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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.

January 6, 2001

Cyberspace customers re-define world class organizations

Everywhere I turn organizations have the ‘business model’ on their agendas. ‘What’s a world class business model going to be in ten years time?’ they ask. Naturally, this is associated with high growth, technology, retention of key individuals, and stimulating new wealth creation. But getting from here to there brings more than a little uncertainty.

A new competitive landscape is beginning to emerge with the internet changing relationships between organizations and consumers. World class companies will compete for attention as employees and customers alike form new peer relationships as they reach out and connect in this new medium. In this new world, ruled by the internet, it is clear that learning faster leads to tomorrow’s competitive advantage. But, who is learning faster — organizations or consumers?

The speed with which customers are learning could significantly affect the future landscape in which organizational decisions play out. Some recent examples demonstrate how new models make consumers smarter faster. The most visible is Napster (www.napster.com the music exchange site), which by October 2000 had over 35 million users and was still growing (despite ongoing court proceedings) at 1 million users per week. This is the prime example of customers learning new behavior patterns and experiencing new forms of internet-enabled functionality. Similar parallels can be made with auctions sites where new payment systems were established to enable real time consumer transactions (see www.x.com, PayPal, and www.ebay.com and www.auctionwatch.com).

So, we have an emerging paradox. What strategies will enable you to retain a world class position close to your customers in a world where consumer groups may be empowered to learn faster than their traditional suppliers? Consider for a moment where you will be positioned when your customer information is completely interconnected.

COMsumers
For over a year now I’ve been writing about COMsumers — communities of consumers empowered by the internet. The COMsumer Manifesto (www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue5_5/henshall/index.html) proposed that consumers would combine the internet’s power to collect information with personalized tools in real time affinity groups — groups that will with time control their information assets and pool them collectively for their advantage.
Many organizations compete to provide information and declare ownership of their information assets. If the information assets were to be returned to the people, on what basis would you compete? Imagine a world in which the customer owns his or her transaction and data records!

The internet is empowering consumers in different ways. Systems like www.paypal.com (e-mail money) can effectively work around traditional money systems and banks. But it is not just organizations that are challenged. The role of government, the evolution of taxation systems, and the growing issues around intellectual property are just a few areas that require new solutions. More importantly, privacy is a real concern. Not because we are worried about sharing information, but rather because unlike our physical assets over which we as individuals hold title, there is no title to our virtual property. If you are hacked, cyber-burgled, or simply raided it’s a hassle. Tomorrow it could mean your life is uninsurable!

Consuming information

We as consumers need to start managing our information. It’s clearly valuable, and will either result in lower prices or improved access. The challenge is to create a data-mine, for everyone on earth owned by everyone on earth. Are you willing to bet that a consumer, who is your customer, will never find this a likely idea? What if the early adopters go this way? How many before we reach the tipping point? Twenty per cent? And, which industry will be the first to tip? Yours?

Farfetched? Well just consider. What if your competitor gave their customer data records back to their customers and offered to manage this information for them for a minuscule percentage? Are you ready to adopt your customer’s data standard when this new community starts pooling this asset? What will this make of your world class customer information asset? Is it likely that the new open source solution will quickly improve on your own in-house approach? Then, will you be able to adapt and respond in time to this emerging standard as it evolves?

At this point the customer’s data has moved outside the organization’s business model. Now this consuming community potentially knows more about their needs and their development desires than your organization. At this point real decisions will need to be made. Will you retain an exploratory R&D approach? How will your advertising and marketing systems now work? Finally that old rule of thumb — the 80/20 rule. How will that respond to a COMsumers approach? Indeed, your business may already be locked into the wrong signals.

By embracing this new world you may begin by partnering with this emerging community to improve your asset alignment, adaptability and responsiveness. Ultimately, this is a world that may not be better or worse. However, it will be different. But to consider it in isolation or reject it outright may be premature. A world class community is more than just your organization. The internet transition is inviting you and your organization to become a member.

February 5, 2001

P2P Personalization

Personalization in tomorrow’s world will offer a disruptive antidote to the corporation-controlled information assets of today. Today many customers feel powerless; they have little interest or access to the customer information that companies hold on them, and often engage with organizations that have never given a second thought to how these customers might eventually respond.

Even as personalization systems presume to connect organizations more effectively with their customers, the prevailing eCRM logic has organizations controlling the development of their customer relationship protocols. Customer lock-in remains an objective, and mobility of customer information assets is seldom considered.

But a new competitive landscape is beginning to emerge as the Internet changes the direct relationships between organizations and consumers. Companies will compete for attention as both employees and customers form new peer-to-peer relationships. In the P2P world, it is clear that increased connectivity leads to faster learning.

The increased speed with which customers are learning could significantly affect the future landscape in which organizational decisions are played out. Examples like Napster, which by October 2000 had over 35 million users and was still growing (despite ongoing court proceedings) at 1+ million users per week, show customers learning new behavior patterns and experiencing new forms of Internet enabled functionality.

A paradox is emerging. What strategies will enable companies to retain a world-class position--close to your customers--in a world where consumer groups may be empowered to learn faster than their traditional suppliers? Consider for a moment where your organization will be positioned when your customer information is completely interconnected. Or what happens when the customer reclaims their information and aggregates it for their personal benefit. A new threat emerges to corporate information management systems.

Isn’t it possible that consumers could combine the Internet’s power to collect information with personalized tools in real time affinity groups — groups that control their information assets and pool them collectively for their advantage?

Managing our own information

We as consumers must start managing our information. It’s clearly valuable, and will either result in lower prices to us, or improved access to alternate sources. Farfetched? Maybe, but just consider: What if your competitor gave their customer data records back to their customers and offered to manage this information openly for them for a minuscule percentage? Similarly, what if they offered to capture your data when you shop at a competitor? Are you ready to adopt your customer’s data standard when this new community starts pooling this asset?

At this point the customer’s data has moved outside of the corporate business model. Suddenly, this community by aggregating their personalized network assets knows more about their needs and their development desires than your organization. This asset is now self accelerating, as each customer individually adds to the database, the network multiplier accelerates the benefits. Maybe I’m pushing the boundaries here.

But consider the focus of today’s early discussion around the first wave of P2P (Napster, Scour, Groove Networks etc). This discussion focuses on the logical consequences to business models and intellectual property. What we are missing is a market-orientated view.

Strategy for a consumer market network

First take the high ground by enabling your customers to use their customer records. Your objective is to facilitate the growth of this strange, new-networked information market, perhaps earning a percentage on the information. This strategy reflects a clear shift from info ownership to custodian. New data strategies then include facilitating record mobility, responsiveness, connectivity, and access.

Benefits are realized when your emerging community begins to learn faster than your traditional systems. Like high performing teams, the excitement and energy from this ongoing community release of tacit knowledge will fuel improvements in your asset alignment, adaptability and responsiveness to product / service requests.

To conclude, begin by thinking about your personalization systems with an aim to create is a world-class networked community. Ultimately P2P personalization enhancements will make networked info markets more personalized and responsive. This is much more than just your organization and its customers. The Internet transition is inviting you and your organization to create a new information network.

November 11, 2002

Collaborative Communities

Participating in online communities is not only growing easier, the results more positive. Kuro5hin is also more than a weblog. It's been around for awhile and yet today I ended up giving it much closer attention as I considered voting on an MLP posting on the Nickel Exchange, was asked for other help with editing, etc.

Various links took me to SCOOP and you learn quickly about the collaborative media application behind Kuro5hin and other communities.

My journey started today looking for methods improve my MT posting and reporting options. I've had in mind the opportunity for a MT based community. Clearly plausible yet not self-organizing. When one compares Smart Mobs with Kuro5hin it becomes clear how obvious this is. I will be looking at Scoop further.

Kuro5hin.org is a community of people who like to think. This is a site for people who want to discuss the world they live in. It's a site for people who are on the ground in the modern world, and who sometimes look around and wonder what they have wrought.

Scoop empowers participants to play a role in the newsmaking. This is not the only application however. My searching located Eric Hanson andShouldExist around ideas;as an idea exchange. Check out their description Eric's list also proved to me how sharing can close and create new links... Some we don't even know. While looking at his "people" section I found myself linked back to Seb's Open Resesearch. who has a great blog going on knowledge sharing, communities and innovation.

Note:"ShouldExist.org is a non-profit website, founded on the belief that individuals are more successful when we work together through open standards, modularity and decentralized control." His project list also includes others. Check it out.

Part of my interest in the first place was driven by the question posed to me. Should the NICKEL EXCHANGE story be posted? I'm going to watch over the next couple of days. We will be revisiting "Nickel Exchange" for I still believe the next frontier is in solving highly decentralised P2P transactions. Frankly... the nickel exchange looks premature, needs consumer friendly content, and a little more to give it legitimacy. I didn't yet try to see if it works.

Then today Movielink launched. This is the site offered by the movie moguls to provide downloadable movies to American broadband connections. Incredibly slow to appear, you would almost think the site is down. Obviously checking out my system for compatibility. I'm waiting for it to be cracked, then Kazaa movies etc might take on a whole new meaning.

Posted by henshall at 09:22 PM

November 12, 2002

Sharing Personal Data

Xeni Jardin writes in Wired about Plaxo a new company started by one of the Napster founders. Like Napster, it involves P2P sharing with an index system. But this time it's personal data. See the Plaxo site and how Plaxo works. I'm not convinced.

It apparently works by taking my Outlook address book and sending a request to each addressee asking them for updates. This sounds like a spam solution to me. If I did it, all the addresses that I have automatically added to outlook would be spammed or I would have to spend considerable time editing my address book first. How will companies respond? When their employees start downloading Plaxo? Where does privacy sit and as Xeni notes... where is the business model.


I'd much prefer a real peer to peer system. Something that just automates or calls for an updated record everytime I e-mail. Or should my details change automatically update my addressees using an invisible exchange method. I see no reason why this should sit on a central server Let's hope it doesn't take off. It may be a beta, and you will have to search for the privacy policy. The privacy policy appears leave you at risk.

November 19, 2002

Antiport SMART MOBS CUSTOMER FEEDBACK

Today I had a motivating coffee with a close friend. Much of our early conversation was about SMART MOBS the book. Both of us really itching to push boudaries and take product and service concepts concepts well beyond the boundaries outlined in the book; to give SMART MOBS a business building edge.

Then it is not unusual for Tom and I to reflect on stories, the scenarios we write and exploring different concepts as we go. It's an update. We are both passionate about the challenges of the future. Then we discover some fragment or item we have never shared, playing with some new concept and model. Today one emerged as I was hunting for yet another example of how the blogging / publishing community might revolutionize the customer service business.

ANTIPORT traces to 1999. I remember writing it - sort of pounded it out. It was meant to fly in the face of today's customer service practices. Antiport suggests that smart mobs can run customer feedback systems. What's more perhaps today with a more object oriented web the costs and programs maybe ready to enable it!

I beleive it was brash and bold then. From marketing PR to seeding a community for customer feedback. Let me know what you think. I'll be watching to see if anyone registers www.antiport.com this time round.

Imagine: January 21, 2003 (updated) News headlines around the world…...
Antiport Flys New Format for Landing Consumer Feedback
Today the largest mass registration in the history of Internet names took place. The top 10000 companies worldwide have a new conscience. Today, Antiport.com spent $1m and registered 10000 urls including antiibm.com, antitoyota.com, antige.com, anti….anything important…and they plan on making a new business out of customer complaints. What’s more they are giving the business away!

Marketplace for Customer Feedback
So how does it work? Antiport is a new marketplace, the market for customer feedback. Antiport began by giving away 10000 opportunities to take over the customer feedback function for the largest companies on earth. Each antisite will run a similar franchised feedback model capturing and reporting on key customer feedback. The antisite will pay five percent of all revenue received to Antiport. Antisites are all employee owned and gain shares and vest over three years in the Antiport based on the volume of organizational and community feedback they support. As this feedback network grows, so will the value of Antiport shares. Antiport appears to have adopted the successful SAIC ownership model. Potentially anyone can register an unregistered anti-site and working to the open standards gain approval and membership. This may become the ultimate recruit yourself business.

Handling the complaint virus!

But it doesn’t stop there. Antiport is simply anti bad services and products. And the best remedy isn’t just forgetting about it but making problems transparent. When you register a complaint with the relevant antisite, as a consumer you get some additional choices; you can share it with a “pass this one on” list of your friends or contacts, you can also add to that the “activist list” automatically forwarding your complaint / request to a random sample of interested parties. Then there is the follow-up list. Having put in a complaint you can follow similar items, etc. Each one provides metrics, and a call back to the community for discussion and remedies. This is because the founders believe that these “cold viruses” will make poor performance transparent. As consumers we can expect better responses. Companies that fail to respond will probably end up on the anti-port black list. Now would you buy a product from one of those? It’s rumored that deals with bizrate, epinions, revbox and dealtime are also pending.

Lower Costs, Improved value creation
With the announcement 25 fortune 500 companies announced from today that their feedback functions were outsourced to these new antisite consumer communities. In reality their customer service departments just started their own businesses. Long term the new services are expected to provide customer feedback for a lower cost. So now, for the first time those receiving the complaint will have ownership in running it down and reporting on it and getting a remedy. Now that’s a lot better than just $10.00 per hour. More importantly Antiport just redefined their job. They are no longer there to hide company problems (How much sooner could we have learned about explorer tires?) but to benefit each of us. No wonder we will leave them a tip --- and that’s different! What happens when it is a pleasure to make a complaint? Now, just think how their shares of the most valuable information on earth will appreciate as consumers adopt this simple new approach. We expect Antiport to be come the news portal for all major consumer complaints.

Antisites all agree to provide for the customer information they collect to their originator for free (eg antiibm.com to ibm.com). Additional customized data required by the company will be completed by Antisite customers at current costs. Additional revenue comes from selling the information to competitors, selling advertising for competitive products, a commission on legal remedies, and running new industry community feedback groups.

