by that 20-dollar bill was a donation to a charitable cause or a drug deal.  The dollar bill is anonymous – but you, as an asset, are not.

Social Currency is a Social Imperative

Dollar denominated money is a system to control social currency at a leverage factor of 1000:1.  Take away the dollar currency, and the leverage disappears.  Add a social currency and the national debt disappears.

Almost as a bonus, it is an absolute impossibility for marketers and advertisers to store and exchange value denominated in a social currency without extraordinary changes to the way they engage their clients….like, uhm, …don’t waste our time.

If we are smart, we can shut down the privacy issue in a hurry – anonymity of knowledge assets is the key.

Future of Money and Technology Summit

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

From the FMTS website:

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

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

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

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

The clear and present difference is Social Media.

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

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

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

The 1:1000 Rule; A Social Currency Imperative

What’s the difference between money and value?

Today, I saw yet another doom gloom economic forecast with the proverbial exponential graph of interest-on-debt climbing out to the stratosphere. The prognosis is the same; all bad, very ‘all bad’ things will happen.

So I wonder, to whom is all this interest being paid? Where is all that money stored? It has to belong to someone or be represented by something on the planet Earth, after all, money makes the world go around.

The 1000:1 rule

If I were to take, for example, NOA, the National Oceanographic Agency, and ask someone a Goldman Sachs to place a value on it, they would add up the replacement value of all the ships and weather satellites and come up with a number like, say, 4 Billion Dollars.

Now, if I were to calculate the increase in human productivity that result directly from the ability to forecast the weather – for the purposes of food production, managing all modes of transportation, Energy production, and tangential resource allocation – the value of NOA would be in well in excess of 4 Trillion dollars. This is a factor of over 1000 between the value of the same object in financial currency and social currency.

A bridge spans a waterway and carries 50,000 cars and trucks per day. An alternate route would take each vehicle at least 1 hour longer per day to cross the waterway. 50 billion dollars worth of social value is created over the life of the bridge that cost 50 million to construct; a 1000:1 leverage ratio.

A single Boeing 747 costs 100 million dollars but increases human productivity (including influence ripples) by 100 billion dollars over the service life of the aircraft compared to the nearest alternative mode of transportation. Again, 1000:1

That’s the difference between money and value.

The problem arises because our financial system is not able to articulate true value of social currency using a dollar denominated currency so social value remains invisible, not non-existant. Maybe the financial system does not want to articulate social value. After all, dollar denominated currency represents control of social value at a ratio of 1:1000. It’s about control

9.6 Trillion dollars was spent to educate every American. Just because a “corporation” does not exist to employ them and utilize their talents to the highest productivity level, does not mean that the talent and value does not exist. According to the 1:1000 rule, The GDP of the US in Social Currency is a minimum of 9,600 Trillion. What deficit?

It is about control. The dollar has a 1:1000 control leverage over social currency. It is not at all surprising to see social media expand at the rate proportional to that which the doom-gloom crowd predicts that the financial system will collapse. They are related, they hedge each other. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

Again, the imminent collapse of the financial system – no matter what the ‘doom gloom’ crowd says – does not mean that value does not exist; it simply means that the dollar will no longer control the value; that is, the social value wedged between people’s ears is free to be capitalized and securitized directly. We need to capture social currency in a new financial paradigm.

Social currency is not a buzz word, it’s an imperative – it is the Ingenesist Project

Conversational Cannibalism

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

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

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

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

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

*****

Cannibalism and spam

By Seth Godin:

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

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

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

Tweetswomma

Womma

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

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

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

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

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

Using cheap technology to spam people is not.

Twitter Me Elmo

Elmo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Burt and Ernie: “Who said Voyeur?”

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

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

Baby: [confused look]

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

Innovation Suicide

The following question appeared on a Linkedin Forum that I follow:

Complete this sentence: The ONE factor that is MOST important to innovation is… and here’s why…

I have said this in a few blog posts and I’ll say it again here: The current definition for “innovation” may be the single most disastrous eliminator of innovation.

Innovation Suicide:

Yeah, it kills itself. Really, look it up – it’s a horrible cacophony of buzz bits and weasel speak that amount to nothing more than “Ya know it when ya see it”.

