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Here's a shortcut to the ProjectVRM list. More details are under #10, below.


ProjectVRM's three sites are this wiki, a mailing list, and a Wordpress blog. The wiki and the list are hosted by the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard University. The blog was hosted at Harvard from 2007 to 2023. It is now independently maintained at what had been the shortlink for the Harvard blog:

About VRM

VRM stands for Vendor Relationship Management. VRM tools provide customers with both

  1. independence from vendors, and
  2. better ways of engaging with vendors.

The same tools can also support individuals' relations with schools, churches, government entities and other kinds of organizations.

For individuals, VRM tools and services provide or increase personal autonomy and agency.

For vendors and other service providers, VRM is the customer-side counterpart of CRM (or Customer Relationship Management) and other systematic means for engaging individuals.

In commercial contexts, VRM tools provide customers — that's all of us — with ways to operate with full agency in the marketplace. This includes the ability to control and permit the use of personal data, to aassert intentions in ways that can be understood and respected, and to protect personal privacy. VRM tools also provide ways for each of us to bear bear our own side of relationship burdens, and to have the same kind of scale across many vendors as vendors have across many customers. (An example of scale: being able to change one's address, phone number or last name, for every entity with which a customer deals, in one move.)

VRM relieves vendors of the perceived need to "capture," "acquire," "lock in," "manage," and otherwise employ the language and thinking of slave-owners when dealing with customers. With VRM operating on the customer's side, CRM systems will no longer be alone in trying to improve the ways companies relate to customers. Customers will be also be involved, as fully empowered participants, rather than as captive followers.

VRM Principles

VRM development work is based on the belief that free customers (and citizens) are more valuable than captive ones — to themselves, to vendors, and to the larger economy. To be free,

  1. Customers must enter relationships with vendors as independent actors.
  2. Customers must be the points of integration for their own data.
  3. Customers must have control of data they generate and gather. This means they must be able to share data selectively and voluntarily.
  4. Customers must be able to proffer their own terms of engagement—and to have auditable records of all contracts to which both sides agree.
  5. Customers must be free to express their demands and intentions outside of any one company's control.

VRM Goals

In the "Markets Are Relationships" chapter of the 10th Anniversary edition of The Cluetrain Manifesto, Doc Searls writes this about the goals of VRM efforts:

  1. Provide tools for individuals to manage relationships with organizations. These tools are personal. That is, they belong to the individual in the sense that they are under the individual's control. They can also be social, in the sense that they can connect with others and support group formation and action. But they need to be personal first.
  2. Make individuals the collection centers for their own data, so that transaction histories, health records, membership details, service contracts, and other forms of personal data are no longer scattered throughout a forest of silos.
  3. Give individuals the ability to share data selectively, without disclosing more personal information than the individual allows.
  4. Give individuals the ability to control how their data is used by others, and for how long. At the individual's discretion, this may include agreements requiring others to delete the individual's data when the relationship ends.
  5. Give individuals the ability to assert their own terms of service, reducing or eliminating the need for organization-written terms of service that nobody reads and everybody has to "accept" anyway.
  6. Give individuals means for expressing demand in the open market, outside any organizational silo, without disclosing any unnecessary personal information.
  7. Make individuals platforms for business by opening the market to many kinds of third party services that serve buyers as well as sellers
  8. Base relationship-managing tools on open standards and open APIs (application program interfaces). This will support a rising tide of activity that will lift an infinite variety of business boats plus other social goods.

VRM Tools

These are ideal characteristics of VRM tools:

  1. VRM tools are personal. As with hammers, wallets, cars and mobile phones, people use them as individuals,. They are social only in secondary ways.
  2. VRM tools help customers express intent. These include preferences, policies, terms and means of engagement, authorizations, requests and anything else that’s possible in a free market, outside any one vendor’s silo or ranch.
  3. VRM tools help customers engage. This can be with each other, or with any organization, including (and especially) its CRM system.
  4. VRM tools help customers manage. This includes both their own data and systems and their relationships with other entities, and their systems.
  5. VRM tools give customers scale across multiple vendors. This means customers can express an intent, or save a setting, or change an entry in a form (e.g. phone number or email address), across many different vendor systems, with one action."
  6. VRM tools are substitutable. They don't lock individuals into any company's silo.

VRM Development Work

The list is too long to put here. So go to the VRM Development Work page.

We also have a Cooperative_Work page.

VRM Research

ProjectVRM is a D&R — Development and Reserch — project. Development has always come first. For more on VRM research, see our Research page.

Also, after more than a dozen years at this, it is clear that Amara's Law applies: We tend to overestimate in the short term and underestimate in the long.

At this writing (September, 2022), Doc Searls, who started and runs ProjectVRM, is (with his wife Joyce) a visiting scholar with the Ostrom Workshop at Indiana University, working on a VRM project called the Byway, which will be researched closely as it rolls out in Bloomington, Indiana, home of the university. This is the first time Doc is working directly on a VRM development project, rather than just encouraging many projects.

ProjectVRM Resources

Conference Call archive and audio links can be found at the Community Portal page.

Privacy Manifesto

ProjectVRM hosts the draft of a Privacy Manifesto that lives on this wiki, and which has also appeared in earlier versions elsewhere, such as here on Medium.

VRM Events

Regular Events

The two events where the VRM community is gathered and maintained both happen in the same weeks, at the same location, twice per year, Spring and Fall. Those are VRM Day and IIW, the Internet Identity Workshop. VRM Day happens on the Monday preceding IIW, which happens the next three days (Tuesday through Thursday), at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, which is at the center of Silicon Valley, midway between its two main airports (SFO, for San Francisco and SJC, for San Jose).

The purpose of VRM day is to prep for the following three days at IIW. Note that IIW is an unconference, so its topics are whatever those participating choose. VRM is always one of the main topics.

Upcoming Events


  • VRM Day 2022b

Past Events


  • VRM Day 2022a


  • VRM Day 2021a
  • VRM Day 2021b



  • VRM Day 2019a
  • VRM Day 2019b



  • VRM Day 2017b
  • VRM Day 2017a








  • VRM+CRM 2010 August 26-27 Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.



Other meetings and workshops take place before and during Internet Identity Workshops in Mountain View, California, each Fall and Spring. Also see Events page for some past events.

ProjectVRM Participation

We have two mailing lists:

You can edit this wiki by:

  • registering up at the top of this page
  • sending e-mail to the Project VRM mailing list asking to be enabled as an editor (to combat the spam problem). Be sure you provide your actual handle (username)

Here is a list of "VRooMers" on Twitter.

We encourage you to use the hashtag #VRM when blogging or tweeting about the topic.