Archive for the ‘Open Business’ Category

Codeathon Bounties

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

A compelling case study: At Bay Area Drupal last year, I met Sean Larkin  of ThinkShout who reported his work for a Drupal Distribution, Watershed Now, ( which he made for a group of nonprofits. To develop the program, $16,000 was needed. Whereas nonprofits are often cash-strapped, especially in the current economy, by pooling resources, they were able to develop software that none of them could afford individually, and each nonprofit received a $20,000 Drupal product for a fraction. In addition to the cost savings to a larger group of users, Sean noted that by coordinating necessary specs between the  users  he ended up with a much more complete product description than working with a single customer.  As a result, the end product was more widely useful to a larger group of nonprofits than it would have been if it were built solely on the wishlist of a single user. This particular case  is a win for the Free Open Source Software movement because it provides a generalized model for cost-effective collaboration for nonprofit organizations.

I want to explore this scenario further to illustrate how it could work in a codeathon. Representatives of the nonprofits can proactively form a consortium which will create specs RFP-style and release them as a project with a bounty. At the codeathon event itself, programmers will write the code and test the software. At the end of the process, the representatives of the NPOs will review the demos and act as a jury who award the bounty. It is preferable if the programmers coordinate their efforts–we don’t want multiple versions of the same basic code–but in some cases, the same tool can be created in different programming languages or for alternative platforms. The jury will reward the tool which best suits their needs. Despite the judging, the codeathon is not about competition, rather its purpose is to create the best and most utilitarian Free Open Source Software. The codeathon is at heart a collaborative process which encourages organizations to pool resources effectively and to develop more widely applicable specs and products.

The panel could include more than representatives of the NPOs—for instance, design experts. What are your thoughts about a jury panel for a codeathon? How can the bounty process be made more collaborative?  Please share them below in the comments.


Lazy trumps all – for the supporters of SOPA and PIPA

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

One of my favorite quotes from Hunter Ellinger is: “Necessity may be the mother of invention, but laziness is the father.”  (I don’t know if he said it first, but that’s where I heard it first.)

I find that quote to be accurate in so many ways.

I look for how to get the most leverage and the quickest win.  The normal arguments about doing the, “right thing”, unfortunately, don’t always apply. It doesn’t help that the industry itself isn’t really trusted or viewed as doing the “right thing.”

So in regards to SOPA and PIPA – we have to ask: “what are the real goals here?”

If the REAL goal is to sponsor the artists and make their lives sustainable, then we need to take advantage of people’s laziness.  Set up something like iTunes appstore for individual artists and give them a fair cut.

Or perhaps we should better pursue something like YouTube’s commodification for popular creators/posters.  If you have a popular enough channel, you can actually make a living off of it.  But then, YouTube actually understands the Long Tail in regards to content creation.

Another option would be something like a donation jar like the website which allows you to give micropayments to content creators and bloggers.

I also like the idea of microdonations for nonprofits.  But again, make it easy…  Appstore purchases are only a password away!

Also don’t force me to “steal” to enjoy something I have already purchased.

RIAA and MPAA need to start looking towards more convenient purchase models like iTunes and Paypal.  (Though Paypal could be a lot easier IMHO.)  It is so easy for me to do “the right thing” on iTunes.  Imagine instead that more artists saw direct profits like developers do on the appstore…  How would that change many peoples’ purchasing habits?

I also hope and dream that someday Facebook will realize the amazing monitization that could occur if they looked at things a little more like YouTube and realized that we are not the content to be sold to advertisers but instead are the artists that could be supported by our friends.


Capture the flag!

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

If you come to a discussion with a set position you turn the discussion into a game of capture the flag.

The goal then becomes to affect the position you have staked territory on.  This greatly limits creativity in regards to end goals.

We often unconsciously do this by stating a position and settling on it before considering all of our options and talking with the people who matter most (friends, partners, employees, customers.) If you plan on negotiating from your position… you have already shot your self in the foot (going with the military strategy metaphor:-).)

Try stating things in regards to goals you would like to achieve instead of positions. Remember, it is EASY to add your favorite tactics or tools after others have contributed.  And try not to create goals that predetermine tactics. For example: “I want 10K twitter followers by tomorrow” as a stated goal instead of, “I want to have a viable two way conversation with our most influential customers.”

Don’t accidentally make tactics and tools the end goal and the primary focus for your team.  Goals are the true end game – don’t lose sight of them.

PS: Capture the flag is a great teaching tool for your troops when it comes time to determine how best to use the tools and tactics given :-) Just don’t limit them upfront!


