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 Xpertweb2003-03-17 23:59
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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.

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