After the advertising bubble bursts

Thesis #74 of The Cluetrain Manifesto says, “We are immune to advertising. Just forget it.” We wrote that in 1999, when everybody thought that advertising was going to be THE model for businesses on the Internet. The crash came less than a year later.

Then the next bubble came, and this time everybody thought (surprise!) that advertising was going to be THE model for businesses on the Internet. This time they were right, because Google made it so. In fact, Google makes billions with advertising, not just for itself, but for millions of other sites, including countless blogs. Google does it by making advertising accountable, and by moving the wasteful side of guesswork. They take it off ink, paper, airwaves and billboards, and shift it to server cycles, pixels, rods and cones.

Still, most advertising is still wasted. The difference now is that advertising is accountable while it wastes less costly things. This is fine as far as it goes, which is pretty far, even in the current crash.

But advertising is still a bubble, and has been since it was invented more than a century ago. I’ve been saying this for many years, including last month right here.

In fact, last May I reported how Mike Arrington of TechCrunch was “outraged” by my suggestion that advertising was a bubble (or something to that effect… it’s in this podcast somewhere… maybe one of ya’ll can hunt down the quote). [Later… Dave Wallace found a clip.]

Now comes Why Advertising Is Failing On The Internet, by Eric Clemons, Professor of Operations and Information Management at Wharton, writing in TechCrunch, no less. When I read it the thought balloon over my head said “Yess!” and “Amen, brother!” over and over. For example:

Pushing a message at a potential customer when it has not been requested and when the consumer is in the midst of something else on the net, will fail as a major revenue source for most internet sites.  This is particularly true when the consumer knows that the sponsor of the ad has paid to have this information, which was verified by no one, thrust at him.

Exactly what we said in Cluetrain, and what most people say when they look for havens from advertising, which they find with TiVo and many ad-free places on the Web.

Clemons follows that with this:

The net will find monetization models and these will be different from the advertising models used by mass media, just as the models used by mass media were different from the monetization models of theater and sporting events before them.  Indeed, there has to be some way to create websites that do other than provide free access to content, some of it proprietary, some of it licensed, and some of it stolen, and funded by advertising.

At ProjectVRM we have been working on one, called PayChoice. [Later… changed to EmanciPay.]  Since most of you don’t follow links, I’ll drop the first two sections in right here:

Overview

PayChoice is a new business model for media: one by which readers, listeners and viewers can quickly and easily pay for the goods they use — on their own terms, and not just those of suppliers’ arcane systems.

The idea is to build a new marketplace for media — one where supply and demand can relate, converse and transact business on mutually beneficial terms, rather than only on terms provided by thousands of different silo’d systems, each serving to hold the customer captive.

PayChoice is a breed of VRM, or Vendor Relationship Management. VRM is the reciprocal of CRM or Customer Relationship Management. VRM provides customers with tools for engaging with vendors in ways that work for both parties. PayChoice is one of those tools. Or a set of them.

Background

We now live in a media environment where goods previously sold directly or paid for by advertising are freely available and shared widely over the Internet. A number of factors contribute to a business and social conundrum for suppliers of those goods:

  • Easy copying and sharing makes the goods freely available at growing ease and convenience.
  • Copying and sharing is so widespread and common that punishment for copyright and other usage violations touches only a small minority of offenders, and has proven to be a losing proposition.

What the marketplace requires are new business and social contracts that ease payment and stigmatize non-payment for media goods. The friction involved in voluntary payment is still high, even on the Web, where one must go through complex forms even to make simple payments. There is no common and easy way either to keep track of what media (free or otherwise) we consume (see Media Logging), to determine what it might be worth, and to pay for it easily and in standard ways — to many different suppliers. (Again, each supplier has its own system for accepting payments.)

PayChoice will create a “buy button”-simple payment system to allow readers, listeners and viewers to pay whatever they like, at their discretion, for whatever media products they use. For too many media the traditional business models — subscriptions, newsstand sales, advertising and underwriting — are not sufficient. (Especially in the current economic environment, which is akin to an earthquake that won’t stop.) Nor do they support full participation and involvement with their users.

PayChoice differs from other payment models (subscriptions, newsstand, tip jars) by allowing the customer to pay any amount they please, when they please, with minimum friction — and with full choice about what they disclose about themselves. PayChoice will also support credit for referrals, requests for service, feedback and other relationship support mechanisms, all at the control of the user. For example, PayChoice can provide quick and easy ways for listeners to pay for public radio broadcasts or podcasts, for readers to pay for otherwise “free” papers or blogs, and paid request for stories or programs to be expressed and aggregated, without requiring the customer to disclose unnecessary private information, to become a “member”. This will scaffold real relationships between buyers and sellers, and for supporting journalists covering what Jake Shapiro calls “microbeats.” It will also give deeper meaning to “membership” in non-profits. (Under the current system, “membership” means putting one’s name on a pitch list for future contributions, and not much more than that.)

PayChoice will also connect the sellers’ CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems with customers’ VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) systems, supporting rich and participatory two-way relationships. In fact, PayChoice will by definition be a VRM system.

Micro-accounting

The idea of “micro-payments” for goods on the Net has been around for a long time, and has recently been revitalized as a potential business model for journalism by an article by Walter Isaacson in Time Magazine. What ProjectVRM suggests instead is something we don’t yet have, but very much need: micro-accounting for actual uses. These including reading, listening and watching.

Most of what we now call “content” is both free for the taking and worth more than $zero. How much more? We need to be able to say.

So, as currently planned, PayChoice (again, now EmanciPay) would —

  1. Provide a single and easy way that consumers of “content” can become customers of it. In the current system — which isn’t one — every artist, every musical group, every public radio and TV station, has his, her or its own way of taking in contributions from those who appreciate the work. This can be arduous and time-consuming for everybody involved. What PayChoice proposes, however, is not a replacement for existing systems, but a new system that can supplement existing fund-raising systems — one that can soak up much of today’s MLOTT: Money Left On The Table.
  2. Provide ways for individuals to look back through their media usage histories, inform themselves about what they have been enjoying, and to determine how much it is worth to them. The Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel (CARP), and later the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB), both came up with “rates and terms that would have been negotiated in the marketplace between a willing buyer and a willing seller” — language that first appeared in the 1995 Digital Performance Royalty Act (DPRA), and tweaked in 1998 by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), under which both the CARP and the CRB operated. The rates they came up with peaked at $.0001 per “performance” (a song or recording), per listener. PayChoice creates the “willing buyer” that the DRPA thought wouldn’t exist.
  3. Stigmatize non-payment for worthwhile media goods. This is where “social” will finally come to be something more than yet another tech buzzmodifier.

