Month: December 2010

1 to Every

I have here at my left elbow an original 1993 edition of The One to One Future, by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers — the inaugural book in the authors’ , and one that had no small influence on , written six years later by , , and myself. From its pages protrude little plastic flags that I started sticking there, seventeen years ago, to mark quotable passages. The book was, and still is, ahead of its time. Dig some of the chapter titles:

  • Collaborate With Your Customers
  • Engage Your Customers in Dialoge
  • Take Products to Customers, Not Customers to Products
  • Make Money Protecting Privacy, Not Threatening It
  • Society at Light Speed.

This was two years before the arrival of the commercial Web (via the graphical browser).

I look at that chapter about not threatening privacy, and I think Geez, people were getting 1:1 wrong long before they started getting Cluetrain wrong. So I go to check and find David Weinberger talking about 1 to 1 and how people get it wrong, in The Cluetrain Manifesto itself. (Most of the original book is online here, but its sidebars are not, and that link goes to one of those sidebars, courtesy of Google Books.) For Wired, David also gave the book a thumbs-up review in 1995 and  interviewed Martha Rogers in 1996.

Look around and you’ll find other connections. There are plenty.

The latest is 1toEverything: innovation through a customer’s eyes, by , who worked with Don and Martha for many years. His post could hardly bowl a better strike, right up the VRM alley. One pull quote:

Nearly anything you see out your window – cars, office buildings, people, the weather, birds, restaurants or billions of other possibilities – can and will be differentiated on your behalf by applications that haven’t yet come to market.

Yeessssssss!

In fact the VRM development community has brought some of those applications to market. Others are on their way. Others are open source projects that will be in continuous development, because that’s how open source works. The growing list is here.

I love this chart in Bruce’s post:

Everything in there can be remembered in your (aka — or either), which is in turn part of the . At the first of those links is this helpful graphic by of :

So this is to welcome Bruce, Don (who kindly pointed to VRM to in the first comment on Bruce’s post) and everybody else from the 1 to 1 community who wants to weigh in and help out with VRM development and (at last, because we’ve been holding off waiting for code) evangelism.

It’s still early. What we have so far is just the beginning of what we expect to be quite huge by the time it becomes established. But this stuff has been a long time coming, and it’s important to recognize our earliest and best pioneers.

And while I’m spreading gratitude around, the biggest props go to the , for giving us four years of runway to get VRM off the ground. Hats off to the faculty, staff and fellows who have done so much for us — and still do. We couldn’t have done it without them.

Pushing for Pull and the Open Web

The Open Web Movement: A Call to Action, is the latest from . He writes,

The companies with the most market share – Apple, Google, Facebook – want to “own the customer” by trapping them. And the media is buying the crack they are selling. Each of these companies has its own way of doing it, but in an important way, they are all closed systems that have a huge impact on the way we work, network, discover, and play. Facebook is the biggest threat. They want to rebuild the entire Web inside their web site, with “like” tags pointing inward, drawing more and more traffic to Facebook.com. I recently learned that vitaminwater.com resolves to Facebook.com – they have just thrown in the towel and gone to Facebook, because on Facebook they can better identify their visitors, and it’s easier for people to sign up and participate. This is a bad sign. If things go much more in this direction, all the innovation and productivity increases will be brought to us by Facebook’s marketing department. Or not.

His call to action is up the VRM alley:

This Movement Needs a Framework
We have a legal framework evolving at places like Creative CommonsData Portability, the Open Rights GroupOASIS, and the Open Web Foundation. That’s great. We have standards evolving at W3C, ISO, and OpenGroup. But we still don’t have an architecture for the personal data locker, and we need one. What I mean is that all startups working on some aspect of personal data should be working on a part of the overall end solution – similar to different countries working to build the International Space Station, bit by bit. The best thing we have so far is , a dedicated group of people from the identity and VRM worlds. They are on the right track, but they need help. For starters, we need a framework for how all the pieces are going to fit together. This may be unprecedented, but I think it’s necessary. It’s as though The Emperor and Darth Vader are building their own space station, and the people of the world are behind in building theirs. Put simply: we aren’t working together enough. We don’t have the traction we need to build what Hagel and Seely Brown call a “shaping strategy,” much less a “shaping platform.” The framework for the personal data locker must show how we will:

  • manage our identities
  • manage our belongings
  • manage vendors
  • establish a universal timeline
  • manage location and life log data
  • manage personal data (finance, health care, career, etc)
  • manage  security and permissions
  • connect to friends and colleagues
  • form groups
  • send messages
  • link data
  • protect privacy
  • build interoperability into everything
  • add services on an ad-hoc basis

The Personal Data Ecosystem is the best thing we have at the moment. Let’s give them our attention, our time, our energy. And, most important, let’s get the word out that they exist. Please tweet and blog to anyone you can reach. Tell them it’s important. Tell them if they want to live free, they need to help us build that future.

