Tag: EmanciPay

Let’s scale #intentcasting

intent-starThe only way #VRM can get scale is by giving customers scale. And customers won’t get scale until enablers of VRM leverage the same open source code and protocols.

Scale for customers means being able to deal with many companies the same way, and to issue signals to whole markets in one move.

We don’t have that yet, though there is lots of development work going on. On the ProjectVRM wiki we list many dozens of development projects, including  22 startups in the Intelligent Personal Assistant and intentcasting categories (“†” signifies a commercial effort):

Intelligent Personal Assistants

  • iNeed † “Your own personal assistant.”
  • MyWave † “‘Frank’ puts the customer in control of “getting personalised experiences anytime, anywhere, on any device.”


Note: Intelligent Personal Assistants, above, by nature also do intentcasting.

  • About2Buy † “A Collaborative Commerce System to Align Internet Buyers & Sellers Via Multiple Channels of Social Distribution.”
  • Crowdspending † “… gives each of us the power of all of us.”
  • GetHuman † “Need to contact a company? Or have them call you? Get customer service faster and easier.”
  • Greentoe † “Finally…There’s a New Way to Shop! Name Your Price & We Negotiate For You.”
  • HomeAdvisor † “We help you find trusted home improvement pros.”
  • Indie Dash Button “This … turns traditional advertising on its head, and removes the need for complicated targeting technology. Customers readily identify themselves, creating more valuable sales channels where guesswork is all but eliminated.”
  • Intently † “Request any service anywhere with Intently.co.”
  • Instacart † “The best way to shop for groceries — Delivered from the stores you love in one hour”
  • Magic † “Text this phone number to get whatever you want on demand with no hassle…”
  • Mesh † “Connect with only the things you love… See ads from brands that matter to you. And block the ones that don’t.”
  • MyTime † “Book appointments for anything.”
  • Nifti † – Intentcasting “puts” in the market at customer (or community-) -chosen prices
  • Pikaba † “Pikaba is Social Shopping Platform that captures consumer intent to purchase and connects them with the right local business.”
  • PricePatrol † “monitors nearby stores for what you want at the price you want”
  • RedBeacon † “Trusted pros for a better home.”
  • TaskRabbit † “Tell us what you need, let us know what we can take off your plate, choose a Tasker, hire one of our fully vetted Taskers to get the job done.”
  • Thumbtack † “We help you hire experienced professionals at a price that’s right.”
  • TrackIf † “Track your favorite sites for sales, new items, back-in-stock, and more.”
  • WebOfNeeds – “A distributed marketplace driven by customer needs.”
  • yellCast † “What you want, where you want it.”
  • Zaarly † “Hire local, hand-picked home services. We moderate every job and guarantee happiness at virtually any cost.”

But so far only two projects on those lists — the Indie Dash Button — and WebOfNeeds — give people (and companies helping them, such as those on the two lists) an open source way to scale across multiple vendors with the same signaling method. (I am sure there are more. If you know some, or want us to correct this list, please let us know and we’ll make the changes.)

Talk about intentcasting has increased lately, thanks to the need for better signaling from demand to supply at a time when more than 200 million souls are blocking ads, and there is a growing sense that this is a crisis for advertisers and publishers that’s too good to waste —and that the best either of those parties can do is a better job of listening for signals from the marketplace that are beyond their control but will do them some good. Intentcasting is one of those signals.

Intentcasting is a good signal because it’s friendly and comes from either new customers wanting to spend or existing customers wanting to relate (for example, to obtain services). In the former case it fits nicely into the existing need (and programmatic interfaces for) lead generation. In the latter case it speaks straight to call centers. What matters most is that both come voluntarily and straight from prospective or actual customers.

I’m wondering if there is a semantic-ish approach to Intentcasting. By that I mean a vernacular of abbreviated simple statements of what one is looking for. Example: “2br 2ba apt 10019″ means a two bedroom and two bath apartment in the 10019 zip code.

Again, what matters most here is that these signals need to be issued to the marketplace outside of the silo system that currently comprises way too much of the business world. I know the IndieWeb folks have worked on something like this. (Theirs is the Indie Dash Button, mentioned above).

