Let’s scale #intentcasting

seesawScale for customers means being able to issue signals to whole markets in one move.

Imagine, for example, calling for a ride, and getting it from whatever service might be listening. Could be Uber, Lyft, a car service, a taxi company or a private individual. You should be able to do this anonymously until you’re ready to do business, and then disclose just what the other party needs to know.

Imagine being able to change your address, phone number or last name with all the companies you deal with, again in one move.

This is do-able. But it can’t be done unless it is approached from the customers’ side. This customer-side approach defines VRM.

Toward that, there is lots of development work going on. On the ProjectVRM wiki we list many dozens of development projects, including  22 startups in the Intelligent Personal Assistant and intentcasting categories (“†” signifies a commercial effort):

Intelligent Personal Assistants

  • iNeed † “Your own personal assistant.”
  • MyWave † “‘Frank’ puts the customer in control of “getting personalised experiences anytime, anywhere, on any device.”


Note: Intelligent Personal Assistants, above, by nature also do intentcasting.

  • About2Buy † “A Collaborative Commerce System to Align Internet Buyers & Sellers Via Multiple Channels of Social Distribution.”
  • Crowdspending † “… gives each of us the power of all of us.”
  • GetHuman † “Need to contact a company? Or have them call you? Get customer service faster and easier.”
  • Greentoe † “Finally…There’s a New Way to Shop! Name Your Price & We Negotiate For You.”
  • HireRush † “Connecting people who are looking for work and locals who need to hire trusted professionals.”
  • HomeAdvisor † “We help you find trusted home improvement pros.”
  • Indie Dash Button “This … turns traditional advertising on its head, and removes the need for complicated targeting technology. Customers readily identify themselves, creating more valuable sales channels where guesswork is all but eliminated.”
  • Intently † “Request any service anywhere with Intently.co.”
  • Instacart † “The best way to shop for groceries — Delivered from the stores you love in one hour”
  • Magic † “Text this phone number to get whatever you want on demand with no hassle…”
  • Mesh † “Connect with only the things you love… See ads from brands that matter to you. And block the ones that don’t.”
  • MyTime † “Book appointments for anything.”
  • Nifti † – Intentcasting “puts” in the market at customer (or community-) -chosen prices
  • Pikaba † “Pikaba is Social Shopping Platform that captures consumer intent to purchase and connects them with the right local business.”
  • PricePatrol † “monitors nearby stores for what you want at the price you want”
  • RedBeacon † “Trusted pros for a better home.”
  • TaskRabbit † “Tell us what you need, let us know what we can take off your plate, choose a Tasker, hire one of our fully vetted Taskers to get the job done.”
  • Thumbtack † “We help you hire experienced professionals at a price that’s right.”
  • TrackIf † “Track your favorite sites for sales, new items, back-in-stock, and more.”
  • WebOfNeeds – “A distributed marketplace driven by customer needs.”
  • yellCast † “What you want, where you want it.”
  • Zaarly † “Hire local, hand-picked home services. We moderate every job and guarantee happiness at virtually any cost.”

But so far only two projects on those lists — the Indie Dash Button — and WebOfNeeds — give people (and companies helping them, such as those on the two lists) an open source way to scale across multiple vendors with the same signaling method. (I am sure there are more. If you know some, or want us to correct this list, please let us know and we’ll make the changes.)

Talk about intentcasting has increased lately, thanks to the need for better signaling from demand to supply at a time when more than 200 million souls are blocking ads, and there is a growing sense that this is a crisis for advertisers and publishers that’s too good to waste —and that the best either of those parties can do is a better job of listening for signals from the marketplace that are beyond their control but will do them some good. Intentcasting is one of those signals.

Intentcasting is a good signal because it’s friendly and comes from either new customers wanting to spend or existing customers wanting to relate (for example, to obtain services). In the former case it fits nicely into the existing need (and programmatic interfaces for) lead generation. In the latter case it speaks straight to call centers. What matters most is that both come voluntarily and straight from prospective or actual customers.

I’m wondering if there is a semantic-ish approach to Intentcasting. By that I mean a vernacular of abbreviated simple statements of what one is looking for. Example: “2br 2ba apt 10019” means a two bedroom and two bath apartment in the 10019 zip code.

Again, what matters most here is that these signals need to be issued to the marketplace outside of the silo system that currently comprises way too much of the business world. I know the IndieWeb folks have worked on something like this. (Theirs is the Indie Dash Button, mentioned above).

And I know there are already bitcoin/blockchain appraoches too.  For eample, @MrChrisEllis’s ProTip, which facilitates Bitcoin payments in a nearly frictionless way. There are the broad outlines of possibility in both EmanciTerm and EmanciPay, which are design models we’ve had for years. (ProTip is an example of the latter.)

We could also use a good generic symbol for intent. I don’t know of one, or it would have made the cover of The Intention Economy. The star photo above is the best I could come up with for a visual to go with this post. But the lazyweb should do better than that.

Whatever we come up with, the time could hardly be more right.

[This post was impelled by the need to enlarge on my comment under Move Over, Doc Searls: It’s Time For A New Intention Economy by Kaila Colbin (@kcolbin) in MediaPost. Thanks, Kaila, for getting me going. :-)]



  1. Bill Wendel

    Doc, Glad you used an example from real estate to illustrate your point because I’m attending the Realtors convention right now in San Diego, scanning for VRM-y functionality, and selectively seeding a real estate track in MIT’s http://FutureCommerce.civics.com hackathon, 11/20-22/15.