We’ve been talking with David about some new stuff around the next IIW, in May. Maybe we should do something between now and then, either as a standalone event, or added to something already going on. Since Kaliya is a driving force behind the Personal Data Ecosystem as well as IIW, she might want to weigh in here.

Meanwhile, get your hands on the two Pull books David mentions: David’s Pull, and John Hegel and John Seely Brown’s The Power of Pull.

Knight News Challenge entry for EmanciPay

Below is a copy of our entry to the Knight News Challenge. It actually hadn’t crossed my mind to put one together until last Monday, when I saw that they have a category for sustainability. It says here,

Sustainability: Considers new economic models supporting news and information. New ways of conducting and consuming journalism may require new ways of paying for it. We’re open to ideas for generating revenue as well as ways to reduce costs.

EmanciPay is exactly that.

Three years ago, when ProjectVRM was new, we applied and made it to the second round. Back then EmanciPay was still called PayChoice. (We changed it because we wanted a better name with a URL we could buy, which we did.) Sustainability wasn’t front-burner for Knight then, I guess. Now it is. And, in the meantime, much VRM development has been going in the sustainability direction, including work behind the r-button (some context here). Special thanks for that goes to David Karger, Oshani Seneviratne and Adam Marcus of CSAIL at MIT,  our Google Summer of Code student, Ahmad Bakhiet of Kings College London and Renee Lloyd (a fellow veteran Berkman Center fellow) for their good work on that.

That work is built on code Adam and Oshani had already done on Tipsy, which has its own Knight News Challenge entry as well. (This is all open source stuff, so it can be leveraged many ways.) I met Adam and Oshani through David Karger, who I met through Keith Hopper of NPR, a stalwart contributor to the VRM community from the beginning. Keith is the brainfather of ListenLog, an application you’ll find in your Public Radio Player, from PRX, which is run by Jake Shaprio (another Berkman vet, and a star with the band Two Ton Shoe). When I ran the idea of applying again past Jake (who has an exceptional track record at winning these kinds of things), he said “Go for it,” so we did.

Another VRM effort in the Knight News Challenge  is Tom StitesBanyan Project. Tom has forgotten more about journalism, and its business, than most of us will ever know, and has been hard at work on Banyan for the last several years, rounding up good people and good ideas into one coherent system that could use support. Here’s the Banyan application to the News Challenge. It seems not to appear on the roster at the KNC site right now. I’m told that’s just a glitch. So check it out at that last link in the meantime.

Meanwhile, here are the parts of the EmanciPay entry that matter:

Project Title:

EmanciPay:
a user-driven system for generating revenue and managing relationships
Requested amount from Knight News Challenge:

$325,000

Describe your project:

EmanciPay is the first user-driven revenue model for news and information media. With EmanciPay, users can easily pay whatever they like, whenever they like, however they like — on their own terms and not just those controlled by the media’s supply side.

EmanciPay will also provide means for building genuine two-way relationships between the consumers and producers of media, rather than the confined relationships defined by each organization’s default subscription and membership systems .

EmanciPay is among a number of VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) tools that have been in development for the last several years, with guidance from ProjectVRM, which is led by Doc Searls at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Here is a list of VRM development projects.

Starting early this year, Doc and other members of the VRM community have been working on EmanciPay with developers at MIT/CSAIL and Kings College London. The MIT/CSAIL collaboration is led by David Karger and ties in with work he and others are doing with Haystack. This work includes developing a UI called r-button for offering payment and for creating and managing relationships between users and producers.

The r-button is the first Web UI element that allows a site to signal openness to the user’s own terms of engagement. Toward this end work has also begun on terms-matching, which will allow engagement to go forward without the user being forced to “accept” terms on a site’s take-it-or-leave-it basis — thus eliminating a major source of friction in the marketplace. (Note: These one sided agreements are increasingly coming under fire by courts and regulators, thus creating a higher risk profile for organizations using them. EmanciPay seeks to lower or eliminate that risk altogether.)

As with Creative Commons, terms will be expressed in text and symbols that can be read easily by both software and people.