And I know there are already bitcoin/blockchain appraoches too.  For eample, @MrChrisEllis’s ProTip, which facilitates Bitcoin payments in a nearly frictionless way. There are the broad outlines of possibility in both EmanciTerm and EmanciPay, which are design models we’ve had for years. (ProTip is an example of the latter.)

We could also use a good generic symbol for intent. I don’t know of one, or it would have made the cover of The Intention Economy. The star photo above is the best I could come up with for a visual to go with this post. But the lazyweb should do better than that.

Whatever we come up with, the time could hardly be more right.

[This post was impelled by the need to enlarge on my comment under Move Over, Doc Searls: It’s Time For A New Intention Economy by Kaila Colbin (@kcolbin) in MediaPost. Thanks, Kaila, for getting me going. :-)]

Good news for VRM and financial transactions

FinTPTomorrow, 24 January, is code launch day for FinTP, described by its parent, Allevo, as “the first open source application for financial transactions.” The code is being released under the GPL v3 license on Github.

FinTP’s development is intended, among other things, to support VRM product and service development. This began in 2011, when Allevo folks discovered that VRM developers were collaborating with SWIFT‘s Innotribe on what would become the Digital Asset Grid (described as “a new infrastructure providing a platform for secure, authorised peer to peer data sharing between known, trusted people, businesses and devices”).

Since FinTP is open source, VRM developers — especially those dealing with financial transactions (and there are many) — should check it out and consider getting involved as well. (On my own wish list: EmanciPay.)  The FinTP community is FINkers United, and looks like this:

FinTP community

Read more at the Allevo blog.

By the way, SWIFT has an annual Startup Challenge it would be wise for VRM developers to check out — especially those dealing with banking and financial transactions.



Loose Links Raise Ships

Little Brother TV for Every Single One of Us is a VRooMy project from Jonathan MacDonald. Writes Jonathan,

Today I want to share ‘littlebrother.tv‘ with you.

I am fascinated by the movement from ‘Big Brother’ type of activities in spying, behavioural targeting and deep packet inspection, to a society that is now empowered to turn the cameras back around on the corporations and vendors. I am also inspired by Michael Rosenblum who I feel very much aligned to in the empowerment by video…

So – down to business, here is the first goal of VRM:

Provide tools for individuals to manage relationships with organizations. These tools are personal. That is, they belong to the individual in the sense that they are under the individual’s control. They can also be social, in the sense that they can connect with others and support group formation and action. But they need to be personal first.

To this end, and within the principles of VRM at the forefront I would like to form a collaboration with others to create littlebrother.tv to enable a space where people can upload and store their recorded observations of companies, retailers and service providers.

This blog post is an open invitation to anyone who is thinks they could help bring this to life.

In Personal datastore: The future of the relationship economy, Uwe Hook gives props to VRM in a post that starts, “We’re not consumers anymore.” Yessss.

In Is HITECH Working? #5: “Gimme my damn data!” The stage is being set to enable patient-driven disruptive innovation, Dave deBronkart (e-PatientDave), Vince Kuraitis, and David C. Kibbe say some kind things about what I (and others in the VRM circle) have said, and go on to cover a variety of VRM-type items in respect to health care. They conclude,

Put the data in the consumer’s hands, and let real patient-driven disruption begin.

Here’s Jon Lebkowsky’s report. And, though he doesn’t mention VRM, Andy Oram has a customarily thorough and terrific report from the same event.)

And more from e-PatientDave.

Nicholas Schriver writes about VRM, noting that we can do some VRM-type stuff already with Twitter.

VRM shows up on this 21 Tips post.

mrtoff’s page two references VRM in a summary of Eve Maler session on UMA a the European Identity Conference.

And, while Pete Blackshaw doesn’t mention VRM in a post about trust, he does say,

In the 10th-anniversary edition of the classic “all markets are conversations” “Cluetrain Manifesto,” co-author Doc Searls warns of a coming “advertising bubble” and a push-media “attention economy” crash. Eventually, he suggests, an “intention economy” will “come along in which demand drives supply at least as well as supply drives demand.” If he’s right, one presumes new rules of trust will come along for the ride.

Last but far from least, we have a Google Summer of Code programmer (and others) working with us on EmanciPay. More on that in due time.