Any definition is supposed to give the reader enough information to duplicate, recognize, and identify instances of the subject – Preferably before the event has ended. Think about it – if the definition for Innovation were clear, nobody would be asking this question.

I am always amazed at how simple the answers to complex questions – and how complex the answer to simple questions – can often be.

Question: THE ONE: Complete this sentence: The ONE factor that is MOST important to innovation is… and here’s why…

My Answer: The Definition of Innovation

Here is why:

Information, knowledge, and innovation are obviously related to each other.

1. You can’t have one without the other two.
2. If you cannot measure one, you cannot measure the other two.
3. where all three are integrated, the system becomes efficient.

Yet, the definitions of each term do not include the other two. Therefore, the current definition of innovation is insufficient to describe the condition. That is why this is the ONE most important factor.

Let me prescribe the following analogy; distance, velocity, and acceleration are obviously related.

1. You cannot have one without the other two.
2. If you cannot measure one, you cannot measure the other two.
3. where all three are integrated, the system is efficient.

This is because distance is the point between two facts, velocity is the rate at which the distance between two points changes. Acceleration is the rate at which the velocity of travel between two points changes.

Therefore let’s re-define innovation as follows:

Information are facts and data. Knowledge is defined by rate of change of information. Finally, innovation is defined by the rate of change of knowledge in a community.

If we can accept this definition, everything changes. Seriously, everything changes.

Now, that’s Innovation!!!

* note: If you are familiar with differential Calculus you may see how a new economic paradigm may arise from this algorithm.

Is Anonymity an Asset or a Liability?

Facebook is delivering incredibly rich data about people, their activities, preferences and knowledge assets right to the doorstep of marketers, employers, and likely, Government.  Is Anonymity an Asset or a Liability?

Uhm…is this what the users had in mind?

“Local Social” is an absolute imperative for monetization of Social Media – every application needs some degree of local integration. Here’s why: Nothing happens until people get together and build something, produce something, or create something together. That is what “an economy” is, that is what “a company” is, that is what “a Market” is, that is what “a conversation” is.

Facebook knows this, but there is a catch; “Local Social” does not need a big platform like Facebook – a small one would do fine. However, Facebook needs the micro platform in order to monetize. In other words, Facebook needs Communities more than Communities need Facebook.

If Facebook is not careful, a huge opportunity awaits a competitor to disrupt the Facebook parade with high value, high segmentation, and high anonymity – and still monetize.

The irony is that Facebook Groups will empower the community to spin off and compete with it.

Here is what will happen:

Facebook must provides consumers with the same information about corporations as they provide to corporations about consumers. Corporations need to be willing to expose themselves to transparency. People will undoubtedly publish the names and addresses of the CEO of the corporations in their communities. Their names, prefered music, groups joined, and Farmville wiggly worms, etc.

If someone goes through extraordinary effort to not be seen, that too will become a data point – distrust.

People are not dumb, entrepreneurs will find a way to make the game fair. Facebook will find itself regulated by its own community. Only then can we expect the level of opportunity and accountability that is required to support a fully convertible universal social currency.

It’s up to Facebook now – I hope they know what they are doing.

Engineers Are Money

angry-engineerEngineers are money.

China and India are producing millions of engineers as part of their global economic dominance strategy. Engineers increase productivity and productivity creates wealth. Why? Because money is only a means for storage and exchange of value and engineers create the value.

America has no idea who the engineers are

I heard an interesting comment on a group discussion board recently; “there are so many engineers on the streets that employers have their pick of the crop”.

First, I find the reference to “crops” ironic. Second, why should engineers need to fit every nuance of a job description? Engineers tell us the things that we don’t already know – who exactly writes those job descriptions if they know what they don’t know? Or in practical terms, why isn’t an Aerospace Engineer immediately qualified to be an Energy Engineer?

The Ingenesist Project identifies 3 types of knowledge assets: Social Capital refers to one’s ability to organize, perform, and manage themselves in teams of other people. Creative Capital refers to the ability to relate seemingly unrelated concepts, objects, and perceptions into new and innovative ideas. Intellectual capital refers to the ability to deploy book learning, objective reasoning, and tactical experience toward specific objectives.

Everyone has ALL of the above asset categories, however, we each posses them in different proportions. People like Steve Jobs have all of these in very high quantities, but the rest of us are somewhere in the middle. Most have a surplus in one or two at the expense of the remaining asset categories. Engineers typically enjoy a surplus of intellectual and creative capital at the expense of social capital.

Social Capital

Should we, as a society, expect engineers to meet meet the same social standards as say, Baristas? The job market favors the young, socially adept, and politically wired people. But engineers are a different – we all need them to be exactly the way they are in order for the rest of us to be who we are. If engineers were “marketers” they would either cease to be engineers or marketing would cease to be manipulative.

Who’s your money maker?

Engineers are responsible for nearly every penny of value stored and exchanged in a modern economy. Roads, infrastructure, medical devices, food production, software, hardware, housing, transportation – anything worth anything is in some way touched by God and an engineer. Engineers are responsible for creating the tangible value we enjoy so dearly but is also so easily corrupted by others.

Who is squandering whom?

So when I hear comments like; “there are so many engineers on the streets that employers have their pick of the crop”. I ask myself, “how exactly did that employer become an employer without engineers”? How does any employer expect to remain an employer without the direct, strategic, and honorable deployment of engineering assets? How does a country expect to arise from financial crisis and insurmountable debt obligation without elevating their engineers to “First-Responder” status?

I heard a story that Haiti is so poor, they would chop down a fruit tree for charcoal. Squandering engineers is like killing the golden goose. Every single engineer in America should be cherished. Every single engineer should have their pick of most qualified employers, not the other way around. Every single engineer should have a job waiting for them as soon as the prior one is finished. Engineers should be paid money, real money – not some “proxy” for money.

Criminals Steal Social Agreements

At the end of the day, everyone is arguing over money. How are we going to heal the poor? How are we going to police the world? How are we going to bail everyone out? How are we going to preserve the environment? The answer is always the same…it takes money to solve all of these problems.

What people do not realize is that currency is a social agreement, not a disagreement. Money is whatever people agree to use as a storage container for the value of their time, labor, intellect, or other resources. A criminal can steal your time, labor, intellect and possessions, or they can just steal your social agreements and replace them with a social disagreements.

It is easier to steal from the poor than the rich

Stealing money is not as difficult as some may think. Whenever people are held below a certain economic level, they fail to organize in communities that would otherwise protect them from outside influences. These people are often too busy holding a job, paying off debt, or traveling in search of work, or worse, a place to live – they become easy targets.

Blind leading the blind

Currency, by fiat or black market, is just a way that everyone agrees to store and exchange value. So, when people are at each other’s throats over a system of beliefs, they are effectively blinded to their true opponent – their inability to make a social agreement regarding the storage and exchange of value.

The current political strains pulling at this country are dangerous. The real problem is not your colleague or neighbor who is in favor of universal healthcare. The problem is not your old classmate on facebook calling Obama a liar. It’s OK to oppose the government – it’s our right. It’s OK to oppose bankers, they are accountable to a social charter.

The problem is that people are opposing each other.

There is no way to pay off a 50 Trillion dollar debt. All politicians know this. You would need to harvest every fish in the ocean, pump every remaining barrel of oil, and cut down every tree to extract this amount of “value” from what is left of the Earth. To whom exactly would this value be delivered and how? It simply cannot and it simply will not be repaid without some magnificent productivity gains on the order of nuclear fusion or superconductivity.

I will not speculate exactly how the currency fails. There are plenty of examples in history. Instead, I will speculate on what will replace the failed currency in the age of social media.

Social media is taking on some very fortunate characteristics, especially in the area of organizing people and communities around a common goal. Too often that common goal is to oppose another force of social media. This will change, it must change. When the dollar fails, people are going walk out their front door, look at their neighbors, and introduce themselves.

So, There you have it – that’s where all the money went. It is stored and exchanged in our social agreements.

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.


Reality is Simple: Money is Time

daylight-saving-time-costs-billionsWhoever said “Time Is Money” got it backwards. Anyone who still believes this is now moving backwards in economic time.

Reality is simple: Money is time.