For the community too
For smaller companies there are even bigger benefits. A number of groups are registering anti-sites for a collection of local community businesses. For example three people expect to handle all consumer complaints for the businesses in the town of Lafayette California. They are just using the same infrastructure the larger companies use, but there are some twists too. They are providing a follow-up sales service to local contractors, so feedback on their performance is captured. It’s rumored that the best community in the US award will be announced starting in 2005. What’s more it is tied in with scorecard.org.

Of course it won’t be easy for them to get off the ground. But if you interested and you’ve got a company you think need reforming you best get acquainted with Antiport. The educational materials, on-line training and control systems are all there for you to get qualified and started. Register and hold your Antisite today!

Antiporters will also participate in an audit system exchange, thus learning from other industries and other problem solving situations. Thus at it’s core it provides a Peer to Peer model of learning and collaboration. Interestingly, it may well be the first business that requires no offices anywhere! The core web system is completely web enabled, reducing communications costs.

The antisite approach is currently available in 13 languages and confirmed operable in 56 countries.

Objective:
Marketplace for Customer Feedback

Benefits:
Centralized feedback market, - one number- guaranteed follow-up
Distributed Structure Distributed scalability
Transparency - Viral – rapid visibility,
Ownership structure owned by knowledge workers directly involved
Marketplace speeds learnings and provides new opportunities for solutions / community
Industry groups possible – shared learning and new standards
New panels possible

As consumers:
Feedback is used not buried, more likely to improve products and services.
Enable the powerful telling of real stories.
Viral structure will take “bad” feedback to a new level!
Creating a consumer conscience!

November 20, 2002

SMART MOBS EMERGE FROM DREAMS

 

Smart Mobs
Today's post reviews SMART MOBS by Howard Rheingold who many have admired for his passion and thinking development around communities. SMART MOBS recognizes and captures a new paradigm. As he says "....a technology that is going to change my life in ways I can scarcely imagine..." Ultimately that is my real bone of contention with this book.

It's unfinished. We must collaborate on dreams to seed tomorrow's solutions.

My attraction to SMART MOBS was the language that enables swarms to emerge from science and appear in our daily lives. The theories aren’t really new and neither are the observations, which never break any new ground. It is a masterful collection of sources capable of leading you on a merry journey. Yet someone not already partially aware may find it tedious, for within a descriptive prose it fails to uncover real dreams for tomorrow. As a result it won’t create many inspiring new options for you. It may stimulate further inquiry. It is timely and yet primarily observational tracing to Howard Rheingold’s 2001 journey of discovery.


If you are new to Napster, SMS and Seti, or books by Kurzwiel or Mann and don’t know what 802.11b is, then this book may provide plenty to think about. Did I mention Lessig, Winer and Searles, or Seattle, participation on eBay, surveillance? The list could go on.

This book is exploratory not prescriptive. Not all the facts and observations are likely to be correct. It fails to address questions that CEO’s marketers and strategists should ask about a SMART MOB world. If you send it to your CEO friend (not HP, Motorola, Sony IBM etc. who better be very familiar with the concepts) for Christmas make sure you make it your job to get them thinking constructively beyond this book. Sell them a Learning Journey; collapse Howard’s travels over two years into two days. Then help them create. Here there is not enough to move the majority of businesses forward. If you see possible impacts on your business the challenge will be to create a dream and road map for action. For CEO’s it fails to conceptualize how smart mobs will affect the business model. Or how will money be made in a world like this? What does marketing mean in a smart mob world?

So let’s give FIVE STARS for those that need SMART MOBS as a wake-up call, and realize that the book is out of date. I believe much is inevitable. Hidden within are market-changing concepts and ideas. Believe and you will ultimately need to rethink everything regardless of market and industry, from Inventory to customer complaints.

Smart Mobs covers a lot of ground. Some like music sharing or texting we take for granted now. Not all of it exists on our doorsteps. The changes are global and local. However the emergence and impact can’t be confined to your business, market or learning environment. The challenge is also personal. I wish HR had spelled it out more boldly. You will need to take a stand. A revolution is in the making. It will tip the whole system, as we know it. Think about your position on intellectual property, digital exchanges. How should wireless spectrum be regulated? What is the future of publishing? Are you managing your reputation? Where do you place your bets and investments? How should learning and education change? Will this affect my government? Etc.

If you have views on these things and need examples, use this book. Don’t wait for a follow-up edition. Share your motivation to learn and swarm on curiosity seeking answers collaboratively in real-time. For the next hit about SMART MOBS won’t be written by an individual. It will emerge collectively perhaps bloggedly with many faces, contributing. Despite today’s uncertainty the web is already a better place to learn, experiment and prototype these things. Resorting to a book is catch-up! There are daily blogs that provide more up to date perspectives. The supportive SMART MOBS blog tries to step into real time. It has a nice focus. It has a theme to clip around. Absorb the postings and you will probably be on your way.

My largest learning’s in the book came from the link made to Steve Mann and CYBORG. Again this is not news. Mann has been a roving CYBORG for twenty years. His experience shows there is a problem in the language. The link that Howard makes bringing Cyborgs into this picture was interesting to me. His quoting of Mann was worth reading the book for: “The smart room is a retrograde concept that empowers the structure over the individual, imbuing our houses, streets and public spaces with the right to constantly observe and monitor us for the purported benefit of ensuring we are never uncomfortable or forced to get up from the armchair to switch on a lamp…” Naturally Mann’s research is working to foster independence using wearable computers. Bring it back to today. Now look at networking your house. Will you wire it? Or simply go wireless? Wireless is already winning on cost!

For those that know how technologies trickle down and where to look, Smart Mobs gives great examples out of DARPA. (Mesh networks and more.) When our kids and soldiers operate this way. Take notice. The book may also help you understand quickly why the regulations around wireless and selling bandwidth have been a mistake. We now have incumbents with enormous investments trying to protect and maintain a system that is no longer effective. Change the way Wireless is regulated or simply watch it overturned by consumers.

I am not raving madly about this book for I’d like a stronger conclusion. I really believe Howard is on the side of decentralization, collaborative communities, protecting the innovation commons and thinking about governing in a world of SMART MOBS. SMART MOBS is simply another name for communities of consumers (COMSUMERS) empowered and collaborating to accelerate the use of their information assets. Are costs for moving to unbound systems rapidly dropping? SMART MONEY will be on invisibly aggregating these new markets while consumers stay in control.

There is a thread. Not one I found blaring out in the book. SMART MOBS accelerate learning. Whether you are part of a music sharing community, fighting on a battlefield, a human cyborg, all are part of collaborative SMART MOBS prototyping real-time solutions. They are more open source by nature. The thread is there. Napster hot lists and the emergent subscription communities around blogging for example.

Despite underscoring SMART MOBS as the next social revolution there is little clarity on when the revolution will tip. What is the tipping point? As examples from Philippines to Seattle show, systems can tip in just a few days. There is an inherent suggestion that systems around wireless may tip and become P2P based. I remember writing such a Scenario a couple of years ago. As we wrote it CYBIKO was announced (another example in the book) which added credibility to our scenario. That stimulated a financial discussion (the book lacks any financial insight about tipping points). How close is it? That will be for you the reader to guesstimate.

This decade will continue to challenge us all. The way we live, collaborate, and connect though communities that swarm, sometimes for seconds and others towards eternity. Smart Mobs goes beyond just applying Moore’s, Reid’s, and Metcalf’s laws and yet never really brings urgency to the challenges that face us. As a business you cannot afford to wait!

November 22, 2002

Darknet Future Strategy

The Darknet and the Future of Content Distribution is an article by Microsoft employees posted at Stanford University. They describe the darknet as the collection of technologies used to share digital content including hardware (DVD Burners), software (Kazaa, Napster) and the objects that are traded (music, films etc.)

Their conclusion:
"We speculate that there will be short-term impediments to the effectiveness of the darknet as a distribution mechanism, but ultimately the darknet-genie will not be put back into the bottle."

More importantly they had a few words for business and marketing strategy.

".... probably make more money by selling unprotected objects than protected objects. In short, if you are competing with the darknet, you must compete on the darknet’s own terms: that is convenience and low cost rather than additional security."

So in other words... in the minds of Microsoft's thinkers it is a foregone conclusion that the trading of digital product (music, cd's etc.) will be enabled by darknet technologies. Nothing really new here. So what is the recording industry to do? First follow the advise of many. Provide me with an experience!

Now using the music industry as an example and simply trying to be provactive, with thoughts of Smart Mobs, COMsumers etc in the back of my mind.

Economics limited the size of personal music collections. I could never before afford every piece of music on earth. Now I can. It's almost free! However, I have no idea what to look for. I also bet there are many more "stars" out there who are not managed because they didn't package into a record store. So expand the number of artists you market, and then market them to me, locally as well! I'm sure music is played in public venues in the Bay Area! I suspect the challenge for RIAA members is to become a lot more efficient at becoming a ubiquitous agent.

Technology has enabled me to play progams in many locales. I'm no longer confined to a plug or affected by environmental conditions. My music consumption by time is increasing. So how fast can you grow my music interest and music conversation? Make it even more attactive to live my life with music. Can you make my music profile go anywhere? Can it swarm with people in a street fair? I think you better take my darknet sharing wireless!

As an industry you segment me rather than link me. You seek to profile me rather than find my peers. I'm guessing there is real utility value in linking hotlists. I believe that and some slick metrics / indicators would subtly accelerate my learning and your learning about me. Hey you can have the information if I get some better utility for it. Afterall on Kazaa I already give it away. What might that be? Try changing the experiece of a dinner party - invisibly without effort?

Of course the music industry thinks they are limited to music. In fact this industry is the benefactors of a completely new channel. This is like waking up and realising you could be the next WalMart. A channel where consumers are comfortable sharing their music lists. Can you not ask yourself what else we consumers might be willing to share. Here you are an industry that knows how to write contracts! Negotiate good prices and secure a profit for yourselves and your artists. Hey can you link me, my interests and make some slick purchase recomendations on my part? Perhaps (given the number of us playing the music) you could do some buying for us. Might just be a margin in it.

Easier? We play more data records with more connection points per day than we will every play music. Perhaps you might like to think about books rather than my groceries or insurance at first. Amazon is nice and yet they will never understand what I read or the reviews I should be seeing. (like blogs I'd like sent to me.) Why don't you put your minds to it. Afterall I know what I play. Just not prepared to put the effort into list sharing. Can't you use the same principles with my peers to create and enhance my reading experience?

Of course dear RIAA you thought I was done. I'm not. To build your reputation you must build the reputation of our community, our data sharing community. You need to work on trust and building in the right levels of privacy. I really doubt you can do it. Afterall it requires leadership by example. With your threats I've learned to despise and distrust you. Clearly you can't control it. HOWEVER YOU CAN FACILITATE IT! Your goal is to set in play a market for digital information sharing. Call it eBaycubed for the prototype. Get the idea?

It would seem the elements for a recipe are obvious. All that is left to do is cook up a migration path. Weathly magnates, show me the customer that you really have our music interests at heart! Build a community for all of us around our digital rights!

DNA, P2P, and Privacy

Clay Shirky "DNA, P2P, and Privacy" proposes that:

"In the same way Kazaa has obviated the need for central storage or coordination for the world's music, the use of DNA as an ID technology makes radically decentralized data integration possible. With the primary key problem solved, interoperability will arise as a side effect, neither mandated nor coordinated centrally"

Earlier in the piece:

"In this model, the single universal database never gets created, not because privacy advocates prevent it, but because it is no longer needed. If primary keys are issued by nature, rather than by each database acting alone, then there is no more need for central databases or advance coordination, because the contents of any two DNA-holding databases can be merged on demand in something close to real time."

Thank you Clay very insightful.

November 30, 2002

The 30 Second Shopper

How can one consumer reject jean stores and auto offerings in less than 30 seconds? Should jeans be an easy purchase? What’s the relationship between carmakers and jeans? Are they both using the same sizing charts, and am I apparently off the charts? Do these industries need to rethink big and tall? See “more” below for gory details.

For me just a recent reinforcement of why I enjoy, custom clothing from shirts and pants, to suits, and shoes. Unfortunately, it’s expensive and indulgent though I wish it were everyday. At times it involves a very personal service experience --- great tailors make you feel wonderful. Unfortunately, mass customization is still just round the corner. However, after my latest shopping experience I came home, and logged on… searching Google for custom jeans. I knew they were there; next time one of them will get my business.

Some retail experiments (e.g. Land’s End) have made progress with full body scans. There are myriad of issues surrounding them. Starting with customers (your measures) and including, standards, ownership, portability, privacy, etc. There are clear incentives for clothing retailers and consumers to get to into mass customization. In clothing, it makes sense to enable consumers to become part of the production process. I suggested this in COMsumers too.

Still I must assume it will take longer for me to customize the sizing of my latest car --- add 4 inches to the front foot well and raise the roofline at a price I can afford. Yet clearly not every store or auto manufacturer needs a scanning system. For ultimately a scan is a scan. Can someone send my scan though every car? What's the most comfortable car ever built for me? Real-time access and matching is the key.

The combination of scans with smart labels appearing RFID tags make the convergence even more attractive. For my 30 seconds, will be judged by a complete list of inventory on hand. Secret shopper can then also work for me… letting me know where there are clothes and inventories that work. Hmmm could be an attractive world. …. A world for smart mobbing clothing.

Is there a moral here? Not sure. Is there a message? Partly! Is there a need to change? Definitely! Auto manufacturers aren't building in enough flexibility and thus failing on comfort (By the way is there an auto brand that owns comfort anymore?). While Mass Retailers / clothing suppliers, are simply failing to help me dress! Is the business of dressing a lost art? I know my son is not being sold on "dressing". This may hurt the industry in the future.

Notes:

Last week the SF Auto Show I found I don't fit in more new cars than I can ever remember. I frequent auto shows every few years (even made Geneva once) when a new generation of cars emerge. Now the thing is… I am a car nut, run many classics, played with many an engine, raced a few laps and read the mags. Yet shopping for cars is one of the things I hate. Most may immediately think “salesmen” but it is not that. My approach to shopping for a car involves 10 seconds with the car. It’s simply decided. DO I FIT OR NOT? So for me an Auto Show provides a real bonus. It can also dash dreams and be really depressing. I can look at cars for years and know I will never desire ownership.

This time my list of must sit-in’s included Jaguar’s S, new Infiniti G35, Nissan 350Z, Audi A6, Porsche Boxster, Range Rover, etc. There were many more. Other than the Range Rover (I’m hooked), none of these cars fit! Two enormous problem areas trace to room between the steering wheel and center console and the headroom front windshield roofline. If you can’t steer or see out, then the car simply won’t work. This fit issue is not limited to just these cars and I am not a freak… While height at 6’5” is pushing boundaries, weight certainly isn’t. Plus for the record I drive an old ’90 911C2, and have even owned an original Mini Cooper S. So I’m pretty flexible when it comes to flexing my frame. The Boxster was particularly disappointing. A Porsche NUT excluded from a future upgrade by engineering and design! At least size 12 boots don't auto exclude you anymore (remember old Lotus's).

Leaving the auto show I continued in search of jeans. My son 13 is starting to get the picture about shopping. He’s fearful too now for the future. A few weeks ago he needed new pants. He growing fast and at 5”9” he’s still an easy fit. I know he is starting to wonder --- for how much longer. I won’t try and explore his aversion to jeans. However he learnt a couple of weeks ago that Macy’s and Nordstrom’s don’t stock 36” inseams. So I had reconciled myself to going into SF. Diesel was my target. My last three sets of jeans came from there. So I was shocked when they said 34” inseam is now the longest we make! I was in the store for less than 30 seconds. Another time wasting stop. While walking up to the Levi’s store we stopped in Banana Republic. “Do you stock any pants (note the ANY) with a 36” inseam?” “No!” Ok. Thanks I’m out of here.

Made it to Levis --- horrible thumping music, they had a few jeans, e.g. 501’s 550’s, 505’s in my size. Limited colors, limited selection. I did get new jeans! They do have a custom order opportunity in the store. However it was confusing, and the line meant I wasn’t waiting. Will check it out online. Upstairs at no time did the salesperson try to up sell me to custom product. In fact the jeans were discounted – on sale. After the experience I’m afraid Levi’s remains a last resort shop. For the record... I didn't see any other 13 year old boys purchasing there either.

December 2, 2002

Experience Brands

What do you do with a blog and work in progress? What do you do when stuck? Even when it's unfinished. Possibly the smartest thing to do is just share, maybe the diagrams need no explanation.

How is a great brand built? How do you encourage and nurture both dynamic and stable elements? With heaps of IMAGINATION we build great brands. This could be an emotional branding pitch, or a program to enable organizations to live the brand. I was simply reflecting on how one might build a jammin brand for accelerating innovation and providing some creative friction.

Running a program to develop a great brand requires methods and process. It tends to become iterative, a continuous process. The brand imagination feeding a hunger for new experiences. This quite traditional model builds the brand links who we are by what we do and how. Facilitated imaginatively, adding ingenuity to our offering and individuality to our personality (how we are described) strengthens and leverages the brand promise. Use it well and often wonderful feature and benefit discussions emerge as you and your team climb the "experience" ladder.


brandp4.gif
Still as a model, it remains provider centric, rather than network centric. In todays customer centric world our strategies must define co-creative brand experiences. Our model must aid companies in prospecting and discovery, creating opportunities to out run the competition? A slight change in the terminology and the way we look the brand/community experience enables us to be more perceptive reframing around connectivity, experience, and community. Rather than Imagination it may just be Sparks. For individuality it may be friction and for ingenuity it may just become collaborative expermentation. For an organization laddering provider and network centric views may accelerate the creation of new options.

My perspective represents the need to create connective experience strategies that infect the brand community Perhaps this will help to frame the intersection for a new type of research company.

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So how's it fit?
In the Experience Organization. These organizations (eBay is a good example) know: 1) The CUSTOMER IS IN CHARGE, 2) networks and communities accelerate learning, 3) adaptive capability comes from weak signals………… people, partners, employees, customers, investors, and 4) trust & reputation is integral (Readiness to Improve, Grow, Change)

December 3, 2002

Supernova

Kevin Werbach is one of the organizers of Supernova to be held December 9-10, 2002 in Palo Alto, CA. Their description.

Supernova is a new conference exploring the distributed future. With the bursting of the Internet bubble, businesses, end-users, investors, and technology vendors face a bewildering array of challenges. Yet a common theme runs through the fundamental questions facing software, communications, and media. That theme is decentralization.

Intelligence is moving to the edges, through networked computers, empowered users, shifting partnerships, fluid digital content, distributed work teams, and powerful communications devices. Each industry sees only a small piece of the picture. Supernova is the first event to bring these threads together. Those who understand the business opportunities, technical underpinnings, and policy implications of decentralization will have a competitive advantage in any economy.

Some real interesting thinkers. Wish I was going. May provide an interesting update to the P2P conferences I've attended in the last few years. Be a shame if it runs short on attendees. It is still hard to mainstream this message, particularly to marketers. For ultimately this turns the marketing world upside down. A decentralized infrastructure will change consumer interests in information. Perhaps Supernova will help uncover the stories that accelerate change.

If you are looking for more examples of "decentralization" read Kevin's short October paper

December 16, 2002

Consumers as Designers

Beyond "Couch Potatoes" by Gerhard Fischer seems very relevant to my earlier post today.

"The fundamental challenge for computational media is to contribute to the invention and design of cultures in which humans can express themselves and engage in personally meaningful activities. Cultures are substantially defined by their media and tools for thinking, working, learning, and collaborating. New media change (1) the structure and contents of our interests; (2) the nature of our cognitive and collaborative tools; and, (3) the social environment in which thoughts originate and evolve, and mindsets develop"

"Computational media can have the same fundamental impact on our individual lives and our societies as reading and writing had to move us from oral to literal societies. The true contribution of computational media might be to allow all of us to take on, or incrementally grow into a designer role in areas that we consider personally meaningful and important so we do not mind additional" efforts.

December 19, 2002

Ad-hoc Wireless Communities

Technology Review - December 4, 2002

As Gerd Kortuem, an assistant professor at Lancaster University in England, sees it, the crowds who surround us every day constitute a huge waste of social capital. If you live in a city for instance, there are many who pass within a few yards of you each day who could give you a ride home, buy an item you're trying to sell, or consider you as dating material. Dynamic networking makes it possible to tap those resources through a momentary alliance among transient interest groups. But in a world of wireless wearables, computers embedded in clothing could form networks on the fly, prompting software agents to carry out mutually beneficial transactions

December 31, 2002

Digital Identity

2003 requires a paradigm change in the discussion around Digital Identity. There is a good DI discussion going on at the moment with Eric Norlin, Mitch Radcliffe and others. I've not been quite ready to wade in. Yet to stay out longer and I'll miss the party. So below are thoughts from a few days ago.

Eric helped with editing a paper I wrote on P2P Personalization quite a while ago. While thoughts of COMsumers I think mimic Mitch's position.

Is the discussion around digital identity using the wrong terminology? What metaphors do the words Digital Identity frame? How do consumer think and respond to digital identity discussions. Do they just think things like drivers licences, customer records, and control systems rather than talking about it as digital personas? Digital persona’s are closer, perhaps digital personalities closer still. Yet these terms don’t provide a clear ownership proposition. They suggest exchanges, fragments and multiples… They don’t think about it as “Digital Me”. Each and everyone of us should have rights to "me". IOWNME! A site I registered with a friend in 1999, currently lapsed.

The words that people use to describe the digital me are important. Digital identity, digitial personas, digital personality, digital me. The more synergy between the physical me and digital me the more powerful the concept and the value of the exchanges. Further the collaborative capability increases exponentially. To date, there has been little interest in the digital me, or even thinking about how the digital me and my ownership thereof transcribes digi – virtual space. Perhaps 2003 will see a sea-change.

The other school of thought is where we need many – more than one digital personality. Eg business , health, personal, family? To make matters more complex --- and where would each of these reside?

January 3, 2003

Rethinking Mail - COMsumer POST

I've been listening to Tom's search for heritics recently and was reminded about the stamp story and the origins of the postage invented in Britain in 1840. Postage created new industries, including advertising and rapidly accelerated literacy rates. The parallels are important today, for e-mail, spam, and digital identity.

The printing and publishing industry of the time was caught up in the 'Industrial Revolution', benefiting from changes in manufacturing and exploiting developments in other network technologies - railways and telegraph.

Stamps were a reformers idea. Rowland Hill wrote"Postal Reform; its Importance and Practibilitiy" in 1837. The plan introduced stamps and uniform low rates, which made it universally affordable. It also dramatically cut the accounting costs of the Royal Mail who up and till then logged each individual letter. Let's be clear. Up until 1840 the "receiver" paid. After 1840 the "sender" paid. Until 1840 the system was high cost, with frauds on it common.

Within a few years the stamp revolution spread around the world. For additional statistics see The Economic and Social Background to Victorian Print Culture

Post packets.gif

Today 163 years (May 2003) later the postal revolution has peaked. The efficiencies driven to a point where AOL can create metal non-recyclable CD sign-up trash and still make a business case for putting it in my mailbox. An with e-mail yep we have improved the immediacy of the delivery and reduced the costs. And behold.... just like pre 1840 the receiver pays, the system is increasingly spamed and fraud is more rampant.

What was the platform they launched the penny post on? "Mothers and fathers who wish to have news of your absent children; Friends who are separated and wish to write to each other; Emigrants who do not want to forget your motherland; Farmers who want to know the best place to sell your produce; Workers and labourers who want to find the best work and the highest wages" to support their postal reform measure."

It went beyond their wildest dreams. The rapid rise in literacy; an unexpected consequence. The passion to learn played a great role. With the internet we have the greatest learning and productivity tool so far.

The case and outcomes for a digital COMsumer Post will go way beyond our thinking today. The final comments here introduce an idea, that creates markets for digital identity by moving the postal system from an industrial paradigm to today's knowledge paradigm.

Should we look at POST another way? At issue is the value of access to our personal mailbox. We think about e-mail without thinking about the history and purpose of the postal system. Today the post box in front of my house is public and I receive 98% ineffective direct mail offers. Some put up no solicitation signs etc. The telephone directory is public and I suffer more abuse from telemarketers. However e-mail is completely free. Get my address get spam! Put an e-mail on a website, get more spam.

Is it possible that what we have is the postal system before the stamp revolution? Stamps put a price on sending. However they also drove efficiencies that enabled lower tarriffs, and accelerated more profitable exchages, be they personal or business. (Can anyone tell me where bills and checks fit into this story and early timeline?) Have you looked recently at the value spent dumping trash in your mailbox? Postage plus printing costs?

Our digital mail system is currently free, and increasingly suffering from receiver based inefficiencies. Could the price of free acceptance be too high? It seems the few are spoiling it for the many. It's also costing senders. It's harder than ever to look up an e-mail address. Why can't I just look it up and link it with a phone number? We give our phone numbers away almost without thinking. With e-mail there are reservations. Many have multiple addresses, separating public, business and private, with different levels of profiling information (and honesty) attached to each.

Perhaps it's time to re-think mail. How can we keep it free for the public, our preferred business suppliers etc. while putting a price on spam, that turns it back into information we want to eat.

At the same time we can return the stamp value of "post" to the people. It's no longer efficient to get your power bill via the post or pay it using the postal system. Done correctly, it's USPS that will have a problem. Perhaps literally we only need one physical delivery per week.

Let's start thinking out a solution. I'll call it COMsumer Post - after The COMsumer Manifesto. This is a world in which we all are paid to receive mail. It's a world where different levels of transparency surround our profiles. COMsumer Post is the system that enables the market for consumer information to arise.

Let me say this is not choice mail! Both Kevin Werbach and Jon Udell made recent posts on that subject. This piece on the impact of choice mail Jon's Radiois a great illustration. Choice mail assumes all incoming mail is spam unless it's mails from a buddy - approved source.

More to come.... Tying Smart Mobs to Post and Digital Identity.

Identity, Reputations

<a title="Eric Norlin's Blog" href="http://www.unchartedshores.com/blogger/blogger3.html"><b>Eric Norlin's Blog</b></a> <i>"Mitch brings up the idea of individuals being able to manage access to their Digital ID (in exchange for money) as the killer app. I agree -- it is. However, I think we're 8to10 years from that happening, and there are a lot of intermediate steps in between." </i>

My comment.<b>We (CONSUMERS) can't wait 10 years! </b>We need a better solution.

<a title="RatcliffeBlog: Business, Technology & Investing" href="http://www.ratcliffe.com/bizblog/2003/01/02.html"><b>RatcliffeBlog</b>: Business, Technology & Investing</a> Not marketing, legalese (for lack of a better word)

<a title="Escapable Logic" href="http://www.blaserco.com/blogs/2003/01/02.html#a72"><b>Escapable Logic</b></a> Brett Blazer on "When Meatspace isn't Marketspace" .... digesting... identities... reputations...

Also reading the <b><a href="http://www.pingid.com/misc/Whitepaper_Identity_Federation.pdf">PingID</a></b> whitepaper.

January 7, 2003

COMsumer POST TWO

Do we want spammers to think before sending? Would there be value in incorporating a postage system for e-mail? What opportunities for commerce may arise? What are the benefits for the people?

Suspend your disbelief! Let's imagine a simple scenario where all electronic mail carries a postage stamp equivalent. We would have a rate card... A personal, home, business and government package would be provided. And then levels. Let's just introduce it first for it can begin simply.

Like Paypal provided a verification system for linking e-mails with physical names and addresses, the same can be done for our digital mail box. A PayPal POST type system would enable "franked" mail only to go though. Franking can be determined by the rate card and other features, like contact list updates.

By setting a fee for a "registered" mailbox.... direct mailers, billers etc can quickly move expensive inefficient mailing to more effective online formats. It works virally. Imagine I open an e-mail box for everyone in the whitepages and enable direct marketers to send mail to these accounts. They will pay me a portion of the fee for mail handling (just like Visa) and the balance of the fee will be handled like an unclaimed PayPal account. When the unclaimed digital post value reaches $10.00 then a traditional physical postcard is electronically printed and sent to the physical address. It says... you have digital post, sign your account and collect $10.00. The recipient then opens the account and receives payment for each "letter" opened. This is now an active account. Legal obligations can be contracted, eg collection daily or levels of frequency.

This would be made rapidly smarter with different levels of profile access. In the beginning 25 cents may almost represent a drop box. However, additional levels will use mail profiles to create additional value. Eg accept mail from Sears, Wallmart, Target.... rejects from Nordstroms, Macy's etc. may enable another retailer to more appropriately search paying a higher value to obtain a more targeted distribution. This might pay the consumer a dollar for looking! I can see agents emerging manipulating this info trying to find markets. Now consumers may also be prepared to sell additional profile information. Eg age, favorite brands, plenty of possibilities, these could be bundled as well. A few simply research questions would create a system vastly more sophisticated than the current one quickly. The more partiticipation the greater the definitions and the larger the market for segmenting data. I might even tie it to my TIVO account!

In a world like this.... a few consumers may enable / invent new directional mailbox tags. Each tag can be approved just like each new Visa Bank.... Each tag will get a percentage of the revenue. Tag holders will also work to bundle their assets. By bundling they will make certain "info nodes" more valuable. These might become super agencies.

Senders will know where and to whom mail was delivered. They will with each drop improve targeting and performance. For example when mail is opened... if it recieves a click though additional postage may be due (a return receipt posted).

COMsumer Post participants can speed their participation by collecting money for changing their bills over to electronic systems. AT&T would love me to give up my paper bill -- but I refuse, an electronic or e-mail bill does not result in a discount. Imagine.... the screen option to select all your bill providers... and collect the postage from the invoicing companies. PG&E doesn't bill another company does it. Imagine millions of customers saying.... redirect my bills electronically.... the reduction in paper waste, the legal transfer simplified, and then being paid for putting efficiencies into the system. I'm green and better off!

This will create new efficiencies and are the first steps to creating market aggregators. Super agents for consuming communities. There was much written on meta-markets over the last few years. In this scenario they can become reality. Using your post box to register guarantees etc can link you to other consumers. Only one consumer needs to code a guarantee for each product for everyone to participate. See the CD song id. Similarly consumer complaints can be handled by this mail system. I wrote anti-port some time ago.

What are the core concepts here.

The majority of postage is payed to consumers. There is an incentive to enable certain levels of public information. It is built off of current mail and profiling systems. We work first to eliminate waste paper of direct mail.

It will create a more efficient postal system, which no longer penalizes the receiver with spam, for the sender will now pay for access, just like our current postal system. By definition corporate mail boxes will be different to personal mail boxes. Rates and exchanges for business post may also be different. Licensing opportunities are also available. Eg post approved for children.

By moving all post into digital space, we have made post mobile, so new options will become available. Eg paying for gps link and timed delivery to a consumer. If the consumer doesn't collect it within an allotted time then it is simply void and disappears. Under the right set of circumstances... informercials might take on a different pricing structure. Ah...new learning on the run.

There is also an important social issue here. By enabling the payment for post, we are endeavoring to make Internet access free for everyone. Not everyone may move over. Still if we are smart enough to create a social - community - postal system that incents business and pays enough to cover the costs of access and equipment then we have done good. It may be easier than we think. WiFi PDAs may just collect your mail as you walk around.

Lastly this is not a posting that suggests we should raise the rates between friends. In fact there are many ways round that. Though even at the simplest level if I mail you 25 cents and you mail me back... except for the "VISA" percentage we are even. So to make it better... You can join... become a COMsumer for $35 per year we will enable you to exchange mail freely with your friends and close contacts.

Who could set this up? It's a mighty attactive proposition for some banks. PayPal may have a head start. Then again hotmail, or yahoo, AOL (help us!) or Earthlink? Quicken maybe? Banks are closet to providing the trust and security over data. They are important to the linking aspects and perhaps more so when we begin aggregating this info to enhance consumer purchasing power.

Ultimately, this is more like Visa. It is chaordic in nature. It must also be consumer owned. Afterall it is our consumer info we are talking about. The majority of the assets our personal info at the edge of the Network. Just like in David Isenbergs's Stupid Networks. We are close to the point where consumer can have a STUPID POST OFFICE. I'd like to think it was more open source... a postal bazaar, than a new cathedral.

Idea? Thoughts?

January 9, 2003

TDMA - INBOUND POST

Suggestion. Use TDMA an open source protocol along with a postal charging mechanism to control and incent the development of inbound digital mail and eliminate SPAM. Putting a cost on digital mail will make marketers more efficient and selective. It will also create a market when you pay consumers for more detailed information.

After my COMsumer POST blog on Tuesday; Mitch Radcliffe blogged a segment of my post (ah for an editor!) and the discussion that followed was very helpful to me. His objections my para-phrasing was one I have heard before. People won't give up their current e-mail addresses to do this. There are a great many problems with ISP's and you can't fiddle with how it currently works.

The discussion led to looking at TDMA. TDMA works on the basis of whitelists.

" The way TMDA thwarts incoming junk-mail is simple yet extremely effective. You maintain a "whitelist" of trusted contacts which are allowed directly into your mailbox. Messages from unknown senders are held in a pending queue until they respond to a confirmation request sent by TMDA. Once they respond to the confirmation, their original message is deemed legitimate and is delivered to you. Updating your whitelist insures they won't have to confirm future messages. TMDA can even be configured to automatically whitelist confirmed senders. To see what the confirmation process looks like, send me a test message, and then reply to the confirmation request.

This methodology has the advantage of being very selective about what it allows in, while at the same time permitting legitimate, but previously unknown senders to reach you......"

TDMA is not alone in developing a whitelist approach. See Bruce Simpson's September thougths. Kevin Werbach also wrote "Death by Spam" in November. TDMA may be the only open source choice however.

So consider. Is it possible to use TDMA as part of a spam-killing postal system? You know add a postal metering / franking system link it to my paypal account, which means I'm verified to get my digital post. Then if you can also insure that everything is encrypted as it goes each way? I'm assuming it is P2P, and that I will adopt a standardised or recommended rate card.

Then I'm not only getting money for receiving post and making the planet a better place, I also know the commission I pay to the service (like VISA) is adding to the security and integrity of the overall system.

This solution alone doesn't answer the pressing business issue. How can I improve my returns on direct mail beyond just going digital? For marketers require profiles -- data. TDMA with a payment system can improve inbound effiencies with verified accounts - addresses. The same system can work in the reverse, when consumers create profiles of real value.

The very same consumers can enable whitelist profile sharing in exchange for postal access.

Reputation Genio

I've been looking at Genio and again PINGID. I've read the Genio Protocol mission statement, an element I repeat here.

"Reputation >> shall mean any collection of information about your Digital Identity, whether positive or negative, which shall serve to inform others of their opinions about your Digital Identities. Reputation shall serve as a foundation for trusted interactions between Digital Identities.

Then under a section called rights:

"RIGHT TO AN ACCURATE REPUTATION >> You have the right to have an accurate Reputation. You agree that your Reputation is a result of your actions and communications and of others vouching for those actions and communications. As a consequence of the right to an accurate Reputation, You agree that our Reputation may become either positive or negative. You have the right to carry aspects of your Reputation with your Digital Identity or to refuse to carry aspects of your Reputation with your Digital Identity. However, as a consequence of refusing to carry all or part of your Reputation with your Digital Identity, others have the right to not interact with You or your Digital Identities, or to do so in a limited or restricted manner without being considered discriminatory."

This approach to "Reputation" and the words used personally make my skin crawl. I have a sense that this conversation --- is not one taking place in human voices. This is closer to an accounting discussion. These types of reputation measures may well destroy creativity and the ability to speak out.

If you don't believe me a quick example from eBay learnings. My observation is most sellers wait until the buyer has left positive feedback. The words above that relate to positive or negative reputations... Are we implying it is no longer safe to have an opinion? No longer safe to be on the edge of conformity? Because +ve -ve is too black and white. The very words illustrate that there is only one ranking. As humans... we have to believe there is some good in everyone somewhere. This statement above fails to protects us.

At the same time feedback dimensions enable us to learn and that's important. Really, think about it. If I hold a transaction with a company and they want to add reputation / servicing statictics to it. I have no problem with that. What I want is the record. If the record is extended to me then it goes in my file. If I want to share that with another I can. Afterall It's my record too. To one company it may represent danger, to another opportunity. The companies and Genio suggest that if something is missing it is incomplete or the info provider (the customer) in this case is intending to deceive. It isn't black or white.

There will be both our data profiles... added to what we know about ourselves (human profiles) and their knowledge profiles... what they think they know about me. Just like the credit report... their profile might not be correct. Somehow I doubt a lawyer wrote this. Neither did a PR mavrick. Both would use different words.

It's in words like these that concepts are stuck. Frankly the Genio Protocol, sounds like a Ludlum or Clancy thriller. I just hope the bad guys don't win. I am also sure some smart guys wrestled with this.

I think the problem is they favor structured - data driven profiles. My challenge is for them to think similarly about creating environment for emergent, chaotic, complex profiles to emerge. Profiles that accelerate the learning of both parties. The transaction accumulator model for profiles is dead, unworkable, and unlikely to scale

Human Profiles RYZE UP

The emergence of RZYE is more important than it may seem at first glance. It is not just another networking - community.

It's much more... it is the early emergence of an outpouring of human profiles. Ryze is a demonstration of social capital building in action. These distinctly human identities are emergent, chaotic, and uncontrolled. And there are good sound business and personal reasons for being there.

This is a sharp contrast to "structured" standards based profiling in the crm - digital id discussion. At RYZE we see the beginnings of a human outpouring --- people increasingly willing to share. Here individuals are building their profiles, searching, learning, revamping and adding to their profiles. It is another SMART MOB, and still just a baby.

RYZE is a step beyon Match - HotorNot etc.. the dating sites are relatively structured, however key words are effectively open. RYZE demonstrates this to me even more clearly. Search on "Digital Identity", search on "Identity". Then try "donuts". I added both of these to my interests this morning. If you are a gold member you can search that way too. I suggest you join even if it is only to have the experience. Thus a new interest provides new touch points new avenues for contact, both inbound and outbound.

It feels right thinking about these as "human profiles" not "digital machine profiles". They have a voice, emotions, and their owners interpretation. Just writing this... I know I have more to do on mine! Over time our RYZE profiles may be augmented by "knowledge profiles" (explicit capture of transactions) they may also have "time profiles" effectively element are "lifestream profiles" (borrowing from Gelerntner). It is the "tacit piece" that makes them so attractive to us as individuals. What we don't know about ourselves we can hope to learn though others. Crashing profiles together releases tacit knowledge, leads to creativity.

RYZE is breaking data boundaries. Members are currently giving away information freely about themselves and yet retain ownership. You can't reach me without my contact details. Problems, report to the community, simply block the sender. I don't know the total number on RYZE, did try to estimate and factor it. Search on USA, see the number returned... etc. What I know is the community can use that info to become smarter. better at using categories... eg most popular etc... The metrics on RYZE need to be more transparent.

As RYZE grows the capabilty to provide useful community information will grow exponentially. Events may come to include research, results are posted by the research leader, Network-tribes form.Monitoring RYZE even seeding interests (like donuts) if you are a member may result in learnings. At a minimum one person had that interest at a moment in time. Similarly social Action groups are possible. Or Buying groups. Some may want to buy a new Honda Element by recording it as an interest which becomes seachable.... As a car dealer you still can't market to them as a group. Yet we know there may be value in creating offers against such research. This becomes the subject of another post.

At the moment these human profiles are given away free and broad access is denied. A marketer can't spam on RZYE. Individual approaches only. Just like the postal service before the advent of stamps and marketing.

In a RYZE world, we can e-mail, chat, make new connections, personalize our businees connections more transparently and comfortably than we do today. That's attractive and it needs nurturing.

That's where RYZE is breaking new boundaries. Introducing business networking in an environment and context that appears safer and protected. Not only does it enable the linking to friends of friends it provides the opportunity to constantly play with your profile. That gaming is clearly interesting in the Personals, I bet it is addictive in business networking too. It will also highlight new areas of demand!

Continue reading "Human Profiles RYZE UP" »

RYZE-UP POST

RYZE illustrates that human profiles are built on learning, with chaotic connections, that are constantly changing.

When you become a Ryze member the profiles are free to search. Just like many other matching sites. The profiles provide many ways to improve your message, obtain feedback and simply learn by watching others. It a site for business networking.

Imagine now RYZE as a community in the hundred of millions, with a postal system --- franked e-mail for all those not in my contact list. Like COMsumer POST you pay me to send me e-mail. At the individual level the cost is negligible -- just like a few postage stamps. What's more if those members get a return message they are reimbursed for their interest... even if it is just courtesy to say thanks.

Now you are a business who may want to reach millions. You search on RYZE, find great profile matches, but you will not know their e-mails. So you experiment with different levels of postage (how granular the profile for success?) paying for access to the mailboxes. The mailer is also identified by the TDMA protocol and qualified that it has the postage to go though.

That would be the traditional marketers view. The meta-mediariary would make it their business to seed / search out interests, then based on search - research results know how to aggregate demand. Demand aggregation within this cooperative community could be both consumer led, perhaps even with digital agents. My guess is consumers will express an interest... buying a specific type of car and then an aggregation agent system will emerge.

I'd note this may not happen on RYZE. It appears commercial, it's not open source - yet and the founder / directors may have ideas about what is appropriate? Making them the post office innovators is probably not yet on their agenda.

January 13, 2003

Network Socializing

I’m finding myself identifying with the “human”and “social” networking aspects as I've tracked recent discussions. I feel a cause that is worthwhile. emergent and world changing. It's becoming clear that the web isn’t just evolving because of economics, it’s beginning to accelerate again as the “intangible human web” is discovered or perhaps redefined. That's why I'm excited and thinking through context-framing questions… “How will the human web evolve?” What sort of scenarios should we consider? I’m working on some.

Jan Hauser posed this context questioning an interview:

"The big question is: will whatever tips in for individual identity primarily serve commercial interests or will it also serve public and community interests?"

The following two articles via Cynthia Typaldos on THERE also caught my attention today.
From CNET and in the New York Times socializing online is becoming a more engaging experience.

January 15, 2003

Chaordic Wi-Fi Networks?

Trepia is a new networking application that lets you instantly discover other Wi-Fi users in your vicinity. It apparently analyses base-station access patterns and then creates a contact list of who's near you.

Thus in an airport I can identify other similarly enhanced Trepia users and send them IM's and potentially meet them. Will there be a barrier to begin... unless yahoo, messenger or aim buys them... how will Trepia reach critical mass? Plus it's not entirely clear to me what their business model is.

What are the implications? First, in principle I think it is a great idea. Brings networking with strangers one step closer. I've forgotten the Japaneese story about the beeping gigapet type gadget looking for matches in a crowd, possible this may provide something similar. Many other applications may emerge... people in the same area week by week. It also raises a number of issues.

First in their profile example see how it works. It's too simple for me to make contact to create comfort. I'm not prepared to expose my picture - face, link to statistics and data in a close crowd for anyone that I haven't put though some form of vetting - exchange process. I'd be happier with a RYZE profile where my photo - images are not put though in the initial listing. There may be other criteria - qualifiers that I may want prior to broadcasting. Currently I believe that what looks like a plausible IM enhancement will fail because the real details that create the interest or broach the introduction simply aren't there. To work Trepia has to make people interesting. If Ryze contained millions of profiles and WiFi was everywhere it may fuel high utilization in examples similar to Trepia proposes. Short-term with modifications perhaps on campus?

There is no data on proximity (to me) and yet as I understand their example as I move from node to node... their system tracks me and tells me who is nearby even if linked to a different WiFi node. I presume this application could also act to sniff out new nodes as Trepia carriers move about..

This also raises a further set of personal security issues. For example I have Trepia on my laptop and it is on my home wireless network. Does this give driveby snoopers access to pictures and profiles of who is active in the house? Or worse... a poor celebrity decides to use the system providing a new game for stalkers.

Trepia illustrates, the emerging power of WiFi everywhere and how it may help us connect. It also creates another system, logging individuals, with yet more profiles and possibly selling the information about where they coalesce. Each of us needs to retain this information. It should not be in central servers. If a P2P application can provide this functionality in Ryze then perhaps the real-time networks… or RYZERS in proximity to x can collectively sell their info to marketers. Marketers, pay an access fee to the collective data. Using the franked digital post system you may get paid for even just sharing your profile even if only one person in that proximity accepts the message and decides to read. As a marketer you are then making an offer to a potential Swarm leader. Eg come to X and have dinner. Y others in your vicinity may be interested. Now the people retain the info and can potentially increase the value.

Why did I select Chaordic Networks for the title? What could be more chaotic than looking for common interests in a moving crowd? Plus this requires real organization with profiles, the application etc. It too must be decentralized and yet there must be a return for all participants. Adding an economic one may fuel a social revolution.

January 22, 2003

ID Scenarios

The objective of this posting is to stimulate a conversation around Digital Identity some 5-10 years into the future exploring the following questions.

“Will whatever tips in for individual identity primarily serve commercial interests or will it also serve public and community interests?"

This scenario matrix is intended to stimulate a discussions of plausible alternate environments in which “digital identity” evolves. Individually or as a group we sometimes use a matrix to stimulate slice of life stories five to ten years into the future. This document is a sketch. It provides a starting point for creating the stories.

Note: I'm breaking my usual rules for scenarios, for sharing without context and providing a draft document unfinished. However, without group action and context; it's really not worth doing in more detail. I did it because my sense is the "technologists" tend to think about single point futures. I did it because papers like Andre Durand's (is current and illustrative to the structured world view) are authoritative, and yet I never see in them the type of adaptive profile exchanges that I see on Ryze or as a result of allconsuming.net. To really think though digital identity the net should be cast wide. Anyone one of these futures could be right. Similarly all of them could be wrong.

Scenar1.jpg CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
Please check out the detail and explanation of logic and send me comments.

Continue reading "ID Scenarios" »

January 23, 2003

Mobile Post

Picked this link up via Doc Searls. See David's one line bio.

In his latest posting Doc is using Radar as a metaphor.

"What we DON'T want from Digital Identity is a system where vendors can constantly but silently follow us with passive sonar, or where they ping us when we don't want to be pinged."

The issue here is how to change the game. The game currently is premised on CRM, relationship management, companies holding files, etc. Thus so is everyone's perspective. The one prize companies want more than anything is my e-mail, tied to my address, and phone number. That seems pretty simple and we accept for most business transactions it would make it easier. No more paper receipts... just an eceipt... etc.

Rather than trying to mine my e-mail, nab it etc.... they can have it. They will just have to pay me a small fee. This eliminates business without "economics" in the exchange. It creates power for consumer to set markets for access. It also means that passing information between companies becomes less attractive, because it may not make it cheaper to get to potential customers and customers may have more valuable profiles available.

Consider receiver based communication. In a highly federated world... all the mega companies become agents in a system that is trying to co-ordinate behavior, let other agents know what is happening to them. The receivers of this information use it to decide what they are going to do. The receivers base their decisions on some overall specification of "team goals" (borrowed from Kauffman)

In sports teams we see this as constant chatter. Xerox used always on headsets for repairmen... good practices spread faster.

As consumers we have to increase the cost of commercial access to our information. I cannot afford to walk into the store and have the prices go up! Franked Digital Post still feels like a pretty good first step. (Mobile post boxes -- my phone-- can receive if on... timed postings for a franked fee payable to me. This cost would be higher.) More importantly it will change the perspective of every business and send a message. If nothing else that is a reason to try it. I'm beginning to think there may also be an unintended consequence. Like the original postal revolution fueled literacy.... this time it could fuel digital connectivity.

Last night I was trying to catch up on a threaded discussion on Smart Mobs at www.groupjazz.com chataqua just before dinner. Some interesting threads are starting to emerge. I'll note for fun part of a Howard quote:

"And I think we're seeing the beginning of the demise of email as we know it. I am just about ready to go to a system that charges people to send me email, unless they are on my whitelist. Spam is a scourge." HR (my bold)

I'm thinking again about the scenario matrix Iyesterday. How would smart mobs evolve though each? How would the technology be applied? For example. How would sms evolve combined with GPS location data in a Federated Servant / closed system world controlled by ancient telecoms? Alternatively, how would it evolve in open chaordic communities, where sms is like a verbal contract? perhaps the slate is auto cleared amongst friends using some encrypted function.

Doc this sounds a lot like your example.

Aggregating Consumer Radar

Further thought on Doc Searls latest post. Let's not forget the power in this scenario that customers can aggregate their radars! It only takes one consumer to be monitoring for a deal for all in the vicinity to be notified. Similarly consumer radars can be tuned to each other. Perhaps this is what you envisage.

"What we DO want from both identity and relationship management, as customers, is control over passive and active sonar on both sides of our relationships: who we're willing to have following us around, for example, and who we're not. Also who we're willing to follow as well."

and finishes with:

"This prospect must scare the crap out of companies that are highly attached to such Tier 3 activities as market surveillance (excuse me, research), advertising, direct mail and various forms of nonrelationships with customers."

Look at the online retail sales vs catalogs over this last Christmas. Direct Mail needs a digital solution and quick!

NYTimes 2016

Britt Blaser posts on "Ident Therefore I Am". Excellent! I'm not quite sure where the following came from. Well done short scenaric prod. How does one keep up on all the threads? This should be run as a scenaric exercise... Scenarios to strategy. New solutions would emerge.

"NYTimes.com, January 21, 2016

Congress today passed the Carbon Life Form Digital Identity Act (CLFDIA) by an overwhelming vote, prohibiting any entity recording or archiving information of any kind about any carbon-based human persona. This is seen as a strategic win for President William Sterling who had made the legislation the centerpiece of his Sociolibertarian/Independent agenda, and will sign it using his digital signature at a ceremony at Davos.

Experts agreed that all the technical requirements are in place to support the bill's implementation. It's estimated that 78% of AmeriEuro adults now control their own web-based Digital IDs, as do a staggering 94% of people between 13 and 21. The bill requires anyone who wishes to transact over the internet, through the mail or within the EuroDollar Community to maintain a web-based DigID site supporting biometric validation.

Economists downplayed the significance of the legislation, calling it largely symbolic, since the bill does not affect transactions among Algorithm-Based Personas (ABPs), which comprise 86.3% of the GDP. These self-perpetuating digital entities will continue to transact with each other, exchanging digital services for digital money, even though their creators, whether human or corporate, are no longer involved in maintaining the entities' algorithms.

It is believed that the first ABP was the No Iraq, No Way meme, started in 2003 and which still is collecting donations from the many pacifist ABPs still active. The ancient precursor to the NINW meme, the Stop-the-Taliban-Now meme, functioned briefly in the early 1990s but failed because there was no mechanism at that time to automatically fund meme support infrastructure."

January 27, 2003

Real-time Identity Prototyping

Interesting realtime prototyping process linking realtime identities to blogs happening now.

"using some cool thinking, a post can relate the FOAF data that is attached to it, and start thinking about how to make connections between various identities (ie you could have a FOAF comment rule that says "if any of my friends post here, alert me about it" or something of the like)"

February 6, 2003

Spam Fixation

Bob Frankston provides a very thoughtful article :Spam Fixation reinforcing the economics of attention and promoting (in my view) typical "tech views" about consumers who don't think. There is lot's of great thought here. Particularly when I've been writing about a digital post.

"We need to restore the balance. We need to control access to our attention and we must be able to determine our own priorities."

"The problem is not that email is free. It's that we treat our email address like our home address and then act surprised when everyone assumes they have a right drop in unannounced. After all we asked them in by giving them our address. ........."

"We can start to find a balance by giving people tokens that can be used to vie for our attention. Each token is unique and we can use it to prescreen the access. ............".

There is much more to think about here. Bob rejects the idea that people should pay me and provides the telemarketer as the example. I'd beg to differ. In both the direct mail and the telemarketer examples there is a cost of probing for our attention. With spam the cost is an order of magnitude different. Similarly an argument for CRM customer relationship management is inserted. The paradigm proposed remain supply side driven. Maybe the economics of attention identify the problem, perhaps the answer lies in the economics of cooperation?

To use the telemarketer example. Currently x calls y misses and an economic hit rate. We can assume the credit card companies, the mortgage brokers, the magazines etc, would all change this in a minute if it could be done for a lower cost. Your best marketer is the consumer. When the consumer spreads good news you grow. When one consumer spreads a complaint we know what the cost is. At the moment Consumers don't share the good news very effectively. If they did, we may find an invisible collaborative solution that informs other consumer more effectively. Could this replace telemarketiing?

February 7, 2003

Soft on Reputation?

There seems to be a very technical approach to "reputations" that exists. Like the "structured" identity. How would you build "soft" human reputations in cyberspace? Rather than the result of each exchange being favors.. or hit statistics... or harder facts. How do you build reputation with dignity?

Should I draw a parallel? Is current reputation memory technically correct like words? How does this contrast with Sam Hunter's talk last night (previous post) about topic mapping? It seems the current reputation construct is like google and words. Whereas "topics" are what you and I talk about. Computers don't have words for that. So how can they compile the "topics" for reputation?

Separately, behavior takes many forms. I'm betting that a part of RYZE works by being watchful. Potentially your friends are watchful too? From this some trust emerges. Seems to me at Ryze and in building reputations we aren't using the trust of our friends very well.

There is a post today... britt blaser Escapable Logic

"Peer Brother is Watching You
That inevitable future may seem bleak, but perhaps only because we haven't got our head around the effect of decentralized peer-based surveillance. Intermediaries always act contrary to the interests of those for whom they intermediate, so we assume that a video-archived future is through corporate and government surveillance serving the interests of those powerful enough to control the "public" record. That is not what Peer Surveillance will be like."

February 10, 2003

IOWNME --- DOUOWNU???

I was mad after reading the NY Sunday Times spam article. It was so thin and shortsighted. So I’ve spent the day writing. Trying to pull threads together. I’ve achieved a first draft. It’s going to need more work and further links adding.

I’m the boss of my in-box! IOWNME --- please don’t forget it.

A few years ago, my two year-old was throwing a tantrum. “You’re not the boss of me!” “You’re not the boss of me!” he screamed with absolute determination on his face. The first dawning of an independent personality, he was exploring the limits, the boundaries. This was a little different to the playful fun he had when he discovered his shadow. His shadow follows him everywhere today, much longer than those many years ago.

Like our children, many of us remain in the physical world, still to discover or even feel the need to declare our independence in the digital world. It was brought home to me again, how untrained most of us are and how confusing the parallels are. The understanding we learn in the physical world as our persona emerges learning by trial and error fails to emerge or automatically transition to the online world. Instead this foreign digital world runs agents, applications, and protocols. When we struggle it’s the technology, or systems management we are told it’s for the best. It’s not friendly or caring, you wouldn’t let your friends treat you like an infant and yet too many online organizations do everyday. How often can one scream online “Your not the boss of me!”? Yet from Microsoft to Double-click, they are all trying to be the boss of you! What’s more they want to keep it that way.

This is an introduction to IOWNME! Why it is timely and why it is different. Like the two year old - IOWNME learns from lessons and exchanges with others. IOWNME is your right to assert your digital persona, to control access to you, to tell your story, not theirs in a distinctly individual way.

I’ve been fired up for a while about Digital Post, Ryze profiles, FOAF, Spam and wireless. Let me share some elements from articles and posts in the last week.

The shortsighted article in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, “Why Spam Can’t Be Stopped” adds little to the picture (I'm not the only one who thinks that way Jon Udell). The author James Gleick does provide some quotable quotes.

“We citizens and consumers have more points of contact with the world than ever before; more points of exposure. Our front doors and mailboxes are one kind of interface; our telephones and fax machines another; our televisions and radios still another. Because networked computers open a pathway wider and faster and more fluid than all these combined, the spam epidemic will prove a need for new kinds of locks and new kinds of rules.”

