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May 6, 2000

Empowering Communities of Consumers

The coming economic era and precepts are emerging as totally different from industrial capitalism. We're learning that e-businesses and their networks destroy many of our basic concepts of production, marketing and distribution. Jeremy Rifkin [1] notes that in this "Age of Access" we are entering an era in which lifelong customer relationships are the ultimate commodities market. This provides a different, more positive, and perhaps more likely view.

FIRST MONDAY is one of the first peer-reviewed journals on the Internet, about the Internet. First Monday expands the frontiers of academic publishing by combining the traditional values of peer review with publication on the World Wide Web. To read the full contents of “The COMsumer Manifesto”

INTRODUCTION

The COMsumer Manifesto:
Empowering Communities of Consumers Through the Internet

The coming economic era and precepts are emerging as totally different from industrial capitalism. We're learning that e-businesses and their networks destroy many of our basic concepts of production, marketing and distribution. Jeremy Rifkin [1] notes that in this "Age of Access" we are entering an era in which lifelong customer relationships are the ultimate commodities market. This provides a different, more positive, and perhaps more likely view.

The Internet is changing business models and empowering consumers to create new communities that combine the power to aggregate rich sources of individually personalized data in real-time activities. Large-scale data aggregators are emerging to navigate and mediate info markets. While information records are proliferating, new standards for content capture and management are appearing. Most companies continue to hope they will control their customers' information assets. However, what if this is not true or becomes impossible? What if consumers decide to band together and control their own personal information? Are you ready to freely give your customers their data records? Are you prepared to live up to the COMsumer Manifesto?

This article offers a disruptive antidote to the hierarchical, closed, supply-system, explicit, knowledge-driven, "We Know What You Want" data mine world where many customers feel powerless. This is a world well beyond 1999's "Net Worth" [2] and 2000's "The Cluetrain Manifesto" [3]. Infomediaries are not just trustworthy agents which sit between the vendor and the customer [2], and markets are not just conversations [3]. In this new world, communities sense needs, desires, and wishes for the future and create new data markets - to which organizations must respond or die! We are closing in on the "tipping point" [4] where COMsumers take complete control of their destiny by collectively owning their personal information assets

The COMsumer Manifesto

We, the people who live in an interconnected, on-line, real-time world, declare that:

* We realize that the most important thing we own is information: data about our purchases, our preferences, and ourselves.

* We want instant connections - no delays! - to others in the network via systems which are invisible to us but controlled by us.

* We expect all suppliers to us to recognize the common courtesy of automatically and invisibly providing our information accounts with records of our transactions.

* We insist on free access and maximum transparency in all transactions on the network. This implies the free exchange of open information standards and our involvement in their ongoing development.

* We determine at all times if we participate in the network ("opt-in") or withdraw ("opt-out"). We will agree to timed commitments for the data aggregation processing and expect that these agreements will be "rolled-over" (say, semi-annually) in normal circumstances.

* In short, permission remains with us. We determine the level and degree of privacy we desire and we will share our data with those we trust.

* We have no desire for data about us to be stored in some remote inaccessible corporate databases which are "mined" for the benefit of the owners rather than ourselves.

* Therefore, we resolve to take ownership of our personal data ourselves and in conjunction with info fund managers maximise the value that can accrue to us.

* We recognise that the number of uses and opportunity grows as the network grows and will tend to infinity.

* Collectively, we realize that all of us have the potential to be better than any one of us in generating new ideas / knowledge.

* We believe that new wealth is created through the collective sharing of our largely tacit knowledge and codifying this with others of like interests into new potential market needs.

* We believe that enormous efficiencies will result when what groups of consumers want is more easily articulated and understood.

* We call ourselves COMsumers and believe in investing our information for the common good of the planet. We will share what it is important to share and keep private those details that might empower outsiders to interfere in the lives of individuals in our community.

As we grow in number so will the wishes and desires of our community. We commit to capturing our collective wish lists of wants, desires and dreams and monitor how these change from time to time. After all, the willingness to dream reflects our desire to make these things come true. This is the best possible hope for our collective future.

About May 2000

This page contains all entries posted to Unbound Spiral in May 2000. They are listed from oldest to newest.

June 2000 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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