Archive for October, 2011

After Sibos, Q4 is usually the period of the year when I try to re-boot, to refresh my sources, to be a sponge and take-in new knowledge. It’s when I start painting for the next year. When the themes and trends for next year start emerging.

I wanted to get a much better feel for what this world of alternative and complementary currencies was all about, and decided to join a week-end  “Collabathon” organized by Art Brock (@artbrock) and Eric Harris-Braun (@zippy314), the founders of The Metacurrency Project. In the slipstream of the Contact Summit, they wanted to gather the minds to work on NextNet ideas and tools.

From their site:

What is the NextNet? A computing/protocol stack for operating a distributed Internet which enables individuals and communities to transact, self-organize, self-govern and empower themselves to build resilience, sustainability, and thrivability.

It was a small group of people – about 50 or so- gathering that Friday evening. But what a brainpower – and soft-power – in the room! Almost all my twitter heroes were there: it was great and heartwarming meeting many of them in real life.

Friday evening was intro-day. Saturday and Sunday were un-conference days.

The weekend had something “sacred”. The consciousness level of the participants was overwhelming, and Art and Eric introduced the different topics with so much softness and kindness. And every session had some sort or spiritual presence check-in and checkout moment. The location was clean and spacious, with lots of silent breakout rooms, so you could have relaxed but intense conversations. This was about taking quality time with quality people.

Some of you may remember that Art was one of our “igniters” for the New Economies session at Innotribe at Sibos Toronto, but there we only had a couple of minutes.

Here at this Collabathon, Art and Eric gave a 3-hour deep introduction on The Metacurrency project. These guys are so smart, so full of wisdom, so articulated. It was awesome.

Metacurrency comes in two parts:

  • The Metacurrency principles: the value kit
  • The Metacurrency Project: a software foundation

For further background, check-out this fantastic Metacurrency orientation in Prezi: http://prezi.com/ijiokjbrolwo/metacurrency-orientation/

The principles

The picture above is the essence of the Metacurrency principles. Note how in the bottom left corner, speculative wealth – what Goldman Sachs and others do – is positioned outside of the living systems model. It is fake wealth based on fake growth.

Instead of just describing the model above – plenty of that on the Metacurrency site – I decided in this blog post to transform my notes into some sort of rhythmic at times poetic expression. Step in the rhythm with me:

Currencies are Current-sees



The flow of value


The flow of value


Capacity shifts

Beyond trading value

Currency as language

Money is one single dimensional sentence of value language

The value of currency is to be able track currents/flows

Currency measures and fails to measure

Money only measures only certain types of values

Spoken and unspoken rules of social norms

Lead to currency

Not currency in isolation

Currency in context

We need to simplify

Not complexify

Make complexity simple in its USE.

Like alphabet


Letter, words, sentences, compositions

Compositions on-the-fly


Composable language

Metaphor of the cow and beef

Once you have beef,

You can’t re-compose the cow,

You can’t go back

The beef misses the whole

Same for milk

The market price of milk has nothing to do with Bessie the cow

With Bessie’s wealth

In context

Wealth in context

Wealth has same root as “wellness”

Value is more contextual, you may not value it, but I may value it

Contextual wealth

We are contextual beings

The Commons of Economics?


How to account for wealth?


The company balance sheet

Based on wealth

Balance sheet as momentarily map

The difference between map and territory

The symbols are at the level of the map


and missing out something by measuring

Are we missing the context?

Balance sheets in context

Chains of Balance sheets

Balance Chains


In context


In context


Currency as an expression of worthiness in something

Worthiness and credibility


The cred in something

The cred of value attributes of entities






Educational institutions

Even software code

Even projects

Reputation of entities

Human reputation

Code reputation

Project reputation

Reputation as a signal of worthiness

Institution design

Institution emergence

Institution intrinsic motivation

Richer measurement

Other than up/down


Commoditization of relations

The software project

For full details, checkout following Prezi. The guiding principles for the Metacurrency Project are:

  • Disintermediation of any action, at all possible layer
  • Composability at all levels

The ladder is about tools, grammars, APIs and standards on one side, and consciousness and new awareness on the other side.

The Metacurrency sees 5 different layers (steps on the ladder), each building upon each other, like emergent systems of small components:

  • Stream-scapes: a communication composition
  • Decision making: this is about flows, decision making, event based
  • Currencies: language for expression of value/wealth
  • Holoptinets: a new way of visualization of (big) data. Beyond graphs: with the richness of dimensions in an aquarium, a fish tank. The idea is to have an interface that fully exploits the human sensory capacities
  • OS earth: hat the Metacurrency is after is nothing less than a self-describing computing. And yes, why not be super-ambitious and aim for a redo of the whole computer infrastructure.

There were different sessions on this, the one already more geeky than the other. I particularly like the demo of stream-scapes:

In my own words, it is a sort of EAI-bus, a bus for channels, a channel mixer and filter. Basically, all possible communication channels (Email, Twitter, etc) are blended together in a “scapable distributed database”

A “scape” is a personalized “sculpture” of that blend, reflecting my personal interest and focus. The scape is a grammar. A self-describing grammar at communication protocol level. The idea that people can take existing stream-scapes, adapt/complement them and re-post them in a scape-store for others to re-use. People can build re-usable scapes (grammars) and UIs on top of that.

There was also a good discussion on the “holoptinets”. The initial vision was that the user looks to the fish tank from the outside. Movements of fishes, sounds of water, color, etc. are all expressions of data values. I made some contribution to the thinking by suggesting the user should be “in” the fish tank. Start thinking of concentric fish bowls, each circle representing the types and levels of wealth and the levels of systems integrity of the wealth model.

Is there any traction on all this?

I was witnessing the enthusiasm and passion in the different breakouts of the un-conference. For a lot of this, it is still very early days. And like at Contact Summit, these folks need some sort of coaching on how to “articulate” and “sell” their ideas.

I saw a lot of struggling with even trying to build a first communications strategy on all this. And in my opinion, those stories – if they already exist – are too much inwards looking, too much about the what and not enough about the why.

To get any traction, what needs to get done is to get awareness at senior executive levels. This is something where Innotribe can be instrumental. We can give exposure of these great ideas on the edge of our ecosystem to decision and policy makers. For example, it was a no-brainer to ask Art to fly-over with me to LA to the Compass Summit the next days to be part of our Innotribe Lab on the Future of Value. More about that in a later blog post.

What I found also encouraging was the presence of some Occupy Wallstreet residents. They had a plan to launch an OWS currency. When they saw the richness of Art’s work, they invited Art for a study day on alternative currencies the next Monday.

Because we need to think differently, and not just making a copycat of fiat currencies as a language for pure transaction value only in the left bottom corner of the wealth model.

There was so much richness – wealth – during these two days, that I am exploring the possibility to organize a 1-2 day deep Innotribe conversation with top bankers of our community. And as Art will soon move to Europe, it is a no-brainer to get him over at the SWIFT HQ for a brown bag session for staff and executives.

Next blog will take a bigger helicopter view and will be about the Compass Summit, a blend of technology and values looking at What’s Possible, What Matters, and What’s Ahead.

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I am still digesting the Contact Summit, a conference with the tagline “the evolution will be social”. The conference was announced as:

The net is more than a marketing platform. Connect with the people who are building what comes next, and celebrate the potential of networking to transform commerce, learning, and society.

The event was hosted by Douglas Rushkoff and Venessa Miemis is the Executive Director. Here is an quite artistic picture of Doug by Venessa just before the start of the conference.

The conference was held in a fantastic location: the Angel Orensanz Foundation, the oldest surviving synagogue building in New York.

The day started with some short 2-3 minutes statements by “provocateurs”. People like Steven Johnson, R.U.SIRIUS, and all sort of activists from early and current internet days. It was clear upfront that the event would be highly influenced by the OccupyWallstreet protests going on a couple of blocks away from the event.

In essence, the event was one big un-conference, but one of the most chaotic ones i ever experienced. And there was also a sort of start-up competition going on, with three 10K$ prices for the winners, sponsored by PepsiCo.

The audience was a mix of activists, revolutionaries, alternatives, lots of young people, but also some older faces, and also some big thinkers like Nigel Cameron, Michel Bauwens, Jennifer Sertl, and many others.

This was inspiring and confusing at the same time for me, and i tweeted about my confusion.

In a subsequent tweet-conversation i clarified my confusion: i was missing some overarching theme, the glue that was keeping together all this energy. By the end of the day, when the winners were announced the glue became clear for me.

There were also so many messages and tweets that it was difficult for me to see the forest through the trees. Check out the #contactcon twitter stream to embed yourself a little bit in what was going on…

Douglas Rushkoff opened strong with announcing the objective of this day:

What concrete steps can we take to realize the true potential of the network era?