All these require micro-accounting, not micro-payments. In fact micro-accounting can inform ordinary payments that can be made in clever new ways that should satisfy everybody with an interest in seeing artists compensated fairly for their work. An individual listener, for example, can say “I want to pay 1¢ for every song I hear on the radio,” and “I’ll send SoundExchange a lump sum of all the pennies wish to pay for songs I hear over the course of a year, along with an accounting of what artists and songs I’ve listened to” — and leave dispersal of those totaled pennies up to the kind of agency that likes, and can be trusted, to do that kind of thing.

Similar systems can also be put in place for readers of newspapers, blogs and other journals.

What’s important is that the control is in the hands of the individual, and that the accounting and dispersal systems work the same way for everybody.

No, we don’t have it yet, but we do plan to put it in the Public Radio Tuner in due time. It will help that well over a million of those tuners have been downloaded so far for iPhones.

Back to Eric Clemons’ piece:

The internet is the most liberating of all mass media developed to date.  It is participatory, like swapping stories around a campfire or attending a renaissance fair.  It is not meant solely to push content, in one direction, to a captive audience, the way movies or traditional network television did.  It provides the greatest array of entertainment and information, on any subject, with any degree of formality, on demand.  And it is the best and the most trusted source of commercial product information on cost, selection, availability, and suitability, using community content, professional reviews and peer reviews.

My basic premise is that the internet is not replacing advertising but shattering it, and all the king’s horses, all the king’s men, and all the creative talent of Madison Avenue cannot put it together again.

This is exactly where we were going in Cluetrain. Back then, and still today, people tend to think of the Net as yet another one-way producer-to-consumer “medium” for “delivering messages” along with goods that “consumers” pay for. But the Net was and remains a place that serves demand at least as well as it serves supply. The demand side just hasn’t been fully equipped yet. That’s what the VRM movement (which includes but is not limited to ProjectVRM) is all about providing. When we (and others) succeed, we won’t just be consumers anymore. We’ll be customers in full standing.

Eric Clemons goes on to explain many reasons why advertising is a bubble. I agree with all of them, though I am not as pessimistic about Google, for the main reasons Jeff Jarvis visits in What Would Google Do? The fact remains that Google, more than any other large company operating on the Web, gets the fundamentals of abundance: that you make money because of it rather than with it. They know the vulnerability of advertising as a model, and I expect them to work no less hard disrupting the model than they have at building it out. (Perhaps in their secret labs they are already at work on this. I don’t know. But if they’re smart, which they are, they’re on the case.) Clemons closes with this:

The internet is about freedom, and I suspect that a truly free population will not be held captive and forced to watch ads.  We always knew that freedom comes at a price; perhaps the price of internet freedom and the failure of ads will be paying a fair price for the content and the experience and the recommendations that we value.

Among the other tools we need are pricing guns for customers. We haven’t had that since before Industry won the Industrial Revolution. But we’ll get them. PayChoice is one example of them. There will be more. And they’ll work because not paying will be increasingly stigmatized.

Right now, for example, most music is available for free. Never mind that some of us call downloading it “theft” or “piracy”. The other price is 99¢, which millions pay in iTunes and through other online stores. Those two price points are not enough. We need ones we can set on our own.

For years Congress and its regulatory arbitrators (first the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel and later the Copyright Royalty Board) have been saying there is no “willing buyer” to match the “willing seller” in the online radio, or streaming, business. That is, Internet radio. So, in the absence of that buyer, these panels have handed the pricing gun to the sellers (the RIAA and its collection agency, SoundExchange), but set the prices first. Last I heard, the royalty rate was set to peak at $.0019 per recording, per listener, in 2010.

If you pay 99¢ per song, you’d have to listen to it, what, 521 times to equal the same rate? If you use iTunes, check and see how many times you listen to any song.

So I’m thinking, hey, I’d be glad to pay a penny a recording for what I hear on the radio. These days you have a huge choice of radio stations on the Net. Most play music. All could carry data about that music. I’d be glad to account for that listening, and pay accordingly. And I’d like right now to set that price at a defaulted penny a song. I’d be glad to aggregate my listen-logging with others, with a pledge or an escrow account containing a sum of money for dispersal to artists at that rate. And see what happens.

In fact, that’s what I want to do with PayChoice (EmanciPay) after we work out the kinks by providing a supplementary business model for public media. Stay tuned.

Oh, and this topic will be among the many I’ll talk about at lunch tomorrow at the Berkman Center. More here.*


*This talk brought an invite from Jeff Kehoe, of Harvard Business Review Press, to turn the whole thing into a book. The result was The Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge, which HBRP published in 2012. And now, as I write this addendum in 2021, we are about to start proving on the ground, through ProjectVRM’s spin-off, Customer Commons.

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79 comments

  1. reid’s avatar

    Doc,

    This is a great post. Paychoice is an interesting idea that removes the need for advertising, a medium that is stuck on the old mold of one-way communication. Companies that sell product and services, however, will always need credibility in order to sell those products and services, regardless of medium. Hence, pr’s survival.

    If you put this same level of thought on the demise of the media business that you put on the advertising business, there’s a chance you could save the newspaper industry!

  2. Karl Long’s avatar

    Hey Doc, first of all it was great to meet you in person at SXSW, I really enjoyed chatting about The Cluetrain, amazing how that book has stood the test of time.

    Although I do agree that advertising is broken on the internet, I think that advertising as a whole could well transform itself, if it evolves beyond trying to drive consumption. I think in the future businesses that win will be the ones who are able to inspire their customer base to take actions above and beyond the consumption of products. Advertising, I think, will play a key role in helping communicate bigger ideas worth believing in and inspiring actions that lift up the company and all it’s stakeholders.

    Advertising is one of the only industries we have that have the tools, techniques and infrastructure to communicate on a massive scale, our problem up until this points is how we’ve used advertising, not advertising itself, advertising is just a tool and we’ve been primarily using it as a hammer. Now we need to use it as a lever 🙂

    Please check out my post called “is advertising worth saving”
    http://experiencecurve.com/archives/is-advertising-worth-saving

    and I highly recommend a book called “Truth, Lies, and Advertising” by Jon Steel if you want to get a perspective of the ad industry from an insiders view
    http://www.amazon.com/Truth-Lies-Advertising-Account-Planning/dp/0471189626

  3. Ted Shelton’s avatar

    As usual, well ahead of the curve. I agree that the one weak point in Clemons’ argument was his dismissal of search engine advertising. He lumps everything into “misdirection” which is not accurate. I prefer to think of advertising the way I think about spam email — that is, it is bad (spam) if it is:

    (a) an un-requested message; from (b) an unknown person

    If you can address both of those tests, advertising becomes information — and there is a grey space running between spam and information. So if a friend sends me a note asking for a donation to his club, I might say NO, but won’t think of it as bad. If a friend of a friend sent the same message I might then say it stepped over the line.

  4. Joshua Kulpa’s avatar

    Both Doc and Eric are right in that consumers won’t relate to advertising unless it is both relevant and credible. They are both wrong in assuming that it is impossible to achieve relevance and credibility online.

    Take for example The Deck (http://decknetwork.net/). Here is an example of an ad network that is both relevant and credible. Relevant because they focus on a narrow audience: designers, web developers, and creative professionals. Credible because they only advertise products and services they actually use. I myself have been influenced and made purchases based solely on their recommendation.

    While it is true that monetizing online requires new and better models, it is just as important to note the successful implementation of the old models.

  5. vanderleun’s avatar

    “PayChoice differs from other payment models (subscriptions, newsstand, tip jars) by allowing the customer to pay any amount they please, when they please, with minimum friction — and with full choice about what they disclose about themselves.”

    An interesting idea. Here’s what I bet most people will think:

    “Pay choice? Here’s my pay choice. I’m going to pay nothing to nobody at no time and with zero friction since I’m telling you zip about me. I’ve got a back button and I’m not afraid to use it.”

    Park rangers have a saying that goes, “Once a bear gets hooked on garbage there’s no cure.”

    Once a browser gets hooked on free….

  6. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Well, vanderleun, that’s the cynical view. What I haven’t said here is that there will be, along with PayChoice, the means for scaffolding real relationship — just not on the seller’s own terms.

    Oh, and why do people who once downloaded stuff for free now buy it on iTunes and Amazon? Are they rogue junkyard bears?

    Lots of people want to pay for otherwise free stuff. The problem is, doing so is costly in time, rather than money. I support a number of public radio stations, and I’ve never been able to do that onine in less than 3.5 minutes. That’s too long. Ever tried to send money to a recording artist who offers ways to pay? Still too complicated. Too many options, too many methods, too much swimming upstream against a tide of promotion.

    We want to make it easy and then see what happens. Maybe you’ll be right, but I don’t expect that.

  7. Doc Searls’s avatar

    By the way, I didn’t say anywhere here that advertising is doomed. I said it’s a bubble, and has been for a long time — only because there are no (or too few) good alternatives, especially on the buy side.

    No doubt having alternatives will make advertising better. Less intrusive and the rest of it. What we need to be careful about is starting on the sell side rather than the buy side when thinking about all this stuff. What Eric Clemons and I (and Ted, and the Cluetrainers) share is anchoring perspective on the buy side: with ourselves and our fellow customers. What would work best for us? Especially, if we don’t start with the assumption that advertising — as the incumbent method for informing ourselves — is the best one. It ain’t.

  8. Jolie O'Dell’s avatar

    Hello!

    I am so sad that I missed meeting you at SXSW.

    Thanks for writing such a thorough post; I tweeted it and want to dig deeper on the subject.

    It put me in mind of a post-SXSW rant on the decline of ads, the rise of user tune-out, and the future of brand/consumer interaction: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0zhyFM00-g

    (I was totally starved and sleep-deprived, waiting for a table at Salt Lick BBQ, so feel free to skip the first minute or so!)

    I’ll be following you with great interest, Doc, and I look forward to reading more!

  9. Randal L. Schwartz’s avatar

    I think it’s about recognizing that new media is narrowcasting, not broadcasting, and advertising has to follow suit.

    Newspapers are failing because they follow broadcast models… I get the same paper my neighbor gets, even though I read only about 20% of the paper that he does. Online news, through specialization and searches, brings me a much better view of my world.

    Advertising is still broadcasting… Being a single male, I’d never search out for information about diapers or feminine hygiene products. And yet, I see ads for such products all the time.

    Advertising needs to learn how to show to 50 qualified people, and not 5000 people for whom only 1% is interested. Advertising on podcasts is a good example of this… if you just care about cost-per-thousand, the numbers are misleading, until you can pick podcast-advertiser matches that overlap well, and then the loyal self-selected audience works in your favor.

  10. Rick Levine’s avatar

    Hmm.

    While I’m generally optimistic about our ability to invent a business model to replace the current everything-is-free-but-with-ads-I-don’t-look-at state of affairs, I’m less sanguine about the success of a voluntary model, ala your description of PayChoice. PBS doesn’t live on donations from us little people. Like most non-profits, major private and foundation donors still provide the majority of the funding. (Beware the hype. Large donors are lumped with smaller ones in the stats to support an “everyman-as-funder” story. And, the current economic climate is making us painfully aware of the failure of charitable tax deductions as a donation inventive given other unavoidable losses and less income to deduct against.) Amazon Digital and Apple succeed because the prices are reasonable and because there is no easy, free way to get the products. (Yes, bootlegs are available to some, and cheating happens, but most of us either don’t know how, won’t bother or seem reluctant to cross an ethical line when we have to work at stealing.)

    How do you get around the tragedy of the commons effect that has bedeviled every other attempt to make a donation system work? If there is no added, tangible, value for my contribution, I won’t pay for things that are otherwise free. (No Im not a curmudgeon at heart, merely a mostly honest realist.)

    One possible model that’s been tossed around for a while is a pre-payment subscription model whereby a strike price is set for supposedly valuable assets, payments are accrued until the strike price is met and then the asset is released only to the paying subscribers for a set period of time, or in high-res to subscribers and low-res to everyone else. After the premium privilege period expires, the content becomes public domain and is released to all for free or for a nominal fee. (This would only work for assets generating anticipation and excitement among a monied audience. Everyday content, or content that is a surprise to the marketplace an goes stale before an auction can succeed can’t make it work.)

    So. Garrett Hardin hasn’t been wrong yet. How do we de-tradgedize our digital commons? Thoughts?