We pay to extend our live, we pay to have a good time, we wonder what time it is, we share time, we exchange time, we invest time. Everybody has a limited amount of time on Earth and everybody is competing for a slice of someone else’s time. Money is just the scorecard in a game of time.

Time is limited for everyone on Earth.

Sure, we often trade our time for money, but we also trade our time for many things; our children, families, travels, experiences, sleep, and consuming products and services. There is no other factor to which our behavior is more determined than time. Everyone does whatever they know to make the best use of their time.

How on Earth can the Whole Wide World go bankrupt?

Easy. The interest on money increases with time. When the total amount of money in existence is less than the sum of the principal plus the interest due, the World is bankrupt. We have long passed this point so what happens next is anyone’s guess, but be assured, something will happen.

Here is my guess, Money and Time will swap places. “Time is Money”, becomes “Money is Time”.  The principal will inflate away while the “interest” will continue to changes with time – but it will be pegged to “people” who also change with time.  As such, People and their knowledge become the medium of storage, exchange, and trade.  Knowledge is contained between their ears as social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital.

Social Media Happens

Social Media saves time and people’s interaction with each other on social media is affecting the nature of money.

Google saves time, Wikipedia saves time, Amazon.com saves time, Facebook saves time, Linkedin save time. Foursquare and Gowalla increase the value of social time because going local saves time. Mashable and Tech Crunch save people time. Bloggers, educators, entertainers, and recreation increases the quality of time related to the intentions of the consumer. Trust, engagement, reputation, conversation, relationships, and tribes save time. Social Innovation saves time.

The Time Paradigm and the next generation of social applications

The next economic paradigm will be time based (as the scarce resource) and will probably look very similar to the one we know and understand today. The difference is that everyone will interact with the clock instead of the dollar.

In the next generation of social media applications we see that value will be derived from time saved or punished for time squandered. People will behave in a manner dependent on how much their time is worth.

The new business models will compete against time, rather than price. Quality will be measurable by anyone.  Precision and accuracy will be rewarded and manipulation will be punished. At the end of the day, Money is Time and the quality of time is the quality of money.

The Future of Money is the future of Time:

It’s hard to imagine any product or service that wastes people’s time surviving past the next decade.  It is hard to image any future innovation that does not save time over whatever it replaces.  It is hard to imagine the basis of any currency without a time value.

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They Should Pass A Social Currency Option

cubscout-mainMy new favorite rebuttal to any argument from economic ailment to political controversy is: “I’d like to see a social currency thrown into the mix”.

It is really convenient to have the same position on all issues; Health Care, Terrorism, abortion, financial meltdown, education reform, and political scandal – my response is the same. “I’d like to see a social currency thrown into the mix”.

What the heck am I talking about?

Several recent blogs articles (and here, and here, and here) have converged around the idea that social currency is something that people earn from being active in a community, network, or social organization. Social Currency in lauded upon the recipient in many forms such as Google juice, respect, engagement, trust, re-tweets, reputation, merit badges, check-ins, tokens, Whuffie, wiggly worms, etc…

Regardless of what you call it, all social currencies have a very unique characteristic that differentiates them from a financial currency. Social currencies reward high integrity and punish low integrity.

Social Currency can be earned or converted:

Organizing a community around a common goal is serving a need that government and corporations do not have to fulfill in their “Social Charter”. So it has value.

  • Helping a neighbor find a job supplants the work of the government funded unemployment office.
  • Helping an elderly neighbor with their shopping supplements the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Adopting a child alleviates expenditures in the foster care system, abortion, and possibly the courts and prisons.
  • Helping local vendors stay afloat by organizing a community of group buying or groupons reduces the demands on bankruptcy courts and social services.

Social Currency can also be eliminated:

  • Public servants and politicians who squander the trust of their constituents through acts of corruption and impropriety
  • Corporations who decimate local priorities in favor of Wall Street priorities.
  • Breaking the law, endangering others, neglect, fraud, breech of social contract .
  • Consumption far in excess of social contribution.

Take any issue and apply social currency

The health care debate is an excellent example. First, let’s apply a social currency to all of the people voting on the bill. Next, let’s apply a social currency to everyone arguing against the bill. Next, let’s apply a social currency to everyone arguing in favor of the bill. Let that count establish the burden of proof of the argument.

