Doc Searls on the Intention Economy
Mar 11 2013

Doc Searls, author of The Intention Economy and head of Project VRM at Harvard University's Berkman Center talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the how the relationship between buyers and sellers might evolve as the internet evolves. Searls imagines a world where buyers would advertise their intentions and desires and sellers would respond with offers. Other topics discussed include Google and Apple's business strategies and the role of the cable and telephone companies in providing access to the internet.

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Explore audio transcript, further reading that will help you delve deeper into this week’s episode, and vigorous conversations in the form of our comments section below.


Jimmy Raynor
Mar 11 2013 at 10:02am

Hi, Russ. Any thoughts about making an episode on Armen A. Alchian with David Henderson? It would be a damn shame to miss this perfect opportunity to pay a tribute to this outrageously underestimated genius in economics.

Robert W
Mar 11 2013 at 12:05pm

@38m Isn’t the problem simply that cabled fast internet is a natural monopoly due to the massive fixed costs of rolling out the network?

Mar 11 2013 at 12:53pm

Robert W – Maybe, but we haven’t let it operate as a natural monopoly (as opposed to a state sponsored monopoly) long enough to know if there’s a technological solution that might be created by potential new entrants.

Mar 11 2013 at 4:01pm

So many great topics – that could easily be their own podcasts.

Why is American internet so slow and expensive?

Just got back from several years living and working in UK and EU. My Virgin internet was approaching 100 MB and $60 USD/month. This was the fastest plan among a half dozen ISP’s available in my area.

In the US the only ISP in my area is Cox and Verizon(DSL). My Cox internet approaches 50 MB and is $100/mo. This is the fastest internet available in my area.

You would think with even more regulation in UK/EU the prices would not be 50% lower with 50% higher internet speeds but you would be wrong.

Same with Mobile internet – the prices are generally 50% lower with faster internet speeds.

Is innovation being held back in the US by internet pricing? If so why? Why are there only 2 ISP’s available in most of the US? If the fixed cost argument explained it – what about UK / EU? what about mobile internet?

I don’t know the answers – but I have this feeling America does not have the best markets for broadband.

Mar 11 2013 at 4:28pm

Do-Not-Track (DNT) – my browser supports it but no first, second, or third party online advertising / behavior tracking / company will actually do anything with these headers.

To opt out of tracking you still have to opt-in to a no-tracking cookie from multiple vendors then when you delete your cookies you are opted back in. What is it going to take to get online marketers to respect DNT headers?

If online marketers cannot respect (agree to support) DNT headers how are they going to handle / respect customer data API’s?

The future Doc Searls speaks of with Customer Intent Signaling is no doubt on it’s way – and unless you and me start to really care about privacy, choice, and information reciprocity we are going to be trading in a whole lot of freedom for it.

Amren Miller
Mar 11 2013 at 5:02pm

This is PERFECT. I’ve been contemplating this whole idea for quite some time. With our superior modern technology, we in fact do have the ability to gauge demand before supply and make our entire economy a whole lot more efficient. Gone will be the spaghetti approach to the economy, (throwing it against the wall and seeing if it sticks). But I have had an idea that is perhaps going beyond just economics. It would be called Economy 2.0, where you can superimpose a map of the economy over Google maps or some such thing, and model a whole lot more in the process, including lifestyle changes to different cities. Without going overboard and creating a cult, where people have too much control over businesses and are able to bankrupt whole companies based on this information, this could be great news for all societies. It will come though.

Jim Feehely
Mar 11 2013 at 11:24pm

Hi Russ,

As a contracts lawyer, it has always bothered me the way contractual relationships are bastardised on the web with buyers having to ‘agree’ to conditions that, as you say, few people ever read and even if they do, probably do not wholly understand. And if you do not ‘agree’, there will be no transaction. That is unilateral dictation, not agreement. In the traditional legal sense, the ‘contracts’ created by web site operators are no ‘meeting of minds’ contemplated by law.

There are, of course general consumer protections laws against the most unacceptable contractual practices of internet sellers, but most buyers would not know what they are or what protections you afford.

Whilst I agree with the point you made that if, say, Amazon, committed some injustice against you, its reputation would suffer and your readiness to do business with it would be substantially reduced. However, that is experienced only after you discover that you essentially have no contractual rights against them for the sin it committed.

I therefore applaud Doc Searles’ efforts to hasten automated ‘conditions’ matching being available to buyers. I, for one, will be an enthusiastic adopter of such a system, assuming of course that it is accessible and understandable.

But what is more problematic is the wholesale loss of privacy and anonymity that seems so uncontroversial to the majority of internet users. The personal information available to mere merchants is, to my mind, an outrageous intrusion. It is that largely uncontrolled availability of personal information on which Google has essentially built its value in circumstances where there has been no authentic consent from buyers to this data capture and exploitation. it is uncontrolled, I suspect, because of the internationalism of the web that essentially ignores sovereign territorial law.

Therefore, I suggest that a opt-in system to data capture and subsequent use of that data is the most essential project for the internet market. And, of course, that is what you suggested. Again, when that is available, I will be jumping in to NOT opt-in.

Jim Feehely.

Ken P
Mar 13 2013 at 1:18am

Cable companies are a clear case of regulatory capture. They frequently make deals with cities to exclude other providers.

The failure of ISPs is a long story, largely a case of the early bird starves waiting for the worm. They jumped on the trend too soon.

It seems odd to hear Linux users compared with liberals. I always viewed Apple users as liberals. It always seemed like authoritarians vs anarchistic decentralization. People work on what has value to them and order emerges.

I like the intention concept. It seems like some form of that is bound to evolve. Satisfying customer needs is becoming more competitive, as skills at doing that improve.

Brad Hutchings
Mar 13 2013 at 2:01am

Philosophically, I appreciate where Doc is coming from. But in practice… Internet companies typically (read: “near 100% of the time) do not sue their customers or visitors for TOS breaches. The TOSes are there so that the site proprietors don’t get sued by customers/visitors and so proprietors can kick anyone who is disruptive or just basically a PITA off their service. Paradoxically, the near unreadability of these things is what greases the wheels of Internet commerce. It works, because most everyone is on both sides of the equation are usually on their best behavior anyway and the TOSs can be and are often called out if they’re too egregious.

Short of some legislation defining the negotiation and mandating a system like Doc proposes, I don’t see why vendors would bother. The costs of the current way of operating are well-understood. For example, you can get every document you need to run an e-commerce site from (or several other sites) for basically peanuts. There’s no code involved to negotiate a contract with each visitor. If your audience is large enough, it’s probably safe to assume that those who would opt out because your site doesn’t voluntarily negotiate terms weren’t going to buy anyway.