It was heartwarming to see how Doug was pushing the audience to come to concrete steps. There was at times a stunning lack of people able to articulate what they will do concretely. Many voiced very broad ideas, they really need to focus, to scope them,..

A lot of people just wanted to have a chat, do a talk, have a brainstorm. Rushkoff insisted:

“We are here to DO stuff, to BUILD stuff, specific concrete ideas you want to MAKE.

It is NOT for discussion here, we have the internet for that!”

The list of ideas was a mix of #occupy supporting ideas, anti bank initiatives, alternative facebooks, public ownership of (internet replacing) infrastructures, build a currency for #occupy. I took some pictures of the idea-tiles on the un-conference agenda and made a collage of it, so you get a better idea of the sort of ideas.

Read with me: Reputation Economics, Hacking the Banking System > Credit Union 2.0, Specify a protocol for objects that pre-supposes co-ownership, Re-decentralize the internet, How to create a new P2P social safety net in the age of austerity, how to better document the #occupy movement, designing for/with the 99%, using the net to escape the traditional currencies, Collaborative tools, co-ownership of the physical infrastructure, organizing a massive debt strike attack against the banks, developing alternatives to acquisition,…. and this is just a snapshot!

I had a chat with one of the debt-strike guys, and asked with open mind what they tried to achieve. The answer was astonishing: “a debt-free society”. And he recommended me to read “Debt, the first 5,000 years” by David Graeber. (Amazon Affiliates link), apparently a book that is very influential to this movement.

A lot of the ideas nominated were about being AGAINST something… Debt-strike, OWS support, general assembly software for OWS, see the list above. The only positive one nominated was about creating a VEN-COOP, a sort of cooperative VC based on VEN currency.

An image that remains burned in my memory is that of the Freedom Tower

The Freedom Tower is the work of The Free Network Foundation. What they try to do? I copied the following from their website:

  • We envision communications infrastructure that is owned and operated cooperatively, by the whole of humanity, rather than by corporations and states.
  • We are using the power of peer-to-peer technologies to create a global network which is immune to censorship andresistant to breakdown.
  • We promote freedomssupport innovations and advocate technologies that enhance and enable digital self-determination.
I had a chat with Isaac Wilder (imw) is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Free Network Foundation. I really had an Aha! moment when he explained me that this is not another group of rebels or activists. Rebels made him think about something reactive. In his opinion, all this was more about something very pro-active, and he preferred the term “inversion”, an inversion like the magnetic poles, in this case an inversion of power.
It made me think of the work of Doc Searls on the intention economy, where users are in the power to signal THEIR terms and conditions to service providers.
Later in the day, The Free Network Foundation was declared one of the 3 winners of a 10K$ prize. The other winners were Freedom Box & Fayetteville FabLab. Freedom Box looks like a box that you can plug in a power socket and allows you to set up a P2P node network independent of the internet. Fayetteville FabLab is about a free library.
For me this made clear that the understream that glues all this together is an unbelievable strong cry for freedom.
The event ended on a satirical tone with Reverend Billy blessing the winners of the competition in a true Hallelujah style. Really funny. More introspective and hartwarming was Reverend Billy’s closing preach where he made 200 attendees softly sing “we are the 99%” and dubbing it with some gospell’ish sermon.
What should we all remember from all this ?
In my opinion, we are witnessing the birth of a very strong movement, calling for a reboot of our society grounded in a new value system. As i already quoted Dan Robles in my previous post “A New Value Movement”, people will re-organize around new value and directly challenge financial currency with social current (currency).
This is a movement that should not be underestimated by the ruling class. But somebody also said during Contact Summit that the activists and enthusiasts of this movement should not underestimate the “legacy” of our current institutions.
I believe this person has a point, especially if you look at the recent study by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, revealing the network that runs the world.
The generation at Contact Summit feels intuitively that this model does not work anymore. They are trying and failing to change it, but failing fast and getting organized.
Instead of a head to head confrontation, i would like to see a dialogue starting. Our institutions may be pleasantly surprised by genuine hunger for a better world of this sparkling group.

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My Uncle Roger

Last week, my Uncle Roger passed away in a car accident. He was 82.

I will always remember Uncle Roger for go-carts.

He made them himself.

When he was young and just married, he was working in a big metal factory. But he got bored by factory life and rules, and decided to start up his own business.  His niche was the production of high precision metal moulds.

He started with one milling machine in his backyard. I believe he ended up with 20 or more machines when he retired 15 years ago.

The workshop and the backyard was also our play territory. I still very well remember the garden and the big sandbox he has made for children.  And he could do amazing things with metal waste, such as building go-carts by welding old tubes, adding old bicycle spare parts to it, such as chains, pedals, and wheels. It was as if he could paint with waste. These go-carts were rock-solid, and if it happened that during one of the races a wheel went off, Uncle Roger was there are the technician in the pit stop to fix it immediately.

When I think about Uncle Roger, I also think about one of his daughters, about my age. She was the first girl I fell in love with. She was lovely, a bit boy-ish in her game and really taking care of me as her nephew when we were on family visit. I wanted to marry her, but unfortunately marrying your niece is not something you do. I think I was 8 or so.

We were a bit late for the funeral due to traffic jams around Brussels. The funeral was held in Flanders, about a 1 ½ hour drive from where I live. The morning was a bit grey, a bit misty, already a bit sad, with fog over the fields. It was a bit chilly when my spouse and me entered the church.

It took me some time to be in full presence during the ceremony.

It’s a long time ago I entered a church. Usually only for marriage or funeral ceremonies, and on a very rare occasion, I step in when I need silence. I sometimes do this when traveling for business.

As the ceremony went on, i looked around the church. From an architecture point of view, this church was fairly straightforward, nothing special really. But the stained glass in the main chapel of the church distracted my attention and musings.

They were beautiful paintings with glass, and each of those stained glasses was labeled with the name of the rich family that had offered this to the institution church; probably it would buy them eternal life in heaven one day.

It made me think of the stained glass artwork by Flanders artist Wim Delvoye, using x-rays of human beings as elements of eternal life. He is very intense, and an absolute innovator.

The artist is from the same region as where the funeral was held. This region of Flanders is also where some of the fiercest battles in World War I and II were fought. It’s deep in Flanders’ DNA, and we have a culture of respect for the war veterans, of which there are not many left these days.

What I did not know is that Uncle Roger was the chairman of one of the local war veterans associations. He never fought the war, but he was volunteered for the position, as known for the social work he did in that area of Flanders.

I was therefore surprised that during the funeral there was a delegation of Belgian war veterans, with flags, and a really good trumpet player honoring my Uncle Roger with the last post and the Belgian national hymn.

It was a simple and serene ceremony. With the same serenity as the family exposes: no frills, with a lot of warmth, respect, love and belonging.

In Flanders, it is the habit that after the funeral, the family relatives are invited for a cosy get together, with a bite and a drink. In some families this is a full three-course lunch, in others – like ours – it is a simple sandwich lunch with fresh soup. It is a moment where the family can re-connect.

I sat in front of my nephew Joost, about my age, which is main curator at one of the most famous art museum in Brussels. He is deeply specialized in medieval paint art, with a deep niche expertise on Rubens and Pieter Breughel the Elder.

He is that much expert, that he is asked by very wealthy families and investors worldwide to do assessments on paintings to make sure they don’t buy copies etc.

The painting above is called “The Blind lead the Blind”, and I use it in a brand new upcoming presentation about innovation and the roles of rebels. The painting was made in 1568 and you can read everything about it on Wikipedia.

I asked Joost if he knew some anecdotes about the painting. I think he went on for more than an hour.

I was impressed with Breughel’s as an innovator, as a rebel and an influencer on many next generations of painters. For his technique, but also as for being one of the first who took art out of the religious context.

My Uncle Roger was not a painter. He was not a rebel. But he definitely is one of my influencers. He was a simple metal worker, self-made made. He worked with hard and steel metal, but he was a very soft man. For me he was the innovator and artist of go-carts. I will remember his soft smile and his endless caring for children playing in the backyard. I will remember him forever.

Farewell, Uncle Roger !

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At Innotribe in Toronto, we had a fantastic group of speakers. We call them “igniters”.

It was energizing and inspiring to see how some of them were each other’s fans on-line, some just met for the first time face-to-face at Sibos. Many of the discussions between speakers were definitely as interesting as the public appearances they made during the Tribe. We have to do something with these deep conversations…

During one of the few break moments, i got myself in a quite engaging discussion with Dan Robles from The Ingenesist Project and Social Flights. We shared our passions and our scarves, and i told Dan about my dream. I like to connect with people at their scarves- and passion-level… Finding the real soul, the real person and what is driving his/her dreams.

