And Why Is It One Of The Most Powerful Concepts In the World Right Now?
We all think that we know the Internet, and to an extent, we do. The story is familiar even to non-techies — first came the Internet of Information, little more than hypertext brochures and crosslinks. Then came the Internet of Commerce, where we learned to buy goods and services online. Now we are fast approaching the Internet of Things, which promises (or threatens) to connect "all the things" that we have, from cars to TVs, to toasters — and to varying degrees we accept that the IoT will bring significant changes, hopefully beneficial, to how we live and work.
But there is another , more powerful and mind-blowing Internet that has been brewing silently, off the radar, for the past few years. In fact, only in the past year or so has it even become clear to those of us in the industry — and it’s huge. This new expression of the Internet will relegate everything before it to a mere delivery mechanism. Over time, it will change almost every facet of our collective being, as we define that being today. And it will create innumerable distributed marketplaces on most parts of the earth, unlocking trillions of dollars.
First, a bit of recent history from that time long ago when you first heard the word Bitcoin. Perhaps it seems like centuries to you, or perhaps yesterday. There is a chance that a good percentage of those reading this still haven’t even heard of it. When Bitcoin became a (relatively) mainstream concept, very few understood how an algorithm could become a tradable asset. Now that there are over 600 digital currencies, it’s more clear that like any currency, it is consensus and belief that will drive how new forms of capital exist (or don’t). But it turns out that Bitcoin itself is not really the main show here… rather, it has opened doors of perception, posed questions differently and teed up an avalanche of newness that could shake up – and perhaps wake up – the entire connected world.
What 600-plus currencies really represent are 600-plus new and very different definitions of value. And this is where things get much more interesting.
"…we think of this phenomenon in terms of money moving as effortlessly as information does on the web today."
Now forget Bitcoin altogether. Whether you believe in it or not is relatively unimportant. What is here to stay – what we’re left with – is a platform whereby how we perceive value will increasingly become more crucial to our growth as a species, eventually creating cultural and societal shifts that defy our limited analog imaginations. It’s crucial to begin thinking about this now, because tomorrow is already here.
Defining value has long been in the prevue of culture – perhaps since the beginning of culture itself. Value touches on both the abstract and the concrete. Money is an abstract, beauty is physical. Notions of what is secure or risky, good or bad, blessed or foul, these are all judgements of value and they are wired into every existing culture.
In this very start of the IoV, we think of this phenomenon in terms of money moving as effortlessly as info action does on the web today. Companies like Ripple Labs are working with banks to reduce the cost of money transmission, among other things. The Blockchain — Bitcoin’s underlying protocol — is a sector unto itself and already receiving funding outside of the currency it supports. Companies even newer than Ripple, like Blockverify, ONENAME and others are using the Blockchain’s "indelible ledger" features to enhance and in some cases revolutionize online security, verification, authentication, anti-piracy and a host of other issues that need addressing if the Internet is ever going to evolve and mature. And the fun starts here.
In a world where you can engage anyone, anywhere for anything – along with a secure mechanism for micropayments — a redefinition of what things are worth is a natural part of the thought process. What time is worth, what expertise is worth, what engagement is worth, etc. We are setting the stage for a multiverse of payment possibilities looking desperately for opportunities to engage in payment. How long before Facebook and LinkedIn have to compensate you for your attention and information? How long before the NY Times or the Guardian, pays you? Not long, I think. They already sell advertising and other data against your information, and when the money starts flowing on the web as easily as emails, you’re going to want your piece.
In the doing of all this, we will be forced to take a long hard look over time at new definitions of value. We’ve long known that the Internet has been disrupting and redefining lots of things; the workplace, family life, data, services, etc. But what happens when value itself is redefined? When you change deeply held beliefs do you also fundamentally change things themselves into new, perhaps unrecognizable forms? As humans, are we capable of managing change at hyperspeed? Because that’s what we’re going to get.
And what will this new event horizon mean to developing economies? Or to the unbanked of the world? Will they be in a better position to capitalize on these advancements? Will their former weaknesses become their ultimate strengths?
"Enterprise, education, startups, art, venture capital, philosophy, social sciences and others all have a stake in how we define the Internet of Value."
These questions, and more, are why we have focused our attention on exploring, managing and mastering the unstoppable Internet of Value. We want to do our part to make sure that there is cogent conversation about what this means for us, for developing markets, for marketing and advertising, for businesses large and small… for you.
Exploring these opportunities requires a multifaceted approach. Enterprise, education, startups, art, venture capital, philosophy, social sciences and others all have a stake in how we define and build the Internet of Value. In bringing these sectors together to help frame this very new territory, it is our hope at Agentic Group to provide a basis for understanding that includes, but also transcends profit; embraces change without succumbing to anarchy; and creates signal without the noise.