Jason Haines
Mar 13 2013 at 4:22am

Yes, a podcast full of great and interesting ideas.

The intention concept is a good one. It could improve market efficiencies and this would benefit both consumers and retailers. I see it as an extension of current Internet market creaters: GroupOn, shopping comparison sites and so on. For example, instead of receiving a stream of GroupOn offers, I could give my intent for a Hot Stone Massage and receive offers. This is also in the direction of what Google provides, but I think Searls offers a more comprehensive vision.

The big usability challenge for this approach is make it easy for users to express intents.

Jason Haines
Mar 13 2013 at 4:24am

Another comment to the podacst. I found it ironic that Searls mentioned how great his internet bandwidth was, yet managed to sound like he was talking over two-tin-cans and a piece-of-string. Fortunately the good content compensated for the abysmal audio.

Russ Roberts
Mar 13 2013 at 6:28am

Jason Haines,

The audio quality of this podcast was my fault–a setting error during the recording process. I apologize. I am working on a solution to prevent it from happening again. Glad the content encouraged you to listen anyway.

Mar 13 2013 at 12:45pm

@ Sabotosh

I think there are probably several reasons why internet in Europe is more efficient. Russ hinted at one it in the podcast, the market here is highly regulated by the FCC. Even more so than in Europe. Also internet speed is extremely variable. It depends heavily on traffic/usage. I’m not sure the size of the city you live in now compared to the ones in Europe but internet speed could be slower in a larger city with a condensed population as compared to a smaller city, infrastructure being equal. As far as pricing, less competition = higher prices and lower quality. I would also expect economies of scale in Europe may be more efficient.

Mar 13 2013 at 3:19pm

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Mar 13 2013 at 8:53pm

wasn’t this topic already covered by an episode of south park 😛

Francis Maguire
Mar 13 2013 at 11:48pm

[Comment removed pending confirmation of email address and for irrelevance. Please direct further comments about the sound quality to email. Email the to request restoring your comment privileges. A valid email address is required to post comments on EconLog and EconTalk.–Econlib Ed.]

Mar 14 2013 at 9:39pm


My boss, a former regional manager at Bell, said that there is a good reason Canadians pay more for cell service: population density. A single radio tower services fewer people here than it would in Europe.

Mar 15 2013 at 5:45am

In terms of why there’s no competition in cable companies– regulations, hell: if I want to compete, I can’t exactly start climbing telephone poles and start hanging cables without the permission of the poles’ owners– and I can imagine that conversation (“please mr. monopolist, will you let me use your property for the sake of breaking your monopoly? I’ll pay!”). How do people in favor of deregulation think it’ll work? Are they imagining a world where anyone can simply go out and start hanging cables or planting new telephone poles?

“Why do cities live while companies die” also seems like a really odd question. You may as well ask why the buildings of a bankrupt company continue to exist and be used by someone after the company’s gone…

Eric S. Harris
Mar 17 2013 at 2:13pm

Does anyone remember an automated TOS verification proposal from long ago?

I seem to recall that about 10 or 15 years ago an attempt was made to provide automatic negotiation of Terms Of Service. I think it got past the suggestion and vapor-ware stage to a draft specification, and maybe all the way to pilot or beta. But I’ve seen or heard nothing about it since that initial appearance.

My vague recollection (which might be of an equally vague specification) was that you would configure your browser to know what terms of service you would find acceptable, and the web site (web page?) would be configured to know what it offered. If the TOS you required were compatible with the TOS offered, the transaction would continue, without any additional effort by you. If not, it would stop (or the form button would be greyed-out, and the transaction never start) or the plug-in would give you the opportunity to override your TOS configuration for this visit or site, or change your configuration permanently. Or something like that.

So, if you didn’t want sites to retain your e-mail address beyond validating your identity, or didn’t mind retention but didn’t want them to sell or trade or otherwise reveal it, you could configure the TOS negotiator plug-in/add-on/add-in/extension in your browser so say so. A conforming website would be configured with corresponding information.

You could think of it as the TOS version of *nix or MS or OpenVMS file and directory permissions. If the way you’re set up (your UID/UIC/whatever or group or a GRANTed role) permits your desired kind of access to a file or directory, you can display the directory, or create a file in it, or open the file in write mode, or whatever.

Maybe not the best analogy for what I recall (or think I recall). More like client-server than peer-to-peer. The TOS configurations could (and normally would) include a set of commitments on both parties.

Project VRM seemed like it might be it (or a successor to that long-ago proposal) but a quick skim through its pages didn’t turn up anything promising.

Does anyone else recall that proposal/specification/vaporware/project, or something like it?

Sheldon Richman
Mar 20 2013 at 9:32am

Here’s a quote from Otto Jespersen, the renown expert on English grammar, that will interest Doc Searles:

The freedom of the English language “is inconceivable in such a language as French, where everything is condemned that does not conform to a definite set of rules laid down by grammarians. The French language is like the stiff French garden of Louis XIV, while the English is like an English park, which is laid out seemingly without any definite plan, and in which you are allowed to walk everywhere according to your own fancy without having to fear a stern keeper enforcing rigorous regulations. The English language would not have been what it is if the English had not been for centuries great respecters of the liberties of each individual and if everybody had not been free to strike out new paths for himself.” Growth and Structure of the English Language, 1912

Adriel Michaud
Mar 20 2013 at 10:34am

I think Dr. Searles is throwing the baby out with the bathwater on the cookie/tracking thing. First, he described some sort of system that he can explicitly flag out, in his browser, what’s OK, not OK, etc. The issue is that getting people to change defaults on a browser and change these terms is not going to happen, most people just don’t care.

Dr. Searles goes on to describe a system that understands commercial intent and has companies bid on his RFQ or RFP for coffee. That system ALREADY exists in some part with Google and their Adwords system. Go search for “Coffee downtown” and you’ll see the system at work. There’s an entire, disruptive industry based on understanding customer intent behind search keyphrases and bidding in an open auction accordingly. You can dream up a more perfect or more balanced system, but we’ve got a working system in the real world right now! Most people start their internet searches with Google and that unifying platform is exactly where this combat of relevancy, offers, and analysis of intent happens. That system of providing relevant advertising means that much of the web doesn’t need pop ups and other disruptive advertising anymore, the relevant stuff is just much more cost effective and you don’t need huge ads. The effectiveness of that intent analysis will be butchered because of browsers that default to restrictive cookie policies and/or DNT. Advertisers will get dumber about customer intent, and the popups and disruptive advertising will return to try to compensate for reducing value.

