Phil Windley explains e-commerce 1.0 in a single slide that says this:
One reason this happened is that client-server, aka calf-cow (illustrated in Thinking outside the browser) has been the default format for all relationships on the Web, and cookies are required to maintain those relationships. The result is a highly lopsided power asymmetry in which the calves have no more power than the cows give them. As a result,
- The calves have no easy way even to find (much less to understand or create) the cookies in their browsers’ jars.
- The calves have no identity of their own, but instead have as many different identities as there are websites that know (via cookies) their visiting browsers. This gives them no independence, much less a place to stand like Archimedes, with a lever on the world. The browser may be a great tool, but it’s neither that place to stand, nor a sufficient lever. (Yes, it should have been, and maybe still could be; but meanwhile, it isn’t.)
- All the “agreements” the calves have with the websites’ cows leave no readable record on the calves’ side. This severely limits their capacity for dispute, which is required for a true relationship.
- There exists no independent way the calves to signal their intentions—such as interests in purchase, conditions for engagement, or the need to be left alone (which is how Brandeis and Warren define privacy).
In other words, the best we can do in e-commerce 1.0 is what the calf-cow system provides: ways for calves to depend utterly on means the cows provide. And some of those cows are mighty huge.
Nearly all of signaling between demand and supply remains trapped inside these silos and walled gardens. We search inside their systems, we are notified of product and service availability inside their systems, we make agreements inside their systems (to terms and conditions they provide and require), or privacy is dependent on their systems, and product and service delivery is handled either inside their systems or through allied and dependent systems.
Credit where due: an enormous amount of good has come out of these systems. But a far larger amount of good is MLOTT—money left on the table—because there is a boundless sum and variety of demand and supply that still cannot easily signal their interest, intentions of presence to each other in the digital world.
Putting that money on the table is our job in e-commerce 2.0.
So here is a challenge: tell us how we can do that without using browsers.
Some of us here do have ideas. But we’d like to hear from you first.
Cross-posted at the ProjectVRM blog, here.