Praise for the Business Plan This Serial Adapts, Updates and Expands On
From a 2004 email sent to the author of this serial by Amazon.com's first Director of Personalization:
Frank, I just spent about an hour surfing around your website with a bit of amazement. I run a little company . . . We are a team of folks who worked together at Amazon.com developing that company’s personalization and recommendations team and systems. We spent about 1.5 years thinking about what we wanted to build next. We thought a lot about online education tools. We thought a lot about classified ads and job networks. We thought a lot about reputation systems. We thought a bit about personalized advertising systems. We thought a lot about blogging and social networking systems. . . . I guess I’m mostly just fascinated that we’ve been working a very similar vein to the one you describe, without having a solid name for it (we call it ‘the age of the amateur’ or ‘networks of shared experiences’ instead of CLLCS [i.e., customized lifelong learning and career services], but believe me, we are talking about the same patterns and markets, if not in exactly the same way). Thanks for sharing what you have—it's fascinating stuff.
From 2013 book Who Owns the Future?, by Jaron Lanier:
A tiny website with no financing, but just the right design at just the right time, just might grow like Facebook did, changing the world. It might be something like a social network where people are encouraged to pay each other for contributions from the very start [e.g., using virtual currency earned initially by performing tasks that yield public goods for the social network]. . . . [The] startup can introduce a new template for personal activity that can evolve to have the key benefits of a job even though it isn't called a job.
. . . Ordinary people will initially start to earn a little when others are interested by their tweets, blogs, social network updates, videos, and the like. This will not in itself generate enough business to transform the economy, but it will serve a crucial transitional, educational function. People will become used to the idea of looking online for opportunities to earn real wealth.
. . . From a Wall Street perspective, the heretofore unacknowledged but valuable contributions of ordinary individuals will finally be counted in the cloud. That will mean that finance can be built on all that people do to create value in the network age. Suddenly investors will be making money from having bet on a confederacy of bloggers . . .
Time magazine named Jaron Lanier one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2010. His 2010 book You Are Not a Gadget was named one of the 10 best books of the year by Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times. In 2005 Lanier was selected as one of the top one hundred public intellectuals in the world by readers of Prospect and Foreign Policy magazines. From 1997 to 2001 Lanier was the Chief Scientist of Advanced Network and Services, which contained the Engineering Office of Internet2. From 2001 to 2004 he was a Visiting Scientist at Silicon Graphics. He was a Scholar at Large for Microsoft from 2006 to 2009, and has been a Partner Architect at Microsoft Research from 2009 forward.
From the December 2013 cover story of The Atlantic magazine:
What happens when Big Data meets human resources? The emerging practice of “people analytics” is already transforming how employers hire, fire, and promote.
. . . Perhaps the most exotic development in people analytics today is the creation of algorithms to assess the potential of all workers, across all companies, all the time.
. . . Gild [is] a company that uses people analytics to help other companies find software engineers.
. . . The way Gild arrives at . . . scores [for ranking coders] is not simple. The company’s algorithms begin by scouring the Web for any and all open-source code, and for the coders who wrote it. They evaluate the code for its simplicity, elegance, documentation, and several other factors, including the frequency with which it’s been adopted by other programmers. For code that was written for paid projects, they look at completion times and other measures of productivity. Then they look at questions and answers on social forums such as Stack Overflow, a popular destination for programmers seeking advice on challenging projects. They consider how popular a given coder’s advice is, and how widely that advice ranges.
The algorithms go further still. They assess the way coders use language on social networks from LinkedIn to Twitter; the company has determined that certain phrases and words used in association with one another can distinguish expert programmers from less skilled ones. Gild knows these phrases and words are associated with good coding because it can correlate them with its evaluation of open-source code, and with the language and online behavior of programmers in good positions at prestigious companies.
Here’s the part that’s most interesting: having made those correlations, Gild can then score programmers who haven’t written open-source code at all, by analyzing the host of clues embedded in their online histories. They’re not all obvious, or easy to explain. Vivienne Ming, Gild’s chief scientist, told me that one solid predictor of strong coding is an affinity for a particular Japanese manga [i.e., comics] site.
. . . Gild’s CEO, Sheeroy Desai, told me he believes his company’s approach can be applied to any occupation characterized by large, active online communities, where people post and cite individual work, ask and answer professional questions, and get feedback on projects.
. . . Over time, better job-matching technologies are likely to begin serving people directly, helping them see more clearly which jobs might suit them and which companies could use their skills. In the future, Gild plans to let programmers see their own profiles and take skills challenges to try to improve their scores. It intends to show them its estimates of their market value, too, and to recommend coursework that might allow them to raise their scores even more. Not least, it plans to make accessible the scores of typical hires at specific companies, so that software engineers can better see the profile they’d need to land a particular job.
. . . [W]e’re headed toward a labor market that’s fairer to people at every stage of their careers.
. . . This process is just beginning. Online courses are proliferating, and so are online markets that involve crowd-sourcing. Both arenas offer new opportunities for workers to build skills and showcase competence.
. . . Google’s understanding of the promise of analytics is probably better than anybody else’s, and the company has been changing its hiring and management practices as a result of its ongoing analyses. (Brainteasers are no longer used in interviews, because they do not correlate with job success; GPA is not considered for anyone more than two years out of school, for the same reason—the list goes on.)
. . . One only has to look to baseball, in fact, to see where this all may be headed. In their forthcoming book, The Sabermetric Revolution, the sports economist Andrew Zimbalist and the mathematician Benjamin Baumer write that the analytical approach to player acquisition employed by Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s has continued to spread through Major League Baseball. Twenty-six of the league’s 30 teams now devote significant resources to people analytics.
From an October 29, 2013 article in The New York Times:
To be accredited, universities have had to base curriculums on credit hours and years of study. The seat-time system—one based on the hours spent in the classroom—is further reinforced by Title IV student aid: to receive need-based Pell grants or federal loans, students have had to carry a certain load of credits each semester.
. . . In March of this year, the Department of Education invited colleges to submit programs for consideration under Title IV aid that do not rely on seat time. In response, public, private and for-profit institutions alike have rushed out programs that are changing the college degree in fundamental ways; they are based not on time in a course but on tangible evidence of learning, a concept known as competency-based education.
. . . Frederick M. Hurst, who directs Northern Arizona University's new Personalized Learning Program, says that competency transcripts do a better job of communicating a graduate's value to employers.
From an August 2013 essay by Paul Graham, co-founder of leading “startup accelerator” Y Combinator:
Experienced investors are well aware that the best ideas are also the scariest.
From 2008 book Terror and Consent — The Wars for the Twenty-First Century, by Philip Bobbitt:
“We are entering the transition from one constitutional order to another—from the nation state to the market state. . . . In part, this is a matter of shifting the basis for the state's legitimacy away from assuring mass welfare and towards maximizing individual opportunity and by adopting methods of warfare and defense unavailable to the nation states.
. . . For example, poverty is to be alleviated by providing the poor with education and job retraining . . . rather than by giving them welfare payments.
. . . [P]oliticians and their publics will have a greater need for intelligence estimates . . . [M]arket states will want to use the market—including the markets in information . . . Only this can possibly enable the intelligence community to cope with the dizzying increase in the number of targets and subjects that it must identify, develop, track, and analyze.”
“What is wanted in the current era for the great mass of [intelligence] reporting is a network of well-connected and thoroughly vetted persons who are linked by secure Internet sites but who are no more than stringers, paid by the item.”
“We must be able to achieve greater intimacy between analysts and collectors [e.g., spies]. Only then can collectors explain the availability and quality of sources and analysts can ask for missing pieces.”
Philip Bobbitt is the Director of the Center for National Security at Columbia University. He has served in both Democratic and Republican administrations as a senior official at the White House, the State Department, and the National Security Council, where his positions included Director for Intelligence and Senior Director for Strategic Planning.
From 2011 book The Art of Immersion — How the Digital Generation Is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue and the Way We Tell Stories:
“An artistic movement, albeit an organic and as-yet-unstated one, is forming,” David Shields writes in Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, a  book whose truth to its time is underscored by the gleeful way it samples from other sources.
. . . We know this much: people want to be immersed. They want to get involved in a story, to carve out a role for themselves, to make it their own. But how is the author supposed to accommodate them? . . . And how do we handle the blur—not just between fiction and fact, but between author and audience, entertainment and advertising, story and game? A lot of smart people—in film, in television, in video games, in advertising, in technology, even in neuroscience—are trying to sort out these questions.
VERY IMPORTANT: This serial describes a threat to wealth creators that is likely to develop soon. If the threat develops, it will be a result of certain online markets becoming popular. This serial is designed to expedite the launch and popularization of these markets. An implication: this serial will not showcase readers until appropriate security measures are in place (e.g., showcased readers are referenced by their chosen alias, and a secure mapping of aliases to identities allows readers to reveal the mapping selectively). To receive alerts about these measures, subscribe to this email list.
Related note: Alias maps will be among the measures used to protect users of said markets.
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