Consumerium Services

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Consumerium Services article overlaps with Features. These articles have different breakdown of what it is we are basically working to provide.


Here's a summary of anticipated Consumerium Services:

Ideally, the Consumerium Signal Wiki would affect institutional and wholesale buyers at various times. Consumerium Service access could take place for instance at the point of decision about wholesale supply, or the setting of institutional buying criteria. But this is disciplined by the knowledge that end users will have similar access and be able to judge the intermediary or institution by their individual buying criteria. See for example the Big Carrot example. For those that have such criteria that are not likely to be fully expressed already on the retail shelf:
The Consumerium buying signal will most likely be seen by the end user as a red/yellow/green light traffic-type signal, or as a score easily translated into a price premium, or as a note in Simple English about issues with, or merits of, the product. Release of this advice is keyed to bar codes or RFIDs or NFCs (collectively, ID tags. It may occur at retail shelf or checkout counter where the labels are most commonly referenced.

These rely on internal structures of some complexity:

There are several ways to connect back to front end: we may rely on frequently updated data embedded in hand-held devices, and/or dynamic retrieval via short-range wireless to the shelf front. Where possible, reasons for making buying decisions, or refusing a certain product, will go as feedback to the producers.
Our back end relies on Research Wiki comments compiled by software using a wikitext standard. Consumerium Service access where web use is convenient may well include direct research editing, not just access to signals. See ConsuML and Consumerium:intermediate page format for more on this. Semantic link standards may be required also. To work out the conventions and issues involved, we are working through a development wiki which presently also performs the research functions (but not signals, we offer no buying advice here, yet).

This is that wiki. We invite you to participate by editing proposals and discussions below. Any page can be edited by anyone, or restored to a previous state by anyone, which is the convention we assume will also apply in operation.


From the consumption perspective Consumerium is about enabling a shift from affective buying behaviour based on illusions (e.g. from advertising) to affective buying behaviour based on information on the social and environmental impacts of the production and naturally the perceived quality of the product.

Since this is mostly subjective, or assumed subjective in a market economy, the major focus of analysis is the tension between institutional buying criteria and individual buying criteria. This tension drives the system, as the individuals pressure the institution to anticipate their detailed needs. There are further tensions between the society and the planet that host all activities involved in achieving the comprehensive outcome of any one purchase.

A healthy signal infrastructure is the ideal foundation for delivery of the signals about this tension. However, it too must be purchased piece by piece, and integrated. And there are moral purchasing choices here too, for instance, to avoid using tantallum in the infrastructural capital required to use the system, to adhere to a DC power standard to reduce transformers and use of power grids, to cut energy use and e-waste as much as possible; Also to encourage perhaps use of open, lower-attention overhead tools like Python (11 lines of Python can replace 1000 of C++, and our Consumerium:developers have better things to do than coding anyway).

So a degree of healthy buying is necessary in order to increase the credibility of the buying process, and to bootstrap services into global use:


The infrastructural capital for this healthy buying infrastructure will hopefully not be deployed or funded by or for Consumerium Services alone.

It should be part of a more general strategy to deploy healthy signal infrastructure suitable to support many and related essential projects.

The most basic Services are the Central Services we require for Consumerium maintenance, starting in developed nations. Eventually we will need a Distributed Consumerium that even developing nations can set up and run and fix for themselves, without any input from Northern Trolls.

Back end

Credibility of the information at point of sale, the retail shelf, is critical. For maximum fairness and feedback, Consumerium will rely on content wiki and opinion wiki comments compiled by software using a wikitext standard. Semantic link standards may be required also.

We hope to achieve this by building two, consumer accessible, complementary facilities:

  • The Content Wiki where we hope people will build an abundance of neutral information about products and their production processes and all involved factors. The integrity of this information will be negotiated and upheld by peer review in a similar manner as in Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia and furthermore by maintaining a backend data storage called The Consumerium Vault which mostly validates the existance or non-existance of things the articles in The Content Wiki claim to refer to. The goal of the Content Wiki is to be objective.
  • The Consumerium Exchange or The Opinion Wiki - Where strictly formed datastructures are used to record, archive and enable the aggregation of information on the popularity of different opinions, mostly in the form of competing campaigns on issues related to production and consumption. The Consumerium Exchange is very rigid internally, but the view it provides to consumers and producers alike is very fluid and based on ones subjective preferences.

