…is how Doc Searls & Doctor Weinberger described the Internet effect when they launched worldofends.com this morning. The 10 points they have put together is like the Internet they describe—so obvious you say “Well, duh”. There is no surer sign of brilliance than describing what’s obvious but which has not yet been said. The actual phrase is:
WoE be to the managers who don’t hear their message. Our little design study is focused on a fertilizer to help flowers bloom wherever seeds find a crack in the pavement. I’m going to be crass here and leap onto the giant shoulders of WoE to get at what Xpertweb is about. Surprisingly, I didn’t really “get” Xpertweb until this morning.
1. Xpertweb isn’t complicated
You sell me something. I look it over and rate your work. Then I pay you. We both keep track of what happened so others can learn from our exchange. Think of Xpertweb as medium of exchange.
2. Xpertweb isn’t a thing. It’s an agreement
The agreement is that each of us will record particular facts about our exchanges and place identical records on our own web sites. When both our sites agree on the facts, they’re considered valid facts. If not, they’re suspect. The facts are in plain site, no one (nor Google) needs permission to see the record of any exchange.
3. Xpertweb is stupid
There’s no one behind the Xpertweb curtain and no curtain, because the Internet lets you have agreements without enforcers. There’s no central server, no Xpertweb Inc., no central greedpoint. When two parties identically publish their exchange according to the Xpertweb agreement, that’s an Xpertweb transaction. If they don’t, it’s not.
4. Adding value to Xpertweb would lower its value
You could build a company around the Xpertweb protocols using a central server and accounting and it would be great for a while. But eventually the wheels would fall off the wagon, as described in the HumanTech parable.
5. All of Xpertweb’s value grows along its edges
Xpertweb is as hollow as the Internet. If you can’t find an ISP, Xpertweb can’t help you since there is no Xpertweb. It’s just an agreement. Out on the edge of the Xpertweb agreement are its current users, each of whom has agreed to set up others with the tools they’ll need to understand and conform to the Xpertweb agreement. When they do, the edge moves out a bit.
6. Money moves to the suburbs
…because there’s no downtown for it to get stuck in. VISA is as hollow a company as there is, and it moves more money than any “real” company. If they re-coded their software as a web application and let each of their member banks host mirrored records of transactions, it would be even more hollow, and no one would have to pay processing fees. That’s how Xpertweb works. (OK, will work)
7. The end of capitalism? Nah, capitalizing on the ends
Our current model, managerial capitalism, depends on complex, proprietary accounting to maintain the franchise that management has acquired without asking. Every public transaction eliminates an otherwise private one. In a world of $400 CPUs, broadband and specialized skills, the ends are where all the talent is and where the work gets done (most Cisco products are never touched by a Cisco employee). Those ends are about to be equipped with the one thing that managerial capitalism has that no one else does—a way to keep track of who does what for whom and what they get as a result.
Accounting systems can now be inter-networked—distributed rather than concentrated. Squint at smokestack industry and all you see is vaporstacks.
8. The three virtues of the Xpertweb agreement:
9. If Xpertweb is so simple, why is it so hard to explain?
Everything’s difficult until you “get it.” Then it gets simple. What’s easier than finding an ATM on a website and driving over there for cash? Explain that to your great grandfather.
10. Some accounting systems we can abandon already
Companies are talent brokers. Their accounting/disbursement systems are the only lock-in keeping companies between customers and talent. Employees go to work for accounting systems, not management, but management doesn’t see it that way. When we all share the records, we’ll do things for each other today with confidence we’ll get paid tomorrow. And that’s the definition of an accounting/disbursement system.