The recipe for selling great products to great customers in the age of Social Media resides first in helping people find their highest talent and passion.

The great innovations of our time were created by people doing what they enjoyed most by using their talents to the highest potential.  Disney, Boeing, Apple, Mattel, and nearly every other ground breaking venture had the secret sauce of people doing what they were best at and most passionate about.

Advertising in the Age of Social Capitalism

Computer Enabled Society is in the midst of a struggle to reorganize itself outside of the construct of the traditional corporation. People seek to develop methods and systems that allow for the reallocation of social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital to match a person’s natural talents and passions with those complementary to other people.

If marketers have the foresight and methods to “get ‘em while they’re young”, they certainly also have the foresight and methods to develop ‘em to their highest purchasing potential.  All they need to do is listen and support to the future trends in Social Capitalism.

Instead, mass marketing pays mass money for mass audience from which to draw mass revenues.  As a result, actual products are designed to be marketed and thrown away; not to be particularly useful, productive, or even healthy.  Such unnecessary innovation wastes human effort and natural resources while mass marketing of unnecessary innovation wastes the time and bandwidth of those for whom the product is irrelevant (yes, Spam).  Economies of scale will become liabilities of scale in an Social Capital driven Innovation Economy.

Few realize that advertising can become a highly useful component of the Innovation Economy.  In many professional societies, practitioners look forward to hearing from vendors, educators, and fellow practitioners for trends, news, and developments that can strengthen their community.  Bad products are rejected quickly and good ones are elevated quickly. This is how the great innovations are found. This is where the early adopters congregate. This is where brand loyalty is unyielding. This is where wealth is created.  This is efficiency that society wants and needs.

The Ingenesist Project starts the discussion by specifying the creation of a knowledge inventory in society.  This simple exercise enables communities of practice to form around a set of knowledge attributes.  Advertisers can quickly identify target markets and support the operating costs of these communities in exchange for the bandwidth of the members.   The community will look forward to learning about the advances in the field of their interest and ad copy will become far more useful and efficient to deliver in greater detail.

When communities of practice merge with other communities in the innovation process, the message of the advertiser can be carried far and clear as people share ideas and coordinate activity.  Feedback to the vender is highly qualified thereby creating a virtuous circle of innovation.  In the age of social media, highly targeted advertising is simply more efficient than “bending the herd” in a TV era mass market model.


The Internet is a lot like a commercial airplane – it is very useful in transporting us to distant lands but the real work must happen on the ground.  The organization of society at both ends of an Internet destination must be developed if real wealth is to be created. Social Media needs to develop this component at this critical juncture of human history when vast amounts of social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital are being sent to the shores of despair upon Unemployment Air Line.

Computer enabled society:

The great opportunity of our generation in the fair, sustainable, and equitable creation of wealth through innovation in a computer-enabled, open-sourced, and democratic society that can organize its own knowledge in the form of a financial instrument.  The great danger, of course, is if we miss our flight and engender a computer simulated society where it is easier to interact with online community than our own neighbors.  It’s like getting on an airplane for the fine view, good food, and interesting conversation.  Social capital is by far the most powerful force of change and social media must now touch the ground in a meaningful, systemic, repeatable, and scalable manner.

The analogy continues:

The earliest days of aviation were a novelty at best.  Some commercial enterprise emerged in the form of barnstorming, carrying the mail, light cargo, aerial photography, and warfare. Likewise, the evolution of the internet brought us on-line gaming, e-mail, e-commerce, assorted photography, and hacking, etc.  It was not until the invention of municipal airports that the airplane became a true time machine by increasing human productivity and allowing us to see history that would otherwise be unavailable traveling by sea.  The true value of both commercial aviation and social media over “sail mail” is precisely through the increase in human productivity to transfer information to the ground.

Three Web Applications:

First, social media needs to develop a knowledge inventory system by geographic areas.  Second, Social Media needs a search engine at a local level that combines knowledge assets to form “strategic” social networks that can execute a specific business plan at reduced risk; cooking the “secret sauce”.  Third; an Innovation Bank must “pull” knowledge surplus and “pull” knowledge deficits together from diverse communities.  These three applications will provide everyone with the tools needed to create wealth in their communities.

