VUC634 – Doc Searls: What happens when companies agree to our terms?

Event: Friday February 24th 2016 at 12 Noon EST

Renowned journalist, author, co-author of the Cluetrain Manifesto joins us

We welcome Doc Searls, widely read blogger and journalist, co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto and author of The Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge. This week on VUC, Doc asks (and hopefully answers) the question, “What happens when companies agree to our terms?” Here is some info he sent us to prepare for this fascinating session.

We will be the first parties, and the companies we deal with will need to click “accept” to our terms, as second parties.

This is the exact opposite of what we’ve had ever since industry won the industrial revolution, and also since the commercial Internet got built on an architecture called client-server, which might as well have been called slave-master.

Fortunately, the Internet is deeper than the commercial activity on it, just as the Earth and its gravity are deeper than Main Street. By design the Internet is peer-to-peer, not slave-master. (See and

Also, there are laws coming down (such as the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR in Europe), that will make it essentially illegal for companies to harvest personal data without permission. This sets the table for terms we assert as individuals, and companies can agree to. Those terms can govern how our data is collected, used, returned, and so on.

Right now Customer Commons is at work with law schools on exactly those terms, which will live at Customer Commons, much as personal copyright licenses live at Creative Commons. Both efforts, by the way, came out of Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center, where as a fellow I started ProjectVRM ( ten years ago. The whole purpose of ProjectVRM is to prove the free customers are more valuable than captive ones, and to do that by encouraging development of tools that make all of us both independent and better able to engage. Personal terms are at the forefront of that effort.

Here are some links that were mentioned: – the internet of your things.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: