The Currency of the New Economy is Trust

In the following excellent TED.com video Rachel Botsman, a ‘social innovator who writes, consults and speaks on the power of collaboration and sharing through network technologies’, talks about “collaborative consumption.”

Rachel explains:

“At it’s core it’s about empowerment. It’s about empowering people to make meaningful connections, connections that are enabling us to rediscover a humanness that we have lost somewhere along the way by engaging in marketplaces [] built on personal relationships versus empty transactions.”

She adds:

“We have wired our world to share, swap, rent, barter or trade just about anything. [] Collaborative consumption is creating the start of a transformation in the way we think about supply and demand but it’s also a part of a massive value shift underway where instead of consuming to keep up with the Jonesy’s people are consuming to get to know the Jonesy’s. But the key reason why it’s taking off now, so fast, is because every new advancement of technology increases the efficiency and the social glue of trust to make sharing easier and easier.”

Rachel is essentially describing Follr Community Websites when she talks about the need for a “complete picture” a “real-time stream [] that will live together in one place.” As she points out “The future’s going to be driven by a smart aggregation” adding “ultimately, when we get it right, [] capital could create a massive, positive disruption in who has power, trust and influence.”

She adds:

“In the 21st century new trust networks and the reputation capital they generate will reinvent the way we think about wealth, markets, power and personal identity in ways we can’t yet even imagine.”

We can imagine it, it’s at the heart of everything that Follr represents. You can find Rachel’s book on Amazon and while you wait for it to be delivered I hope you enjoy the video then start to create your own community base with Follr.

Who am I, Really?

Contributor: Peter Vander Auwera

Peter Vander Auwera

Peter Vander Auwera

I have always been intrigued by identity. Physical-world-Identity or Digital-Identity. But “digital” is an outdated adjective, used by pre-millennial friends to make a distinction with the world as they used to know it.

“When trillions of devices are interconnected, we need to think beyond the ‘device’. We, the ‘Data-objects’, are the context and interface: ‘We are the data’. And we, the data, need a common interface for our ‘Dysical’ (Digital-Physical) Identity to deal with Access, Trust & Grid-Literacy.”

Today, it is ONE environment, blurring the contours of who-I-am as a human being in flesh and blood and with my own mind, thoughts, and consciousness. Both my body and my mind are getting increasingly augmented and complemented by tools, by the ecology of machines, networks, and algorithms. That ecology of an emergent self-correcting organism was labeled as “The Technium” by mastermind Kevin Kelly.

We probably have to invent a new word for this “one environment of me”: maybe the word “Dysical” – as a contraction of Digital and Physical – could do the job? But it is more than one word we need. We need a new language, a new vocabulary, a new grammar; new ways to create the sentences and the narrative that can capture this new form of being. And when we have developed basic literacy in this new language, we’ll perfect it like art, like literature, like poetry, for deep and rich self-expressions of the “Dysical-me”.

That rich self-expression will need a new data order, caused by ubiquitous connectivity and an increasingly pervasive computing environment, generating two massive transformations: the enablement of peer-to-peer relations, and the explosion of data: big data, small data, augmented data, fast data, real-time data, etc.

We swim in a sea of data and the sea level is rising rapidly. Tens of millions of connected people, billions of sensors, trillions of transactions now work to create unimaginable amounts of information. This is a new environment requiring lots of adaptability. We are a species from the land that have to learn to live in the ocean. Like camels that used to live in the desert, that now have to survive in the ocean.

A new environment requires a new design. I described this new data order some time ago as the Cambrian Explosion of Everything and the Digital Asset Grid. These posts where a little more technical in nature, but I’d like to emphasize that Peer-to-Peer (P2P) changes everything, and leads to a new economy. Michel Bauwens coined this the “P2P Economy”. To get a deeper understanding of Michel’s work, checkout this fantastic report “The Synthetic Overview of the Collaborative Economy.

I’d dare to go one step further. I believe it is time to start reflecting on a P2P “Data-Economy”. Thanks to the ubiquitous connectivity, nodes in a grid can now interact and share with each other without central body or governance. The emergence of the Bitcoin currency is a typical example how new and probably more robust and resilient currency exchanges are possible without central banks, central governance.

Organizational hierarchies are also challenged. Even the concept of leadership is challenged, as leadership today is still a quality based on what you are in a hierarchy (your title, your level, etc) and not based on who you are as a human being. The latter leads to peer-to-peer relationships between duos, triads, or self-organizing cells called “pods” by Dave Gray in “The Connected Company.”

My “Dysical-Self” is also getting more and more defined by my context and reputation in this new P2P data-economy. My identity no longer simply equals my identity number or my digital certificate or passport. My identity is deeply correlated with my relationships with other people and other nodes in the grid. Trust suddenly gets defined at the level of the relationship, not at the level of identity.

Digital Asset GridAnd that form of “Grid-Trust” goes way beyond “access” of data. It is about “usage” of data: “Usage rights and permissions” as defined and managed by the owner of the data.

For that sort of trust, trust frameworks will be needed: contracts that clarify and express the rules of the game, like a marriage contract, with liabilities when the relationship rules are not longer respected.

