Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Monday, March 17, 2003day link 

picture So, what is Xpertweb? In simple terms, it is a way for people to offer their services and products, for a suggested fee, or even for free if they choose, and for others to know with a high level of confidence what they can expect to get. Services are offered by arranging for certain files to be found on one's website. Files that identify you as a vendor of services, and that lists what products are available. The files are stored in a standardized XML based format. But at the same time they can be customized for the special needs this vendor has. The files are publically visible over the web. The software tools are open source. There is no centralized authority, no centralized storage place for the information. But it can be aggregated by anyone, in many inventive ways. And it can be validated by anyone, to verify that it is in a correct format and that it looks complete.

There is then a standard protocol for carrying out a transaction. A prospective buyer/recipient of the offered service/product will select what he would like. He might go through some custom steps to negotiate options, scheduling, special requirements, etc. The customer places the order. The provider accepts the order. All information about all of this gets stored in a standardized, publically visible XML format. The information about all steps of the transaction gets stored on both the provider's and the customer's computers/servers.

The provider provides the service asked for. The customer rates how satisfied he is, on a percentage scale. If he is less than 50% satisfied, he will pay nothing. If he is more satisfied than that, he will pay in the ratio of his level of satisfaction. All of this information is stored with both the provider's and the customer's data. It is public. There are ways of checking whether anybody tampers with it.

This is an infrastructure for peer-to-peer economic interaction. Most important aspects about it, besides that there is no central control, is that everything is rated and everything is public. So, reputation becomes very important, and you can't fake it, because it is detectable when you do. Prospective customers can examine what previous customers experienced with a certain vendor. A vendor can examine what a customer's previous track record is. And they can decline on a given transaction.

Certain relationships are built-in. Both providers and customers have mentors, who both might act as helpful consultants in making this all work, but who also serve a function in letting their software verify and aggregate activity for the people they have sponsored. That introduces some checks and balances that makes the system more fault-tolerant, and that fosters synergetic relationships.

It all doesn't exist yet. But Britt Blaser has spent several years thinking it through in great detail, and building prototypes. Now it just needs to be made as simple, compelling, transparent and bullet-proof as possible. Some data structures need to be finalized. Some initial sample software needs to be written. It needs to be tried out with real people.

It might be huge.
[ | 2003-03-17 23:59 | 1 comment | PermaLink ]  More >

 A voice from Iraq
picture Seems reasonable today to hear what Salam, the lone local blogger in Baghdad, has to say. He seems like a normal, intelligent guy, who says what he thinks, but he has been very courageous in sticking his neck out so publically. He supports a regime change, but he doesn't support war, and he thinks the human shields should go home.
"No one inside Iraq is for war (note I said war not a change of regime), no human being in his right mind will ask you to give him the beating of his life, unless you are a member of fight club that is, and if you do hear Iraqi (in Iraq, not expat) saying 'come on bomb us' it is the exasperation and 10 years of sanctions and hardship talking. There is no person inside Iraq (and this is a bold, blinking and underlined inside) who will be jumping up and down asking for the bombs to drop. We are not suicidal you know, not all of us in any case.

I think that the coming war is not justified (and it is very near now, we hear the war drums loud and clear if you don’t then take those earplugs off!). The excuses for it have been stretched to their limits they will almost snap. A decision has been made sometime ago that 'regime change' in Baghdad is needed and excuses for the forceful change have to be made. I do think war could have been avoided, not by running back and forth the last two months, that’s silly. But the whole issue of Iraq should have been dealt with differently since the first day after GW I.

The entities that call themselves 'the international community' should have assumed their responsibilities a long time ago, should have thought about what the sanctions they have imposed really meant, should have looked at reports about weapons and human rights abuses a long time before having them thrown in their faces as excuses for war five minutes before midnight.

What is bringing on this rant is the question that has been bugging for days now: how could 'support democracy in Iraq' become to mean 'bomb the hell out of Iraq'? why did it end up that democracy won’t happen unless we go thru war? Nobody minded an un-democratic Iraq for a very long time, now people have decided to bomb us to democracy? Well, thank you! how thoughtful."

[ | 2003-03-17 23:59 | 3 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 War and Vacation
picture I'm flying to Europe with my wife and little daughter Thursday, for a few days in France and a few days in Denmark. Probably around the time when George Bush the Sock Puppet orders the bombers to start killing Arabs for peace and democracy. Not that it worries me overly much in terms of potential terror attacks, even though we're flying over London. Just interesting timing.
[ | 2003-03-17 23:59 | 0 comments | PermaLink ]

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