  11. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Rick,

    I dunno about PBS, except that there has to be something tragic in a system that trolls for donations by running ancient videos of the Four Preps introduced by some formerly famous woman with a reconstructed face. That’s what I saw on Austin’s PBS station in the hotel last week. I hate to say it was pathetic, but… it was.

    I know more about public radio. There individual donors, especially small ones, are a big part, maybe the biggest part, of the contribution pie. You might not be among the 10% or so who contribute, but they’re real, and their numbers can be increased by reducing the friction involved in giving.

    And let’s not forget who paid to elect Barack Obama. Nobody needed to contribute. The average donation was what, 80 bucks or something? And how many of those donors had never given before?

    PayChoice isn’t just a donation system. I see it as a payment system. I know that the public radio folks are very attached to the lexicon of donation (“contribution,” “membership” and the rest). But the money left on the table (MLOTT) by the current system (turn off programming for ten days, plead poverty, trade schwag for donations and send frequent mailings to donors) is still plentiful. When we ask people who listen but don’t pay if they’d change their minds if the paying were easy, many say yes. That’s who we’re after.

    The tragedy right now is that there is no commons where a “free market” is “your choice of silo” or “your choice of walled garden.” We’re creatiing that commons. Maybe it’ll work, or maybe it won’t. Meanwhile, no VC dollars are being killed in the process. (Well, maybe a few somewhere, but not for VRM in particular.)

  12. Bart Schaefer’s avatar

    People buy stuff they used to download for free because (a) it’s easier and more reliable to find a wide variety of content on iTunes and Amazon, and the content is of higher quality; (b) Apple created an straightforward linkage between the player and the content that encouraged people to use iTunes (cf. easy and reliable); and (c) the RIAA actually managed to get ahead of the problem and convince the wider audience (many who weren’t downloading *yet*) that free downloading was theft, by pursuing those otherwise ridiculous (and to some extent urban-legendary) lawsuits against small children and grandmothers.

    This is not to say that vanderleun is right; there will be some segment of the market who pays because they believe it’s the fair thing to do. The question is whether you can earn enough from that portion to make up for those who do behave as vanderleun suggests, and how much difference the ease of payment will make.

  13. Dave’s avatar

    Hey Doc.

    Snipped the relevant section about the Bubble from the Gillmor Gang episode you mention. It’s over on my blog.

    http://is.gd/oDvd

    Dave – Lifekludger

  14. Pope Salmon the Lesser Mungojelly’s avatar

    Of course people want to respond to work they enjoy by giving back. Where I think you are getting stuck is in thinking that money is the most powerful or important way that people can respond. Let’s zoom out a little. People respond to work on the internet with lots of different actions: You can ask someone to vote for you in a contest; you can ask someone to write a letter to a decision maker; or, yes, you can ask them to somehow send you money. You implicitly asked for comments in response to this post by having this box here, for instance, and I am right now responding to that call.

    As a creator of public internet content, therefore, you clearly have tremendous economic power. You can change dramatically what happens in the real world. But there’s this obsessive pursuit of somehow bending that diffuse, explosive power back around into our wallets– into the old kind of power we were used to. I submit to you that the difficulty encountered therein should be blamed not on the internet, but on money itself. The internet, considered as a communications medium, creates great value, but it spreads it madly, chaotically. That money measures only fixed, controllable value does not make the internets’ value unreal– it means that money is an insufficient instrument to measure the new way we are producing value, the new way we are producing transformations in the world.

    While it’s possible to convert social capital into money or vice versa, the exchange rate in either direction is atrocious. I’ve sat here for a while composing this comment for instance, and there’s many other ways I might have been convinced to invest time and effort in response to what you said, but I don’t feel like I owe you a nickle. I’m not your “customer” just because you’ve said something publicly and I’ve responded, any more than you’re my “customer” in a hypothetical blog-response service. I consider us equals. Yet you shouldn’t underestimate how much work or other energy I would freely contribute if you suggested an interesting joint enterprise.

    Money is a lubricant, in other words, and here we are sprung up into the clouds. You’re trying to figure out crazy money aerosols to try to get money covering the clouds; they’re clever. But these clouds don’t need lubrication; they are light as air already. Zoom out, look at the problem money itself, a crude digital distributed record-keeping trust device, used to solve: These clouds themselves, they are the same thing, only unbelievably huger.

    <3,
    mungojelly

  15. kilo_c’s avatar

    @vanderleun
    8 years ago when they were shutting down Napster I assumed I’d just keep using “the next illegal downloading service” to get my music, alternatives were already popping up and I assume there are still some out there.
    I avoided iTunes because of the DRM, but have probably bought $50 of mp3’s off Amazon in the last 6 months, and I pay $2/month to twit.tv and dvorak.org ; I’m a sponsor of redvsblue.com and have made occasional contributions to willfranken.com and extralife.com
    It’s a combination of “working full time instead of being a student” and “I really enjoy the content they make, and want to encourage them to keep it up”

  16. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Thanks for the clip, Dave. I just put a link in the text of the post. I didn’t hear Mike’s ‘outraged’ line, but it’s 4:40am, and I’m in a hurry and probably missed it. The main thing I get out of hearing that, as I did when during the conversation a year ago, is that I was the only one in the room who didn’t think that advertising was the end-all.

    Again, I’m not knocking advertising for being anything other than what it is, which is guesswork. And I continue to submit that one promise of the Net is the elimination of much guesswork on the supply side, simply because the demand side will get better at making its intentions known. Meanwhile many of us continue to believe that improving guesswork is the only way to go. I’ll continue to believe that improving a pain in the ass doesn’t make it a kiss.

    BTW, all that’s original about PayChoice, really, is that it’s meant to be a standard approach, outside of everyone’s silo, and not owned and controlled by anybody, just like the standards behind, say, email (smtp, pop3, bind), open IM (xmpp), the Web (http, html, xml) and the Net itself (TCP/IP). If we have to go to Google or somebody to have them do PayChoice work in proprietarty ways, we’re stilll in a walled garden.

  17. Pat Tanzola’s avatar

    When will people realize that the Internet isn’t and never will be driven by money. The only currency worth measuring and trading in online is attention span. We will eventually use attention span to pay for goods and services. This is good, because it is democratic and fair. This is bad, because it is very hard to measure. But it will happen.

