March 21 2007 Meeting notes

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This is a in-meeting draft. Please send any updates through IM to

  • jpandrieu on AIM or yahoo
  • 6541735 on ICQ
  • on MSN
  • joe.andrieu on Skype

Conference Call Notes

Drafted by Joe Andrieu, March 21, 2007


Next VRM Conference Call: Wednesday March 21 at 10:30 AM Pacific / 1:30 PM Eastern

Here are all the key details:

  • VRM Conference Call
  • Date: Wednesday, March 21, 2007
  • Time: 10:30 PDT, 1:30 EST
  • Dial-in Number: 1-218-486-1300 Please note, this is the NEW NUMBER to use!!
  • Conference Bridge Access Code #: 170658

As usual we are going to record the call for potential future use as a reference audio or podcast. The MP3s of the two prior calls can be found on the Community Portal page of the Project VRM wiki.

Do you have an agenda item for the call? Please send it to the group (or to me (DeanLand), if you're feeling shy).

Previous Meeting Links


(please update with last names & IM if you'd like a backchannel during the call...)

  • Joe Andrieu
    • jpandrieu on AIM or yahoo
    • 6541735 on ICQ
    • on MSN
    • joe.andrieu on Skype
  • Dean Landsman
    • On IRC: deanland
    • On AIM: deanlandsman
  • Doc Searls
  • Chris Carfi
  • Dan Miller
  • Drummond Reed
  • Ty Graham


what who when status
open id on wiki david no date
group blog/RSS to wiki (venus) doc no date Done, but needs multiple authors
project VRM definition/vision statemnts doc tomorrow still working on it
brainstorm Initiatives all ongoing
write up Public media initiative Doc Monday new
Set up Jabber Host for conference calls doc next week new
Polish VRM website Joe meeting in one week Next Item new
Bullwhip effect reference Chris Tomorrow new



From Deborah Schulz: Hey gang - I cannot make the call but I want to reiterate the two ways that we can participate at Supernova:

1- There will be an entire track on the "challenge day" devoted to the changing nature of markets/marketing. Perfect for some VRM discussions. Kevin (and I) really want Doc to participate in one of those conversations

2- have a second Project VRM face to face as part of the Unconference day before the official conference starts.

Just wanted to make sure the team was aware of the progress.

Second Project

Coming from Iain Henderson:

Desire to see a second project or guidance on how to do so. The radio program isn't as applicable over here in Europe.

I'm happy to take the lead on a project that relates to personal information and VRM - that is the space of most interest to me; I logged an initiative around that on the wiki a while back, although that one is big and wide - so maybe I need to come up with a smaller bite sized chunk, e.g. customers making cross-organisation purchase data available to preferred suppliers as Whit blogged about earlier in the week. I could have a prototype of that up and running before the May 14th event if that would be useful?

Doc: There is already a home for the Public Radio initiative, called Pub Forge, driven by the folks already in that space. The VRM group is in a great positive to support, rather than drive that initiative.

Process & Organization Development

This leads directly to how we grow our efforts organizationally. While we are new, we are operating as a Berkman project. The most inner group are the folks on these conference calls, volunteering to help move this idea from concept to reality. Then, heading outward is the Berkman support infrastructure and brand and resources. Then, further out are other projects that interrelate and help.

Our role is to be the authority on VRM so we can help other folks doing VRM, but not necessarily doing the work ourselves.

As we figure out what VRM is, having some sort of kit that would help people VRM-ify a company or process.

One of the driving questions is: in the simplest form, what is VRM in its most fundamental: 1. It's for the user, comes from the user, everything else is subordinated. Not so much user-centric, i.e., transforming existing systems toward the user, but a program that starts and is controlled from the user.

Something Doc has observed about all the Open Source efforts, although there is some moral center, there is some individual who is in charge, who has the moral authority to drive the process. Perhaps the best example is Linus and Linux. He has some basic principles that drive the style.

It's not so morally tied in, but if you look at Asterix, Mark Spencer has self-appointed as the determinator of what is or is not appropriate.

Recently at SXSW there was a great conversation about the final arbitrator and a team of validators, with a meritocratic view of how contributions are vetted.