Testing the all-tip system

Arlington cafe serves gourmet food and lets customers pay what they want, by Shane Stephens in the Dallas Morning News, probes some of our assumptions with EmanciPay—a customer-controlled way to choose how much to pay for online goods that cost nothing but are worth more than that. The financial end of the story:

The no-set-price concept is intriguing, especially in this economy. Chippindale says it was inspired by One World Cafe in Salt Lake City, a pay-what-you-want community kitchen founded by her friend Denise Cerreta. But while One World Cafe is nonprofit, Chippindale intends to make money. “I definitely do not turn away from a profit,” she says.

So far, she’s not getting rich; in fact, she’s not even breaking even. Customers have been leaving an average of about $7 per person in the envelopes, and Potager’s food costs are running about $8 per person, she says.

That’s two small tests in a trial that needs many more. Think payment levels might change if the restaurants’ costs were fully exposed?

Off base but still kinda relevant

I suppose you’ve succeeded when people start making fun of what you’re up to. That might be what’s going on with The Vendor-Client Relationship, a YouTube video I found via markfonteijn. In this video the clients — diners at a restaurant, a customer at a hairdresser — bargain over costs. I suppose this is to point out the oddities of doing the same kind of thing in a B2B world.

It’s not about VRM at all, but it does bring up an occasional misunderstanding about VRM: that it’s about negotiating on price. It’s not. It’s about relationship; or more precisely, about relating. If price negotiation isn’t on the table, or shouldn’t (or can’t) be on the table — as would be the case at a restaurant, a hairdresser, or most retail establishments — it’s outside VRM’s scope. VRM is about enlarging the table, not turning it over.

EmanciPay does put the pricing gun in the hands of the customer, but only for goods that cost nothing and are worth more than that. Which is why our likely first deployments are with public radio.

It helps organize our understanding to divide market activities there into three categories: transaction, conversation and relationship. Of those three, the least developed in our “developed” economy is relationship. (And it’s the most developed in the less-developed world.) The most developed in our familiar settings is transaction. With VRM we are trying to create more balance between the three by concentrating on relationship, even when the relating required is minimal. We’re doing that by better equipping the buyers’ side with tools that will serve both sides.

The kind of interaction we see in that video is about as far from VRM as you’ll get.

EmanciPay: A Content Monetization Plan for Newspapers

Yesterday I reported hearing that the New York Times was thinking about putting its editorial behind a paywall again. Today James Warren gives substance to the rumors:

Here’s a story the newspaper industry’s upper echelon apparently kept from its anxious newsrooms: A discreet Thursday meeting in Chicago about their future.

“Models to Monetize Content” is the subject of a gathering at a hotel which is actually located in drab and sterile suburban Rosemont, Illinois; slabs of concrete, exhibition halls and mostly chain restaurants, whose prime reason for being is O’Hare International Airport. It’s perfect for quickie, in-and-out conclaves.

There’s no mention on its website but the Newspaper Association of America, the industry trade group, has assembled top executives of the New York Times, Gannett, E. W. Scripps, Advance Publications, McClatchy, Hearst Newspapers, MediaNews Group, the Associated Press, Philadelphia Media Holdings, Lee Enterprises and Freedom Communication Inc., among more than two dozen in all. A longtime industry chum, consultant Barbara Cohen, “will facilitate the meeting.”

I can see the headline already: Newspaper Bigs Form Trust To Set Content Prices.

Just kidding.

We do need to be serious here. The Situation is dire. Humpty Dumpty is reaching terminal velocity.

But don’t bother wishing the king’s horses and men luck with the fix. They can’t do it. No newspaper trade group, no collection of top newspaper executives, will come up with a creative solution to problems that have already earned Top Rank status in the innovators dilemma casebook. The best these execs can do is make Humpty’s fall a drop into cyberspace. They have to make Humpty Net-native. They can’t do that just with better-and-better websites, or with “monetization” schemes such as “micropayments” or other scarcity plays with a net-ish gloss.

As disruptive technologies go, it’s hard to beat the Interent. The Net didn’t just push Humpty off the wall. It blew up that wall and the whole world on which both sat. In that wall’s place is a wide-open space where abundance is not only the prevailing condition, but a severly reproductive one that’s especially suited to interesting “content.” As Kevin Kelly aptly puts it, The internet is a copy machine. One measure of content’s worth is how much it gets copied and quoted. How the hell do you monetize that?