  18. Pauly’s avatar

    Very interesting point about de-frictionizing “money aerosols” from Pope Salmon that in my mind suggests an important facet of the problem, which is that the perceived value of a product or service that’s essentially freely available on the internet does not easily or typically translate in an individual’s mind to a “price”. Doc’s hitting the same note when he says that the current model for “donating” to a valued provider “costs” more in time than money. The problem is that providers often have very serious time and/or money costs involved with providing such products/services and are looking for a “fair” and “predictable” way to recoup them plus garner enough profit to grow and innovate the business (R&D ain’t free yet either, no matter how rapidly one can realize ideas and subject them to the harsh pass/fail of the real world and winnow out the best candidates). One non-monetary alternative we can think about (and we need many, including VRM-like mechanisms and probably even “advertising” of a sort to “introduce” people to a new product or service, think advertising as “hey world, I’m here!”) is to have people on the internet at large helping providers to reduce (possibly significantly) their production, promotion and/or innovation costs with contributions in kind. Of course for this to work, another hard-to-quantify property comes into play: “trust”. For example, regardless of how fair or unfair the perception may be about their business practices, I would bet that few individuals would trust that Google is deserving of their trust should they explicitly (rather than implicitly as they do now) solicit such individual contributions and (more importantly) that they would apply them in a mutually beneficial way (given the explicit exchange of information – I know they produce wonderful and often best-in-class “free” net-based applications, free that is as long as you’re aware of the implicit cost). I’d argue the same jaundiced view would apply to any internet-based BigCo you could name. So it seems to me for free contributions to flow to producers of free products and services, a fair measure of transparency would be in order in addition to the personal information privacy guarantees a la VRM. I don’t see this happening currently, but if a neutral infrastructure of VRM mechanisms seems feasible given the nature of networks and computing (and identity management), is there anything about the nature of internetworked transactions for products and services that doesn’t facilitate provider transparency in a similar way? Or is it just too naive to think that self-interested business organizations can open themselves to this level of scrutiny in return for building a loyal community?

  19. Doc Searls’s avatar

    The Grand Discussion of the Future of Journalism is a nice summary of writings on the subject by Curt Monash. In it he includes this piece behind a link that says “micropayments”. Since PayChoice is definitely not about micropayments, but rather about what we call micro-accounting, I decided to add the paragraphs from PayChoice about micro-accounting to the text above.

    To Curt’s summary I would also add a pile of recent posts by Dave Winer. (Scroll down and click away.) Dave’s insights about journalism and the larger ecology of news are essential reading.

  20. Divorce Forms’s avatar

    I never would have known that a law blog would be so insightful on so many issues. If you ask me adveritising is probably headed more towards pay per acquisition but it’s just a theory. Everything that can be sliced up further will be, that’s for sure.

  21. bowerbird’s avatar

    apologies in advance for what became
    a very long comment. i hope it works,
    because i do love your paychoice idea…

    i recently purchased the domain name:
     worthapenny.com
    to build a similar system. i’d guess
    you already know about tipjar.com
    and perhaps others now out there…

    my entry is “worthapenny dot com”.

    was seeing that video “worth a penny”?
    was hearing that song “worth a penny”?
    was reading that blog “worth a penny”?

     worthapenny.com is a way to say it was,
    to pledge your penny and then to pay it.

    now…

    while i’m in overwhelming agreement
    with almost everything you said here,
    there’s one fundamental disagreement.

    i’ll start by revealing a political motive:
    i want to overthrow greed as the goal,
    greed as our primary motivational tool.

    selfishness is killing off our planet and
    our culture and all of our relationships.

    the zero-sum game is just a black hole.

    we must return to gift-exchange mode.

    or we will go extinct. literally.

    we need to make this revolution.

    artists are in a unique position to lead.

    by giving away our music and poetry
    and writing and all our digital creations
    — freely, as gifts — we can give fans a
    chance to create a cycle of gift-exchange.

    one way for ’em to give back, of course,
    would be to slip a nickel in our pocket,
    assuming they had an easy way to do it.

    or even just a penny. it’s not unknown
    for a viral video on youtube to have a
    half-million views. at a penny a piece,
    it cumulates to $5000.00. even 10,000
    sums to a hundred bucks. so the idea
    is to give people a way to give a penny.

    users could start with a budget of $10,
    and reward 1,000 artists with a penny
    a piece, for something “worth a penny”.

    what art-pieces are important to you?
    “here comes the sun”. worth a penny.
    100 years of solitude. worth a penny.
    the road not taken… worth a penny.

    but one important thing for everyone to
    keep in mind here is that that penny is
    _a_gift_, in response to the earlier gift.

    so i disagree with you, doc, when you
    use words like “supply and demand”
    and “transacting business”, because
    that takes us out of the “gift” realm
    and puts up back into barter mode…

    i need to know if this disagreement
    between us is reconcilable, of not…

    worst of all, of course, is your idea of
    _stigmatizing_non-payment._ no no!
    bad idea! that would be purely lethal
    to the idea of an exchange of _gifts_.

    even the word “fairness” is bad, since
    it implies an _obligation_ on the part
    of the fans, inconsistent with “a gift”.

    (and “donation” makes it sound like
    the fans are doing the artist a favor.)

    within a true gift-exchange modality,
    the artist wins when s/he gives away
    the art, and the fans win then as well.

    and fans win when they return a gift,
    and the artist wins too when they do.

    and both sides _know_ that both sides
    are the beneficiaries of _both_ giftings.

    to take any of that away, then, robs
    both sides, twice… if this system is
    just the newest form of cash register,
    we’ve lost the transformational power
    that a return to a gift-exchange basis
    promises to heal human relationships.

    barter is what you do with the people
    about whom you harbor suspicions…

    when you trust people — love them —
    you give gifts, with no expectations…

    so giving gifts, with no expectations,
    is a way we can _re-establish_trust_,
    which is something that we must do
    if we are to reclaim our own humanity.
    the worst thing our greed has done is
    to have stolen that trust away from us.

    someone has to _start_ the cycle first.
    and then someone has to _reciprocate_.

    i feel artists are uniquely qualified to do
    the former, and their fans are likewise
    uniquely qualified to perform the latter.

    the bond is one that already exists, and
    it’s a strong bond, one we can count on.

    don’t ruin it by making it a business deal.

