With two versions of the web-app not reaching public quality in 2015 and 2016, a third was begun in summer 2017.
Two posts were written and posted on Medium, because Ecosquared represents a potential business model for Medium itself.
The third update will be posted on Medium too, but it will be shared via the Ecosquared platform.
The ecosquared.info site is an archive of the early explorations of the Ecosquared system, and might host Help videos for the web-app. Please use the contact form if you’d like to take part in the alpha release.
Applications open to join our test-team: input your details here.
Essentially, business is a trust game, and for this we propose a trust-metric, a social accounting system simpler to use than money.
In Ecosquared, money is only ever held by individuals; there is no ‘pot’ of money to argue over. And there is no set hierarchical structure of positions to justify or protect. As a result, you have the power to contribute as you see fit, with money and effort.
Start off as a test-user, and there’s nothing stopping you leading a soft-launch partnership with Ecosquared by summer 2017.
- You are first and foremost open-minded;
- you align word & deed in your daily activity;
- you are not afraid of taking steps in a new direction;
- you see a need for deep change globally and locally;
- you can feedback on UX until it works.
Of the 16% of our revenue earmarked for our usership, we are cordoning off 1% for our active test-users. When we hit $-billions, our first 1000 active test-users will get from $1,000 to $1,000,000.
Apply to test-case the world’s first trust-metric, and make history.
After a long rather slow slog, Martin has secured investment. Hurrah. Not for the full amount, so Kevin has applied for government matched funding which will take a further two months. Baseline fact — we have enough to produce a beta version while upgrading the UX so that prototype is smoother. Whatever happens, we will have a better app at the end of this.
We have tentative relationships with paying use-cases at Find-a-Player, allthing.io, and Perth & Kinross Council. Only a few, since we are still spending most of our time on development; I’ve got a few months to attract a few other players, eg a charity, and a working prototype will greatly help with that. So, we need to drag the current prototype into shape. We’re working on implementing the Projects function to enable team formation for gratitude tracking, while making rudimentary wallet structure and security features to enable use in the public wild-lands. ETA within a month.
Though the web-app is by invitation only, do join in.
For the beta, we are hiring a talented UI Designer, Martina. We have one team who will be taking prototype to beta, using MEAN development stack, Artem and Tim, and another who are working on a .NET version from scratch, Sonya and Nicola; we will decide which fork makes sense a month in to development. Jorge will be managing migration from prototype to beta, while concentrating on creating the bitcoin wallet system, coding the SQ algorithm, and working with system admin and security expert Maxi to create world-class security.
We’ve also attracted Marc, an incredible pluralist artist, to conceive and ground a minimal project design for a mobile display — a task I have found to be beyond me — and with Martina I am sure we can come up with a UX which demonstrates the future development path of the web-app beyond the basic Ecosquared beta. We’ve got a pair of eyes on the potential native mobile app development path, Dave, and another on the whole tech development side. Of course we have Martin ensuring dots and crosses are consummately executed on the finance side, and I, David, get to fret endlessly as project manager, designer, founder.
Doesn’t feel like play yet. Once we get the prototype to minimal standard, with a full complement of functions, I think I may start being able to play. For example, I gifted the web-app to a teenager, Anna, yesterday. Not only did I experiment with gifting a thing via SMS — it works, Jorge, thanks! — she was able to accept and complete registration on the iphone — wow, Artem, good work whatever you did! Ok, Anna was not particularly phased by the notion of receiving money with her gift, more a teenage shrug versus the up-in-arms shock induced in most adults, but she was soon directing her mother on how to use the app correctly.
Play will occur when the interface becomes so natural, that the potential playing field beyond the tool attracts curiosity. At some point in history, the notion of using a racket to hit a ball around was totally alien. Of course we’ve thrown stuff around since year dot, cavemen probably played catch with bones. But a racket? Animal gut stretched across a space? I mean… totally alien. But, once the alienness of it was overcome, the effect on hitting a ball is quite natural. Completely useless in its own right, really. We need a frame, a court, rules, a game.