One challenge is the disjoint between end users and the corporations that build the systems. In those cases, the population that is most impacted is often outside the process.

In these cases, there is some entity working as a proxy for the user, setting a framework for how we create value. It turns out to be a thankless job, because it is often invisible to the beneficiary. But if it actually builds momentum and grows out of Berkman into the real world, we can create a set of practices, design theory, etc., that can have significant impact.

Doc is seeking to get clear on his role. He is by nature a bit of a firestarter... sparking the fire and moving on. But he wants to be more active and more involved. No two open source projects are the same and plus, this isn't quite an open source project. I'd most like to see that the projects of the people on the team are doing becomes VRMy and succeeds. It is an interesting question, especially once we get funded. In fact, we just got a small amount of funding from an unexpected source. So things are developing. That begs the question of what do we want to do and how do we want to apply this money through the Berkman system.

Berkman likes to hold events or hire students. Those are two of their models for action. They have others.

How can we help what any of "you guys" are doing? Maybe there is some kind of standards and practices thing. Something that we could provide.

Question: What are the big payoffs for the average Internet users?

It allows consumers to be customers and not just consumers. It provides tools for both independence from vendor silos and engagement with vendors in a way that none of us have experienced yet.

One example: Single-sign on. The ability to control your identity as you sign on to various things across the net. The process at Yahoo wrt Flickr is incredibly frustrating. Doc has had to create three new Yahoo sign-ons trying to login to Flickr, and it is apparently still broken. We should be able to just login and forget about it. We don't need logins for the local store. Why do I need it online?

The difference is that VRM continues beyond the initiation of the relationship (Identity).

What we want to be able to do is share the meta-data around the relationship with the vendor. For example, a VRM wishlist would live with me as the user, not embedded in the vendor's silo. Where both parties have mutual access to that data.

Another example is projection. When I show up at a site, it should warp around me, just knowing what I want, based on standard identity-based preferences (such as text-size).

If you have a VRM-savvy client, you can get that projection without a separate interface.

Architecturally there is nothing that happens on the side of the customer. So, the websites can't even handle it. Can one organization do it? This is a revolution we are trying to start, and we can start at the edges.

Another point to be made is that when we look at CRM, there is no problem with Best Buy or Circuit City taking your wishlist if you choose to give it to them. We are creating a tool that lets Vendors and Users manage these engagements. CRM companies don't really care about users, its more about customer-specific marketing. The idea is to put this out in the user control. There is no problem with doing both. Say, I go to a given store and I ask for an XXXX. From the rest of my life, I'm likely to get hid with XXX-related ads. But it may be largely irrelevant to me, and is a waste of their marketing output. With VRM, we can avoid that.

If I were to put out a personal RFP that I were to buy a car and I control who can respond. As opposed to signing up for SPAM and offers, etc. I don't want to be locked into that consumer category. VRM allows users to emanate, but having control.

Amazon lets you have wishlist and share your wishlist. So perhaps part of what we might do is provide some sort of rating system about how VRM-y a vendor is.

I'd like to extend this beyond just VENDOR management, but also to have a personal RFI, extending beyond the personal vendor-customer relationship and creates new vendors out of people. There is a huge new potential in this area.

User-side, isolated customization.

  • Client side CSS
  • Grease monkey

But we don't need to be isolated. Think of a client-side plug-in with the opportunity to provide identity-aware cookies/data to the service. This data can be used to drive common customization capabilities in a manner that engages the vendor rather than just isolating the user.

Projects & Events

IIW Identity Open Space in Brussels

Let's look towards some of these events as landmarks as some of our work that we are doing independently.

Joe: I'd like to get a few visual and narrative explanations of how VRM fits into the big picture:

  • Map of related efforts (ecosystem), especial wrt identity efforts
  • Kernel/user space map: what is the core of VRM and what is use case specific?

In linux, the management of the ideal kernel drives design and development. Period. Don't add code to the kernal unless it improved the entire kernel, even if it /would/ help some particular application.

Our challenge is that we don't have a well defined kernel yet. We have a few underlying principles and a variety of use cases. We need to map out how these inter-relate.

Action Items

what who when status

Next Meeting

March 4, 1:30PM EST/10:30AM PST