Doc Searls on The Intention Economy

I'm late to this, but I thought Doc Searls' thoughts on the Intention Economy were so interesting I wanted to record them here for posterity rather than just bookmark (from a Berkman lunch livblogged by Doc's fellow Cluetrain author Weinberger,found via Adriana)

"The problem is that most big businesses think that the best customer is a captive one." "That's why the free market is still your choice of captor." But "we're now about three minutes into the Big Bang" when it comes to the Net. The challenge is to "prove that a free customer is more valuable than a captive one."

So, Doc has started Project VRM (vendor relationship management) to provide ways for customers to drive relationships with vendors. More on that here. I was privileged enough to be able to attend an early VRM meeting with Doc and Adriana (pictured below by me) in London last February. I think it's very interesting to see the project develope, and with the intellectual giants involved I'm hopeful that it may be the next big thing.

So, what happens when customers get real power?

- “Customers get their own pricing guns” [i.e., the "guns" that print out price labels].

- “The intention economy” will get real because it’s based on what customers really want, as opposed to the attention economy that’s based on guesses.

- “The advertising bubble will burst.” There will still be ads, but they won’t be the “communications method of first resort.”

- “Cluetrain will finally be right.”

For some reason, the RSS feed I subscribed to from Doc's blog seem to have stopped working, must fix (and by putting a note about that here I might even remember when I come back in from the rain:-) ). Update 19-04/09: and when I get the RSS-feed from Doc's blog up an running again, and find time to read it, I find this post on After the advertising bubble bursts, which explains more)

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Is social a bubble? On web 3.0, web 4.0 and Vendor Relationship Management (VRM)

“Social” is a bubble. Trust me on this. I urge all consultants on “social ______” (fill in the blank) to make hay while the sun shines. Even as the current depression deepens, lots of companies are starting to realize that this “social” thing is hot stuff and they need to get hip to Twitter and the rest of it. (Just ask the Motrin folks.)

"And it is hot. But much of that heat is relative to its absence in other areas. “Social” has sucked a lot of oxygen out of the online conversational room. Meanwhile, here’s the challenge: make the Net personal. Make relationships personal. Equip individuals with tools of independence and engagement. That’s what VRM is about," says Doc Searls, go read the full post on how VRM is personal here.

Check out this page if you're unfamiliar with the term Vendor Realtionship Management (VRM), which Doc, one of the authors behind Cluetrain, and others think will be the next big thing.

I was privileged enough to be able to attend a VRM meeting with Doc in London back in February, and it's very exciting stuff: the aim is to radically shift the balance of power between vendors and customer in favour of the customer and give the individual more control over his or her relations with companies online. Adriana explains more here and here.

The reason I mention web 3.0 and web 4.0 in the title is that I half-jokingly suggested to Jude that perhaps web 4.0 is about VRM, after she posted this hillarious take on web 4.0 (from 2006) on Twitter. I've only recently been learning a lot more about web 3.0, and though I'd be exaggerating if I said I grasp all its implications, it strikes me as something that will give the individual less control, not more, though perhaps I'm just getting too hung up in the privacy implications.

A quick google search on web 4.0 also throws up Seth Godin's musings on web 4.0, which seems to be a few steps further down the line web 3.0 or the semantic web takes us, making web services even more "intelligent" in terms of giving us relevant recommendations, making the web even more social, but at the same time increasing the privacy concerns plentifold.

So I wonder where VRM fits into all of this, if we should assign it a number in the stage of the web's development or if it will be part of next stage and develope alongside it. As we get more and more "intelligent" web services, will there be a backlash? An urge to wrest back control, to at least be able to better control access, privacy settings, control over our own content and electronic footprints? I'm just thinking out loud here, input and thoughts on this appreciated....

On equipping customers to be independent leaders, this struck me as a very powerful image though it's not taken from a VRM context, but from this presentation.