Social Media has the potential to become the airport of the Internet Transportation System.  Nothing meaningful can happen until the rubber meets the tarmac.  So, let’s start building runways.


In finance, an option is the right, without the obligation, of taking a financial position some time in the future.  As with any financial term, options are associated with “code speak” such as: volatility, exercise, strike, call, put, etc., glazing over many an eye.  At the same time, people want, buy, and trade options all day long in everyday life without even knowing it.  Options have value; otherwise people would not want them.

The ROI model of valuation fails when applied to social media.  The number of hits per ad dollar just does not translate to brand loyalty or scale into rivers of cash flow.  There is little surprise that corporations have great difficulty socializing because they simply don’t exist, except as a folder labeled “ROI” in the filing cabinet of an attorney in Bermuda.  In fact, losing control of the message makes for an expensive funeral in that same filing cabinet.  The Social Media industry is trying to live in the ROI structure and struggling to create revenue.

The cardinal rule of business is to collect assets and shed liabilities.  A “right” is an asset while an “obligation” is a liability.  An option is an asset without the liability, to make a decision some time in the future.  As such, options favor long term planning and strategic nurturing rather than short term profit taking of the ROI model. Asian countries and corporations set a good example of buying options in the future through product quality, education, and economic patience.  American corporations should do the same if they hope to benefit from social media.

People do not want ROI, they want options.  They want the option to separate peers from mentors from friends from family.  They want the option to experience before buying.  People want the option to meet their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs.  They want the option to be anonymous or public in their interaction.  They want the option to collaborate and support others.  They want the option to overcome physical barriers.

People want to meet new people, get new ideas, and hold the option to act on those new ideas or collect on past ideas shared with others.  If they exercise an option and discover another along the way, they want the option to pursue many options to meet a changing market. If they create something in one market, they want the option to apply it to adapt it and access other markets.  If they help someone else up the ladder, they want an option to access what that person, in turn, has created from their help. If they make a friend, they want the option of meeting their new friend’s friends.

Likewise, when people are in trouble, they will turn to their collection of options and start exercising them as society has for millenia.  The great financial transformation will occur when on-line society gets threaded into the fabric of off-line society through the trade of options.  This is the area that needs to develop so that all the pieces can fall into place.  This may in fact become the lasting legacy of the financial meltdown.

Options can be the traded like money throughout and across on-line and off-line social networks if there were a way to keep track of them.  While The Ingenesist Project specifies promising strategies for trading options in a social network with varying levels of practicality, we can say with great confidence that it this next paradigm of economic development will never happen with an ROI mentality.


The Perfect Storm:

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

Advertising is not the correct revenue model.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go where the money is:

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

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


In order to restructure our financial system; we first need to restructure our innovation system.  ALL of the top ten reasons for business failure are due to a lack of knowledge, not a lack of money.

Top 10 reasons why businesses fail:

1.    Lack of an adequate, viable business plan
2.    Insufficient sales to sustain business
3.    Poor marketing plan: unappealing product, poor customer identification, incorrect pricing and lackluster promotion
4.    Inadequate capital, misuse of capital and poor cost control
5.    Poor management skills: lack of delegation, leadership and/or control
6.    Lack of experience and knowledge
7.    Lack of managerial focus/commitment
8.    Poor customer service
9.    Inadequate human resource management
10.    Failure to properly use professional advice: i.e. accounting, legal, financial, etc.

Lack of a viable business plan is an act of negligence where research, scenarios, and assumptions have not been tested.  Market ignorance is not an excuse nor is the failure to know one’s customer. Death by poor marketing plan is knowledge deficiency related to product appeal, customer identification, pricing structure, and lackluster promotion.  Obviously, one needs to know how to manage a company in order to be focused, let alone correctly estimate capital needs. Lack of customer service knowledge is deadly in the age of social media. Inadequate HR is an oxymoron – if it’s inadequate, it’s not a resource – human or otherwise.  Finally, failure to listen to knowledgeable people is ego driven irrationality.

The financial system is not the only problem; the innovation system is a crucial element. Information, knowledge and innovation, by any definition, are profoundly and inseparably connected.  A failure in one kills the other two.  So, just because an entrepreneur does not have the knowledge, does not mean it the ‘knowledge’ fails to exist – it simply means that entrepreneur failed to find it.