Further in he notes some of these systems had some sort of economic bargain for our attention. Examples broadcast TV, radio. (Of course this bargain isn’t universal – consider public radio out of the US.) However:

“By contrast , advertising by e-mail is the ultimate free ride. THE COST IS BORN BY THE RECIPIENTS. This is a historical accident; no planners designed the economics of cyberspace to work this way. But the capitalists who laid the world’s fiber optic cable across continents and oceans get no return on their investment from the spammers; the Internet service providers whose computers send and receive these billions of messages get no compensation. Nor of course, do we, the targets of spam…”

The article covers all the other traditional ground, the problem with whitelists, opt-in vs. opt-out lists, and briefest comments on legal rulings and situations. The largest flaw of all here is that the author thinks new rules and more policing is the way to outlaw spam. His final paragraph:

“We need to be able to say no. N0, I’m not looking for a good time. No I don’t want to “e-mail” millions of PayPal members.” No, I don’t want an anatomy-enlargement kit. No, I don’t want my share of the Nigerian $25 million. I just want my in-box. It belongs to me, and I want it back.”

IOWNME! I own my in-box, I own my digital information, I own my sense of me! I’m the boss of my in-box. In the age of instant access (Jeremy Rifkin wrote “The Age of Access yet never envisaged you and me putting economics on our information access, and a price on our attention!) See the COMsumer Manifesto.

Why the solution is not just Digital Post!
Last week Bob Frankston published “Spam Fixation” picked up here last Thursday and since then has provided a follow-up posting "Email Is Still Just a Toy". Some quotes:

“We need to restore the balance. We need to control access to our attention and we must be able to determine our own priorities”. (BF)

Add to this, 24/7/365, in a mobile world with improved encryption. However there is an underlying and important clarification that e-mail is not paper post, that protection is much less than that provided by the traditional paper letter and envelope. The traditional mail system has our trust; increasingly the online one does not. We cannot trust it to share our addresses, we cannot assume it will keep our private correspondence secret, we cannot assume that the addresses we receive are really who they say they are. For genuine business and renewing social contact, it’s increasingly hard to contact electronically those you may have lost contact with. Even more so when the relationship may have been only over e-mail and sporadic over so many years.

“It's only because email is modeled after a crippled version of paper mail that we have such a sharp distinction.” (BF)

“We tend to treat email as if it had the same protection as postal mail except when we have a legal or explicit obligation to be careful. Then we have a problem.” (BF)

We are at a turning point where “all of us” decide how we are going to move our communications – connectivity systems forward. The Spam buster’s metaphor isn’t working. Government intervention is closer to control and surveillance than protecting individual rights. The DMA, is torn between improved efficiencies and knowing consumers need rights. I learned from Bob Frankston that the “Digital Post” metaphor is a retronym (For examples, the retronyms "snail mail" and "paper mail" were coined by those for who "mail" was likely to mean electronic mail.) We understand attention, and yet fail to see that it is “all of us” that needs to take the action. That Digital Post conjures such a strong consumer understanding is a reason for the parallel to be used. What’s key in the Digital Post paradigm is that the sender pays, not the receiver. Nicely summed up by the Economics of Attention. What we want is nothing less than a complete reinvention of post and telecommunications. For today there is no difference. As I understand it they are all still packets!

The thesaurus notes that hackers are great at retronyms. Clearly we are modifying old words to lead us into a new paradigm. We’ve sent messages from the dawn of time. Our language for a new paradigm is thus difficult. Clearly e-mail is not fully evolved. Yet the language we (consumers) use is mail, telephone, fax, e-mail, wireless, mobile, etc. Used less often are profiles, cookies, data lists. Yet we all have address books, generally list in directories and share our contact details. As paradigms I think they may have to do.

We buy stamps; we buy tokens in some places to ride the bus, or even a snack. Most of us fail to understand tokens in virtual technical terms, unless perhaps a link to cookies or headers is made. The consumer opportunity is one that enables all of us to take control, guard our time, protect unwanted invasions, gain additional security, and knowingly improve the chance of sharing with those we want to share with. Similarly we must encourage the joy of getting an update from a long lost friend, getting in touch must be easier not harder as the word become more mobile.

"We are still in the teething stage of email and view it as just a faster version of postal mail. One example I keep pointing out is that email addresses are treated like street addresses or phone numbers rather than what they really are--tokens that can be used to get our attention and manage conversations."(BF)

True. That’s how the everyday man in the street sees it. E-mail is not separate from our directories and address books. It is part of our correspondence. E-mail is like letters…and yet our communications and how we converse now takes a myriad of forms. We can no longer consider just e-mail without thinking IM – instant messaging or SMS texting. Then IM includes chat, profiles, voice – net meeting, cam exchanges, and many other things. In fact when I say IOWNME, I mean I own the time, place, frequency, and availability of my connectivity. I hope I engender trust, and yet just owning me is no guarantee.

In many countries the postal service, the telephone service (directories & calls) are and were all run by the government. Till now we’ve tended to think about the Internet as e-mail and downloading information. The Post, telephone and TV defined the rise industrial age. For so long they have been part of our “experience” that we take them for granted. More recently, DVD’s have show how fast a new technology can transform industries. Each one has redefined the human experience.

To propose solutions upgrade for e-mail without working though the human experience is nuts. I’d prefer conversations that shy away from solutions in terms of e-mail, tokens, or identity. Let’s think more broadly about human experiences, human profiles, and human exchanges, with real values that are inclusive rather than exclusive. Yes it is decentralized, yes I manage it and it must be simple. We cannot not forego serendipity and synchronicity; we need delight, the odd surprise and feedback. Most of all we need to be connected. Like the day and night, time casts different shadows, so does our lifecycle and stage of life. Frankly no child wants a nickname brought back, or a strikeout that cost the game. What we need is a celebrations, the positive reinforcement on which to grow.

When growing up, I read a number of stories where the world ended in a nuclear holocaust. It was the radiation that killed us. The half-life was thousands of years. Almost no-one was spared. We appear to accept new info tech solutions that work to track us, map us, stat us. Witness the rollouts of CRM customer relationship management and more recent approaches to digital identity like PingID. What worries me is the digital shadows these systems are arming to create have large and unfriendly trails. The more compliant we become the more excluded we will be. (Did I read the Power Network Law correctly?) If your half-life becomes digitally active there is nothing that will save you. Are there parallels? You bet! If you have had your identity stolen then you know the time and cost it takes to get it back.

There is leakage in every human profile. It’s what we choose to forget. Just like the words barked at a child close to danger we choose to forget. Some of our current systems forget. Others don’t. Some keep records of IM exchanges. Others don’t. The law generally doesn’t uphold verbal contracts. Similarly, because I shopped at Safeway doesn’t mean I’m committed to it forever.

For example Google searches on words, not on topics. (See Sam Hunter and topic maps.) Part of the human experience is forgiving, forgetting, and other positive part is reaching out, touching, meeting new friends. Some call this networking. Business Networking, social networks, etc. Till recently it was pretty much all done in person, or very slowly and laboriously by mail, phone and slow exchanges. The further away one was the more expensive it was to network. Few of us can afford to travel the world all the time. The telecommunications and IT industry have a different view of networking. Not surprisingly it is based round traffic, grids and power. Statistics are king in a realm where people connect and exchange their lives. It may capture words, sounds, and looks, so far it fails to really understand touch and taste. The context memory is simply not there. It remains with you and me. And we share it with others. Invites to join a group, further meetings and exchanges etc.

Similarly these technology networks want lock in. Hey there is a winner take all mentality. Look at Word, Outlook, Windows. IOWNME too is about lock-in. Lock-in with other consumers. Lock-in with a POWER to the PEOPLE concept. Done right it’s a movement. It only works if everyone owns his or her own profiles. Collaboration beginning with one to one exchanges and expanding more broadly begins with the capability to exchange ever more complex and invisible profiles between consumers.

THE PROFILE EXCHANGE
My earlier posts of on Ryze (xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx ) have spoken about the human profiles that are emerging and the social capital that is being created. Ryze has lowered the barrier to creating a personal home page and is much simpler and less demanding than the current blogging phenomena. Ryze does a good job of bringing you back to the site when you are reasonably active. Neglect it and your visitor count will fall. My Ryze contacts and my Outlook Address book are not synchronized, It provides more protection for my e-mail while depriving me of possible commercial messages appropriate to my profile. It’s objective was networking.

It may provides a starting point for what a future directory might be. It achieves a degree of transparency not apparent in Yahoo profiles for instance and yet it still doesn’t go far enough. Ryze remains a centralized solution closer to Napster than Kazaa. It may remain very successful despite still having a poor conversion rate for converting invites to active members (At least among older members I know.)

Some functionality on Ryze compares to eBay’s early developments promoting auctions. On Ryze you post your own profiles. No one other than you vets it. There is some structure, and an open opportunity via the HTML to more openly advertise and promote yourself. Not much has been done with this HTML section so far. Like eBay, we can envisage additional functionality and business being created to provide counters statistics, verifiers, spam, donations, guilds or professional associations, as simple items. Similarly it would work well for students.

More dramatic are the corporate implications. For example if I worked for IBM and am posting on Ryze, IBM may want to start verifying who currently is an employee. The “who owns me” permeable boundary already crossed by my independence. Similarly IBM may want to link IBM colleagues behind a hidden curtain rather than enable broad public linking and that might be understandable. Who would want to lose a whole research department? So consider an HTML space button that links back to IBM. It glows blue as long as I’m employed. Similarly, educational institutions or professional societies could do the same. This is both a business opportunity for Ryze and an example of consumers actively creating additional value for their organizations. Before long current contractors could be verified in this manner. The benefit. The IC instantly part of the organizations “human community” with all the welcomes etc. Ryze must become much bigger before really interesting applications become popular.

A further illustration broadening the need. As we mix and match our roles in public and private space, the activities of our lives today mean we flip in and out of them more frequently. So the need for connected directories goes much further. You become a coach of your child’s sports-team. There may only be 8 kids. It’s a busy world and it is hard to connect with the other parents or even identify who they are. Ryze type directory applications can make that simple. They can also “permission” child or family details. Similarly our school provides “class-lists”. It aids the functioning of the classroom, volunteerism etc. This may make many of us more transparent, it’s also a safer route to sharing. In RYZE when I call up my address book, it’s updated already with the information others are prepared to share with me. That saves me time and effort. Tied with my events calendar my e-groups etc. we could go even further.

Last week Marc Canter’s had a post that included a segment on how RYZE might help conference attendees. It’s a perfect example of some form of plug-in that would exist just for the Supernova members. Certainly would have been nice. A Supernova connection doesn’t need to be on the front page of my RYZE profile. In fact to the contrary it is really only useful to those that were there. And that is where we begin to understand there is a fine balance. The battle to credential one’s self is not necessarily a benefit to the smooth running and stimulation of a vibrant diverse community exchange system. In fact it may be exactly the opposite. Too many details and a barrier to entry is created.

Similarly, cutting access to individual stories (what they post in the html) reduces the richness, and the potential for relationship outreach. Not everyone finds it easy to tell his or her story. When we tell it we wonder and experiment all the while feeling a degree of insecurity. Some will always be more gregarious than others. Many will say actions speak louder than word. Somewhere in this exchange, a level of dignity is required. Perhaps that is the challenge. So far Ryze is the most dignified of all consumer profile exchanges. It’s not dating and certainly not sleazy. The majority is there attracted by the possibility of networking. It’s a fun place with many interesting people if you have the curiosity, time and willingness to seek them out.

I’m sure Adrian Scott never thought about Ryze scaling to everyone on earth when he started it. I’m skeptical it could even if we wanted it too. Ryze has introduced an online way for looking for new friends and colleagues. It’s put some protection on my e-mail and created a new social context while doing it. More importantly I feel I own my Ryze page. I believe others are proud to be on Ryze too. That’s quite a feat.

There is also a limit to such exchange systems. There are people that may have populated my address book, which I barely know. My trust varies with events. Not everyone can have the keys to my car, and yet many a friend may be able to ride with me. I’ll happily give away some information. This brings us back, closer to our inbox and integrating our address book so it works with increased functionality.

A couple of recent Whitelist start-ups have used Outlook address books to secure further sign-ups. They have been roundly dammed. For many of us our address books are a mess we amend them when we find a problem, or rebuild when lost. Similarly, many of us have multiple addresses for our friends. Usually we know the preferred destination even when the PC might not. Why bring in this now? It seems we are not using our friends effectively.

When the dating / matching online solutions first emerged eCRUSH provided an easy, safe way to answer the question "Would that person go out with me?"

“eCRUSH® is an "icebreaker", not a personals site. The "eCRUSH®" service (patents pending) only works between people who already know each other; there is no way to match up with a stranger. Users log onto eCRUSH® and, in complete confidentiality, enter the names (and preferably the email addresses) of their romantic interests. An anonymous email goes out to these people informing them that someone has an "eCRUSH®" on them and encouraging them to enter their own eCRUSHes to see if the feeling is mutual. If two people eCRUSH® each other, we break the ice between them.

This viral process means that everyone who sends a "eCrush" message recruits other people to register. This is a prime example of how a modified RYZE type application could use my friends more successfully to go beyond the traditional 150. Were they to use my address book, when 5 or 10 members also have them in their address books then it’s simple…. Hi Stuart… You already have 5 friends on Ryze. Come in and find them! Of course at the moment, there is a privacy issue, there is an ownership issue and I’m not sure I’m ready to give Ryze my whole address book. Still a stronger confirmation of “we are feeling safe in here” to another friend I cannot imagine.

SO YOU WANT YOUR INBOX BACK?
I started this piece with an inbox statement and spam. The whitelist and blacklist approaches we know. They either eliminate too many or simply fail to get them all. So what are we to do?

