I’m on my way back to NY this Sunday night from LA, having met with Doc on Saturday and Flemming Sunday. I had spent barely any face time with Doc and had never met Flemming in person. Flemming, “Ming the Mechanic,” has taken on the chore of rewriting our code, based on a new model he’s suggested, whereby each Xpertweb site will validate its own structure and xml data, and a mentor’s site will provide validation services to protegé sites. It’s an exciting and vital extension of the protocol.
…is how Doc described Xpertweb yesterday. Doc Searls is my blogging mentor, having exhorted me to start this blog as we held long phone conversations last summer about Xpertweb and everything else. Maybe it was just a way for him to get back to work. Saturday at lunch, Doc said, “Until now, you’ve had my divided attention,” meaning he hadn’t really got his head around it until then.
It’s interesting that I hadn’t got my head around Xpertweb until I read Doc’s and David‘s World of Ends model. That was when I saw that, like the Internet, Xpertweb is only an agreement, something like this, with just enough code to let the parties deliver on their commitments. The agreement describes what a mentor does for his people, and generally how each Xpertweb user will store and preserve and mirror shared data as a good citizen of this protocol-based economic collective.
Doc’s the infrastructure guy. He went into detail about the infrastructure pluses and minuses of the Internet vs., surprisingly, the Local Area Networks that preceded the Net. We take it for granted that our LANs will provide file, print, messaging, directory, etc. services. To be truly useful, the Net needs to provide all those services (and more, as with the web). Sure, the file and messaging services are well established, but there’s still no printing service, which is the lowest common LAN denominator. “Why should I have to fax you something? Why can’t I print it to your printer?”
The Net needs some other services, that Anyone can provide, like the critical but missing ID piece that Andre and Eric and Bryan and Doc and Mitch and others have been describing. I’ve suggested that 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.
Doc described how the Cluetrain meme, “Markets are conversations” was received by third world people who actually have those conversations. Freed from our limited sense of markets we’ve never really lived, these free-market experts embraced and extended Cluetrain’s central point: markets are more than conversations, they’re relationships. People come together repeatedly in the market over the years and so they matter to each other, ultimately more than the goods and services they had come to the market to trade. It’s a rich model that we’d do well to emulate.
So Doc thinks we need a way to parse relationships, not just conversations. We concluded that’s really how Xpertweb can best serve, as a relationship API.
The Mentor Thing
And that brings us back to the mentoring thing. Our world revolves around mentorship, but our acknowledgement of mentors is so perfunctory as to trivialize their contribution. Doc mentored me into blogging, which forced me to tease these ideas out of their cocoon. Blogging hooked me up with Flemming and Mitch who saw where their contribution could make a difference. Others are coming forward.
In Xpertweb, advice and reputation and money moves vertically along the links among mentors and their protegés as they invest in others’ growth and are rewarded for that investment. Work and reputation and money moves laterally among buyers and sellers, point-to-point across the hollow sphere of their world of ends. It starts to feel like a wireless mesh network, with signals moving ad hoc where useful. Think of it as a cluefulness mesh.
As Doc said yesterday, it’s a simple system when you break it down, but it seems complicated for now. As I suggested in my corollary to the 10 WoE points, most of this stuff seems complicated until we can do it, like trying to explain to your great grandfather about googling an ATM location and driving over to squeeze cash out of plastic.
The logical extension of that sequence will be here when we are constantly replenishing each other’s plastic, rewarding each other for the skills we enjoy using, and bootstrapping each other into doing this.