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Podcast Episode Highlights
0:33Intro. [Recording date: March 6, 2013.] Russ: Your book opens some time in the near future when the relationship between buyer and seller has changed, and when the economy reflects intention, which is the source of your title. And power, or influence, perhaps, is more in the hands of buyers than it is in sellers. Give me a typical day in the life of a consumer in the intention economy when this world may have come to be. Guest: Firstly, I want to make clear that the idea of this is basically to extrapolate out into the future as to what's likely to happen as more tools to express intention fall into the hands of customers. And that businesses build around equipping demand to seek supply and not just for supply to capture and lead demand. Which is where most of the marketing efforts have gone for the last 1500 years. And it's based on actual developments going on now and that I've helped encourage for the last 6 years through Project VRM at Harvard's Berkman Center, where 'VRM' stands for Vendor Relationship Management, which is the customer-side counterpart of Customer Relationship Management, which is something most of us have through junk mail and call centers, things like that. And I see this as not something that is contentious or something where customers are opposed to marketers, but rather something where a new symbiosis begins to develop as more business orients around what customers actually want rather than around what we can guess the customers want. So, looking 5 or 10 years out what we see happening, for example, is that individuals will have instruments for expressing their intention, that will probably appear in the form of apps [applications] that they have and will [?] and knit together, apps mostly on their phones and pads and things like that. I give the example of a middle class woman in the United States who is traveling with her family and it begins with her getting a sleep monitor, which already exists--it's called ZEO and it's one of many tools one can use to do what's called 'quantified self,' for monitoring one's own diet and exercise and health data and stuff like that. In the course of this she experiences the ability to set her own terms. This is something we are working on now, which is, you know how we have these really onerous terms that we click through and never read-- Russ: Yeah, 'I agree.' Guest: Exactly. Russ: You know that part that say 'I agree' in that little box? I read the part that says 'I agree'--and it says actually 'I agree and I've read all this' garbage. And I do sometimes check the box without reading the garbage, I have to confess. Actually, I don't think I've ever read the garbage. Guest: Well that's the thing. I'm trying to remember her name, I spoke to her yesterday at Stanford, and she did a study that we would spend half the time that we spend on the web today would be taken up by reading these things, if we actually bothered to read them, because the volume of prose in them is so high. This is friction in the marketplace and it's also, it's a convenience that we came up with on the seller's side because we could not engage in ceremonies that would be involved if freedom of contract were a practice and not just an ideal. And that's not a hard thing to do. We should be able to assert our own terms most of the terms that we have, would we be able to assert them, would not necessarily be onerous to sellers. It would be like what we have when we are in a public marketplace. I'm not going to steal your stuff; I'm not going to act badly in your store; whatever it might be. We can take these piece by piece, because in that chapter, [?] impact pretty much the whole book in the scenario, but this particular one is in fact the biggest problem that we have, which is that we have these one-sided non-agreements that we make that might make for a much more efficient marketplace if they really were two-sided. And it's not hard to do. All we have to do is have machine-readable code on both sides that express good will and some simple intentions, one of which would be, is likely to cause some, you know, some trouble with people on the sell side, which is: I would like to have my own data back when we are done with this transaction. Or: I would like to have it in a form that I can read. Or: You can't follow me around with cookies and beacons and other things like that, which is now pro forma on the web.
6:50Russ: But is the question here just the question of opting in or opting out? So, right now generally I have to opt out if I don't want to be followed around. I have to say: Stop; you can't use cookies; you can't follow me. The default is: you can. So, in the current world I have to be active to get them to stop. Are you just suggesting that it should be active on their part that they get my permission to follow me around? And to do stuff with my data? Guest: Yes, but [?] in a way that's more complicated automatically than we get with a web page right now. There is in fact a dialogue that happens between your browser and a website. Your browser says: Give me a webpage. And the website says: Here, have a webpage. And what's going on also is the website says: Regularly I give you a whole bunch of cookies along with this, but we're not going to tell you about it. And that is done routinely, anyway. Russ: And cookies--define it for non-tech people. Cookies are just markers that say I've been there? Guest: They are actually little files. They are text files, generally. And the text file was originally intended by the guy who designed them--named Montulli, at Netscape back in the middle 1990s--as a way for a site to keep track of what's called 'state,' which is: This is where we were the last time you visited. This is how, of course, when you go to Amazon it remembers what you have in your cart and what you looked at last time. They are a perfectly fine convenience. Russ: Most of the time we like them. We don't have to start from scratch. Guest: We like what they do. But we are really stuck in 1995 in this sense. One of the developers, Phil Windley, who is doing pioneering work I may talk about later, has a really great slide presentation in which he gives the history of e-commerce. He says: 1995, Invention of the cookie; The End. We sort of stopped there. And the thing is that right now, as you said, our only choice is to opt out. Which is to say, not use the site at all or not use the service at all. And that's not really a realistic choice for most of us, if we want to use the web. So, what we are trying to do is just put some of the responsibility for this automated dialog on the customer's side, or on the user's side. And it's not a hard thing to do. That the ritual that we might have, or this ceremony, or protocol--these terms are actually used in computing--is when the users, a browser, says: Here are my terms. Have your machine take a look at my machine's terms. And the other side's machine says: Good; that matches up and we can move forward. Or it doesn't, and if it doesn't then it will flag those things that don't agree, and we can either opt in or opt out or whatever. But the development that's gone on so far is toward the creation of those terms and toward symbols, for example, that show you whether the terms match up or not. And one of the things I talk about in that chapter is something called the R-button, and the R-button is simply two symbols--they are actually logical symbols that look like sideways U's, the letter 'U', that look like magnets facing each other. Which we think represents the way the marketplace works--we have a buyer and a seller who are naturally attracted to each other and if they hook up and transact business or develop a relationship, it would be nice