While there is no limit to payment choice options with EmanciPay, we plan to test these one at a time. The first planned trials are with Tipsy, which is itself the subject of another Knight News Challenge application, here. (Note: EmanciPay is not a micropayments system. It is a way for users to choose whatever amounts and methods of payment they like, whenever they like, with maximum ease.)

ProjectVRM has also been working with PRX and other members of the public radio community on ListenLog (the brainchild of Keith Hopper at NPR), which can currently be found on the Public Radio Player, an iPhone app that has been downloaded more than 2 million times, so far.

Other VRM development efforts, on identity and trust frameworks, and personal data stores (PDSes), will also be brought in to help with EmanciPay.

The plan now is to step up code development, get the code working in the world, test it, improve it, work with media and their CRM suppliers, and drive it to ubiquity.

How will your project improve the delivery of news and information to geographic communities?:

Two ways.

The first is with a new business model. Incumbent local and regional media currently have three business models: paid delivery (subscriptions and newsstand sales), advertising, and (in the case of noncommercial media) appeals for support. All of these have well-known problems and limitations. They are also controlled in a top-down way by the media organization, and cannot be managed from the user’s side, using tools native to the user. Thus they lack insight into what buyers really want. Accordingly, what we propose is a new supplementary system that makes it as easy as possible for anybody to pay anything for whatever they like, whenever they like, without going through the friction of becoming a “member” or otherwise coping with existing payment systems.

The second is a system for creating and sustaining relationships between the consumers and producers of news and information. EmanciPay is one among a larger box of VRM (vendor relationship management) tools by which individual consumers of news can also participate in the news development process. These tools are based on open source code and open standards, so they can be widely adopted and adapted to meet local needs.

CRM software companies, many of which supply CRM (customer relationship management) systems to media organizations, are also awaiting VRM developments. (The cover and much of a recent CRM Magazine were devoted to VRM.)

What unmet need does your proposal answer?:

EmanciPay meets need for maximum freedom and flexibility in paying for news and information, and for a media business model that does not depend only on advertising or the frictions of subscriptions and membership systems.

Right now most news and information is already free of charge on the Web, whether or not it costs money to subscribe or to buy those goods on newsstands. Meanwhile, paying for those goods voluntarily today ranges from difficult to impossible. Even the membership systems of public broadcasting exclude vast numbers of people who would contribute “if it was easy”.

EmanciPay will make it easy for consumers of news to become customers of news. It will allow customers to pay for what they want, when they want, in ways they want, and to initiate actual relationships with the news organizations they pay — on users’ own terms as well as those of news organizations.

How is your idea new?:

Equipping individuals with their own digital tools for exerting and controlling their means of engagement with suppliers is a new idea. So is basing those tools on open source and open standards.

There have also been no tools for expressing terms of engagement that match up with — and reform — those of sellers, rather than just submitting to what are known in law as contracts of adhesion: ones in which the dominant party is free to change what they please while the submissive party is nailed to whatever the dominant party dictates. Contracts of adhesion have been pro forma on the Web since the invention of the cookie in 1995, and EmanciPay is the first system developed to replace them. This system is entirely new, and is being developed by legal experts on the ProjectVRM team, aided by friends at Harvard Law School and other interested institutions. Once in place, its implications and reformations are likely to exceed even those of Creative Commons, because they address the demand as well as the supply side of the marketplace — and (like Creative Commons) do not require changes in standing law.

EmanciPay is also new in the sense that it is distributed, and does not require an intermediary. As with email (the protocols of which are open and distributed, by design), EmanciPay supports any number of intermediary services and businesses providing services to assist it.

What will you have changed by the end of the project?:

First, we will have changed the habits and methods by which people pay for the media goods they receive, starting with news and information.

Second, we will have established a new legal framework for agreements between buyers and sellers on the Web and in the networked world.

Third, we will have introduced to the world an intention economy, based on the actual intentions of buyers, rather than on guesswork by sellers about what customers might buy. (The latter is the familiar “attention economy” of advertising and promotion.)

Fourth, we will have introduced relationship systems that are not controlled by sellers, but instead are controlled and driven by the individuals who are each at the centers of their own relationships with many different entities. Thus relationships will be user-driven and not just organization-driven.

What terms best describe your project?:

Bold, original, practical, innovative and likely to succeed.

(I left out stuff where I was asked to flatter myself. Not my style; but hey, they made me do it.)

So far the place has 207 views and 20 ratings. It would help us if you could view it too, and rate it kindly. Recommendations going forward are welcome too.

And do the same for Tipsy and Banyan.

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