The dream of evolving this whole Innotribe event thing in something almost architectural.

Something artistic. Something that combines in a deep way high quality content, super facilitation, and performance. Emotional engagement. Deep conversations. Making an impact. Way beyond our little Inno-“tribe”. Societal impact. Awesomeness. With a richness of values of what it means to be human.

It all boils down to this old idea of mine of setting up a think tank on long term future, to prepare the next Values kit for our children.

I am worried and concerned. For our children. For my girl of six years old.

And apparently, i am not alone. Had a wonderful chat this week with Sam. Went all directions… until we talked about my princess.

In my Prezi “How to Make Babies” (based on my blog post with the same title), i show what happens when she grabs an iPAD and starts drawing.

And the most intriguing is what she said:

“My fingers don’t get dirty”

It was immediately clear to me she was born in digital. And I was thinking that in a couple of years from now, our children will say “my fingers do get dirty” when they make a real painting, on a canvas with wet paint…

It did not take years. Here we are, one year later, and here is a viral video of a two year old baby, who expects a paper magazine to behave like an iPAD.

I am worried and concerned. For our children. For my girl of six years old.

I am reading the posts “hypereconomics” by Mark Pesce. Already seven years ago, he asked that question:

“What happens after we’re all connected?”

Just one quote, as i know Mark hates to be overquoted and expects people to add their own content:

As we move further into a hypereconomy, we need to assemble value chains from the resources available to us.  We need to be able to bring this material together with that design expertise, married to a fabrication capability, delivered via the appropriate transportation logistics.  When we can do that, every individual will have the same capabilities to fashion an assembly line that Henry Ford once commanded

Read the post. It’s scary and challenging at the same time.

We need to prepare our children and our pre GEN-Y’s for taking up leadership during the next 10-20 years. When the blurring between man-machine will have materialized. Maybe not the singularity, at least Paul Allen does not think so. But for sure when the frictionless economy will be there. And when it will be important to know what makes us more human humans.

A good book in this context is “The Most Human Human” by Brian Christian. (Amazon Affiliate link)

Brian says:

The story of the Turing test, of the speculation and enthusiasm and unease over artificial intelligence in general, is, then, the story of our speculation and enthusiasm and unease over ourselves. What are our abilities? What are we good at? What makes us special?

“Think Tank” is probably the wrong word. Too much talk-club. I was more thinking along the lines of a “movement”. A New Value Movement?

This desire to be part of such movement, that realization was indeed the main trigger to start this blog in the first place. Check out for example some older posts about “Singing my own song” and here about the Think Tank idea and here about “Great to Good: a new value kit”

The concept for a New Value Movement must have sticked on Dan’s ribs, and i was pleasantly surprised to receive a quite extensive thank-you letter from Dan referring to our conversation. I reproduce the letter below in its entirety (my highlights):

Hello Peter;

I don’t believe that I properly thanked you for your confidence in me to present to your truly important attendees at Innotribe. 

I tried to go a bit further over the edge of provocation and I hope that I did not go too far.  No sooner had we finished those amazing Innotribe sessions did the Occupy Wall Street movement largely validate much of your theme about a New Value movement.  It is almost scary to see our prediction that people will re-organize around new value and directly challenge financial currency with social current (currency). 

In addition, I learned tremendously at innotribe and my eyes were opened to many new ways of interpreting our goals. I have since updated much of my ongoing positions to reflect what I learned at Innotribe.  The Big Data sessions, DAG, and Craig Burton’s API work were especially moving for me. 

I believe that the time and technology are right for shifting factors of production away from Land, Labor, and Capital and toward Social, Creative, and Intellectual Assets.  We are developing a simple web app which I believe can catalyze this shift at a remarkable rate.  Please let me know if you would be willing to offer some comments or suggestions to this project. 

Thanks again and please extend my gratitude to Kostas for his wonderful hospitality.

Dan Robles

I am humbled and energized by encouragements like this and it goes without saying that i enthusiastically accept Dan’s invitation to comment on his project.

I also got several calls and reach-outs post-Sibos. From people who i spoke to some months ago about this Think Tank idea. And suddenly, all at the same time they want to talk about it again. It must have to so something with synchronicity. With emergence.

Somehow i feel like i have to take a big jump. Beyond the “classic” Innotribe events. Something bigger, with more impact on society. More depth and meaning.