That sort of trust will also be very much related to our reputation. Whether that reputation is as self experienced with our human antennas, deducted by algorithms (Klout, Peerindex, Kred,…) or Socially Vouched (LinkedIn, Connect.me,…)

It will require some form of Cloud Operating System, where our mobile device becomes the remote control of our personal and interoperable Data Clouds. See in that context the interesting work of Phil Windley at Kynetx, and Drummond Reed of Respect Network (disclosure: both organizations worked as contractors to Innotribe SWIFT in the Digital Asset Grid project).

But one could go on step further, where we think beyond the device. Dhani Sutandto , Senior Digital Art Director and the creator of the Oyster Card Ring recently indeed quoted in PSFK Magazine:

“There will be mobile devices but they will be something that you would wear discreetly, without making you look out of place. Instead of constantly looking down at a screen, people will wear something discreetly. Your interaction with technology won’t
 be gone, but it will be seamlessly integrated and we will therefore look up and interact in a human way with one another.”

Indeed, when trillions of devices are inter-connected, we need to think beyond the context of the “device”. Device is no longer the context. We – the “Data-objects” – are the context, are the interface: “We are the data”. And we – the data – will need a common interface to deal with our Dysical Identity, to deal with Access, Trust and Grid-Literacy.

The insights above developed over the last 15 years or so, after the identity virus infected me during the launch of the Electronic Identity Card in Belgium and more recently in my work on SWIFT’s Digital Identity Grid, an Innotribe incubation project.

Today, others come to similar insights from a completely different angle. Since 1989, the folks from MAYA consulting did fantastic design work on pervasive computing. Three of their senior leaders just published a book on this subject: “Trillions, Thriving in the Emerging Information Ecosystem”, a very recommended read.

We indeed have to liberate the world’s data from their proprietary silos, so they will be free to flow up and downward between nodes in a grid, enabling us to express again in full “dysical” richness who we really are and where we want to go next: #wethedata!

Will You Take The Blue Pill or The Red Pill?

Stephen Fells

Stephen Fells

Whether you love or loath science fiction you have to give it credit for preempting technological advances.

So here’s a quick quiz using a sci-fi stalwart; Star Trek. Can you name the modern day equivalent for these four Star Trek gadgets?

Star Trek Gadgets

If you said mobile phone (‘Handheld communicator’), GPS (‘Transporter Console’), Bluetooth (‘Communications Earpiece’) and iPad (‘PADD’ or ‘Personal Access Display Device’) you get full marks!

You have to love the app that makes your iPad look like a PADD. Now that’s backward compatibility 🙂

What I find most fascinating is that Star Trek originally aired almost 50 years ago! Which makes me wonder; what other sci-fi based prophetic claims can we expect to come true?

One episode of the 1997 TV series ‘The Outer Limits’ (“Stream of Consciousness“) is an interesting blend of science and fiction; specifically it centers on a world where people are connected to a network and can access all information via an electronic implant. Crazy? Perhaps not; British scientist Kevin Warwick reportedly experimented with a similar thing in 1998, only a year after “Stream of Consciousness” aired. Also consider that 10 years ago the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) OK’d this type of technology and that we think nothing of pacemakers, a technology that keeps many people alive. Lastly I’ve seen the term ‘body Internet’ used several times. One use suggests implants can report insulin levels, via the Internet, to researchers (and ultimately doctors) to improve diabetes treatment.

Human Head BarcodeWe are at the very beginning of an historical change in the evolution of human communication – the way we connect has altered, the game has new rules and that change creates enormous opportunity. The combined advent of the social Web and mobile technology allows us to fulfill the innately human desire to belong and connect like never before. Individuals, businesses, brands and communities, in every part of the world, are increasingly sharing where they are, what they are doing and what they are thinking. This is taking place in real time and to an unlimited number of people via the new and inherently viral Internet. By leveraging countless layers of connections a single message is now magnified and exposed to a global audience. The world has changed.

But as we see and hear each other in a whole new light, as the world becomes increasingly connected, it is ever more complex and new problems are created. With more people now on Facebook than existed on the planet two hundred years ago, with generations sharing the minutia of their daily existence and with an abundance of choices in how to connect and circulate information there is a sense of confusion.

We now live in a world where our grand children will know significantly more about us than we will ever know about our parents and this raises questions. How will our message, our very identity, perhaps even our legacy be interpreted? The social Web provides a mechanism for global free speech but it has individuals concerned about just what information is available about them online. It has companies wondering how to control brand integrity, how to keep corporate information secure and how to effectively market via multiple new channels.

And these problems impact a worldwide audience. As we acknowledge these concerns we recognize the need to organize and represent every person and every organization simply and accurately.

Of course we are decades away from being able to mentally download instructions on how to fly a helicopter but is it crazy to imagine that computers will control aspects of our life? When will your reputation be impacted by what you say and do on the Internet?

Another question to consider; Brian Solis, “globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published authors in new media”, states “Social influence is one of the hottest trends in social media” so at what point will your Klout score impact your ability to get a job? Is a resume useless?

Matrix Red Pill Blue PillI think these questions are rhetorical and aren’t based on a prophetic claim; you are already connected to a network, in fact many networks, and your daily existence increasingly depends on that fact. This isn’t science fiction, it’s the here and the now. Many are blind to it, others confused by it, some simply refuse to acknowledge it. Morpheus, what do you think?

“Unfortunately no one can be told what the [future] is, you have to see it for yourself. This is your last chance. After this there is no turning back. You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Remember, all I’m offering is the truth, nothing more. Follr me…”