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Intentcasting is a way of issuing a Personal RFP† that says, for example,

  • "I need a stroller for twins in Glasgow in the next three hours."
  • "I need a laptop power supply near SFO this afternoon."
  • "I need to rent a minivan that seats six and has a roof rack in Salt Lake City next week."
  • "I need wheel rims for a 1967 Peugeot 404."
  • "I need a 200 watt 220-110 volt power converter in Copenhagen this afternoon"
  • "Here's a QR/barcode/photo of the boots I want in size 9E. Who can get them to me by tomorrow — without knowing yet who I am, while also knowing that I'm for real?"

Think of these as examples of how demand advertises to supply, rather than vice versa. It requires no guesswork about what the customer wants, or whether there is money on the table. The customer appears to the seller as a qualified lead, but not (unless she so chooses) as a target for future marketing, because the intentcast carries terms that you — the customer — assert, and to which the seller or intermediary must agree. (See EmanciTerm.)

The customer can also provide a sum he or she is willing to pay. He or she should be able to do this in a way that is secure and involves minimal disclosure of personal information. If the sum is escrowed at a bank or other institution as earnest ready-to-pay money on the table, that should be possible as well. More about this is covered on the EmanciPay page.

There are many ways this can be done now, through non-substitutable websites and services. Craigs List and eBay both provide means for requesting products. Twitter does too. And Etsy.

But in a networked marketplace we should not be limited only to what silo'd services provide. Intentcasting services, operating as Fourth parties (working on the buyer's behalf, rather than the seller's, or any group of sellers), would provide the security, selective disclosure, tracking, auditability and accountability that an individual might not have on their own. They could also note (and signal appropriately) loyalty, banking, shipping and other relationships the customer might have with sellers and other relevant parties in the market.

But to make intentcasting a true category, services should be substitutable.

As matters currently stand, there is an enormous sum of demand -- such as the RFPs mentioned above -- that can result in MLOTT (Money Left On The Table) if the supply side fails to hear the demand and complete a sale. As of today there is no equivalent of the RFP, RFI or RFQ for individuals, in the open marketplace. Yet demand exists. Money is there. What we need is the table.

That table is a set of protocols, rituals, systems and services for routing requests from demand to supply, and responses back. Setting up that table is a primary challenge for VRM, and one addressed by a number of companies and projects on the VRM Development Work page.

How intentcasting might work in another decade is described in "The Customer as a God, the VRM cover essay in the 20 July 2012 Wall Street Journal Review section.

Here is a list of intentcasting providers on the ProjectVRM Development Work list.


†In March 2009, when we first came up with this idea, we called it a Personal RFP. In November 2009, Scott Adams came up with a similar idea he called "broadcast shopping".