Sure, we can outline a few rules for Ecosquared, but without actually playing with the web-app the lines drawn out are almost arbitrary. We need to play around with the prototype. Early adopters — scratch that — early pioneers, designers, social creatives, the first people and groups to use the prototype will begin getting a measure of what it can do. Then, we will be able to evolve some social rules or conventions, and thus define web-app configurations for a real game. Then, and only then, will we have the kind of play that brings our humanity to excellence. Socially. Played meaningfully in teams of ten or less, and yet interscalable to millions or billions of us, just like our current, traditional, 3,000 year-old economic game.
A tool that enables us to excel at collaboration. Ecosquared, inviting our future genius.
First bona fide pitch to investors. New for them, and new for me too. I have plenty of experience with world premiere’s, at least in educational terms. I present ways of thinking, concepts, and so on, to kids in mathematics classes. Yes, most of the concepts are known, most from the last few hundred years, nevertheless they are new and fresh to the listeners. An Ecosquared pitch is a world premiere for first time listeners.
From an introduction by Michelle at Business Gateway, Finlay listened to Ecosquared and invited me to Perth & Kinross’ Angel’s Share event. There were five companies pitching, ranging from a website that enables group booking (nice solution), a lighting company producing back-lit tiles and a zero-volt supply system (cool tech), a craft distillery (very professional set up), and an electronic tagging system using NFC (a clear future market for this). And Ecosquared, the value-tracking app.
how d’it go?
I gave myself a 4 out of 10. My lawyer said it was excellent, and the LINC representative thought so too, and the gateway investor who gave us a Pitch Perfect training day last week also thought it was great. I gave myself a 4 because although it went well enough, it didn’t bring the audience close enough to the actual WOW of what Ecosquared is. I believe that if I can do that, a quality of response will be evoked. Literally, an inspiration. If we get that, we get investors signing up.
Let’s be clear about this. It is not putting down my skills. Not at all. It’s about the challenge of heightening listening such that people can perceive A) what ecosquared is and B) the potential within our reach. I don’t provide a vision. Or at least, I point out enough that the vision occurs to the listener. The connection is made in the listener’s mind, not mine. And I am not ‘making’ this connection in their head either.
I gave myself a 4 because I crossed the boundary, and mixed my vision with their perception. Does this make sense? Actually, it doesn’t need to — what matters is that people see its potential, and when they do, they can’t help but be amazed by what they see. The true inspiration is in their mind. This is not an esoteric point — it goes to the heart of Ecosquared: can Ecosquared deliver a non-intrusive rating system? It’s not about pushing, and advertising, and shouting; it’s about listening, valuing, and acting on one’s values, whether lolcat amusement last week or political votes once every 4 years.
I had a few conversations with investors afterwards. Some were impressed enough to suggest they would like to share Ecosquared with a few associates. Others were still struggling with the premise of Ecosquared, specifically the Gift-Mechanism. We talked a little, and I will follow it up with sharing the mathematical model of the GM. The math is solid; I’ve no problem with that. It’s the debate around the psychology which is the issue.
I’ll also be sharing the prototype with them. Very close to tying up the FE to the BE for today, but couldn’t quite. Looks like Friday. I am a great believer in experiential learning, whether it is learning to ride a bike, or algebra, or Ecosquared. My only worry about the prototype is that people won’t be able to see beyond the rather clunky interface. Like the first cars appeared noisy and smelly, so it took some enthusiasts to see beyond that and to exploit its actual function.
Best result of the day? Finlay at the end mentioned that the guy doing the photos — constantly crawling around throughout the whole 3 hour period — said it was ‘amazing’. For some reason, I find that has brought me the biggest sense of satisfaction. Of course I’d love for the investors to love my presentation and invest in Ecosquared — and I hope they will! Nevertheless, there is something very satisfying about hearing a positive response from an oblique angle, from someone who couldn’t help but be engaged. What do you think? Is my observation misplaced?
Get working prototype — if you want to test it, stick your email in the landing page — ecosquared.co.uk
Respond to any invitations to speak to investors, through LINC or otherwise.