Next, let’s pay for Health Care Reform in social currency, not financial currency. That means people with a surplus of social currency receive health care at a certain rate. People with a deficit of social currency receive health care at a different rate.

Finally, compensation to health care providers would also be biased by a social currency. Providers with a surplus of social currency are paid at a different rate than providers with a deficit of social currency.

What about cheaters?, who pays these subsidies? how do you count it?, It’s a job killer, corporations will go bankrupt, losers still lose, Holy cow, this messes everything up!!!!

Actually, it’s not much different than how we allocate money on a credit scoring basis. It’s not any more difficult to count than the blood-money coursing through the veins of an unvetted financial / insurance system. Most importantly, constraining a Financial Currency with a Social Currency sets up a whole new landscape of benchmarks and incentives that accelerate innovation, in effect, printing new currency.

That’s what I mean when I say; “I’d Like to see some Social Currency in the Mix”


Gowalla and Foursquare: Money is as Money Does

manhattanMoney happens because people happen, not the other way around.

Wall Street has no idea what’s knocking at their door with the emergence of a new class of Social Media Applications that incorporate geolocation strategy.

Money is as money does.

Hanging out in bars and buying silly tokens does not define a sustainable economy any more than borrowing money from yourself with interest in order to keep it sufficiently “scarce”. However, the strategic combination of social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital does define a sustainable economy.

Social Productivity can be loosely defined as “what you make with your time”. All of us have a limited number of hours on Earth.  “Don’t waste my time” is the new Tax on Tea. The Last Mile of Social Media is a critical step that will complete the Internet as a system of social organization, and as a result, financial reorganization.

The 5 components of a financial system

A financial system must have 5 components acting in a system in order to sustain itself:  1. a means to store and exchange value (currency). 2. inventory 3. vetting  4. entrepreneurs, 5. A business model.  If any of these components is missing or becomes corrupted, the whole system fails.  Where all of these components are intact, however primitive, an economy will flourish.

1. Currency is a social agreement and the Dollar is no exception.  The “social agreement” is the presumption that the currency is scarce and therefore valuable.  In reality, time is scarce.  Geolocation is important because traveling is a quantity and guessing is a quality that are both time consuming.

2. The knowledge inventory is emerging where people establish themselves as experts through blogging, community organization, and development of creative content.  The new class of social media applications like Gowalla, Foursquare (and those not yet created) will eventually evolve to highly organized and finely granulated knowledge inventories in and about communities.

3. The vetting mechanism will form as people with common knowledge assets aggregate around cooperative activity rather than competitive activity.  High integrity will be rewarded and low integrity will be punished. Gowalla and Foursquare are still easy to cheat, but that will get worked out.

4. Entrepreneurs. As information becomes infinite, time becomes more scarce, thereby forming the basis of this new economy. Entrepreneurs will identify knowledge assets and elevate them from low levels of productivity to higher levels of productivity. Gowalla and Foursquare provide visibility to some rudimentary knowledge assets – it will only get better.

The New Class of entrepreneurs will begin by aggregating strategic combinations of vendors.  Then they will aggregate strategic combinations of knowledge assets and match them to strategic vendors in infinite combinations. They will manufacture “time”.

5. The business plan is simple: A. transform data to information, B. transform information to knowledge, C. transform knowledge to innovation, D. transform innovation to data.  Each transformation produces “time”.

In fact, this is all that Gowalla and Foursquare accomplish.   Each transforms data into information and people transform information into knowledge.  People are drawn to the possibility of  increasing the value of their time in their community.

If people can make their own currency more efficiently than a corporation or government can do it for them, they will. Don’t worry, a currency will find a way to represent them – after all, money is as money does.

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.

It’s About Asking The Right Questions

bontisMy new favorite speaker is Dr. Nick Bontis. He is smart, funny, dynamic and he has the intellectual horsepower to back it up. I found his work while trolling academic journals for intellectual capital.

Among his dozens of academic papers, I am particularly interested in one that rationalizes that allocation of knowledge assets. It’s brilliant for the reason that it employs much of the same methodology that we predict will be needed to build the innovation economy – not in the hallowed hall of industry, academia, or government –  rather, on a platform of social media.