In a New Yorker piece this week, Bill Keller, the Times‘ Executive Editor, said, “There’s a crying demand for what we do and, sadly, a diminishing supply of it. How we get the demand to pay for the supply is the existential question of newspapers in general and the Times in particular.” He’s right in all but one respect: that first person plural we. Unless he’s referring to a population of sufficient generality to include readers. Or, more importantly, hackers. Geeks bearing gifts.

As it happens, we (the geeks) have one. It’s called EmanciPay. It hands the pricing gun over to the customers (readers in this case) and then makes it easy for them to pay as much as they like, however they like, on their terms. Or at least to start with that full set of options. Whatever readers decide to pay, the sum of it won’t be $0, which is what readers are paying now. (Online, at least, in nearly all cases.)


Peter Kafka reports this from the D7 conference today (over a Wall Street Journal AllThingsDigital blog):

Time for some polls! No surprise: People like to read newspapers online. Also no surprise: But people don’t pay for it. Somewhat of a surprise: People say that they are willing to pay for some kind of news.

My boldface.

I conduct similar audience polls often, though my subject is usually public radio. “How many people here listen to public radio?” Nearly all hands go up. “How many of you pay for it?” About 10% stay up. “How many would pay for it if it were real easy?” More hands go up. “How many would pay if stations would stopped begging for money with fund drives?” Many more hands go up, enthusiastically.

So the market is there. The question is how to tap it.

At ProjectVRM we propose tapping it from the customers’ side: for newspapers, from the readers side. We also propose doing it one way for all readers and all newspapers, rather than X different ways for X different papers, each designed by each paper for their own readers. In that direction lies a field of silos, all with their own scarcities, their own frictions, their own lock-ins. We need one way to do this for the same reason we need one way to do email.

Remember back when AOL, Prodigy, Lotus Notes, MCIMail and the rest all had their own ways of making you correspond? That’s what we’ll get if we leave content monetization up to the papers alone. They’ll all have their own ways of locking you in, just like retailers all have their own “loyalty” programs, each with their own cards, their own barcodes for you, their own reward systems, their own special ways of inconveniencing you for their own exclusive benefit.

EmanciPay will be simple and straightforward. It will make it easy for you to pay what you want (which may be what the papers want you to pay … or more … or less), and to do it on your terms and not just theirs. This doesn’t mean that the papers can’t have terms of their own. Maybe they have a suggested price, or a minimum they’re willing to accept. Whatever they come up with, however, will be informed by interaction out in the open marketplace, rather than their own private ones, where they make all the rules.

Think of EmanciPay as a way to unburden sellers of the need to keep trying to control markets that are beyond their control anyway. Think of it as a way that “free market” can mean more than “your choice of captor.” Think of it as a way that “customer relationships” can be worthy of the label because both sides are carrying their ends of the relationship burden — rather than the sellers’ side carrying the whole thing (as CRM systems do today).

EmanciPay is an open source project. When it rolls out, it will be free and open to anybody.

Want to help? Let me know. (firstname at lastname dot com) I’m serious.

The only problem is that development work on EmanciPay is just getting started. (I haven’t wanted to publicize it, because I wanted it to be ready to go — or at least to vet — first.) But that’s also an opportunity.

What matters for the papers is that there’s at least one answer to their challenge out there. And it’s free for the making.

(Cross-posted here.)

EmanciPay: a new business model for newspapers

Rex Hammock is right to gripe about the newspaper turtles pulling their heads in their shells and complaining that readers aren’t paying for the goods papers offer for free online. In that post he runs down some of the drumbeats he’s been hearing:

Here’s the problem with all of those systems: they’ll all be different, silo’d, inconsistent with each other. And doomed to fail for all those reasons.

Here’s the solution: One new system that makes it as easy as possible for readers to pay for the goods, but voluntarily, on their own terms. This new system would turn consumers into customers by giving them the pricing gun. And here’s what’s also cool about it: We’re already working on it at ProjectVRM. It’s called EmanciPay. (Note: when this was written, it was still called “PayChoice”. DS – 1 September 2009)

It’s still early. But it will get a lot less early if some of these pubs stop complaining and put their shoulders (and their wallets) behind work that’s already going on.

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