Clues vs. Trains, cont’d

For some reason this blog has failed to post the comment that I just wrote in response to Simon Edhouse‘s latest comment in response to the Clues vs. Trains post. It’s within a good dialog that involves Simon’s post here, which makes some subtle but important points about the degree to which the client-server nature of commercial activity on the Web contributes to normative acceptance of the many silos there. I’m trying to convince Simon that we’re on his side in opposition to that. Anyway, here’s what I just tried to post:

  We need the invention that mothers the necessity. One “bite” I hope will hold is the relbutton on iPhones and other mobile devices, giving listeners a way to interact with, and pay for, otherwise free online radio streams and podcasts. I haven’t said too much publicly about this yet because we have a lot of details to work out. But on the “sell” side we already have the interest of (and participation by) Forces That Be in public broadcasting, just for starters.
  Q: “It’s going to need vendor buy-in to actually work?”
  Not at first. But we have a data type escrowed on the buyer’s side called MLOTT, for Money Left On The Table. That should help.
  Q: “You can’t shame them into action”
  Not the plan.
  Q: “or count on enlightening them”
  Not the plan either. Some of “them” are among “us” to begin with anyway.
  Q: Vendors are not going to volunteer to be ‘managed’
  Carrot before stick. It has to be attractive. That’s the plan.
  Q: “… the name of the meme itself, almost jinxes it, for non-adoption by traditional product/service suppliers in the value-chain.”
  It’s a big world. There are lots of vendors, some more traditional than others. We don’t need to boil the ocean here. We just need to get a few lagoons heated up first. That’s why starting with public media will help.

By the way, after I failed to post that on this blog, I tried posting a comment on Simon’s blog, which is on Blogger. There I was given three choices for identifying myself: Google/Blogger, OpenID and URL. Sxipper, which is normally helpful, got in the way of the first and wouldn’t let me get it to work. I forgot all of my OpenID IDs, and Blogger told me I had “illegal characters” in

I’ll tell ya, if all we ever do with VRM is eliminate that kind of gauntlet, I’ll be happy. Oh, by the way, I don’t think any current identity system by itself will cut it — worthy as each may be. When an individual shows up at a site, or otherwise interacts with an entity or a service in the networked world (and not just on the Web), we need to know if a relationship is already in place, and then skip consciousness-required-identification (hell, let’s call that CRI) of ourselves. And no vendor alone is going to give that to us. We need to make the user the point of integration and origination. We have to make the individual the driver, and not just the center of vendor-side “attention” or whatever. Code has to be present on our side that says to the other side that a relationship already exists, or could exist (on our terms and not just theirs), and then let computation take care of the rest.


  1. Crosbie Fitch’s avatar

    The only way you can implement a solution for any public problem for which the itch is shared slightly by many (but is nevertheless perceptible) is public funding (and I mean direct funding by members of the public).

    Every corporation and state that could fund development of solutions is blinkered to think in terms of centralised systems.

    So, first problem to solve: public/collective funding.

    All the other problems are feasibly solved by distributed systems (if you understand distributed/p2p systems), but because they are not subject to control, provide no reward except public benefit (and a warm feeling).

    For such philanthropic enhancements to web as market we need a Cern equivalent, but crowd sourced by flash mob – to use the jargon.

    Well, that’s my theory. Don’t let me dissuade anyone who’s already embarked upon implementing VRM technology.

    In other words if corporations can afford to develop their own silos, individuals aren’t going to develop their own facilities individually, and no-one else will do it for them unless they get to control it (which renders it broken from the get go). That’s why I think the punters are going to have to club together to pay for their own tech.

    It’s possible a community of altruists can start a snowball where sufficient development of decentralised systems occurs unfunded, perhaps it’s already forming? Is the idea to replicate the way RSS developed perhaps?

  2. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Short answer: RSS is a good model.

  3. Simon Edhouse’s avatar

    RSS was “really simple (syndication)” ~ that helped.

    As I pointed out on another related blog: Colin Henderson from ‘Bankwatch’ states: “The complexities with VRM related to the various possibilities make the size of VRM almost impossible to imagine.”

    RSS does not have the same DNA, as the increasingly complex plans for VRM… and with the greatest respect, its easy to talk of VRM’s characteristics as if they are empirical, but there clearly is a lot more ‘belief’ than ‘knowledge’ flying around.

    [damn, why am I coming across as such a kill-joy? I support the basic ideas. I support all the same ideals, I admire the progenitors; I am just having trouble with all the rhetoric…]

    “We need the invention that mothers the necessity” ~ That is an inversion of a parable, the same way that VRM is an inversion of CRM. I get it, and its clever, but… the inverted meaning really kind of messes with the logic of the original parable. The original, points to what drives human invention: ‘need’. To say that we need the invention to mother the necessity (i.e. the need) is to almost admit that ‘need’ has failed to be the driver.

    note: I don’t think this is the case. There is a need to solve some of these problems, but which exact ones? You can’t solve them all… and the ‘need’ has to be really like a ‘pain’ in the marketplace, being experienced by ordinary-users, and you have to target that ‘pain’ with pin-point accuracy.

    RSS ‘connected’ with the marketplace and achieved a certain level of traction, probably because it didn’t attempt too much… If you open up the VRM mission like an open-source project then it could choke on the volume (multitude) of its own ambitions. This is the danger of this ‘open-approach’… there are benefits, but there are also negative externalities.

    (…and Doc, sorry Blogger wouldn’t let you post on my Blog… blame Google.)

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