to have a symbolic representation of that. And these are very simple and straightforward and can be represented by either being a color or a solid or gray, but could just simply fall into the portfolio of other familiar symbols that tell you things like 'There's WiFi here' or-- Russ: 'Refresh this page'--there's a little marker. Guest: Exactly. Russ: But these inverted magnets, these magnets that are facing each other, this little symbolic idea that you have--what would be the significance of, say, different colors or being gray versus black? What would they denote that would be useful to this relationship? Guest: Well the first is, and I think this might be the most important, and again this is something we're developing, it's not something that's done; there are developers working on it--but if it's a solid color, and we've called it 'red' or R-button in red only because that was the color of the marker that I used on a whiteboard when we first were talking about this. But let's say it turns green, or just turns a solid color, for the color-blind among us, which are significant. And when it turns solid it means, when you go to a site and you see that little sideways U, this site's R-button, and it's solid, it means that they are open to your terms. It doesn't mean they accept your terms, but they are open to them. If it's solid on both sides, it means: Oh, our terms match up. And if the two sides are joined, it means: Oh, we already have a relationship. So, let's say if we go to Amazon and we have a relationship with Amazon and our terms have proven agreeable, in the first place, then we see the two matched up and joined together so they form two links in a chain or something like that, or two magnets actually joined to each other. It's open yet at this point whether or not the two sides will actually join simply for development reasons. Like, would it be better to have them always separate and just lit up or not lit up? These are all considerations that are on the table right now and we'll keep talking about. Russ: But here's the question, Doc. Isn't this something right now that only people at the Harvard University Berkman Center care a lot about? And there are a few others--I don't mean to suggest it's a Cambridge, MA phenomenon. But most of us, perhaps foolishly, just go about our business. We let Amazon take our information, we let Google take our information. When iTunes revises itself and sends me that awful revised I-agree thing, I just stupidly click it. Am I being stupid? Most people I think, they like the way the Internet works right now. And I would suggest that what keeps companies from exploiting this--maybe they already exploit it in ways that I don't know about that would really upset me and I'm just not paying enough attention--but mainly what protects me from them is their reputation. If Amazon did some really awful things with my computer or with my data, I'd want to not go there any more, and I'd stop buying from them. Isn't that right now what keeps them from exploiting that relationship? And do I really want to pay attention every time that thing turns gray, or--which is going to be a lot if they are changing their terms every once in a while, which they usually do. How is that going to work? Guest: Well, first, sure, we've all acquiesced to the norms in the marketplace now. And that's not so bad necessarily, as norms go. They are just early[?]. We found some things in 1995 that worked pretty well that are actually stuck. I think a lot more opportunity will start to open up when, for example, we start coming with our own data--[?] talk right now about big data, and I deal with it in the book to some degree--which as always, with almost every new computing movement is something that's discussed and imagined out as something only big companies do. But let's say that we're in charge of our own RFQ[?] data, we're in charge of our own financial data, in ways that are coherent and we can manage them very easily. And we bring those to the marketplace and we can establish relationships based on what we're bringing to the table and not just what the other side allows us to bring to the table.
15:15Russ: Well, let's go back to your traveling woman, which I think will help us put this in context. Nice example. So, she wakes up; she's got this sleep monitor on her, so she's monitoring her own sleep and she wakes up refreshed because she's gotten up at a good time with respect to her sleep patterns. And she's going to take a trip that day, right? So, tell us what happens to her. Guest: Looking at the book as we're talking. And I want to go back and say, by the way, that there are very few people in Cambridge, at Harvard, that actually care about the work that I do. It's not because they don't care--they certainly care that the work is going on. But mostly what we've done is encourage this development all over the world. Russ: I understand. Guest: Most of it seems to be happening in Europe or on the West Coast or in Salt Lake City, or places like that. Russ: I hear you. Guest: And this legal thing is just basically a small hurdle and I'd like to treat it with the lack of full respect it deserves. Because it's a bug. Right now, there are bugs in that system, and we need to debug the system and so we're working on the system. The main thing is that she's in charge of her data, and she has relationships with what we're starting to call 'fourth parties'--which are third parties which are working for us, or in this case for her that serve the same role for her data that a bag serves with our money. Russ: It's an intermediary. Guest: It's an intermediary. And it does some of the heavy lifting in casting out an intention [?], so if--and in the book we call this a personal Request for Proposal [RFP], which is a business-to-business term. Russ: Which stands for Request for Proposal. Guest: And RFQ is another one, Request for Quote. What's happened since the book came out is the term 'intent casting' has emerged, among developers, which is: she can cast an intent of her [?] for coffee. For example, I'm traveling, and I think a lot of us [?] of this from time to time, but rather than going on our phone and saying, Let's see, let's go to Google and see-- Russ: Search for coffee. Guest: Search for coffee. Or whatever. Russ: I actually have a Starbucks App, for my wife--it's not for me. I'm not a big coffee drinker. But my wife is a big coffee drinker, and she doesn't have a smart phone. So I have a Starbucks App on my smartphone, when we're traveling together, for her. Guest: And actually the idea for this came back when we were traveling across the country from Santa Barbara to Boston, and my wife also is a bigger coffee drinker than I am. I love coffee but my body can't handle more than a little bit of it for some reason. And we were thinking about what would work here: I want a short, double cappuccino, short dry cappuccino, two exits up. I can just put that intention out there and have the market find me, rather than I'm finding somebody in the marketplace. So that I don't have to--right now, of course, you can do this with Google Maps; and Google Maps, by the way, is a miraculous program in many ways. But it's all about sellers trying to find buyers. What about the buyers trying to find the sellers? Let's equip that. So what this woman does in this case is she basically orders a cappuccino ahead-- Russ: Ten minutes from now-- Guest: Ten minutes from now it's ready; she can drive through, pick it up. They only know about her what they need to know about her. But because she's very loyal to Peet's Coffee--which by the way, we are, it's by far the best of the chains--they know about that. They know that she's loyal already because she's told them she's loyal, not because she carries a Peet's Loyalty