Doc Searls on Relationships (DIDW)


Doc Searls has taken the stage for todays keynote. He started with a brief review of the history of DIDW and the identity space and how we got where we're at leading up to a discussion of VRM. VRM is all about relationships between people and the entities they want to interact with.

One thing he said that stuck with me is that big companies should embrace the networked individual and small companies should enable them. Free customers are more valuable than captive one. Businesses still thing that the opposite is true. That's what we think the free market as "your choice of captor." Markets won't be free until customers are free. For individuals VRM is a way to relate.

Doc starts talking about the Rel button. The Rel button looks like two horseshoe magnets lying on their side facing each other. The Rel button can indicate (depending on how it's colored) an intention to buy, an intention to sell, or a relationship between the two.

In Doc's vision, underneath the Rel button is a protocol for exchanging information between parties based on the relationship including preferences, transaction histories, payment histories, and so on.

The first, pilot project is radio. Network-based radio streamed to devices over the data network is the future of broadcast. You could imagine that as advertising supported or subscription supported, but Doc sees it as finer grained than that. A Rel button in an iPhone streaming radio app could give people the ability to pay for the programs they enjoy piecemeal using the phone's built in payment system. This is in the early stages and will launch with public radio.

Doc ends by saying there's no limit to the amount of business that can be done with free customers in free markets. We have to stop thinking of ourselves as consumers because we're producers as well. VRM removes the guesswork because in a relationship you know what people want now (and at what price), what they want later, and what they never want.