Consider Possible IOWNME Principles:

IOWME would be a decentralized peer-to-peer based application that controls all digital communication to the individual. I assume with VOIP, all voice communication can be encrypted just like exchanges of IM and e-mail. FreeNet provides a sense of this without the desire to create a more powerful connected world for the people. Cloudmark and for that matter Kazaa provides P2P style infrastructure examples.

Using TDMA or a similar whitelist applications would enable a verification process that requires legitimate addresses, friends / colleagues access would be free. Ultimately, this profile belongs to this person. Commercial access for my attention will require a different set of economics. While a simple ping back will cure most spammers it’s more attractive to create a real-time connectivity system that can go mobile. (Imagine ads delivered to geourls.)

IOWNME would enable a blind directory exchange. Without telling me IOWNME would let me know how many friends in common we are likely to have. The address books are not exchanged. We may enable peer-to-peer blind matching from time to time… My guess is circles of friends in common would enable significantly more contacts to be made. It would also encourage individuals to add to their address book. A date register of last contact could be useful. This may provide useful for friends of friends searching.

Establishing profile connectivity, the information grows as the community grows. The interests and company lists on Ryze demonstrate the emergent and changing nature of profiles. So if you bought a washing machine yesterday, you are probably out of the market today. Similarly whether eCrush, Match, lavalife etc. many sophisticated profiles are currently being shared. So far they are fragmented. Most of us can’t afford the time to run more than one profile. Running Ryze, Outlook, web pages and a blog is simply too much. If we are really to make business more interesting then methods for aggregating this consumer information must be simplified. Let’s be practical.

Example from a scenario:

….. just look at the number of consumers who think this is a good idea right now. The market’s not going to stay this way for very long. We’ve almost reached a critical mass. We just need to persuade a few more people and then we’ll reach the tipping point.

Frankly I’m just too busy to spend attention on issues I don’t care about. My clients have so many different kinds of information to barter. Genomic assets, cybercredits, some of them even still own old copyrights. I’m simudealing with 3 other clients while I’m talking to you. Baby, I’m busy! And any attention resources I’ve got left, I want to spend with you, not on consumer mobilization.

Dupont’s research on smart fabrics is already out there being shared. All the chemicals companies are poised to go into production, they’re just waiting for the market to turn. If CyberGap can be convinced to stock SmartKahkis, that’ll be enough!

Look I…

Aw no…now look! You see. We waited too long. The market segments dissolving

Let’s make it easier for each of us to visit with each other on the web. At the same time we must make it less productive for anyone to make assumptions about what they read on the web. There was a desire by the founders of the web to keep it open and free. The trick will now be making the economics of our attention more transparent. Our access more true to what we really want. For the common good, we must insure that the system is strengthened when everyone is online. The next iteration of the net needs to use the commercial interests in our lives in a way that enables more people to connect. While I think charges may emerge, perhaps the other method is to let incentives for sharing more of your information evolve. In principle create a market to facilitate information exchange amongst consumer more efficiently than it can be done by business. It looks like dealing with spam is the first step in changing information asymmetries and giving more power to the people!

IOWNME. The rights to my digital profile; my digital right to self-expression, in a human and sometimes fallible way. It will never gel with all the details the companies or financial institutions have, but may just meld with the nuances of my life. Frankly that’s a lot more important to me and those that want to meet me or do business with me, than a million transactional calculations. The “data” collected on me would never have predicted that I would write a paper like this five years ago. It can’t predict what I might do tomorrow either. Still after today looking at my blog, you have a right to think I may do some things differently.

February 12, 2003

ID Idealism

I just logged in to Mitch's blog and am pleased to see he's taken up the charge again with "The Digital ID Pledge". I liked this statement:

"The individual ID idealism is the nut of a new way of interacting and federated ID systems are the perpetuation of what came before -- what do you want, something new or the same-old same old?"

Which led me to JOHO and the "You First Pledge". With all respect we are looking for systems that help create a lifetime of value and exchange. "You First" is so first contact and corporate centric as to be meaningless for ongoing trusting relationships.

Lets face it. The more customized I want my product or service the more information or data access I must share. A company with my profile (if I'm profitable) may well want to find others with a similar profile. Consumers or their agents can share that information. They can also control access to their attention.

Individual ID idealism is IOWNME. Let me cast a shadow I am comfortable with. Let me learn without fear, please acknowledge that the needs, and desires I hold for tomorrow might not be the same as yesterday. You can never know everything there is to know about me, so please don't try, for I don't like being misconstrued. Data alone without context is often flawed. Please accept that my friends and I are human! I want to share, and do. I also know my information has value. If you share it with me I can combine it with what others know. My info agents can then help you without bothering me. And yes that means there might just be a price on my information. You can add it to the cost associated with creating offers I may need for which I am not yet aware. For that I will manage access --- never be totally closed to new input. I too must learn and then along with my peers will learn from your actions. We will behave accordingly.

I couldn't help myself. I had to post a comment lifted from my post a couple of days ago on JOHO.

We want a simple solution. Let's make it one that gives "all of us" more power not less.

March 14, 2003

DigID Models

Good to see Mitch picking up on Andre Durand's Feb post. I just did a little check. Realize at the time I left only a short link and yet I thought it a major milestone. So if you haven't read Tiers 1-3 and thought already about hijacking the Liberty Alliance protocol you should.

RatcliffeBlog: Business, Technology & Investing

"DigIDers waking up
Andre Durand, who will have a great deal of influence over how we control our personal information in the future is finally coming around to the notion that our identity begins and ends with our control over the information that describes us. Good to see that."

"Andre goes so far as to say people should hijack the Liberty Alliance protocol because it was "designed by corporations for corporate federation of Tier 2 identities." My point all along, despite some back channel comments that I was being too idealistic. In the context of the emergent democracy discussion, this move to individual sovereignty is absolutely essential. It is also gratifying to see my friend Dee Hock jumping into the emergent democracy debate."

"The project Andre outlines needs an economic catalyst. I think I know what that is, and Britt and Stuart have pieces that can make a tremendous impact on giving people an incentive to participate. There is a very simple business model involving store fronts in strip malls, but many folks seem fixated on nothing-but-Net ideas."

March 16, 2003

openidentity.org

I hope Marc talks to Duncan Work at NetDeva. Owen Davis at IDCommons and a few radicals that may see good n bad. Marc's Voice suggesting OpenIdentity.org:

"Nic Nyholm of Ascio and I have been theorizing as to what it would take to establish an OpenIdentity.org for linking various identity systems together. As of today, I have talked about these ideas to Adrian Scott at Ryze, Doc, Joi, Scoble, Mitch, Paolo, Dave Sifry, Eric/Bryan/Andre (of SourceID), Mark Graham of iVillage, Ross and Pete (of SocialText), Jason, Chris, Karsten, Lisa, Kevin, Jonathan and a bunch of other people too!"

Part of this is really a pretty neat idea. Marc goes on to say:

Wherever your name appears in any identity system listing, little word-icons would appear, surrounding your name - pointing to the OTHER identity systems you were a member of. For existing members of these systems, this serves as a shortcut - while for non-existing members, it serves as a way of introducing them to the capabilities and features of these new systems - they might be familar with. (See his graphic.)

I can hear the technical discussion raging.... However is this not like the wallhanging gallery for a lifetime academic? Really as a simple web surfer do I want to broadcast all my various online profiles. Perhaps to those I trust or where it will indeed broker further introductions. However this need not be visible. A trusted agent could share this for me.

As for profiles as a consumer they all get the bare minimum to participate. The effort currently is too much to share more. I already have so many I can't remember the passwords. Do I really want an Identity System listing that puts me at 50 different places? No I want 50 different places to accept my profile. Dependent on my relationship with them will determine how much I will share.

While Marc's example is consumer friendly do I want to advertise my profile with my bank or my credit card company? I don't think so. Or will they pay me for the association?

I'm yet to hear "consumer economics" or hear the passion that enables everyone on earth to be connected. I've yet to see an "Identity" system that is consumer friendly. If broadscale adoption is required it also must address the economics of attention and reduce consumer costs. Let's start by thinking myidentity, youridentity, our identity, etc. In these concepts we are talking about "circles of trust", directory listings, sharing, communities, collaboration etc. Integrating these in a personal knowledge centric sharing and connectivity system may help me manage my life better. Done right it will also establish higher levels of trust and increased sharing.

March 18, 2003

Xpertweb Collaboration

Xpertweb may one day turn the world upside down.

Flemming's partners are chiming in. Now there should be progress.

From RatcliffeBlog: Business, Technology & Investing Mitch reports:

"I've been working with Britt Blaser and Flemming Funch on the design of the Xpertweb and it has got me thinking about a number of questions raised in recent years about the role of the buyer, the employee and the citizen, who always seem to come out on the short end of the deal when there is some pre-existing power arrayed against them. The promise of progress is of improvement, and not just for the few, if you look at the history of the world."

Britt Blaser reports in Escapable Logic"The True MINGing of Xpertweb.
Flemming Funch, AKA Ming the Mechanic, has posted an overview of Xpertweb's precepts and processes, emphasizing that everything's public and everything's decentralized and there's no central greedpoint. Ming's description carries more weight than others, since he's the guy who's putting it into practice. His approach to building this web app is to make it as simple as possible”

Follow the links...

March 24, 2003

Identity Trust Circles

Mitch Ratcliffe and Doc Searls have kicked off another discussion round Infomediaries and Mydentity repectively. It's moving forward. Andre Durand and Eric Norlin thoughts of high-jacking the Liberty Alliance referenced again and the murmuring continues that other moves are afoot.

Mitch writes how we may earn money off my and our identities:

"Companies query the infomediary about making deliveries of vacation solicitations to its clients, and they pay the infomediary to deliver the mail;...."

"There are many other ways to conceive money-making instances. Every piece of junk mail and spam could be accepted only if the sender has paid and it fits criteria suggested by the infomediary, because, if the sender just wants a chance to bother Doc and Doc can get a penny and the infomediary a penny in order for the email to pass through Doc's email server, there is money to be made."

This is the IOWNME - digital post type model written about here earlier. However, there's an important addition. Mitch introduces Xpertweb as the reputation manager for fullfillment. This is an important piece.

Two things strike me about these postings. First "a few of us" are really close to realizing the potential to make this happen. Yet it is disconcerting, the word "TRUST" was not used in either Mitch's or Doc's posts. Second, the myidentity, youridentity, their identity remains confusing from a consumer perspective.

The key to adoption and broadscale use is "TRUST". I know that Xpertweb is designed around trust and reciprocity. So is NetDeva and the Global Trust Exchange. Consumers you and me think about trust not contractually rather they think in CIRCLES. In circles we are safe and secure. For example MyCircle, OurCircle, TheirCircle. "TRUST CIRCLES".

This is important because the my/your/their definition leaves out the aggregation power of "OurCircles". It also forgets the vast number of "CIRCLES" we move in:

1) my circle of friends
2) different social circles (neighborhood, community, friends, etc.)
3) business circles (colleagues, mentors, suppliers, industry, professional, etc.)

This is used in many more ways from "reading circles", to running round n round in circles, and circles round the campfire. Yet CIRCLES is the better metaphor. For what we want are new capabilities that expand consumer's "circles of influence". For once the internet can do what it was designed to do and I might add already does very well for those that use it....

"Expand your Circles". professionally, financially and socially. The disruptive revolution is now in the wings. It's more than matching, it is about creating environments where you can learn and grow from whom you know and the transactions you have completed. Collectively and individually we move in many different CIRCLES and that's where the real value opportunities are to be created when we discover we "collectively" have a lot more to offer, even when we can't possibly know what we can do for each other.

March 27, 2003

Identity Dilemma

I found myself searching for clarity this week. Somedays I wonder why a strategic marketer would spend so much time thinking about myidentity. It's certainly not vanity, indeed trying to nurture a "profile" solution is at least one step removed from additional income. So it's nice to know it's not simple and it is clear what's required.

Britt Blaser's latest on Identity. I'm still trying to get my head round the Xpertweb Mentor Agreement. His comments:

"...the only way to really own your ID is to host it as your own web service on a server only you control. And that's the model for Xpertweb ID services. Each user's id, xpwid.xml, is one of the three core Xpertweb datasets, along with Productname.xml and taskname.xml.Your ID file provides the usual datatypes plus any optional datatypes you like, so subsets of your data can be selectively exposed on any basis you like. Or not. Your info, your server, your rules."

".......we still haven't solved the real dilemma: this model isn't what we want. We don't want separate IDs everywhere, whether singly or in arbitrary affinity groupings. We want a single sign-on, preferably encrypted in our browser, Java ring or biometrics, that works everywhere. But we don't want our data centralized, which would leave us hostage to an identity czar."

Read the piece.


Identity Circles

I’m sharing this emergent - thought piece today. I can’t vouch for the approach or the technology. In a nutshell it ’s a speculative identity solution, using a nice metaphor “Circles”, P2P (peer-to-peer) underpinnings and posing an ownership approach that looks like a cooperative. Is it off the wall? Perhaps it can't be done. Objections? Thoughts? Abandon?

IDENTITY CIRCLES CIRCLES enrich and enhance life’s many connections. Whom you know has never been so important. Professional, Business, Community, Friends, creating circles of trust that you control. Now you can be more connected and share what and when you want. In CIRCLES you can discover a whole new range of connections, intersections where you connect for fun, influence, advice, learning. Today’s world is connected. Sometimes for fleeting moments or maybe for a lifetime. We move, we change addresses, our contacts change from year to year. Yet serendipity still strikes.

We meet friends in unexpected places, and find old work or college colleagues when we least expect them. CIRCLES let’s you grow and learn from whom you know. So together we travel many different circles and through many different roles. Collectively we learn we have a lot more to offer, when we don’t always know what we can do for each other. Cooperatively we learn together, individuals can create more value from their profiles that they can individually seeding them at many different destinations. There are valid reasons for public and commerical interests. Under Circles you control access.

So what’s different? Safe and secure in your circle, you are part of a many circles environment that makes up “many trusted circles”. CIRCLES guarantees your privacy and the privacy of your friends. Under Circles there is no more spam. The information is yours alone to share and trade as you wish. Circles is merely a commerical and public broker of information. Tomorrow's Post Office. How is it done? see the extended entry....

