There is an unspoken assumption when one engages in a transaction, it is _one_ transaction. Most of the time the transaction getting the attention is the one that deals with money.
Do you pay in cash, credit card, mobile wallet, via square, via a different app on a smart phone? There's a lot of information about that kind of transaction that goes uncaptured.
Value like your Yelp rating, your LinkedIn Recommendations - experiences you have about the transaction itself. Meta-Transaction information. With the help of Information Technology, this is changing.
Still from my short future film, Fly Me to the Moon,
of a Smart Check with specific integrated rating mechanism.
We know the importance of having a good reputation. It used to be calculated by the size of your rolodex. Today, we have LinkedIn Recommendations. While I can't cash out my LinkedIn Recommendations to pay my rent, they do have a direct influence on my cash flow.
Our consumption today is more sophisticated than ever - did we really care about shade grown free trade coffee before 2002? Or whether our consumer goods were made in ethical factories? (I'm looking at you Nike and Apple.) Perhaps not so much.
These values are generally difficult to specifically track. Sure the trends are strong, but the lines are fuzzy and often understood only after a delay (and there's a positive feedback loop going here too). Information Technology could change this.
From the results of my research on transactions, I coined a new phrase: "Value-Encoded Currency." I use this term to describe a bunch of new "currencies" being explored in the marketplace. I use the term currency creatively - I do not limit it to financial instruments such as the dollar, euro, yen or renminbi. I may not go so far to say that data or reputation are currencies in themselves - in some ways they are, but they also lack some key characteristics and are generally pools of currency potential. Reputation and data have values and I consider them proto-currencies.
Bitcoin is a better example of a Value-Encoded Currency because it has both the characteristics of a traditional currency (exchange, transactions, an agreed upon value that can be exchanged) and it ALSO has specific values encoded into the DNA of the currency. The values encoded in Bitcoin are peer-to-peer, decentralization, distrust in government/central agencies and highly technical. (Based on my survey from Summer of 2011.)
To some extent the US Dollar is a value encoded currency, with (watered-down) values of capitalism, free open markets, circulation, the American Dream.
This is what I mean by a Value-Encoded Currency. The currency has certain values associated with it.
People will care about these values as we increase they ways (which includes apps and hardware dongles like Square) we can pay for things. More on that later... let me get back to Klout.
I've watched Klout since it opened. I was skeptical at first. I did not agree with the behavior its ranking system encouraged. You could game the system, rewarding people with higher scores for certain behavior. This made the system that Klout is trying to create less valuable overall. (Or perhaps only valuable to those who wanted to play within the Klout ecosystem.) Perhaps they realized that, with their two score resets (that I remember).
I interpret these score resetting or algorithmic tweaking as QA testing. They're not testing their software, they're adjusting the intelligence of the system.
Klout is one of few companies exploring these waters, and I see it as the tip of an iceberg. That is, if they don't get seduced into the world of advertising and marketing building their network audience only to sell them out to the highest bidders. The advertising model is at best short to medium term. There is a much bigger pie long term, and Klout could play a defining role in that. Klout is already playing a defining role in it.
Long-term, Klout could become a platform for currency creation based on specific values. Take their K score and a dating matching algorithm add etsy and an open market transaction. Throw in local and collaborative consumption for the icing and cherry. A platform for creating and managing value encoded currencies. As the platform for these currencies, it could create/support/enable a mechanism for inter-market exchanges of value encoded currencies.
Currently no platform for this exists. I always saw this utility provided by an entity that was more standards based (ahem, who was my last client?), but hey, the open market is a wonderful thing.
This is why I watch Klout. This is why I think this company could be poised to transform the future in a way few of us can imagine.
If I'm honest with my futurist self, based on my research and the trends extrapolating into possible futures, it's not a question of IF this functionality will be created, but only BY WHOM.
Society, consumers, people are demanding this type of currency. They're being fed a shallow version of it through marketing and brand rewards - but the hunger is not sated. The behavior has been primed by virtual (gaming) and alternate (rewards type) currencies. And many people are experimenting already with systematic work arounds (reselling gift cards network).
It's only a matter of time, and who.
Klout is one company that could execute on the possibility. And that is why I watch them.