So where is the knowledge? Unfortunately, there is no public knowledge inventory – people do not know what each other knows.  There is no website where that people can go search for all 90th percentile social media experts living in zip code 06776, let alone build a dedicated local management team.  There is no way that anyone can assemble the knowledge needed to execute a business plan with a known probability of success given the information available.  As such, there is no way to finance public innovation.

Insurance companies can tell you the probability that you will die exactly on your 80th birthday, but we cannot estimate the probability that a business will be successful.  Nothing has more variables that human physiology, yet it is predictable and business success probability is not.  Why can’t this be fixed?

If we could identify, integrate, and predict public information, knowledge and innovation, we could diversify risk exposures away.  With risk exposures managed, we could insure start-ups risks.  With start-up risk eliminated, we can sell innovation bonds at, say, 6% to fund the extraordinary rate of public innovation that we need to support our debt and pressing social liabilities.   If the innovation bond returns a modest 20%, human productivity, by definition, has increased by 20%.  A 20% growth in human productivity is a 20% growth in an economy.  Again, financial system is not the only problem; the innovation system – or lack of an innovation system – is the problem.  Perhaps oversimplified, but this is an astonishing omission from the national dialog on the financial crisis.

The emergence of Social Media technology presents an extraordinary opportunity to organize a knowledge inventory outside the construct of a corporation and marry it to the financial system, much like a corporation.  Knowledge tangibility must be the most important “innovation” in the pipeline today if we expect to meet the crushing challenges that await us.  Just because we cannot predict innovation does not mean it cannot be done – it just means that we do not know how… yet. This is not about inventing a new currency, it is about the public taking control of the old one. We, the people, don’t deserve to lose this game; join The Ingenesist Project and help build a sustainable Innovation Economy.


It is very interesting to watch Social Media follow familiar trajectories as earlier paradigms in finance.  I see many social media platforms struggling to make human knowledge tangible in their respective markets.  The challenge is so simple, yet so complex.  Let the litmus test for knowledge tangibility be as follows; “Can you buy groceries with it?”

The Romans Empire had a similar problem; how to sack Europe and bring home the booty.  The only thing most people had at the time were sheep, fish, and wine.  So the emperor created a coin that represented a peasant’s productivity in raising sheep, catching fish, and making wine – and it was a lot easier to collect taxes.  The conquest of a continent has far more to do with the social acceptance of the currency than the actual pillaging – pillaging, after all, would be counter productive in a social network.

Today the dollar also represents human productivity – except a ‘necessary flaw’ was introduced to finance innovation leading to fantastic worldwide economic growth from which many people benefit greatly.  Now, this flaw threatens to topple the whole system.  Money still represents productivity, except it now represents future productivity allocated to paying debt.  As long as innovation increases fast enough to outpace debt, everything is OK.  Problems happen when debt exceeds our structural ability to innovate.

We do not need to restructure the financial system – we need to restructure the innovation system.  The human race is exceedingly fortunate that the end game for debt economics will happen at the exact moment in history that the technology required to start a new game of sustainable innovation economics has arrived.   If done correctly, Social Media (computer enabled society) can become the most important human invention since to the printing press.

Today, human knowledge, in the form of social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital, is captured and hidden inside corporations.  Each corporation has its own business plan, lexicon, culture, organization, structure, and processes by which human knowledge is exchanged in the creation of a “product”.  Outside the corporation, however, true knowledge assets are either invisible, incomplete, or only appear as a proxy of the corporation.  This leads to stagnation, silos, mis-allocation, vulnerability to external shock, and greatly limits the diversity needed for sustainable innovation.

In the 1700’s Banks printed their own currency – these were called “bank notes” because they were little notes that declared who had a surplus and who had a deficit of money relative to the bank.  People would trade these notes in society to purchase things, buy feed or seed, and to keep track of things.  Everyone had a job to do and the general flow of these notes is what “incorporated” townships. Unfortunately, such banking also lead to industrial stagnation, silos of wealth, and lack of diversification leading to corruption, bank failures, and ‘bottle necks’ in the flow of capital.

Barely 150 years ago, the U.S. government established a central banking system with common currency, common practices, common accounting, and common regulation. The system became much more efficient, diversified, and accessible across the landscape.  The industrial revolution, manufacturing revolution, lots of wars, the era of information, and the Internet Industries were all financed through a central banking system.  Human productivity increased at a tremendous rate and the relative wealth that we enjoy today is a tangible result of innovation.

Now the Pied Piper has come to take the children to sea.  The banking system needs to invent new, exotic, and increasingly risky financial instruments for trading your productivity in order to keep the game alive.  Meanwhile, the tangibility of human knowledge is stuck in an 18th century banking system.  There is no common knowledge inventory, there is no common accounting practice for skills and abilities, there is no way to measure social capital and creative capital – the system is too biased toward “intellectual capital” measured by Ivy League degrees and access to wealth.  Knowledge assets are not tangible, organized, classified, or collected in a society in any structured way.  “Can you buy groceries with it yet”?

With the emergence of Social Media, we have an extraordinary opportunity to make knowledge tangible outside the construct of a corporation much like banks notes became tangible outside the construct of a single township.  There are vast and crushing problems in the world today.  The only way out of this mess is to massively increase the rate of innovation in society.  Like off-shore drilling – vast wealth in the form of social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital lays hidden beneath thousands of layers of philosophical limestone.  Social Media and the first amendment = drill baby, drill.

The only thing separating us from a debt economy and an innovation economy is social agreement. The philosophical chasm holding us back is about to be broken by The Ingenesist Project: In the current paradigm, money is backed by future productivity allocated to pay off today’s debt.  In the social media paradigm; money will be backed by future productivity created by today’s innovation.  At the end of the day money still represents productivity.  The conquest of a continent has far more to do with the acceptance of the currency than the actual pillaging.  Hey, why not buy groceries with it?


In order for knowledge to become a tangible asset, we need to come to grips with the fact that human knowledge is fluid and mobile, whereas a condo or a piece of machinery is static.  A machine can’t walk away if it does not like their management.

With knowledge assets, the typical “Return on Investment” (ROI) model breaks down.  When assets have a mind of their own, there is no reliable way to calculate ROI without somehow corralling the asset inside some form of closed contract, a corporation, political system, social class, or by introducing barriers to exit, etc.  In the modern financial system, human assets are held tangible by debt obligations – today many people go to work in servitude of debt, not in creation of new ideas.

An option* is the right, without the liability of obligation, to exercise a decision in the future.  Human interaction accommodates this valuation model quite readily; it’s called free-will.  Therefore the option valuation model is an adequate method to assess knowledge assets as a means of making them tangible.

The value of a financial option can be calculated if one knows the following 5 variables: The asset price, the strike price, the date of maturity, the risk free interest rate, and the volatility – or, the odds on the bet.  By contrast, the ROI model requires us to know basically the same things; the cost today, the strike price (future sale price), the date of maturity, the risk free interest rate, and the probability of success – or variance of the expectation.  The equation is just a little different.

Individually, human behavior often appears chaotic and irrational, but in aggregate, we know that human behavior is really quite predictable.  If you put similar people together, you get similar ideas.  If you put extremely different people together, you get extremely unpredictable ideas.  If you put strategic combinations of people together, you should be able to predict the variance of the ideas.  This is all the information we need to place a value on our bet.   If human behavior is predictable, it is tangible.

Suppose we enter into a ROI venture and it fails miserably; the market was wrong or the product was wrong, or the people were wrong, etc.  Even though the investment failed, the knowledge accumulated from the attempt can be exercised in many other projects in the future. While the Patent may turn out to be worthless, the knowledge gained by the team can be used over and over again.  Each person gains a statistical data point in their experience set with which to assess comparable situations in the future.  This is an option and this option has value.  If the team were disbanded without somehow capturing the inventory of new knowledge assets, a very valuable set of options becomes squandered.

Some companies such as Google, try not to kill an idea, they morph the idea into something else.  Free-range knowledge tangibility must achieve those same objectives.  Today we see people building networks on Linkedin – this activity resembles the collection of options on future opportunities.  People post on social media to see and be seen by other knowledge assets as a means of collecting more options for their careers or actions. People would not be doing it if there was no intrinsic value.  The next big leap will happen when knowledge tangibility is married to the financial system through the direct valuation and capitalization of options.  Did I mention there is an equation for that?