    ***

    now, it’s just this one place we disagree.

    but i have to stress that it’s a vital place.
    if you are “all business”, that would be a
    toxic shock to the place i want to create.

    so i’d love to hear you say that we are
    on the same side in making a revolution
    that transforms our human relationships,
    and leaves “business” in its proper place,
    so i can hop on-board your new clue train.

    -bowerbird

  22. dave taht’s avatar

    My amusement of the day was seeing an old model (government subsidy) resurrected for the dying newspaper business:

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/026089.html

  23. vanderleun’s avatar

    There’s itunes and then there’s

    Acquisition

    http://www.acquisitionx.com/

    One of a number of alternatives.

  24. Simon Edhouse’s avatar

    Sorry to be the nay-sayer again Doc, because I have always been and continue to be an admirer of your work, but I don’t see the ‘PayChoice’ proposition as having a snow-ball’s chance in hell of getting any traction.

    You say: “PayChoice will create a “buy button”-simple payment system to allow readers, listeners and viewers to pay whatever they like, at their discretion, for whatever media products they use.

    This is a ploy on behalf of ‘demand’ that ‘supply’ will simply ignore… and unfortunately the exponents of ‘PayChoice’ will not have the luxury of autocratic rule to mandate that ‘supply’ conforms.

    You say: “PayChoice will also connect the sellers’ CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems with customers’ VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) systems, supporting rich and participatory two-way relationships.” and that: “An individual listener, for example, can say “I want to pay 1¢ for every song I hear on the radio,” and “I’ll send SoundExchange a lump sum of all the pennies wish to pay for songs I hear over the course of a year, along with an accounting of what artists and songs I’ve listened to”

    Doc… On what planet is this utopian level of benign cooperation going to occur? If there’s one thing we have learnt about the web its that there are precious few rules that we can expect anyone to follow.

    When Eric Clemens says: “The net will find monetization models and these will be different from the advertising models used by mass media…” I thought for a fleeting moment that he was almost getting close to the plausible new reality, because: The Internet is not the Web …but like so many other prognosticators who grew up in a world before Browsers and Google, he dumbs it down by saying: “…Indeed, there has to be some way to create websites that do other than provide free access to content”

    “Websites”… perhaps with “PayChoice” buttons on them presumably?

    Is it not abundently clear, (as a previous commenter pointed out) that ‘acquisitionx’ is to the ‘iTunes music store’ what refrigerators were to ice-factories? …and why did refrigerators not only disrupt ice-factories, but ice-delivery services at the same time? Because people finally had their own mini-ice factories, and could make and distribute the ice themselves… refrigerators put a highly valued power in the hands of the people. It wasn’t a ‘PayChoice-button’ on the door of the factory to negotiate a dramatically cheaper ice with an unwilling supplier, and an unwilling ice-delivery supply-chain.

    Our own PC’s are analogous (or metonymic) to the refrigerator in the previous metaphoric example… and as their CPU speed, storage capability and connectivity bandwidth have pulled far ahead of both TCP/IP and http in relative terms, the new ‘clue-rocket’ is sitting there as plain as day. (and SaaS and Cloud-Computing are the natural enemies of this movement)

    Peer-to-Peer technology and super-distribution, (which can easily incorporate the ‘micro-accounting’ functionality you have intuitively realized is also necessary) are staring everybody in the face… But good old ‘path-dependence’ means that luminaries such as yourself and Eric are still talking about ‘buttons on web-sites’… (like referrirng to horse-drawn-carriages to describe what would be known as ‘the car’)

    (but by the way, don’t count on any main-stream legacy players, esspecially Google, which for some unknown reason you put on a pedestal, to cooperate with such disruptions… because it will be exactly players like Google that would be disrupted, by the power that would by default be given back to the ordniary users by the disruptive solution in waiting)

    See: “What’s really happening at the edges of the internet…”
    written in July 2005… It was my first my first blog entry, and I quoted you in the first line:
    http://www.edgepolitics.com/?p=105

  25. bowerbird’s avatar

    simon said:
    > refrigerators put a highly valued
    > power in the hands of the people.
    > It wasn’t a ‘PayChoice-button’
    > on the door of the factory to
    > negotiate a dramatically cheaper ice
    > with an unwilling supplier, and
    > an unwilling ice-delivery supply-chain.

    customers won’t pay if they don’t have to.

    fans will. because they want their status
    as fans to be publicly acknowledged, and
    to be connected with other similar fans…

    -bowerbird

  26. Simon Edhouse’s avatar

    Bowerbird…

    with the greatest respect, you are making fanciful generalizations. This is not to say that your ‘theories’ may not come true… but in the rough & tumble world of open discussion about serious issues on serious blogs; if you say:

    “customers won’t pay… fans will, because they want their status as fans publicly acknowledged”

    …you are making a assertions that are, not only not backed up by any logical discernable argument, but you are also only addressing what (at best) appears to be a narrow niche group… which leads one to assume that you are either in that niche group, or are simply subjectively concerned with that niche group… whereas of course the VRM movement is trying to apply its proposed solutions to a broader cross section of situations.

    Bowerbird… (http://tinyurl.com/c3m6d6) are you collecting little blue things in the forrest, just because you like the colour blue? – Blue is my favorite colour too, but you have to step out of your own subjective envelope, and attempt to play on the same playing field as everyone else, if you want to be taken seriously.

    cheers Simon

  27. bowerbird’s avatar

    simon said:
    > Bowerbird… with the greatest respect,
    > you are making fanciful generalizations.

    if that’s “the greatest respect”,
    i do believe i can go without it. :+)

    > This is not to say that your ‘theories’
    > may not come true… but in the
    > rough & tumble world of open discussion
    > about serious issues on serious blogs

    omigoodness, are you full of crap, or what? :+)

    > …you are making a assertions that are,
    > not only *not* backed up by any logical
    > discernable argument, but you are also
    > only addressing what (at best) appears
    > to be a narrow niche group…

    ok, first, do you really need some _evidence_
    for the fact that fans love to spend money on
    the objects of their adoration? _seriously?_

    do you live in a cave?

    i mean, why do you think we call ’em “fans”?
    (if you don’t know, it’s short for _fanatics_.)

    nah, i think it’s ludicrous to think that fans will
    _not_ give money to the artists they worship…

    at lunch today, i gave a $3 tip to the waitress.

    do you really believe that i won’t burp up $3 to
    an awesome band for the album they gave me?

    especially if my $3 contribution is listed publicly,
    so people know i said _what_an_awesome_band_,
    and so i know who else agrees with me on that?