Front end

However it is compiled, advice will probably be seen by the end user as a red/yellow/green light traffic-type signal, or as a score easily translated into a price premium, or as a note in Simple English about issues with, or merits of, the product.

Both of these facilities will be accessible through the Internet, but we hope to work together with the retailers of the world, who seek an competitive advantage by providing a better shopping experience for their clients, to bring access to the shelf front via short-range wireless connections, likely Bluetooth.

All solutions are a tradeoff - "Bluetooth" is not "zero cost". It costs money to buy hardware. Also wireless services usually cost money. The cost of providing services over bluetooth depends quite much on the possible development of server capabilities in consumer grade mobile devices so that even in a Point-of-Sale where the store doesn't offer online service or chat net access, one could get access to an offline copy if someone around has made one available. Also talking with people should be possible. The cheapest devices to do this would certainly not be Bluetooth but dumber analog FM or other RF devices. Don't "Require" hardware that isn't required. This is part of any healthy signal infrastructure anyway, and may support local community radio when it isn't sending Consumerium buying signals.

Bluetooth is important to many essential projects in mobility because it allows anonymous (from v1.2 on) and secure access to information resources in close physical range. We must strive to protect the consumer as a human from things like company, corporation, advertisement agency or digital algorithms made by any of the previous or whatever other no body. An example of no-protection are the frequent shopper cards that offer some extra price reductions that many companies currently like to dispense . These cards are often used to collect statistical data on the behavioral psychology of shoppers which can then be used for marketing, shop design and pricing decisions

Release of advice is keyed to bar codes, and may rely on frequently updated data embedded in hand-held devices, and/or dynamic retrieval via short-range wireless to the shelf front.

Where possible, reasons for making buying decisions, or refusing a certain product, will go as feedback to the producers. This gives them the maximum chance to respond, and gets them further involved in alternative ways to organize production, like Slow Food or other sustainable agriculture for food producers. Where the issue is the waste generated by a product, they may actually find alternative product stewardship methods via our wikis and advocacy system. This will assist in creating effective industrial ecology.

Integration and optimization and accounting

This better integration of all that is known about production processes, recycling and waste disposal will enhance the consumer experience, advance product development and keep this planet as hospitable as possible for human and other natural life. To be sure of this, we employ the best thinking about economics:

Our styles of capital analysis helps to be perfectly clear about what produces what, and what interferes with what produces what, on Earth and in our human economy, which is just an add-on to nature's services to humans.

By encouraging disclosure of all styles of capital involved, starting with the natural capital (ecoregions where natural resources are extracted, and say the atmosphere where greenhouse gas from production accumulates) we hope to participate in and encourage some accounting reform: changes to the way people measure value and what is valuable.

This is the largest scale on which we can change affective behaviour globally.

What you can do to help improve the services

Please add your own conception of what is possible to best cases, and what is appealing and inspiring but (in your own view) impossible to visions. By keeping track of both, we will eventually figure out who believes in what, and who is willing to work towards what, and better refine our overall goals.

For operational reasons we also track threats and worst cases so as to spot potential legal or integrity problems in the Consumerium Services. By doing this early and publicly, we will end up with a less vulnerable system.

Finally, Consumerium User Stories describe fictional incidents of real users and companies changing their affective buying behaviour for everyone's good. Some of them also focus on attempts to interfere or corrupt or control Consumerium, and how they succeed in corrupting it, or are fought off. With a combination of "good" and "bad" stories emphasizing "features" and "exploits" and the impact of "bugs" in the system, we can find the right terms in which to describe all the above, and the best introduction for developers and designers.

Such use of story fragments is quite common in software development now.

See also: