Someone asked me the other day if this blog had to be so dense. Meaning, as only English could cast it, that it’s hard reading, especially if you’re dense. I guess this blog has to be dense. People who read blogs are not idiots. Demographically, we’re the most clued-in cohort of the most connected segment of the wealthiest economy in history.

Steve Jobs challenged John Sculley, “If you stay at Pepsi, five years from now all you’ll have accomplished is selling a lot more sugar water to kids. If you come to Apple you can change the world.

Our choice is to spend even more time watching Celebrity Fear Factor on our Tivos and swilling Pepsi, or we can get together, think hard and invent the future.

Inventing the future is not difficult, but it hurts the brain. We have to conform to the existing Internet protocols, add some standards of our own, but without requiring a wholesale adoption by the people we want to serve. We have to think hard on why things are as they are and how they might be and then design the answer to what keeps the past from becoming our future. After that we need to hack some code. And revise and revise and revise…

Besides, this blog is mental exercise for me, allowing me to trot out the ideas I’ve read and conclusions I’ve reached over a lifetime of saving the ideas that seemed worth saving. So I guess my writing will continue to be dense and I’ll hope you’re patient and persistent enough to help me make sense of this design study.

As Blaise Pascal said of one of his writings, “I made it longer only because I lacked the time to make it shorter.

Hidden in Plain Sight

Our microeconomy design is coming along.

But we still lack the Rosetta Stone that helps us apply a universal human protocol to our shared record of transactions. If people don’t use the forms we’re designing to capture our Peer-to-Peer transaction data, they won’t be used, and we’ll have designed another Edsel.

The universal theme of Peer-to-Peer transactions in the open marketplace is Identify, Specify, Negotiate, Deliver, Evaluate and Pay.  

  1. You identify a likely product, usually after some research. 
  2. You specify how you want it and where and when. 
  3. You and the seller negotiate any details or adjustments to your specification.
  4. The seller delivers the service or product
  5. You evaluate its suitability and your satisfaction and discuss it with the seller and others
  6. You pay the seller

We like to talk about the marketplace as our model for Internet transactions, but that’s not how it works for most of us. If the globe is to be a global village, we need to solve the sequence demanded when the seller doesn’t know the buyer:

  1. You identify a likely product, usually after some research
  2. You specify how you want it and where and when. 
  3. You and the seller negotiate any details or adjustments to your specification.
  4. You pay the seller
  5. The seller delivers the service or product
  6. You evaluate its suitability and your satisfaction and rarely discuss it with anyone

It’s become the standard for mail and Internet orders and we don’t realize it’s a drastic revision of how things have always worked in the agora. In our P2P microeconomy, we’ll apply the traditional sequence even to distance sales. Why would a seller agree to that? Because the buyer has a published reputation the seller can rely on. It’s an extension of the role blogs are beginning to play. John Robb on blogs and reputation:

My weblog is my global business card.  It is the place everyone that wants to contact me can quickly go to find out who I am, what I am doing, and how to contact me.

Now that his blog has introduced him, I’d send John a figurine today and let him pay me later. If the trust problem can be solved, the get first, pay later model could unlock a lot of customer reluctance and get the cash flowing again. Money velocity is the oxygen of a free market.

We’ve described a totally transparent transaction model where everything is visible (initial inquiry, delivery details, promised start & finish, price, terms, in-progress remarks, actual start & finish, buyer’s grade & comment, seller’s grade & comment and anything else the parties to the transaction want to archive). Most of the data is in plain sight, though only the high points are published by the participants in their RSS feeds. Confidential data may be encrypted using the W3C’s forthcoming encryption protocols.
6:16:06 PM    

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