Card. And that's a bit of a state change, because the norm today is we have these loyalty cards. But the loyalty cards are mostly about the stores trying to trap [track?] you and ways you are switching costs, they call it, and other inconveniences like that, and so they can maintain data about you. Which is valuable data; but we have data about them, too, and that's valuable data to us. And that's where a fourth party can help us put things together if we are willing to pay for that. And there are a number of companies out there that are betting it will. But what this forms is genuine relationships, rather than coerced ones. And so that's one of the dreams that I've had about the free marketplace for some time, which is what happens when we have much more genuine and fewer coerced relationships? What starts to arise out of that? Is it just because I've got a personal pricing gun, which, if you look at a pricing gun, that's not something a customer uses. That old--the comedian, Steven Wright--says: I held up a store by going around with a pricing gun and marking everything in the place. It's that we're not used to having these things. We are going to have them. We are going to be able to say: I'm willing to pay this or pay that.
20:50Russ: So Priceline has a little bit of this. Just to take a silly kind of example, Siri, the Apple App: You can talk to your smart phone now and say, I'm thirsty or I'm hungry. And Siri--the directions still are of a particular kind, but Siri then delivers you a bunch of choices. But the choices aren't known to the recipients. The restaurants that it tells me about, they don't know they are being chosen by Siri. And you are suggesting a world where I would say into my phone, I would intent-cast: I'm hungry; and a bunch of restaurants would start waving opportunities at me, knowing and having a relationship with me from the past, that we have agreed on. That's the idea of it, right? Guest: That's part of it, sure. The main idea is: What happens when we can advertise our interests and intentions? Whether it's very specific, such as, I want a double cappuccino, or whether it's very vague, such as, I'm hungry. Obviously as you say, with Siri--which I don't have on my phone-- Russ: I don't either. Guest: [?] and not one of the more recent ones-- Russ: Me, too. Guest: It's still, the portfolio of knowledge that it has is, except for 'I'm hungry' on the customer's side, all these things that it either guesses at or may know because Apple or somebody has a relationship with these companies--they are drawn entirely from the sell side of the marketplace. And my belief and the belief of a number of other developers is that we can match a lot more up if there's more data and there's more granularity of the ability to express intent on the customer's side than we have now. And so let's play with that. And there are lots of ways that can play out. The easy and trivial examples are [?] like Priceline. The problem with Priceline is I have to use Priceline. What if I didn't have to use Priceline? What if I could use anybody? That's the main thing. Right now we are sort of stuck in the world that Jay Walker built when he designed Priceline in the first place. Which though it's very good, can say well, Priceline in a way was built to overcome the limits of Orbitz and Travelocity. Which, by the way, were invented to overcome the limits of United Airlines and American Airlines separately. Well, what if--if you take the airline example--I have this arcane interest as a very frequent flyer, which is that I love window seats; I like them [?] in front or behind the wing; I want to be on the shady side of the plane, and I'm actually willing to pay for that. I'm actually willing to pay for the window seat that I want. But that doesn't really fit into any of the airlines' existing systems. They know that I--United knows, alone, that I am a frequent flyer, that I should get a premium seat or be eligible for an automatic upgrade to business class if they haven't filled business class already. Which is kind of the default that they have. But there are kind of some conditions where I have to overcome that, I have to work at it. For example, I'm not a tall guy, I'm an average size guy, and I don't have long legs, so I can sit in the back of the plane. I don't need the premium seating if I'm not using my laptop, which I often am not. But with United, for example, which is my main airline, all of their 777s have the premium seats over the wing. Well, I can't see the ground over the wing. I don't want to sit over the wing. I want to sit in the back. I'm willing to pay for that. And their protocol is different. But the interesting thing is: What if I can send out the economic signal that I am willing to pay for these seats, guys? And for that matter, I don't have to be with United. I can be with some other airline if they give me what I want. And right now what we want is something that the airline gives out based on very big data, which they've been using for a very long time, and statistics that work entirely for their convenience, where they've really blocked out all possibility of extraneous input from customers. And I'm sure there are many who would say: You know, it's going to be too much trouble for them to embrace that extraneous input. But my belief is that there's enough really good signaling in there that they might change their systems incrementally once they start opening up to it. And that's really one of the directions that we're pushing with this stuff. Which is: if that fourth party maintains a list of all the intentions I have that are like the airline, or maybe like the weird cappuccino, or some other thing, and I can make that available to the sellers of the marketplace and others also make it available so that the sellers in the marketplace can look at that data and say: Well, wait a minute; it turns out there really are a lot more people that want window seats than we thought, and we can make adjustments based on that. The beat that we're working here is really economic signaling really, and enriching it on the customer's side rather than keeping it impoverished, which is what we've had for the last 150 years when mass marketing kind of ruled the world but the internet really challenges in a lot of ways.
26:55Russ: Yeah, I love the idea--I think the best way for me to think about it is: Who is advertising to whom? So, in the current world, you walk down the street and people are waving stuff at you: Buy me! Use me! Come in here! And you are suggesting a world where I say: Appeal to me. Here's what I'm interested in. Make me an offer. And I think--the Priceline example is a good example because Priceline--which I don't use, by the way, for a bunch of reasons--but they created a playground for buyers and sellers to interact in a different way than they did in other playgrounds. And as you said, because it's a playground it's got a gate around it; and you have to play in their playground. And people who play in the playground play under their rules, and there's pluses and minuses to that. You are imagining a world where it's a little more open. Which really to me brings us to this fascinating question of: Where does innovation take place on the Internet? How open or closed--people are very upset, get very worked up over how we access--and I'm going to read you a quote from your book that I think captures this. You are talking about the Commons. You introduce the idea of a commons; you say
These type of commons [you are talking about physical commons--RR] which had retained their essential qualities since Saxon times, came to a tragic end, destroyed by "enclosure" and similar takings by government and commercial interests. To sum it up, the commons lost when industry won the industrial revolution.