Here’s the Twist.

The following video was filmed about 10 years ago where Dr. Bontis is making predictions for 10 years into the future, the year 2010.  His predictions do not explicitly include the phenomenon of Social Media.  Instead, he extrapolates to a somewhat more “intellectual” outcome.

This is interesting because it provides us with an experiment that can exclude a huge variable called ‘social media’ and allow us to study intellectual capital as a distinction from Social capital. Dr. Bontis provides some remarkable insights about where we would be headed in 2010 (thus, compared to where we are), free from our social media bias. Cool, huh?

One statement struck my interest when he was framing a definition for “intellectual Capital”.  He said:

“[All the data will eventually combine.  We will then need to ask the right questions]”.

This is an evolutionary change in the way people will need to think. Instead of regurgitating hearsay (a social media staple), people are challenged to provide some modicum of analysis to sets of data that they encounter lest they remain useless (both people and data).  This is expressed in the form of asking the right questions.  The opportunity, therefore, is to bring people into contact with data in their communities and allow them to ask the right questions. We’ve coined this the “Last Mile of Social Media”.

Next he points out, with a very entertaining story, that 30 years ago a school assignment consisted of 95% search and 5% analysis (hence regurgitation) whereas in 2000, he estimated that 50% search and 50% analysis was allocated to the average academic assignment.  In the future (year 2010), 5% of the time allocation would go to search and 95% would be allocated to analysis. Humans would become endowed with higher order learning and thinking skills, the ability to derive new interpretations that will accelerate  innovation.  So kids, how’s that workin’ out?

Of course, he did not anticipate Twitter.  His portrayal of “Nancy the Supercomputer” is replaced by a Facebook the super social network…but even that sets up an even more interesting and important dialog for tomorrow.  Bravo Nick!

Please take a few moments and enjoy this video from Dr. Nick Bontis

The Invisible Surplus

invisible man griffin jared hindmanKnowledge is THE Asset. Deal with it.

I don’t care what the “definitions” by the Experts, the Patent System, Production Systems, Money, corporate bonds, marketing, advertising, or all the rest of that stuff. In the next economic paradigm, knowledge is an asset, knowledge is the only asset that matters because the transformation of knowledge into solutions will become the next currency.  If not human knowledge, then what else?

You can’t hold it in your hand because you hold it between your Ears

Yet, if you listen to mainstream media, our education system, politicians, and even college textbooks, everything else is the “asset” and human knowledge is treated like some expendable line item that is unworthy of economic development – or economic equality for that mattter.

Knowledge is invisible because there is no inventory. Why are we unable to see things like this? This is the most stunning cognitive deficit imaginable for the World’s most developed country. Why is this such an impossible philosophical chasm that we cannot seem to cross with our modern accounting system?

Now, what would happen if we did? Perhaps we would find find a cognitive surplus.

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Everyone, Inc.

In the state of Washington, it costs 200 dollars to establish a Limited Liability Corporation. All the documents are online and there is no shortage of tutorials on the process. It’s a whole lot easier to get a job because it’s real easy for one corporation to hire (and fire) another corporation. Taxes are simple.

Everyone’s liability is limited and transactions are conducted under a uniform commercial code. And there are no incentives for people doing what they are not good at and every incentive for people to do what they enjoy most.

A corporation is fictitious.

A corporation exists in the form of a bits and bytes simulating a folder of papers in a virtual file cabinet. A corporation gets to deduct all of their expenses from their taxes. A corporation has a credit score, it can borrow money, and even have a bankruptcy just like a person. A corporation can donate unlimited amounts of money to a political candidate. Corporation garner social respect. Laws favor corporation. In fact, the cards are stacked in favor of the corporation over the employee; unless, of course, you are both.

It’s all in the Management….of knowledge assets.

All of the business theories are written to apply within the construct of the corporation. Corporate accounting provides a host of clever ways to manage assets. You can depreciate assets, you can inflate or deflate “intangibles” as needed for whatever valuation purpose. You don’t need to show anyone your accounting either (unless you are a public corporation). American corporations don’t even need to hire American employees, or any employees for that matter. Outsourcing goes to other corporations.