I’d rather keep presentation to a minimum just now. Once we get £60k, have a working beta app by the end of summer, I will be happy about shouting it from the rooftops. For now, dealing with the shocked response in people is… not realised fully in a positive sense. Yes people are engaged and interested, but they are often overwhelmed as they try to simulate it in their own minds; the mental furniture of the current economic system gives little room for manouver. And I have noticed, beyond the genuinely open-minded, quite often the more intelligent the person is, the more contradictions it triggers, whether investors or intellectuals. Then again, flight is a rather tricky thing to get your head around, as is a bicycle if you think about it — certainly before a century ago, such things were simply flights of fancy.
Steve Jobs called a computer ‘a bicycle for the mind‘ — hear it in his own words. Ecosquared is a social bicycle. £60k gives the world an accountable, enumerated gift-economic a go.
It has taken a season to vet lawyers and accountants and assemble all the pieces for a business proposal. Could it be faster? Of course, but not given the current financial landscape and my lack of qualifications (being a math teacher doesn’t open up a world of connections in the adult world…). That’s three months of no income. I’ve read about other start-ups that haven’t had revenue for a couple of years, and they even have the audacity to promote a ‘lean’ business methodology. That’s not lean, that’s starvation-lean! And since they are heralded as successful on linkedin, it means they are being patronised by a parent company, and for me that’s cheating.
In business speak, I am now investor ready. Now it involves facing risk, or the perception of risk.
some basic math
The history of risk makes for fascinating reading, eg Against the Odds. I have always been drawn to the particular conceptual framework around probability. Three things stand out. First, teaching young minds probability is a real eye-opener. Any adult takes for granted that flipping a coin produces a 50/50 chance, getting an Ace of Spades 1/52. But this wasn’t God-given; this is mathematical application, and it doesn’t come naturally to young minds. Why not? Second, probability is contained within statistics, and I hate statistics since it is overly applied and misapplied. Third Bayes Theorem, something I have dived into over the years, and still have not been able to ‘tame’.
At the core of probability is time, at least for the applications that attract my attention. It is the perception of future events, a way to enumerate possible futures to help guide present decisions. This is fine for certain mechanical systems, eg cards shuffled in a deck. But not that useful for a system which involves consciousness. Just look at the Prisoner’s Dilemma, and thats a simple case. Its the capacity of participants to second-guess outcomes which elevates such systems beyond the complexity of purely mechanical systems. Whether it is a class of kids, or investors playing on the stock market, complex dynamics. Chaos Theory 101.
what is a business plan, after all?
It took me months before I realised what it is, or at least half of it is. Costs. A business plan is primarily a summary of future costing. It is the basic burn-rate of a company over the coming year, at least. That’s half of it. The other half is smoke-and-mirrors.
Whatever anyone says, a business plan attempt to forecast future adoptive behaviour — will people buy the thing or not? Sure, if your company is a new brand of ice-cream, there’s reasonable data out there to base your figures on; stock only one line on the shelf versus three wide, will influence whether the tub is picked up or not. But introducing the very notion of ice-cream is quite another — Steven Johnson’s mentions this in his excellent series which also makes for fascinating viewing.
When it comes to innovation, genuine market-creation, forecasting adoption figures is entirely speculative. Appreciation of risk is nowhere near a mechanical affair. And yet, it may have an equivalent level of simplicity to it, especially when faced with lack of evidence.
so how does an investor decide what to invest in?
I only know one bone fide entrepreneur who managed to win £110k from an investor match funded by Welsh government after months of stressing; within the year, the money was gone and he had established his original invention wasn’t viable — and he was going for a second round! A consequence of our current enterprise system is that once people invest, especially government bodies, it is hard to pull out until they get their return. Which results in investors and governments being reluctant to enter an investment relationship in the first place, introducing more checks and compliance tests at the outset, thus inflating initial costs. A nasty feedback loop.
This is biggest problem, as all entrepreneurs know, the stepped investment route. Originally, I asked for £30k, but this has grown to £60k, and it has been suggested I put together a £125k business proposal to reach the ‘lower boundary’ entry for VC’s. Again, what happens is that while the vast majority of entrepreneurs are ‘genuine’, wily ‘serial entrepreneurs’ know how to stay on the treadmill, just look at this outrageous trail of mayhem.
The consequence? The entrepreneurial scene, for investors, is like the stock-market. Few invest in the actual product or service of a company, it is merely a numbers game where stock goes up and down. The only difference being, perhaps, investors are betting on people, not companies. More like horse-racing gamblers than poker-players. And as a 45 year old ex-math teacher, I’m not the youngest horse in the paddock.
ok, what’s the simple answer?
