Putting the Wholes Together

by Doc Searls

If incoming mail contains the word "identity" it goes to a mailbox I started in late 2004. It has over 7000 emails in it now. The majority of those are from the Identity Gang list.

The Identity Gang got its name when it first met informally on the December 31, 2004 edition of Gillmor Gang. I've lost track of how many workshops and meetings and other exercizes in convergence we've had, but the progress continues to be amazing.

I just looked at what Eric Norlin of IDG wrote here, then at what Scott Kveton of JanRain wrote here then at what Kim Cameron of Microsoft wrote here — to pick just three out of countless posts, all connected somehow. You can see the progress in just one month.

This observation comes in the midst of thinking about a form of
Vendor Relationship Management
that has the same initials as CRM, but a different meaning: Creator Relationship Management.

I would like to relate to creators in a better, less intermediated way. On the supply side, Creative Commons has done a great job of clarifying how artists and their representatives would like to relate in the marketplace. Think of CC as a form of CRM — of customer relationship management. A way of relating to customers. It's a great start. But it still only comes from the supply side.

Now I want to come back at creators from the other direction: from the demand side. From my end, not just theirs. I want to give them something more to relate to than an entry I put in a form on a website. I want to create a mechanism of engagement that is independent of any one supplier: that is silo-free.

I want them to be in my database, not just be one entry in their database.

I want to relate as a customer in the marketplace, and to be able to expand on that relationship in ways that allow both sides to create and expand value.

That means if I like a play, or a piece of music, or a podcast, or a video, or any creative production, and I want to pay the creators (and the producers) for that, I want a way to do that directly, on my own terms, with minimum intermediation.

I want to reward the intermediators too — the producers and distributors, for example. Anybody who contributes value.

Beyond cash for goods or services, I would like the option of having some range in relating. Maybe I want nothing more than give an artist some cash and a high-five. Or I may want a subscription to notices of new work, or to performances near where I live.

The thing is, this mechanism needs to live on my side: to be mine. It must be able to relate to a first source or to an intermediary, but it can't belong to the intermediary. The responsibilities for relating need to be shared. To do that, I need to control my end, free and clear. I can't just be enrolled in a system controlled by the supply side, or by somebody in the middle.

The absence of the power to relate from the demand side — except with cash or mechanisms controled by the supply side or its intermediaries — is a problem as old as the Industrial Age, and it's time to solve it.

So: my role on the demand side needs to be better equipped. How do we do that?

First we start with identity. That's why everything going on in the Identity Space is important. (And why I need to catch up with it.)

Second, we need to pick a problem to solve, not an ocean to boil. Here's one I like: make it easier for public broadcasting listeners and viewers to pay for the goods they receive. Right now public broadcasting continues to raise money in extremely old-fashioned ways. The one I hate most is the fund drive where they turn off programming for two weeks, plead poverty, and then give you a cup or a CD if you send some money. There has to be a better way.

So that's what I want to work on as my first VRM project, which I'll vistit in Wednesday's SuitWatch Newsletter, and then detail here on Thursday. Stay tuned.

Load Disqus comments