Is it fear to jump ? Is it not being able to articulate it? And then – recently – somebody close to my heart wrote me:

i caught on to that from you, but you haven’t shared too much with me. it’s paradoxical that you talk about wanting depth and meaning, because you have come across as very closed to me when i see you in person… but maybe you are just distracted and focused? or maybe you are afraid to act as your true self in the swift/innotribe setting?

Am i just distracted and focused? I feel i am both.

  • Very focused – like i wrote about my intensity in “Silence, I am painting”.
  • Very distracted, as trying to keep-up with this information stream in my RSS feeds, the twitter stream, etc.
  • Very distracted, as i have probably 20 drafts of blog posts sitting ready to publish.
  • Very distracted, as i feel my creative energy becoming un-stoppable and ready to burst out something new, big, exciting, energizing, inspiring.

A colleague recently told me:

Peter, i think you need to re-connect with yourself.

Same thing. Fear to act as my true self in the swift/innotribe setting? Or in any setting ?

From time to time i use this blog to re-connect with myself. And to share some of these musings with you all out there.

In the hope that somebody reaches out. Shows me an open door.

Or like last week, reminds me that i am the “heavy artillery” when i think i have become persona-non-grata, because too deep, because too demanding and probably even more so because i don’t always live the values that i preach. Even rarely live them. And it is probably that what undermines trust. I expect trust and am surprised i don’t get it when i don’t live the values that i preach.

What suddenly stopped me in staying alive? Where have you see me changing?

My starting point for this blog in April 2009 was the realization that my mission was to “inspire others to dream”. Now i want to add emotion. In Dutch there is a word for this: “ontroering”. I tried to translate, and the closest i got was “thrill”.

Who wants to help me seeing clearly? Who wants to engage with me in this adventure? Who wants to help articulating what this New Values Movement is?

I am hungry for your feedback. Send me something in the comments of this blog post. Send me an email or DM me. And i need time to think.

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This post is a fifth in a series on personal digital identity. Part-1 “The unpolished diamond was published here in August 2010 and Part-2 ‘The Digital Identity Tuner” was published here in September 2010. Part-3 “Personal Data Something” was published here in December 2010. And part-4 “Austin-Munich-Toronto” was published in February 2011 here.

Drawing by Hugh MacLeod (@gapingvoid) during the Innotribe Deep Dive on Digital Identity, Sibos Toronto, September 2011.

That was February 2011. Since then a lot happened. I had so many rich discussions, met so many new fascinating people, and have been aroused by a deluge of new ideas on digital identity.  And my employer SWIFT gave the go-ahead for an incubation project on Digital Identity that is now called the “Digital Asset Grid”.

As I mentioned in my Innotribe Sibos report, the Digital Asset Grid (DAG) is important because:

  • We are moving from money bank to digital (asset) bank
  • The DAG is an infrastructure play for SWIFT to offer a certified pointer system pointing at the location of digital assets and the associated usage rights
  • It’s and economic imperative for SWIFT to expose its core competence via API’s
  • The DAG is a huge opportunity for SWIFT to be a key infrastructure player in offering an end to end hardened infrastructure and end-point to enable the seamless exchange of any sort of digital asset between any number of entities
  • This is also a huge opportunity for financial institutions to plug-in to this infrastructure for offering a new set of services in the data leverage space in un-regulated data market places

For me Digital Identity is so much more than your log-in, or our account-number that is backed by a Know-Your-Customer (KYC) process, or another userid/password or a security token.

I look at it a spectrum. Like you have a spectrum analysis for a star that uniquely identifies it, you can imagine a spectrum for the digital identity of persons:

Digital Identity Spectrum is everything from PKI, account#, Log-In to address, attributes, history, preferences, biometrics, reputation, risk profile, intentions, signals, etc and all this in transaction and time context.

It’s no co-incidence that Facebook recently announced “TimeLine”. Identity in time-context leads to your identity spectrum that is unique at one given time. And yes, you will be able to play it backwards like a movie, but also forward to do trend analysis and forecasting.

VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) is about sharing specific parts of my spectrum with specific vendor(s) in specific transaction context(s). In the Digital Asset Grid project we asked ourselves:

“What if we could apply the VRM principles not only to personal data but to any content, to any piece of information, to ANY digital asset?”

You could then start thinking about sharing specific parts of any digital assets with specific vendor(s) in specific transaction context(s).

In essence, what we are doing, is “weaving” digital contents with associated digital rights and who has the rights to that content.

It’s a map of digital weavings

of digital fabrics

This is how the Digital Asset Grid was born.