You begin by building your profile with your own circle of trust. This P2P based component puts your profile on your PC or personal mobile device (on or off whenever you like). When you open your account you will be required to find three friends to secure your profile and join the network. The friends provide backup (secure keyed) in case your encrypted data is lost. They can’t see your data, however their systems can broadcast for you should you be offline for any reason. (We see something similar in music with Kazaa).

This provides a built in redundancy and back-up using your friends, so you can store all your data safely. Effectively you have a duplicate safe deposit boxes for your key personal information. Your information profile is secured on your PC and controlled – served- only by you. Similarly accounts for family members may be stored there. (Freenet)

Within the P2P network that makes up Circles (think close friends) you can connect with friends of friends (buddylists/Friendster/Ryze Friends). You can look up friends knowing a phone number address or name and request that they add you to your contacts list. As a consequence you will never have to update your address book again. Some connections will also be temporary (eg Child’s sports team parent list). Circles makes these easy.

Within Circles, the Jabber IM solution (?) automatically lets you chat and talk to friends. You can send messages, share files or simply VOIP, while also enabling new conversations and searches to connect with friends of friends. Circles helps those important introductions. Similarly, Circles will keep you private if you don’t want unwelcome intrusions. You control the access to your profile. This becomes even more important as your profile becomes increasingly mobile with you.

We expect many of your current relationship providers will want to expand your profile. For example, a corporate profile (that depending on the company and policies may want to keep public or private) and similarly a health record. As Circles is an Open Source project we expect these profiles to be standardized over time.

While Circles enable you to enhance and grow your network we are also working to create commercial opportunities you profit from while putting an economic value on your attention.

Who Controls Circles, who’s in charge?

Circles approach is to create a cooperative connectivity system. Imagine the post, phone fax and e-mail service owned by you and me. First and foremost you serve your own information. Circles simply provides the enabling and verification service for public and commercial access, those not in your friends list, and all commercial contacts. To activate this opportunity you create a verified contact account at the Circles Common. Correspondingly your employer may open and verify an employee account.

When you activate your CIRCLES account you join our cooperative and are paid for your attention dependent on the commercial and pubic content consumed. (Paypal Account). It’s simple really. Imagine a world without mailboxes at your front door, and yet someone wants to send you a letter or a video or a voice message. Where do they send it? It’s easy if they have your address. It’s hard if you don’t! Economically you can make it cheaper for direct mailers, your key bill providers and others to reach you. When you reduce their costs, you can make money. That way Circles earns it’s transaction fee (Visa) on each delivery. That is the economics of attention. The sender pays, not the receiver.

You participate already, each time you see an add on TV it costs you thirty seconds. With Circles activated it is on your terms and timetable. Alternatively it can be set by your employer for certain hours as part of your “attention contract”. Remember not all offers are bad, and as others learn your interests you are more likely to get information that is useful to you. This goes for the organization as well, (however the organization will be paid for those interruptions).

Similarly, small commercial transactions (eg the plumber, lawnmower, acccountant etc) may request to sign and leave a commercial greeting card. (Think Ryze guest book) Your rating and reference will then be available for other friends etc in the neighborhood. (Xpertweb??)

To fund Circles growth and the market for the information assets you are prepared to share …..

1. Circles Members receive a monthly attention payment dependent on the collective rate schedule as determined from time to time. The rate schedule for personal accounts will be set to recover the costs of your broadband connection over the course of the year based on average participation levels. Thus as a cooperative our aim is to make digital connectivity available and free for all.

2. Each Circles member becomes a shareholder, vesting overtime based on participation. Each member will be deemed fully vested at 60 years of age and must have participated for a minimum of 5 years. Circles will buyback your shares at that time based on the value of the collective income pool adjusted for current vesting levels.

3. Your shares in the coop will represent a “life time” information asset, which after 50% vesting you may sell at any time. This reflects the collective value you have created for the community overtime valued at the point you sell it.

4. We aim to grow the market for your information assets. Our success is dependent on your participation. Once we have basic accounts up and running we will enable opt-in opportunities. We all know one consumer interested in buying a car won’t save much. However, 10000 consumers wanting to buy a similar car could save a lot. Information brokers chosen and acceptable to you can act on your behalf in ways that are not dissimilar to priceline and accompany (now defunct).


Benefits:

  • Only you control access to your information.
  • Circles brokers introductions and eases personal, social, business and professional exchanges.
  • Circles creates a valuable economic asset, that grows with the collective value of shared information assets in the community.
  • Circles aims to “connect” everyone on earth digitally, just like the original post and telephone, but this time for free.

Continue reading "Identity Circles" »

Identity Cooperative?

Why an Identity Cooperative?

Consumer cooperation means members working together in organized fashion for the purpose of creating economics and other added values for everyone.

The aim of consumer cooperation is to enable members to contribute by means of their consumption towards a society which is characterized by economic development, ecological sustainability, mutual reliance and cooperation.

Today consumption is characterized by “information assets”. Collectively they are worth more than individually. Collectively an Identity Cooperative changes information asymmetries in favor of consumers.

April 1, 2003

Xpertweb Trust Circles

A feel good entry following Friday's telephone conversation with Britt Blaser. I like the direction the Xpertweb discussion is taking.

"...Stuart suggested that finer level, trust, by using an even more Googlish approach. We each develop confidence in others through their blogs and acquaintance and probably by how they handle their transactions. So Stuart suggested that we need to be able to filter ratings by who made them. How do the people in our Identity Trust Circle rate potential vendors? How do other skilled judges rate providers? For instance, what do people who write O'Reilly books think of programmers? ....... ....we might also weight opinions by location. For instance you might want to know–in a hurry–how people in your small census tract rate the local plumbers. In his Identity Trust Circles post, Stuart notes something that Doc has also been alluding to. There are a lot of people working the reputation meme and providing the web services to back up their opinions. ..... This flowering wouldn't be possible if the Net hadn't progressed beyond its basic protocols to the point we've reached: a permission-free zone where anybody with an idea can launch a web service without a preliminary buy-in by existing vested interests. This freedom to innovate is the third leg of the Net's NEA stool: Nobody owns it, Everyone can use it, Anybody can improve it. If the Net's open protocols weren't in place and agreed upon, we could never improve it with the more highly abstracted, software-only, permission-free improvements, social software really, that we can now imagine together."

April 9, 2003

Smart Conversational Locator

Marc Canter sums up Ross's post --- what if one tool could enable:

  • Personal (private) Networks - are for storing your media, email, IM, your web page and blog and managing your Home LAN. my circle
  • Creative (group) Networks (sometimes also called Community or Village) - are (as Ross points out) ideal for collaboration.  But also that intimate clustering or people that just feels warma nd fuzzy (I personally think this size can go up to 25 people)   our circle
  • Social Networks - which can bloom into Political Networks - are all really part of an open ended public kind of community - are the metaphor for communication, publishing and all things interactive. many circles?

My "red" thinking Identity Circles.  Could it be called my profile? Could I own it? Could it travels in circles approved by me?  Would it is expand and grow cooperatively and collaboratively?  

Would it be a form of SMART CONVERSATIONAL LOCATOR? If so it needs better treatment than my e-mail phone number and home mailbox.  I hope it manages my attention at my command rejecting unwarranted intrusions while constantly nurturing the types of exchanges my friends and I respond to where ever I may be.

April 13, 2003

Polycentric Identity

An excellent article contrasting the needs of consumers, enterprises and governement in  Ends and Means: Identity in Two Worlds

"These facts lead to a simple conclusion: The Net must accommodate more than one form of digital identity. Identity is contextual. It has many aspects. Customer-centrism is only one aspect of the digital identity infrastructure we need. So, it stands to reason that the identity infrastructure will be polycentric: flexible, dynamic and capable of pivoting and changing according to the context. We need both the individual, customer-centric identity that Doc asked for and the tools that allow enterprises to do what we, as customers, want them to do, which is play by the rules. And we'll get the government identities whether we like it or not. Always choose the best tool for the job, and let go of the fantasy that we'll have one ring to rule them all."

Well worth reading.

April 17, 2003

Universal Impact

When I find myself keying in to thought pieces with alternate future scenarios I'm always looking for another edge;  a dynamic or systemic change that starts my early warning radar.  

In Are we doomed yet Salon poses an update on the Bill Joy Wired Article which I found far too gloomy. The Salon abstract:

The computer-networked, digital world poses enormous threats to humanity that no government, no matter how totalitarian, can stop. A fully open society is our best chance for survival.

What really caught my eye were these closing sentences:

If we allow our basic attitude toward knowledge to shift -- if we get in the business of criminalizing, censoring, monitoring, and limiting various kinds of knowledge -- I believe we will very quickly slip away from the ideals of universal education, open scientific enquiry, entrepreneurism, equality of opportunity, and the fecundity of creative effort that has made Western democracies so strong during the past two centuries.

I've never thought about the tech changes overturning the ideal of universal education.  I can't imagine my children's world will want that to happen.  Yet a few more Iraq's and literacy could be encouraged round the world to go backward. I hope it not a symbol or early indicator of this.   

The counter to this is the open society that is alluded to.  We won't have it unless we wrestle with the economics in such a way that everyone can be connected to the net. Who's thinking out there on how to connect up everyone with a universal connection? A univeral right!

It's worth the read, even if it just brings you back to using voice recognition software and thinking more about nanobots. 

May 3, 2003

Peer Power Economy

A piece well worth reading in Escapable Logic .......on the cusp of a peer economy. P2P transactions may look like data-backed blogs; Maybe.  It's certainly worth thinking about the points burried in the rhetoric.   

  • A global market as intimate as blogging is a major disruptor. 
  • Publicity, and its dependent, politics. Publicity is literally openness. Openness trumps legality....
  • A single email may be enough openness to bring bankers down
  • When reputation data is too broadly distributed ....we'll have recaptured the User Interface enjoyed by generations of traders....,
  • relating to generations of customers, ....Like any relationship, it's a two way street.
  • Gradually we'll remember how to be great customers, embracing and extending seller's customization skills, relating through authentic conversations and coaxing each other into the peer economy.....

I believe the next few iterations of blogging tools, plugins etc will begin to turn the tide.  Feedback like in the Antiport meme may be the first to be activated. 

July 17, 2007

Facebook and Mydentity

A few years ago (about 2002) there was a meme Mydentity I think first put up by Eric Norlin and others summarized here by Doc Searls which had me writing about Trust Circles.

Two months ago I considered launching a "Facebook Journal"as I am ready for a new challenge and I'd learnt from Skype Journal what both the advantages and disadvantages of such a strategy are. While it could be done; (there are some "Facebook" Tracking blogs already out there) the thought really traced to Facebook's evolution and the excitement it would generate. Yet it is not the real meme that is exploding here. Under it all is a greater need  for an "Identity solution"

Then at Supernova I missed seeing much chatter about Facebook (Kevin tried to insert it). The following week we arranged a small Facebook Face-Off - a small group adding applications in an accelerated learning and communications session. I'd recommend this to anyone, even novices who haven't been on any of these networks before. 

Three memes have recently emerged that are interesting to me.

  • Concentrating SNS on Facebook:
  • Facebook as an Identity Solution
  • Stuart Henshall is Media
My SNS on Facebook
I'd already started concentrating my networking efforts onto Facebook. However, it was a note by Jeff Pulver on Facebook yesterday (see his blog) that made the choice I'd already been making explicit. I'll admit that Facebook was the same ah-ha moment for me that accompanied Skype, Paypal, Napster, and eBay. I still dislike its closed nature however it works. It also means I've been inviting and enocouraging others to join. Something I've not done on a social network since Ryze. LinkedIn only existed because it was "approved" of by business types. I never had any fun there. My observation is the threshold to exchange is much lower on Facebook vs LinkedIn. Jeff notes the same re referrals. More importantly the exhaust gas from everyones activities helps to maintain and even strengthen weak ties. Facebook as Scoble notes is set to replace my contact lists.

Facebook and Identity
Any large community today can potentially offer an Identity solution. Jeremiah Owyang works of some predictions for Facebook, Identity and Social Networks. He correctly identifies that blog comments  require a better log-in system and his post provides a Books on Campus log-in via Facebook. Which is just another app. I'd be happy to provide this as an option tomorrow on my Blog. I'm still wrestling with the OpenID system in MT4.0. Perhaps a Facebook plug-in would be simpler. However using a Facebook Identity to log-in to other sites is really only half the battle. The question is will Facebook allow us to log-in with an OpenId. I'd like to see one identity for all my communications. I'd still like =stuart to mean something. However, while Facebook is aggregating my directory it is also aggregating micro-content. The power in Facebook is the directory. We don't have 1000+ connections anywhere else. In fact the belief was 150. Facebook overturns that. You cannot move a personal directory of 10000 or more. Scoble already has 3000+. I'm still waiting for an OpenID app for Facebook. It would work around communications access in a channel agnostic fashion and manage access depending on the relationship; an area where Facebook manages poorly. See also Facebook is now the New OpenID

I am Media:
I liked this post by Roi Carthy and the pharse "I am Media". He links to Robert Scoble is Media This reinforced the discussion we had yesterday in the Yitan call on Facebook. The discussion started about exhaust gas.

One of the more interesting aspects of Facebook -- at least to those over 22 years of age, for whom much of today's Net may seem counterintuitive -- is the way it works by routing seemingly insignificant exhaust data to your network of friends.

Do I really need to know the latest favorite book you posted? That you're now buddies with Sam? Apparently yes.
Facebook will reward those that share. If you believe like me that the more you share the more you will ultimately get back then Facebook shouldn't be too hard to understand. As a blogger I've learned that the more I blog the more I get back and that is a good reason to get back in the blogging habit. I'm still not using Facebook effectively, and there are many behaviors we will all learn that make it more effective.  I hear the same rejections and same not for business comments that I've heard about other social tools. Get over it. Start experimenting.

As we learn to share more it will become easier to aggregate information about ourselves. That is where the future is. In the meantime Facebook while interesting still lacks really meaningful controls.

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