    have you never heard fans talkin’ with each other?

    how do you think recording company middlemen
    — david geffen, for instance — got so filthy rich?
    by diverting the revenue flow from fans to artists.

    second, yes, i’m quite fully aware that _fans_
    constitute a “narrow niche group”, in a sense.
    (that’s precisely why i said that the artist/fan
    relationship will lead the way to a new world
    of reciprocal gift-giving instead of the old one
    where greed-leveraged extortion carries weight.)

    but no, gift-exchange won’t work for everything.

    certainly an auto mechanic couldn’t work under
    such a system. or a dentist. or an accountant.

    but perhaps the new york times could… i’d guess
    there are many people who would rather cough up
    some small amount of money on an ongoing basis
    than to lose the new york times altogether forever.

    the question is whether we can organize a system
    to engineer their rescue before the times collapses.

    defining the conditions under which such a system
    _might_ work, and those under which it would not,
    seems to me to be a far more productive approach
    than your outright blanket dismissal.

    especially when you don’t seem to have considered
    my “narrow niche group” at all with your dismissal.

    people support all kinds of institutions voluntarily,
    from their churches to their little league teams…

    and, as margaret meade once put it:
    > Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,
    > committed people can change the world.
    > Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

    artists-and-fans can — will — change the world.

    > which leads one to assume that you are either
    > in that niche group, or are simply subjectively
    > concerned with that niche group…

    i am an artist — a performance poet — and i can
    tell you with absolute certainty that i know for a
    fact that fans can — and do — support artists…

    i don’t ask my fans for money — don’t need it —
    but they give me tons of love and respect, and
    i’m sure they will come to my aid when i need it.

    they have told me loudly and clearly that they
    appreciate the gift i give them when i perform,
    and i truly consider that to be a reciprocal gift…

    > you have to step out of your own subjective
    > envelope, and attempt to play on the same
    > playing field as everyone else, if you want
    > to be taken seriously.

    first they laugh at you.
    then they fight you.
    then you win.

    i don’t give a flying fuck if you “take me seriously”,
    simon. because i _will_ be flying under your radar.

    -bowerbird

  28. Simon Edhouse’s avatar

    ok Bowerbird… goodluck. You may have some ‘birds of a feather’ in here anyway.

  29. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Simon,

    If you were right about this, public broadcasting and nonprofits of all kinds wouldn’t exist. Obama wouldn’t have raised $.X billion in his campaign, mostly in small contributions. Apple wouldn’t get 99¢ per recording. And everybody would steal all the food they could in public marketplaces.

    And why does everybody have to “play on the same playing field as everybody else”? Especially if they “want to be taken seriously”? If it weren’t for new playing fields, we wouldn’t have new games, or old ones that change when new ideas of play, and new ways of playing, come along.

    PayChoice doesn’t cover everything. Note that we say it is *a* way for individuals to pay, if they like, for otherwise free stuff. It is one way to put the pricing gun in the hands of the customer.

    FWIW, the “buttons on web sites” line was too simple. What’s different about the r-button (at least conceptually, and at this early stage, during which we are thinking out loud about it but not developing for it yet), is that it’s one that the user provides, and the user controls — at least on their half of it (it has two halves, the other being for the vendor). It is also not limited to websites. In fact, I would hope to see it first on a hand-held device such as a smartphone.

    Hey, maybe we’re wrong. We’ll find out.

    BTW, where do I put Google on a pedestal?

  30. Simon Edhouse’s avatar

    Doc,

    when you say:

    “If you were right about this, public broadcasting and nonprofits of all kinds wouldn’t exist. Obama wouldn’t have raised $.X billion in his campaign, mostly in small contributions. Apple wouldn’t get 99¢ per recording. And everybody would steal all the food they could in public marketplaces.”

    It is clear that you have misinterpreted what I have said. I am not saying that humans cannot and do not donate or give willingly. Of course they do… but the fact that this occurs does not: ‘a workable trading system make’.

    The next comment about ‘playing fields’ and being ‘taken seriously’, is obviously directed at my response to ‘Bowerbird’… and frankly what I am simply suggesting is that, if constructive discussions are to take place, then someone putting forward an idea should be prepared to have it challenged. Statements like: “customers won’t pay… fans will, because they want their status as fans publicly acknowledged” might seem politically-correct to some, but it is an assertion that is not backed up by any empirical data or reference to some kind of objective evidence.

    In an open forum, its my right to suggest a standard upon which we can agree to communicate, and to discuss whether certain kinds of discourse can be taken seriously. That is my subjective judgement, and I am free to make it.

    Where do you put Google on a pedestal?

    Because you imply quite directly that (in bubble 2) Google provided THE advertising solution for the internet, and that Google “makes advertising accountable” – Accountable to who? – In fact what they have done is create a monopolistic ‘two-sided-market’ controlling demand and supply acting as the ‘Broker’ between Advertisers and Publishers in its own closed system. Is it ‘accountable’ because it makes money by directing ads to the key-words within the public’s ‘interest-data’ freely given by users of its search engine? or by users of GMail?

    You say that Google: more than any other large company operating on the Web, gets the fundamentals of abundance: that you make money because of it rather than with it. In fact they make money with it, because of it and any other way you want to couch it… They charge the buyer and the seller, and do so via an auction process that forces prices continually upward. Yes, they understand abundance, but there are many of us that are concerned that their degree of pervasive control has reached a worrying level.

    Obama’s nominee for antitrust chief, Christine Varney, recently described Google as a likely antitrust problem, noting the company “has acquired a monopoly in Internet online advertising.” http://tinyurl.com/awwrym

    Joe Nocera from the NYT, puts it like this: “…the issue isn’t that Google is a monopoly. It’s that Google has become the marketplace. It where we all go for information. It’s where advertisers go for us.”
    http://tinyurl.com/cfcayc and http://tinyurl.com/57hkoo

    Larry Lessig: on Google’s plan to “Googlize 15 million books”. Lessig shows caution and concern that “if Google gives in, (to its shareholders) the loss to the Internet will be far more than the amount it will pay publishers.
    http://tinyurl.com/dlmjjx

    and last but not least: Privacy International, awarding Google its lowest score, for: “Comprehensive consumer surveillance & entrenched hostility to privacy”
    http://tinyurl.com/2mgq6a

    but you say: “They know the vulnerability of advertising as a model, and I expect them to work no less hard disrupting the model than they have at building it out yeh, right…. and (Perhaps in their secret labs they are already at work on this. I don’t know. But if they’re smart, which they are, they’re on the case.)