Is this not too consumer oriented for an organization like SWIFT? I believe this is the wrong question. The discussion “consumer vs. enterprise” has kept us blind. Same by all sorts of other customer segmentations like “small-medium-large”. In the identity ubiquity game, all this is segmentation is irrelevant.

We have to start thinking in terms of different sorts of entities that participate to the identity-dance. Those entities can be:

  • Person (humans)
  • Loose group of persons (for ex Google Circles), that have no legal construct
  • Commercial companies
  • Non-Profit companies
  • Governments
  • Educational institutions
  • Programs (code)

The last one – programs – is quite fundamental. We are witnessing the blurring between humans and computers. It smells like early singularity. And in this debate we should not only be concerned on how programs augment humans, but also how humans augment programs. But that is another more philosophical discussion, and some good reading on this can be found in the book “The Most Human Human” by Brian Christian. (Amazon Affiliate link)

Back to our Digital Asset Grid…

The vision of the Digital Asset Grid

is to move the SWIFT network and SWIFT services

from a closed, single-purpose, and messaging-based system

to an open, general-purpose, API-based system

It’s a natural evolution. That’s it. No disruption. No—“the next big thing.”

Just apply out-of-band our core competency to the modern age of connectivity. Instead of destabilizing the market by disruptive innovations, provide the basic infrastructure missing for a global transaction-based platform on the Internet.

Of course, its vision is grand, with plenty of innovative elements and thinking. Here are some examples how we move from the traditional identity “space” to the new “Digital Identity Grid”

I would like to zoom-in on one of the bullet points above: from one way request-response to full duplex dance.

The web – a collection of pages – is based on some simple request-response mechanisms. I request a page and the server responds and gives me the page. End of that transaction.

With the dataweb – a collection of Digital Assets with associated usage rights – we will need something where exchanging entities can perform a dance around and with the Digital Assets. And we want to be sure that they are who they say they are, and that they have the right usage rights to the digital assets. So we move from a two dimensional view of the world (in computer terms a “table”) to a multi-dimensional view (in computer terms a “graph”)

The Digital Asset Data Web is the next phase in the evolution of important internet stuff. It’s probably what comes next in the following series:

To continue the dance metaphor, the SWIFT infrastructure is the Dance Hall where entities meet to perform certain specific dances.

One of the many use cases for the Digital Asset Grid would be to solve compliance, In stead of moving messages from A to B, we keep the data where they are and “point” to them with SWIFT certified pointers to where the data are located and the associated usage rights.

The dance protocol (full duplex) for this use case, from opening of the dance with (a “webhook” in technical terms), to the actual picking-up of the content, and closing the dance and everything in-between, could look like something like this:

  • PartyA: “hey, I am sending a signal that I wanna dance the tango (slang for payment instructions) with any party in the Swift dance hall at 9pm”
  • PartyB: “yep, I wanna dance with you, let’s meet in the SWIFT dance hall at the bar”
  • PartyA: “ok, here we are, cool place ;-)”
  • PartyA: “Let’s get to business”
  • PartyA: “I just gave you following rights my payment instructions at this XRI: you have XDI pick-up rights”
  • PartyB: “ok, gotja. Will pick it up right away”
  • PartyB: “knock knock, I am coming to fetch those payment instructions”
  • PartyA: “let’s check if you have the usage rights….”
  • PartyA: “everything looks fine, go ahead”
  • PartyB: “loading, loading, loading…”
  • PartyB: “Ok I am done”
  • PartyA: “So am I”
  • PartyB: “tomorrow, same place same time to dance ?”
  • PartyA: “would love to 😉 9pm again ?”
  • PartyB: “sure, bye bye”
  • PartyA: “bye bye”

And, what’s really cool about it, it’s fully auditable, end-to-end.

When telling this story to one of my colleagues, I got the following reaction: “Hey, but you are changing the basic messaging paradigm of SWIFT… I am not sure that I want to support an innovation like this… one that is cutting off the branch from the tree I am sitting on…”

Here is something essential for innovation. Any innovation team in any company should not only look at some nitty-gritty small incremental innovations, but

daring to be great and to re-think

the cash cows of our companies

Like Guy Kawasaki used to say: “the best way to innovate is to set-up a company that is trying to kill your cash-cow”

All the above is about the infrastructure story that SWIFT could play in and in that sense is a bit navel staring. But the biggest opportunity however in all this is probably for banks, financial institutions, and new upcoming innovative financial service providers.

