The Infomercantile:About

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This site is owned and run by Azrael Brown, otherwise known as Derek Dahlsad. Editing articles is disabled for all other users; all content can be assumed to be writted by the user AzraelBrown. Others may create accounts to use the lesser features, including 'discussions' and interuser chat.

Current Incarnation

The current Infomercantile is a repository for the innane, useless, and excessive trivial knowledge that I know posess, or may posess in the near future. It will eventually occupy a large part of the tiniest, most remote and extreme, longest, tailiest end of the Long Tail. It is also an excersise for me to write. Finding topics to write on, pulled out of thin air, is less difficult than choosing to write about whatever holds my fancy at any given time.

Previous Incarnations

This site was previously a satire website, also written entirely by myself. It proved to require quite a bit of work, and was less funny than I had hoped, although it gained some acclaim from sites like National Lampoon. It lasted around a month.

Origin of the Name

The name was coined by me as a theoretical exchange of information as currency; information retaining its value not as a object, but as a theoretical commodity akin to stocks and bonds.

The idea of an 'infomercantile' ties together the concept of a stock exchange, with an open auction market like eBay, and with secure transfer of intangible information. Imagine a trading floor, like NYSE, where sellers are offering tidbits of information for a price, which is bought by other traders for resale, use, or any other purpose they desire.

How do you ensure information is only transfered when money passes hands? For instance, I can buy a book, or I can sit in Barnes & Noble and read it first. Or, once I buy a book, I could photocopy it and hand out copies to friends. Both are possible, and while they may not both be legal, they could both cause the breakdown of a information-based marketplace. Next, how can you sell information without disclosing 100% of it? If the information is the combination to a safe containing a million dollars cash, how do you disclose enough to verify the information without giving away the combination?

The answer is digital encryption and signing. When a piece of information is put up for sale on the open market, the valuable parts are encrypted to prevent disclosure before payment, but enough is exposed to give the buyer an idea of what they're getting. This allows for fair trading (all buyers can see the same information), plus the security of encryption. An available piece of information may read as, "Movie Star Brad Pitt was making out with doEdf.sdn2sslWEaD4 last Thursday morning on the veranda at 4DdxikS3s0Dkj4FDmx; the event was witnessed by wendSDsdcvcFR4DFc908CVx9dfDzdj0 and may be verified by calling ndsSDFd9vmcDSFcnxd8j9fvFv" All tabloids, seeing this tidbit, would compete to purchase this once piece of information; entire documents could be formatted this way, obscuring the important parts while allowing the rest to entice buyers. When a buyer makes a purchase, they get both the information, plus the decryption key. The commomly used PGP encryption method employs a 'public key' system; the 'public' half of an encryption key could be also kept private, held only by the rightful owner of the data.

Three potential problems still occur: duplication, fraud, and stale resale. If a tabloid purchases the example above, schedules it to be published tomorrow, and resells it before the issue hits the stands, that causes a 'stale resale' - the information is no longer valuable. If it can be proven a seller used the information before selling it, they can be punished for diluting the product value. Duplication works much the same way; the encryption process would include a 'signature', tying the seller to each generation (buying a document from one person that's signed by another only invites legal problems). A buyer wanting to re-sell information would re-encrypt the information with their own key, and if they duplicate the information each copy would also be signed. Multiple copies showing up on the market would point directly at the culprit. Finally, fraud is fraud, in any era. Selling fake stock certificates would be a direct comparison, and have similar repercussions.

Raw knowledge would become a valuable commodity -- simply remembering something becomes a marketable product. People would rebel against the collection of shopping habits by loyalty cards; with the help of an infobroker, they would tabulate their own data and sell it on the open market. Witness a car accident? Insurance companies may pay top dollar for what you saw. Know who your boss is dating? His wife may reward for that knowledge -- or your boss' own lawyer may be the high bidder. Liquidating a business? Titles, electronic signatures, PIN numbers, and records all can be transferred electronically. For that matter, paparazzi photos & movies could be 'black barred' and linked to an encrypted copy. All available to any buyer, without worrying about middle-men or under-the-table transactions.

We, of the Infomercantile, are the commerce of the future: information-based transactions and analysis, value-protected and guaranteed financially.