It comes down to this: Has it been done before? If not, can it be tested, and how much will that cost?
Ecosquared is simple. Very very simple. And it is entirely natural. Given our current state of institutionalisation, however, it appears ‘counter-intuitive’ to the point that it is invisible. I watched Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto last weekend again, for all its flaws it is a truly remarkable blockbuster; have you come across the invisible ships proposition? A Gift-Economic evokes a similar response from members of a 3,000 year culture based on a transaction-economic.
First and foremost, it takes an acute mind to see Ecosquared. Certainly, I have found paper to be a terrible medium; however, I do find that everyone I engage ‘gets it’ in person. Still, this requires effort because it is mistakenly understood as ‘an idea’ rather than ‘a tool’. Once we get a prototype, and people experience it, even a child will get it — why? because we all grew up in a gift-economic, its entirely natural.
Second and more importantly, it takes courage to appreciate it. For an intellectual, this means admitting how new it is. Experts find this hard because they make their living based on what they do know. For an investor, this means acting on it, ie investing.
Most investors want to know how they are going to get their money back. Which is entirely reasonable for most kinds of investment — new brands of ice-cream say. However, with market-creation, as we have shown above, the rules are different.
We got first prototype running for under £1500, and I use it to track my engagement with people. Didn’t turn the light bulb on with investors. So, approaching the end of £3k and close to second version prototype. It will be clunky, chances of it going viral are slim, but it will reveal a glimmer of its potential. To the right people this will be enough. Enough for a £60k experiment which might show a greater acceleration than any bit of technology in history.
And besides, in a gift-economic, risk is a misplaced factor. I will leave that for another post to describe.
Using a relative-value algorithm, SEA (similar to Google Page Rank), social accounting is simply a matter of tracking subjective enumeration. Value is enumerated by each person, and it is not ‘abstracted’ or ‘shared’ or ‘transacted’. Reading this article, for example, you evaluate it as 3 out of 10. This is just one evaluation out of all the evaluations the reader comes up with during a day’s living, whether it is enumerating the contribution of colleagues, foodstuffs, even the weather if they want. Thus, the reader accumulates a ratio of subjective enumerations. By applying the relative-value algorithm, a ‘priority list’ of evaluations is derived — without any external bias. In a pure p2p network, there is no ‘objective’ or ‘externalised’ enumeration, and thus no currency. It really is as simple as this; it worked for google, and made the internet navigable.
how do you go about evaluating?
Let us look more closely at how a person evaluates. In the example above, the reader gives the article a value of 3 out of 10. What are they estimating to have a value of 3?
- the reader is rating the article
- the reader is rating the article’s author
- the reader is rating their reading of the article
These three interpretations derive the quality of economics. In the first, the reader is evaluating a thing, in the second a person, in the third, their own experience. The first interpretation encourages the thinking that all subjective enumerations of the article can be totalled up and an average value derived, much like the totals for eg Amazon seller. The second interpretation is the operating interpretation of ecosquared, which emphasises the importance of a pure p2p evaluation system; things like articles and foodstuffs and so on conform to a resource economy primary based on sharing. The third interpretation essentially tracks gratitude.
All three are valid, and books will be written to share how one goes about evaluating one’s subjective enumeration. After all, some evaluations will lead us to saving this planet from environmental disaster, and other evaluations will continue the degradation. As a pure value-game, it is left up to each and every individual, as it should be for a p2p system.
where does money fit in?
To shift from our current system of an externalised unidimensional accounting system, that is money, to a multi-dimensional social accounting in a pure p2p system, we need to examine the parameters of our current economics. Money has evolved from a basic coupling of number-thing, and yet it is only functional in time, eg using the £10 I received yesterday to pay for something today. Because the basic application of number to social accountancy in money does not contain ‘time’, various ‘add-ons’ have evolved such as interest and compound interest, and with the application of negative number, our current economics is unstable. MTTP, or Money-Time-Trust-Protocol, decouples money-thing and replaces it with money-time, eg £10 is roughly equivalent to an hour. Money thus becomes “well behaved” in a mathematical sense.
