On Thoroughness

Unlike most blogs, this is a series of essays – a word whose root means attempts. My attempt is to describe the web application a tiny group of us is developing called Xpertweb. I’m just too hurried or inarticulate or egotistical to make it a series of short entries. This idea seems to want breathing room and its architecture is just quirky enough to need background. Or so it seems to me.

As a result, this blog is so thorough that it’s pretty unapproachable – maybe that’s just part of our reader deflection program. There are so many people more observant and talented than I, who point to all the links worth linking and who keep you current on what’s going down, that I’m concentrating on this P2P microeconomy design study.

That’s a little disingenuous. The design was laid down some time ago and we’ve been hacking code longer than I care to admit. I hope the specification is even-handed enough that we haven’t missed anything crucial. Certainly, it’s not too late to change the few Xpertweb parameters that are hard-wired. But there’s not much hard-wired. Everything in Xpertweb is voluntary, which makes it the inverse of the current Economy of Compulsion described on Sunday.

There are specific elements that cripple software or web applications:

  1. The data structure is set in concrete and the datatypes are frozen.
  2. The data interface is unresponsive to user needs.
  3. The data is centralized and subject to the economic interests of the developer.
  4. Only a few experts are skilled in the use of the layout/data tools that built the application.
  5. Only the designers know how the specific application works.

By addressing all those factors, we hope to make the Xpertweb application responsive to its users. The only thread that even slightly directs user behavior is the relationship of experienced Xpertweb users to less experienced users. Each user of the protocols is expected to mentor others in their use. Each mentor will have an understanding with the newbie that there are certain ways to behave in this boutique economy. The mentor will spell out those standards and the new user will agree to convey those standards to other new users when the time comes.

So the Mentor Agreement is the core of the Xpertweb experience. Although the agreement is only between the user and her mentor, it specifies the standards under which the user purports to be operating. Its logical concerns are:

  • Never break a promise.
  • When you do something, do what you know well.
  • When you buy something, give the highest grade you can justify.
  • Be a good mentor immediately: get your student off to a good start.
  • Be a mentor for life: even when your student surpasses you, generous admiration is a gift.
  • Buy from your students or their students or people mentored by your mentor.
  • Maintain data integrity – yours is one of 4 records of the transactions you track, be a good steward.
  • NEVER contact an Xpertweb user to sell something – your reputation is your marketing.
  • Pay your mentor fees promptly on your mentor date – You will not receive what you do not give.
  • Do at least $100 of buying and/or selling every month.
  • Mentor 4 students during your first four months.
  • Enter into these commitments with your students.

Word of Action

Xpertweb is a formalized word of mouth describing visible actions. The Mentor Agreement is the only tangible obligation made by an  Xpertweb user. The expectation is that these mutual commitments will be passed along in a natural way, as skills once were passed from parent to child – we all were once millers and bakers and smiths and wrights.

With any luck, it will look a lot like a guild.

11:49:44 PM    

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