    The recent ProjectVRM thread on agency issues has serious implications for intentcasting in real estate where listing silos and dual agency conflicts of interest are still the norm.

    Intentcasting in real estate could deliver billions in consumer savings annually and open up the choke hold on inventory (small number of active listings relative to demand). There’s also an important role for a large scale “4th party” to advocate for a consumer-centric open ecosystem as the industry transitions into the future:


    If you follow @CRTLabs you’ll see Realtor IoT projects, and an Om.ie-like initiative they’re calling “Rosetta Home.” I’m generally a critic of the industry but http://RESO.org is an independent standards group and their own hack (PlugFest) suggests that their members might be open to FutureCommerce.

    Bill Wendel
    Sent from my iPhone: 617-661-4046

  2. Doc Searls

    Thanks, Bill, for all the good work you’ve been doing to help make #VRM happen in real estate.

    Obviously, I agree that the opportunity in that category is huge. Homes are the largest purchases most of us will ever make, and the system could use a major overhaul, starting from the buy side of the marketplace.

    Please keep us posted on progress. I also encourage others to join in and follow Bill’s leadership here.

  3. Kevin Cox

    The key to intent casting is in having connections to vendors and having easy access to information to formulate your intentions. It is coming to a vendor near you because of the idea of the “permanent identity” that many vendors like Amazon already deploy.

    Both vendors and customers want the Intention Economy, Vendors have the intention to sell us goods and services and customers have the intention to buy the vendor’s goods and services.

    Ad blocking frees us to communicate with whom we want. Ad blocking is better termed ad choice and ad choice is part of the intention economy.

    Ad Blocking is a precursor to a change in electronic communication. Ad blocking, spam filters, silent telephone numbers, “no junk mail” signs, are what happens when we get control over who and when and with whom we communicate and connect.

    The permanent web (IPFS.io) gives both vendors and customers the ability to create electronic permanent identities. Welcomer is an early permanent identity technology built on top of the permanent web. The permanent identity from Welcomer is a set of distributed connections where the connections are peer to peer. There is no central directory. There is no single identity. There are just peer to peer connections where each party has rights. This approach is likely to prevail because the connections are simple and includes all existing id systems. Putting many connections of different types together leads to complexity in the resulting emergent structures. These are the conditions under which complexity and adaptability to fit the environment evolve.

    There are many ways to build a permanent web and we can expect there to be many variations on IPFS.io such as CloudOS. Similarly there will be many ways we can build permanent identities and we can expect many variations on Welcomer. There are already millions of electronic ids the best known ones being Facebook id and Amazon id and Google id and the various country ids and they are not going to go away. Generic id systems, like Welcomer, that sit over the top of existing ids will proliferate.

    With Welcomer the individual will have a set of permanent connections with vendors. The individual will be able to decide with whom they want to do business and the terms under which they will buy. Vendors will also be able to decide to whom they want to sell and they will decide whether or not to do business with customers who try to cheat them.

    What this means is the intention economy will happen because individuals will have permanent electronic identities where there is no central control or directory and where they will be able to choose whether to connect to any vendor independently of any other party and they will know the terms of each connection. Those vendors who respect their wishes will be the ones to whom they will connect.

    Permanent electronic identities will happen because a permanent identity with one vendor is to the advantage of both the vendor and the person. That is, there is no “critical mass” problem because one connection to a vendor is valuable and saves vendors large amounts of money. This happens because the Welcomer permanent identity gives vendors “a single view” of their customers across all their divisions and channels. This is inexpensive to deploy. See https://youtu.be/qb48uxatRfo

    There will be different sets of connections for different reasons. That is there will be different identities for particular purposes and they will only intersect if the entity allows them to.

    In the world of permanent identities any “thing” has an identity and functionally there is no difference between a person and a house. We can have an electronic relationship with the place we live and when we want to find a new place to live we will communicate directly with the dwelling as well as with the neighbours, the owner, and the community in which we will intend to live.

    It is interesting to speculate how this electronic world of things will evolve. We know from observing the evolution of complex systems in the natural world that it will be rich in complexity and take many many different forms. The next few years is going to be a fun time.

  4. Kevin Cox

    Welcomer is Open Source. IPFS.io is Open Source.

  5. Kenneth Hashim

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  7. Jual Ladyfem

    I think all will go smoothly, with various projects to open up a broad insight

  8. TJ Murphy

    Gradschoolmatch.com is intent casting.

    Our site helps prospective graduate students and graduate programs discover each other. Each declare who they are, what they do, and what they offer each other. Not just the prospects, but also the programs in this marketplace, have their own selection filters (imagine an auto dealer that rejects customers). So it is all operates in a very personal, one-to-one, discriminate level.

    The core functionality of our website makes bringing the right ones together very simply and precisely. And since our mission is to be trusted and authoritative, privacy is the bedrock. So we don’t sell our data. We just use it to try to make our machine work better.

    As our concept continues to gain traction (>quarter million users; programs from >100 Universities using it at this writing), I’ve been thinking lately about what term and concept best describes our business model and what we over users.

    Intent Casting fits us well. We just built business model intuitively, based upon a set of principles derived from understanding the market we operate within and the quality of users we’d want to attract, without really knowing we are on the vanguard of a coalescing theme.

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