The Ingenesist Project specifies a method and system for knowledge inventory that would produce a variance for knowledge assets.  The Percentile Search Engine would pull knowledge assets in combination that diversify variance into a highly predictable surplus assets and deficit assets.   The Innovation Bank would match most worthy surplus to most worthy deficit.  As such, the Innovation Economy itself is now a most worthy option for supporting a feeble financial system.

The ROI model is the mother of all squandered knowledge assets – the very same assets that are really purchased on a project, successful or not, are often willfully abandoned.  All of the parameters of an option valuation model can now be met with social media and The Ingenesist Project integration methods. Free-range knowledge assets can then be directly financed toward business objectives.  The idea of an innovation economy based on knowledge tangibility is well within our grasp technologically, culturally, and systematically.

Social media has an astonishing opportunity to integrate social, creative, and intellectual knowledge assets to trade that single most important part of the puzzle, tangible knowledge assets.  I suspect that this outcome will depend on whether these new tools are treated to an ROI valuation model or on an options valuation model.

* Italic used for clarity


Knowledge Tangibility should be the most important conversation in Social Media circles given the current financial situation in America.

I lived through financial devaluation in another country and the effects were crushing: after the run on the banks, there will be a run on Walmart.  People will buy TVs, small appliances, shoes, and useful stuff that will hold more value tomorrow that they cost today.  These items may become a de facto currency of trade.  Americans will be astonished by how fast a devaluation event plays out; hours and days, not months or years.  When things settle down, the government will retire the old dollar and introduce a new currency at an exchange of, say, 1 megabuck equals 1000 old dollars.  Then the chips are cleared, assets are transferred, and the same game can start all over again.

The difference is that for the first time in history, there is a window of opportunity for social media technology to break this cycle. Please let me explain:

Suppose that a BMW costs $50,000 dollars and a KIA costs $10,000 dollars.  These prices reflect the quantity and quality of the car in terms of availability and popular amenities such as, handling, road noise, comfort, status, etc. Suppose the government introduces a new currency called the “megabuck”.  Suppose the government pegs the megabuck to cars saying that all cars will have a value of 30,000 megabucks. Since these cars are not equal, people will begin trading; the BMW will be bid up to 50,000 megabucks and the Kia will be bid down to 10,000 megabucks based on supply and demand – right back where they started.

Admittedly an oversimplification, but the point is does not matter what you call the currency – the most important thing is the quantity and quality of the asset.  This brings us back to the idea of knowledge tangibility.

Suppose that, on average, 1 hour of human labor is worth 20 megabucks.  As above, hard labor will be bid up while soft labor would be bid down.  The same is not really true with knowledge because knowledge is invisible and it can’t be counted with bricks or bushels.  There is no knowledge inventory in America’s communities.  Therefore, there is no way to establish supply and demand for knowledge assets.  People in a community do not know what other people in the community know. This is where social networks will make a huge difference.

Human knowledge, if formatted correctly, would make an excellent asset upon which to peg a currency. Today, accountants say that human knowledge is “intangible” but social media demonstrates otherwise; human knowledge is simply invisible – hidden inside corporations under the thumb of Wall Street. Social media demonstrates that knowledge assets are itching to be release to the public domain in a highly tangible manner.  Believe it or not, we are now 95% of the way toward real knowledge tangibility today.   We should be very excited about this because everything changes.

Like the example with the cars, we need to have a comprehensive inventory of the knowledge assets in our communities so that they can be strategically combined into productive organizations.  This inventory must be formatted in terms of quantity and quality and include all knowledge living including social, creative, and intellectual capital.  If done correctly, it will not matter what happens to the dollar or what currency is used as a scorecard, the value of human knowledge assets will remain intact.

Again, the value is in the asset, not the currency – it is in you, me, and our diverse communities who will favor community priorities rather than Wall Street priorities. This is how where we will find equity, sustainability, and fairness in a capitalist system.

The Ingenesist Project has specified exactly how to create knowledge tangibility in a capitalist model using 3 simple web applications for Social Networks; a Knowledge Inventory, a Percentile Search Engine, and an Innovation Bank. Please read the intro and the articles on page IEc101.  If you agree, please pass it on.  If you do not agree, please help us make it better.  If you don’t understand, email me. This needs to happen fast and unfortunately nobody will do it for us – we must do it ourselves.


Innovation economics has a way of forcing us to look at the mirror image of conventional wisdom.  This article will look at knowledge assets as they might appear on an accounting balance sheet.  You may be surprised at what happens at the bottom line.

Wall Street will often reward a company that has a large backlog of orders. This can appear in the eyes of most observers as an asset. After all, who would not want a backlog of orders?  However, in the world of social media, a huge backlog causes a serious problem – it represents commitments made that have not yet been delivered. An unfulfilled promise in a social network is a liability and not an asset.  By extension, a backlog in an innovation economy is a liability and not an asset (note: climate change).

Applying conventional wisdom to an innovation economy, we find that most companies have an excellent inventory of the “liability” but a poor inventory of the “asset” that will execute those promises. All of their plans, specifications, blueprints, job descriptions, policies and procedures, etc., are liabilities in an innovation economy because these define the promise that is unfulfilled, not the asset that will fulfill them.

Until recently, companies assumed that the right knowledge assets will always be available – an assumption that for a long time has limited the level of productivity that humans can achieve, specifically, the sustainability of natural resources. The absence of a knowledge inventory limits the complexity of problems that humans can solve much like industry was limited to custom machinery before Eli Whitney demonstrated the concept of interchangeable parts less than 200 years ago.

Further, if the product line is expected to have a life cycle of more than a few years, the knowledge inventory must extend beyond the doors of the company and into the surrounding community.  Therefore, the knowledge inventory must take on the taxonomy of the community, not the taxonomy of the corporation such as skill codes, levels, titles, etc. The requirement is now clearly in the domain of social networks.  Yet, I still hear grumblings in the blog sphere that social networks cannot be monetized – nothing should be further from the truth.

So, let’s talk about the bottom line.  For example, Boeing announced today that their greatest future challenge would be the availability of engineers. Boeing has a market capitalization of $34B and a $300B backlog.  Money has a 10:1 multiplier as it travels through and economy.  For a balanced accounting statement, what would be the real value of a social network that can capture the correct knowledge inventory to support Boeing; 34B, 300B, or 3T?

In general, valid estimates of the bottom line can vary by 2 orders of magnitude depending on the point of view of Wall Street, corporate management, or the social network community.  Who would be the better steward?


Manufacturing is the use of tools and labor to make things for use or for sale.  When I think of manufacturing, I see images of machines spinning out high precision components into colored inventory buckets that are transported to clean areas to be precisely combined with other precious components creating some magnificent device such as an aircraft, computer, or medical CAT scan machine.  Each device is a product of countless human interactions.

Each little piece is designed, discussed, and depicted with great care and precision so that it fits perfectly with the next piece.  Everything about each part is planned long in advance; the composition of the material, the tolerances of all dimensions, and the strength/weight/wear characteristics.  However, each piece alone has little value without the other pieces.  Yet, if one piece fails the whole machine can fail.  When the machine has completed its service life – those beautiful, intricate, and worthy creations of human interactions are simply discarded.

Since the invention of the cotton gin, the economic growth resulting from the human interaction involved in precision component making (literally and figuratively) is undeniable.  Until the era of Social Networking, however, few could envision that human interactions are themselves components of an invisible inventory. Each element of human interaction is precisely honed from some invisible raw material by social machinery and deposited into colorful garments and transported to clean areas where they combine with other precious components creating some magnificent device such as an airplane, computer, or medical CAT scan machine.  When the machine is scrapped, the product of those human interactions lives on…but where and how?

The greatest constraint to the emergence of an innovation economy is the invisibility of knowledge assets; social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital.  We have an inventory of every nut, rivet, and panel on an airplane, but not the knowledge asset that created things.  It is like society is keeping a big secret from itself.  This is the great opportunity for Social Media.

People are still asking “where is the money in all of this social media stuff?” The answer is “everywhere – the door is unlocked, but the lights are off”.  The irony regarding the visibility of knowledge assets is that they lay right in front of us but we refuse to see the obvious.  All we need to do is switch on the lights. Until we can inventory knowledge assets outside the construct of a corporation, social networks cannot themselves become the corporations of the future.

Can innovation be manufactured?  Of course, with the right tools, innovation can do whatever it wants.