Yet the sense of what a commons is, and what it is for, survives in culture and helps make sense of a common pool resource that is not by nature limited in the manner of Hardin's [referring to Garrett Hardin--RR] yet might still be made tragic by those who would enclose it with contrived finitudes (say, "minutes" or "channels") for their own parochial purposes. This is the risk of subordinating the Internet to telephony and cable television, both of which the Internet transcends and subsumes by design--yet both of which funnel Internet access and contain use within legacy telephone and cable company facilities, provisioning, and business models.
And here's the key question:
So, how can we respect these manorial companies' need to innovate and cause market growth as only they can, while still protecting the World Wide Commons we mostly access by their grace, and which to some degree they already consider at least partially enclosed for their own purposes?
So, the question there is, we get on the Internet using Comcast or Verizon or whatever place we go through. When we're on the Internet, we're inside these little places--Amazon or Priceline. And it seems to me that those restrictions are necessary to allow people to make the investments to make things better. How are we going to balance that problem? As you said. They have an actual desire to make money, and that's what they do, and they make investments expecting to make money. So they are going to expect things to be kind of closed. How do we make them more open on the lines you are imagining? Guest: Well, in the book I give examples of Apple and Google with smartphones, and how there really is an amazing symbiosis between two approaches that are orthogonal in the sense that Apple with its iOS Operating System, with its very closed, tightly controlled, vertical environment, highly verticalized, vector, they move vertically with that. And Google's [?] other, with Android; Google said: we're going to invent Android and Android can be used by any manufacturer. So there are many Android phones, where there's only one Apple phone. And we're going to open the marketplace horizontally. And I actually see these as two Etch A Sketch dials: one is very proprietary and very vertical, and has what you can only do in a vertical dimension, which is: you are controlling things. You do have your patents and you do exercise your intellectual property claims and you do try to enclose some things, while at the same time others, and even yourself in some ways, are going to open it up horizontally. And there are many ways that Apple works the horizontal thing as well. They actually do contribute to Open Source, [?]; they actually do use Open Standards and things like that. There are all these--I don't see it so much as a tug of war, though often there is a war of words, there's a war of lawsuits, and things like that. But as really two complementary urgings and strategies or strategic choices that individual companies can make and that the market makes together, somehow, that work out better for everybody because both those impulses are respected and exploited. So, and I think that, again as I think I said earlier, we're very early in this, in the development of the Internet. The Internet that we know today showed up really in 1995 [?] and the first commercial websites and commercial ISPs [internet service providers] and--by the way, we are very horizontal. Anybody can be our investomer[?]; you can come and go as you please; there are no contracts, or minimal contracts, and now an ISP means a phone company or a cable company. And the old ISPs are mostly gone. And those new ISPs that are very controlling and really very much want to verticalize the marketplace and control it for their own purposes are, you know, acting as monopolists. And that's--there are people who, my good friend Susan Crawford, who has a great new book out on this called Captive Audience, wants government relief, thinks that there is excessive market power here, it's throttling innovation; there is no competition for it right now in most places. I can only choose Time Warner if I'm here in New York. Most people can only choose from one cable company.
33:34Russ: So why is that, though? Guest: Which 'that' are we talking about? Russ: The fact that there's only one. You said all the other ISPs disappeared. I'm not an expert on this, and I find it a bit bewildering. I read--I read a little bit about Susan Crawford's argument where she says things like: Comcast makes investments and expects them to make a profit. As if that's somehow outrageous. But that's what they do. That's what we want them to do. We want them to have a profit incentive. So I don't understand what's sinister. Help me understand what's sinister about the fact that there are companies trying to make the Internet, say, faster, so that I can get more broadband? What's the barrier to competition that allows them to exploit me as they move forward in that way? Guest: Well, there's--as it developed, if you wanted high speed internet at any point in time on a landline you had to get a particular company. The only phone company you could get it from was Verizon. And in places where there really is competition, that is a wonderful grace. In the apartment that we have in Massachusetts, I chose--because I saw three different kinds of fiber on the poles outside my house--and we have Verizon FIOS [fiber optic service] there; it has 25 megabits in both directions including upstream, and I upload a lot of photos, and so I wanted--and there was competition there. We chose Verizon over RCN because Verizon had much higher speed upstream than RCN had. And Comcast was not a player at that time because Comcast couldn't offer the upstream speed that we wanted. And we didn't care about TV. So there, there was a bit more of a complete marketplace in the sense that there were several competitors. But in most places, that doesn't exist. There's A cable company. Russ: Why? Why aren't there more? Why isn't Verizon competing in New York City? For your business? Guest: Oh, boy, this is really complicated. And it would be great to have Susan tell you what she thinks about this--I think it would be an interesting conversation. But I think the reason is they are industries right now, outside my house, at the moment I've actually talked to a lot of people at Verizon--the most interesting ones are the guys on the street who will tell you what is actually going on, rather than their marketing people who will say: Call this number; or fill out this webpage or something. But the real reason that they are not getting into this now is that [?] knows them and that they [?] are behind everything that they are trying to repair. On the south side of town. But they made a deal. They made a deal and I don't know what the deal was, but they stopped expanding FIOS. They stopped enlarging the FIOS footprint. We are in the FIOS footprint in New York, but we are not [?] fiber anywhere else in the country right now, and that decision that they made, as I understand it, was coincidental with their doing a deal with Comcast or one of the other cable companies for more wireless spectrum so that they can expand what they are doing with wireless. And what they are doing is in verticalizing the marketplace, they bought NBC Universal. So, what they want to do, one would assume, is basically make certain things available. The fear is that they will bias the Internet, they will turn the Internet into television. They are a TV company, in that sense. Comcast is a TV distribution company. They did not invent the Internet. They are not the ones whose innovations caused the Internet to exist. They are the ones that provided the pipes that made high speed delivery of those capacities available to us, but they are not the--their historic impulses have been toward limiting what you could do rather than maximizing what you could do.
37:59Russ: But to the extent they do that, they might be unhappy! I understand the monopolist tendency-- Guest: But where can you go? If you are in a monopoly, where can you go? There can't be any other choice? Russ: No, I agree with that. The part that--let me just make an observation and then move on. This is probably, again, we've touched on this in a number of other podcasts and it's probably a subject for its own podcast by itself. But it just strikes me that I know how incredibly regulated this market is. The Federal Communications Commission [FCC] is deeply involved in this, trying to steer it constantly. So I find it weird when people complain it's not a free market. So I don't know--it's a complex system; I'm not quite sure what's holding a better world back, and I'm not sure I want the government trying to design one. That's all I'm going to say. I'll let you say--you can say one other thing in response to that and then I want to move on. Guest: Okay. Well, I'm in agreement with that. I devoted a whole section of the book to this topic because I believe the Internet is like the best thing that ever happened to the free marketplace. I think it is probably the biggest thing since moveable type. Russ: Or money. Guest: Or money. Russ: Coinage. Paper money. Guest: And credit. And credit cards, people who use credit. These are all great things. And the Internet, it puts in the middle of the marketplace an opportunity for countless connections and efficiencies and signal exchanges and the rest of it. And