Information Currency and Information Engineering

Information currency ( and its applications.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

icws-0.2.3 released!

ICWS version 0.2.3 has been released. This version of ICWS has the first classes used for exchange of information currency. The distribution includes the class utilized with ActiveMQ for creating the market server - right now a proof of concept more than anything else.

An Internet-draft has been released to present the documents and operations for trading information currency. Unfortunately, this I-D (draft-jpbedell-information-currency-trading-00.txt) only contains an example trade, without addressing exceptions or details of the messaging infrastructure. The I-D is intended to present ideas for discussion, and I'm hoping for the fire of criticism to get me to write more. ;)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

this is not an update title

The purpose of the too-clever-by-half title is to meekly acknowledge that I haven't been getting a lot of software written. I've been preparing for the Casualty Actuarial Society's Exam One, to be taken on Friday, December 1.

My dream is that information currency will enable sophisticated financial engineering mechanisms to be applied to the management of information. My hope is that actuarial qualification will be a way to practice financial risk management and financial product development in a way that incorporates new technology and innovative approaches. Sounds delightful, no?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

from the development-is-ongoing-i-promise department

I've been setting up the development environment for the Information Currency Exchange Server and getting ready to start work on the Information Currency Analysis Server. My hope is that I will have a demonstration system for the creation, exchange, and analysis of information currency from YouTube videos by mid-December. There's nothing like a timetable to focus the mind!

Creation and simulation of a financial market (in this case, for information currency) requires multiple participants. For now, there's only one developer (little old me, in other words) on the information currency project, so I am using the Cougaar Agent Architecture to create multiple clients that are first generating IC with the IC issuance server and then sending IC exchange messages to the IC exchange server.

The Information Currency Exchange Server will be ActiveMQ-specific, with a custom interceptor written to process IC exchange messages. The ActiveMQ project is part of a very impressive group of projects, with very productive contributors - Hiram Chirino was nice enough to quickly answer a newbie question asked on the activemq-dev list. The exchange server will also have a web interface to display the market conditions, and the Information Currency Analysis Server will draw information from the exchange server, as well as the issuance server, as well as user-generated content (think every ICAS a wiki-powered financial analyst - but perhaps not by mid-December!).

The first part of the Directions to Freedom podcast series (not that I would give my efforts a pretentious title, or anything ;) has been released on my other blog.

Make sure to look at Marianne Richmond's interesting marketing blogs:
Conversational Media Group and Resonance Partnership.

Monday, November 06, 2006

information currency for education system organization, part one

One of the primary motivations for the development of information currency is the creation of a new system for organizing education. At the present time, the evaluation of information created in an educational setting is generally performed by teachers, recognized as having expertise in the area in question. The process of performing the evaluations, to say nothing of the subjects of study, can have a rather arbitrary basis in the discretion of the teacher. While there are social norms for the subjects to be studied, as well as social norms for the evaluation (grading) of academic work, there is no direct correspondence between those social norms and the ultimate requirements of the larger society. Indeed, it is often recognized that there is an "education crisis", and education systems often demonstrate a stubborn resistance to social, economic, and technological change.

The ubiquity of government ownership (and operation) of the means of production in school systems has a strong effect on innovation in education and the performance of educational systems. As with famine in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the persistent underperformance of learners in many state-run school systems is a consequence of centralized political control of production. In the case of education, however, the famine of intellectual stimulation that so many students suffer is less apparent than the malnutrition that so many North Koreans experience - but in our highly technological and intensely competitive society, a famine of intellectual stimulation can have life-long consequences.

An important characteristic that food in North Korea and education in North America have in common, however, is that the political control mechanisms are self-serving and self-perpetuating. The tyrants ruling North Korea, who enjoy first priority in the allocation of food, surely understand that a starving population is more easily controlled. Our dear leaders in the Western world, overwhelmingly educated at a tiny number of exclusive, elite schools, are continuing a long and sordid history of population control through government schooling. While the role of intertia in sustaining socialist education bureaucracies should not be underestimated, and sincere good intentions may underlie some of the (deeply misguided) efforts to place and keep the government in control of young minds, there is a recognition on the part of political leaders throughout history that subjugating populations is most easily and imperceptibly accomplished through the control of education.

We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks. - Woodrow Wilson

The preceding quote by the 28th President of the United States explicitly reflects prejudice about the capabilities of many individuals, but also implicitly asserts that it is the role of government to define both what a "liberal education" is and who is suited to such an education. While the prejudice in President Wilson's statement is repugnant, the more harmful belief is that a static, inflexible government school system can both define the ideal education for individuals and deliver that ideal education to individuals. Without market incentives, which are suppressed and subverted by central planning, the allocation of resources in a school system will inevitably be inefficient and perceptibly unfair.

from the getting-closer-to-one-post-per-day department...

Posted on my other blog...

Feedback welcome!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

motivations and expectations for information currency

Information currency is intended to provide a new economic means to value information. This mechanism, unlike existing copyright schemes, is not based on coercive legal mechanisms. Unlike a number of other proposals for incentivizing information creation (such as FairShare), information currency incentivization is based on transferable financial instruments, enabling the market exchange of property instruments to be used to coordinate the management and use of information. The insights of Hayek on the use of knowledge in society suggest that market prices will make it possible to efficiently aggregate information about information into those prices. The perspective of Hayek implicity assumes a general equilibrium state where all information is known and knowable, but this is clearly not the case. Information currency will provide another practical example of the accuracy of praxeology, where market prices support estimates and provide after-the-fact validation for the actions of individuals.

The technology underlying information currency is similar to that for (unblinded) digital cash - with the difference that there is a distinct set of "digital cash" instruments corresponding to each unit of information that is managed by the information currency server. Unlike other quantitative indications of information value, such as number of links, or number of views, the price for information currency is associated with direct economic motivations (the amount of money that the IC can be sold for). This will make it useful for making critical decisions on an assisted or automatic basis, such as security-related decisions. With lots more software development, and the operation of sufficiently reliable institutions, it will be possible to use well-known financial engineering processes to coordinate the generation and utilization of information. This, it is expected, will enable new means for influencing human actions, given the central role of information and ideas in directing human action.

For right now, though, there's lots more software development to be done!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Information currency video developed - YouTube IC market to follow!

I've created a video describing the ways information currency might eventually be used, in particular to coordinate the production and valuation of YouTube videos. It seemed only natural to put it on YouTube, then:

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Struts development for Information Engineering

After considering the available options, I am working to develop a front-end for Amazon's E-Commerce Service using the Apache Struts framework. Why Java? Why Struts?

Java, because the only currently existing information currency software is written in Java, and it's anticipated that the large number of supporting libraries used in ICWS will also be essential for developing an information currency service.

Struts 2.0 because of the widespread use of Struts 1.2, and the intention to create a scalable large scale system for IC on the basis of the next generation of Struts.

Slow progress, so far!