Land, Labor, and Capital

Corporations allocate Land Labor and Capital – well, that’s the theory anyway. Land is underwater in a real estate bubble. Labor is tragically unemployable or under employed or outsourced to the political slave markets. Capital is being consumed by the “interest” monster conjured into existence from the debt. Uuhhmmm….So how’s that workin’ for ya’ll??

So why not become a corporation??

Social Media is able to perform almost all of the functions that a corporation would normally do internally. The “Last Mile of Social Media” is when local communities organize themselves on, say, Facebook. High integrity is rewarded and low integrity is punished. Now you can reliably find other corporations to do your accounting, Human Resources, Marketing, and content design and distribution.

If you need to actually produce something “solid”, well there will always be a corporation willing to do that too. All of these things are only a keystroke away. So why isn’t everyone a corporation?

No, seriously……

We teach our kids to be good employees, not to become good corporations.  How do we expect social priorities to compete with Wall Street Priorities?

Social Media: Power By The Hour

Making human knowledge and intentions tangible in a market place opens up the possibility of a whole new class of business plans. We call this Social Power by the Hour.

A Social Trifecta

1. Obviously, Social Media is powerful.

2. Fractional ownership or rental of assets is an emerging trend in our environmentally, geographically, and monetarily constrained economy.

3.Vendor Relationship Management (Doc Searles) promises to change the shape of traditional advertising in the future.

What if we combined all three?

ZipCar is an excellent example of the fractional membership for automobile transportation. There are many advantages but also huge drawbacks. $7.00 per hour is a lot to add to a casual lunch at a sidewalk café or any social experience. Then there are all the lost options like the one-way-trip, guaranteed availability, all those rules and regulations. So, it’s pay now or pay later.

Social memberships

What if your friends in the social network also had ZipCar memberships and the scheduling were interchangeable? Suppose you could find a ZipCar anywhere and park one anywhere?

Now, enter the Vendor of goods and service. What if the Vendor were to subsidize the cost of the ZipCar to bring 4 people into the restaurant, club, or event? What if amusement parks, zoos and art exhibitions helped pay for full car-loads of friends to drive themselves to events?

The Vetting Mechanism:

What if the real social value of the ZipCar could be compared to car ownership for each intended trip? How would this influence your decision to drive, plan, or combine events into your user experience? What if Vendors could influence that cost to drive incentives?

Power By The Hour Game

The Above schematic is What I’ll Call the Social Media Power by the Hour Game. Everyone is part of the same social network and can talk to each other. Each Box represents a player that can influence the cost of the power by the hour. The True Value Calculator keeps score by comparing each transaction value to the equivalent car-ownership or public transportation value.

Set your filters and wait for the proposition…

Instead of scheduling, everyone (including passengers, vendors, social network) start by setting a bunch of filters that represent their approximate intentions. The system compares the intentions with ZipCar locations and compares it to the True Value Calculator. When a suitable transaction is in play, all the players are notified.

Once the game starts and enough people play, statistically, there should be ZipCars distributed proportionally around the city and all vendors will be managing their marketing campaign with 100% ROI on their impressions. The system will become a self optimizing money game.

A fully convertible currency

At first, this may seem like an application to sell ZipCar memberships, but actually, it is selling odds and entrepreneurs are placing bets. The ZipCar is simply a mechanical device that converts social currency into money.

A few Scenarios:

Scenario 1: When a vendor notices a group of friends going to the mall, they can pay for part of the ZipCar with a lunch coupon.

Scenario 2: Amusement park or event promoter can see when a family has no plans and can offer a free ZipCar to them

Scenario 3: The bigger your social network, the cheaper it becomes for you to drive a car

Scenario 4: Vendors can bid for the ZipCar audience with Packages of discounts, coupons and also earn impressions and trust.

Scenario 5: Friends can see what other friends are doing and can jump in the same ZipCar

Scenario 6: ZipCars can be parked densely at events since you will not necessarily leave in the same car that you came in.

Scenario 7: As soon as you park, the zip car becomes available for someone else. As soon as you need one, there is a high probability one is parked close by.

Scenario 6: ZipCar options can be traded like currency to buy things on, say, Craigslist

And many many many more……..

End result: The bigger your social network, the cheaper your Power By the Hour. The bigger the social network, the more effective WOM marketing becomes. The bigger the social network, the more options are available to users. The greater the social network, the more SOCIAL VALUE a ZipCar membership will have in comparison to independent car ownership. The bigger the social network, the more social currency can trade hands as the Dollar fails.

Building Better Problems

The solution to any problem is entirely dependent on how the problem is defined. Likewise, redefining the problem, exposes huge opportunities for new solutions.

In Fact, a great deal of innovation arises not from a clever solution, but from a clever new definition of a problem.

For example, “build a better mouse trap” has entirely different outcome when one simply changes the definition of the word “trap”.

Manufacturing Problems.

Commercial Air Transportation, for example, was once lauded as a “Time Machine” because airplanes could carry a person into “a future” that was otherwise impossible to emerge in, or to a “past” that would never have been witnessed by any other means.

However, solving this problem created many more problems such as runways, infrastructure, car parking, noise, oxygen, crashing, etc. Diligently, we went about solving those problems as well. Unfortunately, solving each of those problems created a host of new problems. Today we’re down to solving the 3.0 ounce of toothpaste rule and the flammable underwear problem.

At some point we need to ask if we are manufacturing problems with every new solution. At what point is innovation taking us backwards? How prevalent is this human trait and does it have anything to do with the financial deficit?

Redefine the Problem

One of the greatest opportunities of Social Media (which is rarely cited by the experts) is the opportunity to redefine problems in the context of social media. Using our airline example, we know that commercial aviation arose from WWII as a response for bringing troops to static battle fields with such dynamic machines as the DC3. This worked great after the war too!

Today we still treat people as static and airplanes as dynamic. Suppose we were to redefine the problem so that people are dynamic and the airplane is static?

Think about it, people go about their life with work, family, and friends. Then they hop into a long aluminum tube, tie themselves down and sit there doing nothing. After a few hours, they emerge from the tube to go about their life, work, family, and friends. The aluminum tube is static, not dynamic – it’s a time machine, remember?

The opportunity, therefore, is for people to self-aggregate using social media around locations, schedules, and events related to life, work, family, and friends. The market could then supply the correct size aluminum tube to meet the need of the community. After all, wouldn’t it be easier to move one airplane to meet the ‘market of many’ rather than trying to move the ‘market of many’ to meet one airplane?

This may sound trivial now, but don’t underestimate the creativity of social entrepreneurs to build a better problem to solve.

Should Educators Command an Equity Position in Students?

The idea that a mentor may take an equity position in a protege is not new – it happens in families and extended families as elders are fully aware that the children will provide for the family in the future. The connection is not to hard to grasp that it’s in everyone’s best interest to help the kids – all of the kids. This is the social contract.

Somehow that connection gets lost when everyone is competing for the same set of limited jobs and everyone is responding to the pressures of insurmountable debt to banking institutions.

As Social currencies begin to replace the decaying monetary currency, a new set of social instruments will arise. The scope and range of new social contracts is unlimited and should be expected to increase substantially. These social contracts will become tangible in a communities and may he used in a system of trade that stores and transfers knowledge efficiently in a community.

If a father can teach a son how to become successful in the family business, why can’t a community of fathers teach a community of sons to be successful in a community of businesses? This may need to happen whether we like it or not.

The Interesting Thing About Interest Rates

Money represents human productivity, but the interest on money represents risk. This means that the lender collects interest because that represents the risk that they assume in departing from their money. Meanwhile productivity fluctuates naturally and can be affected by a many external forces.

The problem is that risk can never be negative, therefore interest rates can never be negative – that is called “breaking he buck”. Risk is a measure of volatility, or, “deviations from what is considered normal”. While there is certainly good deviations and bad deviations, there can never be a “negative” deviation from normal – it is a mathematical impossibility, a glitch.

The result is that productivity must always be driven up and up and up – sometimes in unnatural ways, such as forcing consumption. Constant production is unacceptable – it must always increase. Vacations, free time, family time, and leisure are not acceptable. What if we had a currency that could accommodate a negative interest rate?

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