there is much to be gained by betting on that. Which is what Google has done. And Google did this thing, and this is what they did with Android. They didn't--Google would not do what Verizon and AT&T and most of the other duopolists that are out there have tended to do, which is offer something freely with very little constraint on it, in faith that they would get what they [?] second- and third-order effects. And they've gotten those. They created a much bigger market for smart phones than we would ever have if Apple alone offered what it does, and let's say if Samsung came along and said: Here's our phone and it's just as locked as Apple's phone and you have a choice between Apple's locked phone and Samsung's locked phone, and we're totally locked into either one of those systems and can barely get along with each other. Instead we have this incredibly vast and varied marketplace where--there actually, up the hill there's a place that looks like, I haven't checked it out totally, but it [?] Android phones. You could push a button and get an Android phone. That's an amazing thing. And that's because Google decided to bet on the horizontal, to say: Let's open this marketplace; let's do what we can do to make as many flowers bloom as possible, rather than to operate this private playground. And that's--they do operate private playgrounds; they do; they have many private playgrounds that are theirs alone. So I think there is a symbiosis between these things, and we don't have it yet with the Internet. The problem with the Internet right now is we don't know what it is. We really don't. We don't have a common vocabulary we are talking about. It's why we talk past each other. It's why the conversation is happening within the phone companies and then within the regulatory bodies, like the FCC and whatever, happening among the [?] people which are the ones that I tend to hang out with. They are very, very different. I just came from the Freedom to Connect Conference in Washington and the crowd that was there has very little in common with the--and 'in common,' I'm talking about in frames of reference and assumptions and vocabulary, and the rest of it, with those that are operating the phone and cable companies. It's just not there. Like, you know, they call them netheads and bellheads, and that's to some degree what they also call themselves, but they are totally different mentalities, and coming from very different places. And the interesting thing is that the ones playing the free market card, as it were, and know how to talk that jive, are the phone and the cable companies. And they are saying: We are the free marketplace. But they are busy trying to close as much of their marketplace as they can. And my case to them is: Wait a minute, guys; do the Google thing. Look at how much more can be gained in the marketplace if you are part of the rising tide that looks [?] all economic boats rather than trying to run canals across the ocean that this Internet was designed to be in the first place.
43:03Russ: So this comes back to my last comment--which was going to be my last comment, but now obviously it's not. And I've talked about this before on the program. It fascinates me that people have emotional, ideological feelings about Google and Apple. And now your discussion of it really helps me understand it better. So, for example--I like Apple a lot, but a lot of people think they are evil because they are closed. And my answer has always been: Well, don't buy their products. And, as you point out, there's lots of choices. I think the problem with this issue of nethead versus bellhead, which is this issue of telephone-cable versus some other model, is that if you don't think you have a choice, then it is really a bad problem. So again, I think it comes back to this issue--there's nothing that stops another Apple-like firm from creating a closed system. And it would have to compete with Apple and Android and everybody else. And Google is free to offer its product, which some people prefer; a lot of people do. And my view is: In a marketplace, that's great. You can choose the more open experience, or the more closed experience because you trust the person who closed it for you--you like Steve Jobs, you like his aesthetic, his vision; you understand there are costs to it, but they are worth it. So what you--to me, this view that says: Oh, please, cable company, phone company, be more like Google--my answer is, my first answer is: Well, that's kind of up to them, and if you disagree, start your own. But if there are regulatory barriers to starting your own, or other barriers that we could imagine--we could talk about how important they are, fixed costs, etc.--but if those are the problems, there's a big difference between those two stories. That's all I'm saying. And that really helped--your examples really helped me understand that. Guest: Good. There [?] high barriers, and there is a very high degree of regulatory capture in telecommunications. Most of the federal FCC chairmen now work for phone and cable companies. It's a--the revolving door is there, and there's a very tight coupling between those. And it does lock out a lot of the innovations that are possible. But, I don't know how one competes with a standing cable company in a place like New York. If I wanted to do what I would love to do in New York, I don't know how to do that. I don't know how to make another Verizon that would do what I would like Verizon to actually do. But rather than demonize Verizon or demonize any of those, I want to talk to them and say: look at what you are not doing. Don't just talk about choice, but give people more choice than they've got right now. Most people don't want to choose between Tweedledee and Tweedledum, you know. They want to choose between Apple and Android. Or they want to choose between Android I and Android II. That was the basic [?] about the Androids, which was that you could have lots of different Androids. And that's--I saw that with Linux as well; the irony of that Linux is that it was seen as this sort of back-to-nature, lefty kind of thing. But in fact it was about as brutal a meritocracy as you could possibly imagine. You don't get [?]. It doesn't matter how well you know somebody: your code's not going to get into the code base unless it makes the code base better. Linux is designed to work for--everything. And there are lots of--Eric Raymond, who has been on your show and is a good friend of mine makes a really good case for this. He's a hardcore, free market libertarian who sees in Linux something that makes the market bigger and makes it work better. And that's basically what I'm trying to do with the Internet as well. It's just to open things up. But as for the regulatory side, boy, it's just a morass. I'm an optimist. I see the almost-empty glass as 1/100th full. Russ: Good for you. Guest: That's kind of what my attitude is toward what can happen here. But there are bad actors and bad impulses that we confront everywhere. The [?] choice can be presented, that's just an awesome thing.
47:40Russ: I agree. Well, let's shift gears a little bit. You've got a--I like a description you have called NEA--Nobody owns it, that's the 'N'; Everybody can use it; and the 'A' is Anyone can improve it. So that would be language which is a wonderful emergent phenomenon we've talked about before on the program. So, language--nobody owns the English language. Anybody can use it freely. And you can improve it: if you can think of a new word, then it gets added to it and that's the way it goes. It moves forward. It's alive. How do such things flourish on the Internet? Guest: The Internet basically grew out of that impulse. And so did Linux and the entire Open Source and free software world. And actually, NEA is just my summary of it. There is this stuff--a lot of it is owned, but it's owned like an open commons is owned-- Russ: It's not exclusive. Guest: Exactly. And I've just enjoyed looking at what these things are and what they make possible [?]. Studied the [?] of free software world and the open source world, and even [?] interesting thing. There are two things to look at here. One is that we were not talking about open source before February 1998. Eric and a bunch of other advocates got together and decided: We are going to start talking about open source, and open source is going to become part of the lexicon that we use to understand this kind of code and what it does in the world. And now it's one of those things that nobody owns, everybody can use, and everybody does use; and anyone can improve. If any one of us wants to improve the way open source is understood, that's a possibility. And that's true with words, as well. Somebody told me--and I really hope, maybe somebody in the audience can remark on this on the blog when we're done--I had been told that English, one reason English has proliferated, is that it is unusually accepting of new words and of, not just neologisms but new forms of usage and conventions. And other more formalized languages, like French, for example: not only the culture but the government and up, they are very conscious about what words are admitted into the language and which are not. I mean, it's impossible to fully control that but French [?] is more verticalized than English is. Russ: I've written about this, and I've talked about it on the program, but the French actually have a committee as to what is good