    You sound like their freakin PR firm…

  31. Dan’s avatar

    I appreciate your work in Cluetrain. And I’ve always liked the micro-payment model. Interruption marketing is pretty well dead. Interstitial ad pages are my particular pet peeve. But it is incredibly hard to get companies to look beyond that sort of trash, and into what the internet is truly capable of delivering in terms of results for their business.

    They would get a far better return if they stopped treating the web like a telephone poll on which to staple their damned fliers. There’s an image to carry around with you as you look at the horrible things people do to their websites to earn a buck.

    Torn up, beat up, riddled with bent staples, scraps of paper, and a myriad of poorly designed, mismatched, overlapping fliers.

    We certainly can do better.

  32. Joe Hoyle’s avatar

    There’s a restaurant over here in the London (UK), and probably at least one in NYC, that allows you to pay what you thought the meal was worth. It’s actually doing much better than most of the other restaurants during this recession. Apparently, the food is rather good ad this has travelled well on the grapevine driven by the curious notion that you don’t have to pay for it. However, I put it’s success down to the practice of social etiquette and the fact that it’s particularly uncomfortable to pay nothing in front of both your dinner date and the polite waitress who’s holding the EFTPOS machine in front of you. Although I would welcome the fairytale ending that I could set up a successful online store built entirely on trust, I think the reality is rather different. The idea of a ‘fair market price’ could perhaps be more realistically dynamically generated using an “offer-within-10%-of-what-the-last-person-paid-and-it’s-yours” model or maybe a “we’ll-publish-the-names-and-addresses-of-everyone-who-paid-next-to-nothing” model. Either way, in sales and marketing, you make sure you create a great experience and then get away with what you can.

  33. Simon Edhouse’s avatar

    Google… “making advertising accountable”

    http://tinyurl.com/cq8xa2

  34. bowerbird’s avatar

    simon said:
    > Statements like:
    > > “customers won’t pay…
    > > fans will, because they
    > > want their status as fans
    > > publicly acknowledged”
    > might seem politically-correct to some,
    > but it is an assertion that is
    > not backed up by any empirical data
    > or reference to some kind of
    > objective evidence.

    again, simon, do you live in a cave?

    i would take it that you do not dispute
    that a _customer_ — that is, a person
    in a business-deal — will not choose to
    pay voluntarily. after all, that is what
    your entire argument is saying, right?
    so, on that aspect, you and i _agree_.

    what you seem to dispute, then, and
    say there’s no evidence for, is the notion
    that fans will voluntarily pay to profess
    their fandom in a public setting. right?

    you do know that rock bands sell t-shirts?
    and posters? and all kinds of other swag?

    surely you are not under the impression
    the fans buy t-shirts as mere _clothing_.
    the plain white t-shirts at wal-mart are
    much cheaper if that’s all they wanted.

    they buy those t-shirts to show fanhood,
    and laugh at the inflated price because
    they know that money goes to the band.

    and they feel good wearing that t-shirt
    because it tells the world who they are.

    likewise with the posters they buy and
    put up on their walls. cheaper posters
    are readily available elsewhere if all they
    wanted was some _wall_decoration,_ but
    it’s obvious that’s not what they wanted.
    they want something that expresses their
    feelings for the object of their admiration.

    is this data not “empirical” enough for you?
    or is this evidence not “objective” enough?

    and why do you need “evidence” anyway?

    can’t you call on your own life experience?

    isn’t there some book you’ve read which
    as so _meaningful_ to you that — if you
    were to encounter the author in a bar —
    you would buy him or her a few drinks?

    and is there no movie that you have seen
    which was so important to you in your life
    that you would be _happy_ to slip a dollar
    into the pocket of the director, or the lead
    actor or actress, just to say “thank you”,
    even though you did actually buy a ticket
    and therefore paid all that was “expected”?

    and is there no song that — when it comes
    on the radio — fills you with a sense of joy?
    makes you wanna dance around the room?
    such that you would be _happy_ to be the
    errand-boy for a day to the song’s singer?
    (annie lenox could have me for a month!)

    i mean, seriously, simon, if you’ve never
    had such experiences, i feel sorry for you,
    as you don’t know what it is to be human.

    but if you _have_ had those experiences,
    then why are you so skeptical here, and
    why do you insist there is no “evidence”?

    -bowerbird

  35. Simon Edhouse’s avatar

    Bowerbird… what are you talking about?

    “what you seem to dispute, then, and
    say there’s no evidence for, is the notion
    that fans will voluntarily pay to profess
    their fandom in a public setting. right?”

    No…

    Of course these things happen… of course fans who love their idols will buy stuff willingly… who could dispute that?

    You are mixing up two ideas…

    a) that people (fans, in your persistent example) willingly buy stuff. (at what you identify as often inflated prices) yes! of course they do…

    and:

    b) the contention expressed in the above article, (that we are all supposedly discussing), that ‘buyer-seller’ exchanges that are based on buyers paying only what they want to, rather than a fixed sale price, would work as a sustainable and broadly accepted commercial model, by both sides, of the supply-demand equation, i.e. get broad, (and I mean substantial wide-spread) traction across many verticals, i.e. food, alcohol, theatre-tickets, airline-tickets, concert-tickets… or even digital commodities, like subscriptions to web-sites, online music sales, etc etc.

    If you think for a minute that I don’t broadly support most of the aims of the VRM movement, and share a deep desire to initiate lasting change and innovation then you are badly mistaken.

    I am actually trying to be constructive… (although this may be hard to appreciate) – Sometimes hard questions need to be asked… and in relation to issues like reinventing the basis upon which commercial exchanges take place, which I have made the subject of many years of study, research and development. (arriving at practical and detailed plans and potential solutions) the ‘Language’ we use… is really really important! There are many people who would like things to stay exactly as they are and would love to attack noble and idelaistic causes like the VRM project…

    I am not attacking Doc or the VRM Project because I am in opposition to him or it, or don’t appreciate that substantial change is long over-due… What I am doing is ‘kicking the tires’ and trying to help the movement become ‘battle-ready’… because I am actually a fellow-traveller… not a skeptic.

    Ok?

    to follow me on Twitter: (http://twitter.com/SimonEdhouse)

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