WDYDWYD part 2

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

So I ignored the signs about identity. I waffled back and forth trying to create privacy on important things like home addresses while trying to maintain my brand. In a way I was forced into it. Whenever anyone hears the name Silona and they know me – they assume it is me. It’s a reasonable assumption. But when some students of mine discovered, I realized I had more to do. was a porn site for a dominatrix in the Czech Republic. Unfortunately she never showed her face and hard dark hair and a similar build to mine. Everyone seemed to believe me that it wasn’t me but.. the seeds of doubt were there. I knew I had to work more on creating and preserving my own identity. And I was tired of addressing the issue – “no that isn’t me…”

So I gave up on privacy. For me it had become a lost cause. So many sites and agencies wanted my address and phone. It had accidentally been published. So many things depended on my SSN and name. I had already been stalked once and because of that Dad and I had done concealed handgun classes together. (Yes I own 4 guns. Yes I am a Texan and a military brat.) I realized privacy as secrecy was a thing of the past – it just took me awhile to completely accept it.

I know it’s hard. I mean I do large scale databases for a living.

So I went looking for a way to fix it… my first attempt was a royal failure.  I realized things don’t just need to be available.  They need to be equitable.

As individuals, the electronic medium was forcing us to be transparent to businesses and government but they did not have to report back to us.

I decided to strive to create more equitable relationships.  Step was get government transparent… step two was business.  But I didn’t tell many people.  See in 2004 in Texas – most people already thought I was a little “unrealistic.” (to put  it nicely.)

Recently though I refocused.  Now I am focused on citations for government documents, creating citable data, and openbanking.


Banking: 1) trust and credit

Friday, November 13th, 2009

So I keep rewatching that clip of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” the bank run…

And I can’t help but think about how intertwined it all is.  This notion of trust and banking and how it doesn’t work without trust…

So what is trust?

Main Entry: 1trust

Pronunciation: \ˈtrəst\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse traust trust; akin to Old English trēowe faithful — more at true
Date: 13th century

1 a : assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something b : one in which confidence is placed
2 a : dependence on something future or contingent : hope b : reliance on future payment for property (as merchandise) delivered : credit <bought furniture on trust>
3 a : a property interest held by one person for the benefit of another b : a combination of firms or corporations formed by a legal agreement; especially : one that reduces or threatens to reduce competition
4 archaic : trustworthiness
5 a (1) : a charge or duty imposed in faith or confidence or as a condition of some relationship (2) : something committed or entrusted to one to be used or cared for in the interest of another b : responsible charge or office c : care, custody <the child committed to her trust>

in trust : in the care or possession of a trustee

Wow… look at how much even the definition of trust involves banking concepts.  I didn’t expect that… Primarily because  our main usage is something a bit more amorphous.

So I turn to wikipedia for something more:

The wikipedia page talks about  trust being more emotional and deeper than just reliance…  I believe that is crucial to understanding how the public feels in regards to the banks and the banking situation.  It is not the mere disappointment of a broken system that they rely on instead it the emotional reaction of broken trust. But why such emotion?  I mean it is just a system right?

But if I search again on the term “regaining trust”… the majority of articles are about cheating spouses.  I think this is also telling in regards to the level of betrayal people feel in regards to trust.

Banking for most of time has been a very personal relationship.  It has only changed in the past 30yrs where people no longer know their banker.  I think that emotional connection is very important in regaining trust in banking.  I do think it’s going to take some serious work to be regained much like dealing with a spouse that has cheated.

My solution… transparency.

We have to admit what is wrong and put structures in place that illustrate we won’t do it again.  I can’t help but refer again to the art of apology from website.  We might not be responsible (after all we are creating something new.)  But it doesn’t matter.  Apologize anyhow and show how it isn’t going to happen again.  Show how and why people can trust you again.  Show them how you will protect them. So they can believe and have hope. Because in the end… it is emotional.

I think that communicating trust is going to be key for creating a new bank and it’s why I made it my first topic for my series of banking posts.


“OPEN” really? … I mean Really?

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

So a bunch of people are throwing around the word “Open” lately and I have to admit I am more than a bit offended by its abuse.

I think the biggest irony currently is Adobe’s use of the word considering their PDF’s are some of the most closed items on the planet as far as govt publications are concerned. I think I would be more supportive if they actually OPENED that up.

And of course you have another noxious offender Facebook claiming their API is “OPEN.” Check out Louis Grey’s post of definitions

I purposely stopped saying “TRANSPARENT Government” a few years back even though I had been using the term since 2004. (and had registered just about every domainURL version under the sun) Basically, I realized just having the data available somewhere buried on the site was not enough. It had to be easily accessible as well. So I jumped on the “OPEN” bandwagon. And started referring to “Open Government” instead of transparent government.