French, I think it's the Académie française. The people who are members of that committee--this is my favorite thing about this. I have a few favorite things but this is one of them, which is they are called 'les immortels'--the immortals. A modest name. It really takes academic credentialism to a new height. So these are the immortals. And they decree that Friday and Saturday are called 'fin de semaine', which means 'end of the week.' But people in France call it 'les weekend' despite that committee's insistence. And so--but I take your point. And I think it's a cultural point. I don't think it's literally a control point by the Académie--I think it's just maybe French culture is different from American culture, British culture. But it's clear that English, the English language--all languages are alive, is my point. But the English language is particularly alive. Guest: It is. And I think as more other cultures fall into it that it becomes more alive. I bring up briefly in the book the Geoffrey West case about cities. I don't know if you've ever had him on the show. Russ: I have not. Guest: He'd be worth having. Just for this one question that he asks. It's on a TED talk, and that's Geoffrey with a 'G'. He's a physicist. And he asks this question: Why do cities live while companies die? And his case [?] is that, he's studied this, that companies tend to be closed systems; cities are open systems. And markets also; as parts of cities and city life, being open, not only are very admitting of new things but many more connections between things and processes and cultures. And things move faster. One of the things he says, I believe, in another talk is he can tell what city somebody is from--if you give him the average pace at which people move he can tell you what city they are from. Russ: The Henry Higgins of movement. Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady: Say a few words and I can tell you where you grew up. Guest: Exactly. Bigger cities, people move faster. And being in New York now, it is faster than Boston. And faster than San Francisco. It's not just that people are in a hurry, but that there's just more energy coming into what we're doing, and coming from more places and in more directions. Even in the interesting pauses that you always have in cities, like, where are we going to eat, are we doing Chinese tonight or something else, are we going to stop and look in our phones or look at Yelp to see what some of the ratings are of different restaurants? There's many more inputs and outputs in cities. And this is why open source has grown the way it has; it's why free software has done the same thing. And I want to see that happen--part of the work that I've done with VRM is encourage that done. I'm basically Johnny Idea Seed here; the only code I know is Morse. And so I'm not a very good developer in that sense. But I want to encourage things that embrace NEA, and also bring into the market things that allow [?]-like things to happen, you know, where you get increasing returns out of energy inputs rather than decreasing ones. It's this criticism of companies--as they get bigger and bigger and more [?]-bound, in a way that's very much a corollary to what Clayton Christensen says about the disrupted innovators and the dilemmas that they suffer--they literally can't take in this new input very well because they are too encumbered by their own size and corrupted by smoking their own exhaust for so long. Because they are closed systems. Russ: But, see, that's interesting because that's the creative destruction that keeps the whole system alive. That's why the marketplace is alive even though any company can die; and when a company dies it's not a tragedy. Guest: Absolutely. We need the companies to die. Living in Silicon Valley for 20-some years I got to see this so often; of course, you see it anywhere anyway. Companies die. All these people just disperse. But there is a change that the Internet has brought, which is, in Craig Burton's terms, a friend of mine I quote a good bit in the book, companies are turning inside out. And this is a wonderful thing of the Internet. There are these companies called APIs, which are Application Programming Interfaces. And we see the evidence of these in something like using a Twitter handle[?] to log in another site; or a better example is a Google map shows up in a real estate site. The real estate site has made an API to call Google and Google has served up the map. But what happens is that as companies turn inside out and expose their competencies on the outside in the form of these APIs, it makes a lot more things possible that are not necessarily evident in just looking at a website, for example. And in a similar way--and he sees that APIs are just going to become more abundant over time. What happens is that companies are inevitably going to be less secretive and less closed simply because making their competencies available for interaction, for live interaction, is going to make them possibly less subject to the failings that Clay Christensen talks about. That's a dream. That's not necessarily a reality. It's supposition on his part. But I think it's a good one, to noodle around with.
57:23Guest: A good example with Verizon that I want to get into, the tarpit that we tiptoed around earlier, but a few months ago I wanted to upgrade something with my Verizon FIOS and I asked: Why is this, if you are actually able to give me 50 Megabits up and down, why can't I get that? And he said: Listen, those are the tech support cases. I'm an engineer. We can give you 100 Mmps (megabits per second) tomorrow, blow everybody else out of the water. But we're not doing that because Marketing won't let us. Now here's an engineer talking to a customer, and Marketing won't let them. Russ: That's wild. Guest: And Legal won't let them. This is one of the frictions involved in the legal thing we were talking about earlier on, that having these one-sided terms means that we have a whole floor full of lawyers, building full of lawyers--which is the case, say, in Hollywood, they do have whole buildings of lawyers--saying No to everything. When you have the heuristics of a company built in such a way that they can actually listen to the marketplace and react to it in real time in APIs, that's interesting. Where I could give a signal to Verizon, you know, look, I'm only going to be in this for another year, because I don't want to do the two-year contract; this actually was a problem; I want a one-year contract, so why don't you just take my money? I'll pay more for another year, and if that's a hard thing for you to do, you can just throw the switch and give me the higher bandwidth. But he couldn't do it because Marketing of all things wouldn't let him do it. Now I think because of the way the Internet is built there's a much more rich interaction we can have here. And this is the cool thing--and this is something I'd love to talk about--which is something that's come up much more since I wrote the book but which is mentioned in the book is the idea that we will all have our own personal APIs, where I can expose my own competencies: Here's my credit. I'm not a credit risk. I'm perfectly willing to say that. I might be willing to say I'm a frequent traveller. There's lots of things I can expose as an API. A big one for me, because I'm not young any more, is that I have a very rich medical history that I would love to make available through an API to any healthcare provider. When I was in Washington, you know, I'm still recovering from a cold, I wanted to ask some medical questions, I wanted to make some connections there. It would be nice if my API could make available to the medical establishment there what I might be looking for at a given time. We can start imagining that stuff out in an NEA world where nobody owns it and the anybody uses it side of it can open so anybody can improve it, and providers can step forward and say, I'm ready to deal with that. And I can start offering a business that will intermediate something in this space. But that's where I can broadcast--not just broadcast, I have the facility of my own that resembles that of a company in what I can do with it. Russ: That kind of brings us full circle. The way I hear what you are talking about, it's such a rich menu of possibilities, some of which are dreams, some of which are half-realities. I think they are going to come anyway. That's the optimist side of me. I think they are coming and what I see your mission in this book and your work doing is to maybe speed it up a little bit, help it along. Guest: Yeah. William F. Buckley once said, when he started National Review what his purpose was and he said to stand on the side of history yelling, Stop. And I see my role as to athwart history yelling, Hurry up. In the sense that I'm optimistic about this stuff. Just to complete the thought on that last one with APIs is those are part of what are now called personal clouds, and that's something that came up since I wrote the book. I just advise and would suggest to listeners that they look into personal clouds. That we each have our own cloud. We hear about 'The Cloud'--that the idea that we all have our own personal spaces on the Internet that are not grounded in a physical thing but rather are zones of competence that we maintain and can program or have others program for us--is really rich. And it's a fun topic to unravel in a future talk.