Thus, we can invite people to co-create value using the MTTP social contract whether £10 for an hour or £100 for a day or £1000 for a week and so on. It performs the same function as ’employment’: participants have a guaranteed source of income. Notice, there is no bounded entity, no company or government or organisation; MTTP is a purely p2p protocol. The relationships of dyadic p2p contracts constitutes the economic structure of the network. Once the value is produced, and if this attracts money (ie is ‘sold’ using traditional economic parlance), the money attracted is distributed by the ratio of subjective enumeration of each participant member, via the Subjective-Enumeration-Algorithm described above.
The actual algorithm for tracking subjective enumeration looks something like this:
(where V is the value of any person i, d is the “damping factor”, N the total number of people, M the set of people who evaluate person i, the value of Pj at time t)
Check out the math in this document, for both MTTP and SEA.
current p2p foundation engagement
These two protocols/algorithms establish a pure p2p economics, social accountancy with no organisational boundary, no centralised or abstracted authority, and it works for small groups or an entire planet of co-creation. Inherent in this system is the subtlety to educate people to evaluate ‘correctly’ if we wish to engender a sustainable global situation.
Having engaged Tiberius Brastaviceanu of Sensorica, the solutions presented here undercut the level of complexity his community is dealing with. Tiberius is employing a characteristically engineering methodology to the problem of social accounting, attempting to specify all the factors to evaluate an objectively fair % distribution of ‘value exchange’. Who determines the right factors and their evaluations? If there is any ‘externalised’ or ‘authoritative group’, then it is not a pure p2p system and politics rears its ugly head, which is why Sensorica are still struggling with deriving their accounting system that everyone is happy with. Imagine this expanded to the global level. No, the accounting system must be a pure p2p system, as efficient — and perhaps more so — than our current p2p system that is purely based on the unidimensional currency that is money.
GIFT is the name of the book that describes the financial protocols in a fictional narrative.
Conceived at the end of December 2012, structured in January, written through February to May, then edited June and July.
Invitations are going out to those people named in the book, for them to edit or remove their names completely from the manuscript.
Readers, editors, designers, promoters, all welcome.
Our current system favours the talker, the entertainer, the wilful person, the persuader, the extrovert and so on. Although we have come a long way, I am fairly convinced the amount of money that flows to those we really value is not high enough.
I have not heard anyone say anything that is outwith the current economic paradigm that isn’t literally about giving things away for free, eg freecycle, various share movements, and all sparked (at least in the last few decades) by programmers sharing code. But the current system can go on quite happily, money laundering its way through the degradation of the natural world, while a bunch of people “buck” the system. It tolerates sharing within the family, for example; it tolerates a certain amount of political and even economic dissension.
An alternative economics, one based on giving — and yet still using money we use nowadays — will produce a different social effect, which may enabling us to be generous, for example, and to value that which we hold dear to us the most: our loved ones, the environment; listeners, contemplators, quiet, loving, careful, open-minded, equanimous people.
designing the happening-hangout
If such an alternative economy exists, the way to prove it, is to test it. That’s the point of the ‘happening hangout’. So, if we set up the happening hangout to reflect us well, and the moneyflow ends up with those we individually and uniquely value; that is, the facilitators get ‘paid’, and more people want to take part. We need to get a result in one hour. I am going to give the experiment a test run of four happening-hangouts, with the end-goal that we have 1,000 people who are wanting to ‘play’ for £10-hour. That means, we are making a collective decision about £10,000 on a weekly basis.
Is this possible? And if so, how?
The question that may come to my mind is, which way does the money go? Does this sound like an odd question to you? It may be, but can we answer it anyway: does the money go outward or inward? Does it go out to the people who are joining it last, or inwards to the people who host, who have done this before?
Traditionally, money goes to the centre, it centralises to kings, governments, banks, companies. Does this suggest that in our alternative economy the money actually goes outwards to the periphery, branching to more and more people, that it becomes diluted…? If this moneyflow was to ever coallesce again, then it would be done by peripheral individuals redirecting the money to those people who they thought deserved it, people they valued. This, actually, is a variation of the Invitational-Protocol.
I am not sure at what stage we are at in the world, whether we can initiate such an IP with the first happening-hangouts. It may be more sensible to think of it as a trust game where participants are inviting the facilitators to play the game, like inviting a referee to steward a football game. Once an activity is decided on, the moneyflow goes to where it has been decided. The fact that it does indicates the trust we have in the facilitators. It is important that all MTTP flows onwards to other people, and the facilitators never take any out for themselves. Their payment must rely on the consequence of the social result of the event.
parameters of experimentation for ha-ha’s
Imagining a state where happening-hangouts are actively springing up with thousands of players, what will distinguish ha-ha’s will be the different flavours of experimentation, whether they are geo-local, what protocols the facilitators use in their engagement, the overal timing of the hangout, and the external apps used like quora, the direction of money-flow, the ‘objective’ of the ha-ha, and so on.
When inviting a bunch of people to a meal, we want to cater for different tastes. My brother had a rule-of-thumb, relying on a few stable dishes he knew how to cook, and add an experimental dish. A level of experimentation is encouraged for every hangout.
If there are enough of us playing these games, we will hone in on few distinct systems that enable different results in the real world. The important thing is that the feedback loop to determine what works is determined not by thinking, but by social impact. In this way, we do no try to ‘isolate parts’, specific people, specific protocols, specific numbers of people. It is very much a ‘wholeness’, and what solutions we evolve are systemic, not at the level of any individual part.
But this is jumping the gun. We definitely need to produce the first set of ha-ha’s that simply work — as good as, if not better than ‘working’ in a company structure.
phase development of ha^2 as interlocking s-curves
Phase zero is coming up with the idea.
Phase one is sharing it, and seeing what people say, who is interested, feedback, gentle awareness. Conversational. This is the stage we are at now. This attracts potential designers, facilitators and contributors, and is on-going in subsequent phases since the entire process is open.
Phase two is inviting the self-selecting team to design the basic DNA of the first ha^2. Who are into open design? Who independently see value in their vision of what the ha-ha could be? What is the basic DNA of the first ha^2? It’s dealing with the mechanics, the software, as well as provisional design of hangout engagement between facilitators, and so on. This will continue as an iterative cycle of evolution in subsequent phases, but we need to have a provisional first game fit for play.
Phase three is the actual embodied experiment. This will require the designers and the facilitators to commit to one or all of the first run of happening-hangouts. Provisionally, it will be a run of four ha-ha’s. We will need some people who are connected enough within a network that by their invitation, we get plenty of people to trial the system. We can not enter into this phase unless we have all the necessary players.
Phase four, what to do if it works? In order for us to enable this, the first website design must have a provisional plan for growth. That is, for example, the ability for participants to start hosting their own ha-ha’s and allow their networks to crowd-fund them. This may even involve ‘companies’ at some stage using this platform.
The first phase arose over a few weeks, engagement with people like John Kellden, Gregory Esau, Joris Claeys, Bert-Ola Bergstrand. The second was sparked inadvertently a week ago with Michael Maranda which has led to an open, though not particularly well-crafted, invitation. Some incredible engagements with people, like Alex Gagnon, Alexandre Enkerli, Willi Schroll, Anna Blume, Joe Breskin, Grizwald Grim, Susan Cox, and Michael Layne Hartsell. As usual, this is piece-meal. Those who happen upon it, who recommend, who are interested. I will give this period a couple of more weeks. I will be calling for phase two mid-July, and the actual trial to start in August. However, this may all slide since it is summer, so that the experiment is conducted in September. We’ll see, depends on whether there are enough open-designers (which reminds me of meta-designer John Wood) who catch the vibe.
OK, this is rough, but it is amusing to think that I have actually done this — walked into businesses and presented ideas framed in the MTTP (Money-Time-Trust-Protocol) contract.
At the end of the meeting, the person is usually amazed. They have received a new idea they may use in their business, have had a super-interesting discussion, and they end up with more money than they came with.
I tried this with advertising companies and got very close to money-flow. Nobody I spoke to, however, saw the potential for using this methodology when approaching their potential new clients. Not yet at least. The idea of giving away your ideas seems to go counter ‘pitching’ and competing and owning. Once people get it though, it may turn the business world upside down, just like open-source half-did on the internet. This time, it is in the real world with anything.