But I also found that term to be lacking as well and created a new word for what I wanted. CITABILITY – which goes beyond available or accessible. It has set definitions. It must be citable also. This has a long and fairly well defined history – So it creates a stronger term that is less subject to abuse.  And defines a specific goal.

Add to the term “citability” – the specifications on the website and the implementations being posted to and you have a more enforceable definition. That I am hoping a community of people will support.

Also add in the time date stamp portions and you have versioning and accountability. This makes “citability” goes way past the generalized concept of “OPEN” and creates something specific.

I think we need to be careful about using such fluid terms…

(and since a silona blog post wouldn’t be complete without a reverse navel gazing about how I make be doing the same mistake i am critiquing…)

Which makes me ponder posting a better definition of “OPENBANKING” I want to incorporate the best of OPEN in regards to banking to create EARNED trust.

Time to make a quick ruleset. Since I am inventing this term and all and being one of the first to blog about it. (at least so far as I have found anyhow :-))

Now Adobe… let’s talk about Citability and standards in regards to your PDF’s… I’m sure we can figure something out to not just help you to be OPEN but Citable as well. I know you guys aren’t actually evil in regards to this just monolithic which results in being slow.


mutual data ownership – stop giving away money

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

I was reading an interesting blog post today

Where he basically ponders the loss of control of data… esp in regards to the cloud.

The current scenario of you (individuals, businesses, groups etc) uploading all your information onto the cloud without proper contractual safeguards means that you have no control over your data…

This is why I am arguing we need to have mutual ownership of data. The multiple parties get to have a traceroute of thier mutual owned data. We can see who has touched it and where it has been. That portion becomes immutable (and if the data is important enough hashed and tagged in multiple locations for verification purposes.)

We can then create contracts with these cloud entities about individual ownership and force them to acknowledge our mutual ownership of the data.

Currently you give aware tons and tons of money every day! Why do you think google and facebook is worth Billions? because you GAVE it to them (forever and ever amen.) Every single idle thought, your favorite movies, your friends listing, your best friend listing, your address, your email, your game playing behavior, every thing you would never give a survey or the government – you have given to them AND most importantly SIGNED THE RIGHT TO THEM. and yea honey – that is worth some serious cash because it is some serious power.

We need a Creative Commons style contract for all this data. So that we can create some checks and balances here!

because it gets scarier than Google and Facebook (how can it get worse that a behavioral profile of all my searches?)

well it can become a profile of how you spend your money (credit cards, shoppingcards) which could effect your credit rating (hello thoughtcrime?)

or your gps data (hello ATT – or have we forgotten about them giving everything away without a search warrant?)

There is a reason Sandy Pentland calls datamining on gps data “reality mining.” Because there is NOTHING more revealing that is being gathered on you today… and nothing worth more money!

take ownership! get paid for it! sue for damages when it is stolen or misused!


3 tweets about Data ownership

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

1) How can you tell when you do not fully own the data? when people can lie to you about it :-) #dataownership #openbank

2) How do you know data is mutually owned? When at least two parties are needed to verify it as true #dataownership #openbank

3) I am amazed at the people/businesses who are offended at the idea of “mutually owned” data then complain about “false” data

I wrote these as simple ways to explain the concept of mutually owned data. It seems there are many people who feel that data is like an object and only has one owner.

I think most data is created and is actually more like a child with parents. Those parents have responsibilities to the child data they create. Good parents understand accountability and citability. Bad parents let their data roam around abused and used and often corrupted :-)


Open Banking, metrics and money

Friday, September 25th, 2009

metrics metrics metrics

With an openbank I get to prove a concept with the most old fashioned metric there is – money…

for what is money than the most generally accepted metric?

I want to educate people about the ownership of their data. No better way than to attach it to their money.
Show them that Data is the new money.
No better way to prove to businesses that people care than to make alot of money off of it.
No better way to get other banks to follow suit than to take money away from them.

yep I am a bit of a more pragmatic gal these days…


Open bank proposal and women

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Doing more research on my Open Banking proposal (due in less that a week) and I am noticing many females coming to sisterly similar conclusions. This is very odd to me coming from the world of computer programming and gaming as well as politics. There just aren’t very many gals…

I also have thought of the banking industry as nothing but men… and yet these new concepts are all being reflected in women’s work. I’m not gonna preach but that does say something to me and makes me feel oddly happy and confident to see so many new sisters.

Kristin Moyer at Gartner

Cate Long at Riski

Kate Niederhoffer at Dachis Group