This is a HUGE opportunity to offer new digital services in non-regulated markets

Many examples and use-cases here :

  • Personal Data Lockers, Digital Asset Lockers, Digital Asset Services aka Digital Bank, « Who-touched-my-data » services, Personal Data Trading Platforms, Digital Asset Trading Platforms, Corporate and Bank Klout Services, Audit services, Tracking services, Big Data and Analytics services, EBAM, Corporate Actions, etc.
  • Also e-Wallets of all kinds. Not only « wallets » for money but wallets for all sorts of Digital Assets. An e-Wallet is nothing else than a browser on a personal money store. What if we start thinking a browser for a personal data (asset) store?
  • And I spoke recently to one of our managers in Securities Business : also there plenty of examples, even in looking at trading assets.

So far, the Digital Asset Grid was just the result of a research project at SWIFT. Today, I am very pleased to announce that the SWIFT Incubation Team just gave the green light to move this project in prototype stage.

It means that during Q1 2012, we’ll have a working prototype targeted at a specific use case, but we will expose the API’s of the infrastructure and give them in the hands of developers and challenge them to come up with some cools apps that can be built on top of this infrastructure.

A lot of the thinking in this blog is the condensation of a lot of teamwork of many many people who participated to this Digital Asset Grid project. With the risk of missing out somebody, I’d like to send out a digital invitation signal to those people for a thank-you dance in the SWIFT Dance Hall: Mary Hodder, Kaliya Hamlin, Doc Searls, Drummond Reed, Craig Burton, Andreas Weigend, Gary Thompson, Tony Fish, and also lurking-in Don Thibeau, Scott David, and Peter Hinssen.

I would like to say Thank you! Maybe with David Bowie’s 1983 hit “Let’s Dance”? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4d7Wp9kKjA

Let’s dance put on your red shoes and dance the blues
Let’s dance to the song they’re playin’ on the radio

Let’s sway while colour lights up your face
Let’s sway sway through the crowd to an empty space

If you say run, I’ll run with you
If you say hide, we’ll hide
Because my love for you
Would break my heart in two
If you should fall
Into my arms
And tremble like a flower

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Thank you, Steve !

I just opened my on-line newspaper, and there was Steve’s picture page wide.

Immediately felt something happened. Tears fill my eyes. I am moved by Steve’s passing away. That may sound strange from an ex-Microsoft employee, but it isn’t.

First of all, i am not religious.

Secondly, in my previous life, I had the privilege to spend some hours face to face with Bill Gates. I remember how much respect Bill showed for Steve. And i believe it was both ways. There is no doubt that both are great business men, as both have created a garage business into a two digit multi billion dollar business. Bill was unbelievable tense and sharp, and reading the press and publications, Steve was no different.

Both are great leaders. Both are great persons. Both are authentic. Both care about the world at large. But Steve had the charisma, and could time after time touch me emotionally with a every new product launch, quote, humor, “there is one more thing”, thinking differently, and celebrating the corporate rebels and the crazy ones:


We will have to miss all that. I am hungry for the next leader who can inspire me spiritually and emotionally, beyond the mere bottom-line.

Thank you, Steve. We will miss you. Farewell…

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Innotribe at Sibos is over. We had a lot of fun: as you can see from the Feel Good video below, all laughing faces.


From now on you can also re-enjoy those moments via Virtual Sibos, where ALL of the Innotribe session are now posted. Or check out some of the sessions you may have missed. You will need your MySibos account and password to access the Virtual Sibos site.

Once you are in, check the tab “conference”:

  • The sessions that took place in the Innotribe Space, can be found under “Innotribe Space”
  • We also had two “main conference sessions”: The Future of Money and the Innotribe Opening session. Those you can find under “conference sessions”

There is also some cool Innotribe material from Sibos TV that you can easily find via the Sibos.com home page:

As content curator for Innotribe at Sibos, I am already on my quest for speakers/ignitors and main themes for next year’s Sibos in Osaka.

I am indeed again in my painting and brainstorming mode, and the next couple of weeks I will attend a couple of smaller targeted conferences, where I hope I will find the inspiration for next year’s event. Of course, if you have ideas, don’t hesitate to drop them in the comments section of this blog post, or contact me directly. I am sure you will find me 😉

It was an honor to be your painter this year, and hope to see many of you back next year in Osaka.

I suggest you already reserve the dates: 29 October – 2 November 2012

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