CommerceNet Workshop on Decentralized Commerce

20 June 2005

Wharton West, San Francisco

co-sponsored by CommerceNet and Supernova

The world of e-commerce today is dominated by centralized business models, blown up to immense proportions by the reduced friction and increased velocity of the Internet: the world’s largest bookstore, largest garage sale, largest music store, largest advertising agency, and so on. The next intriguing phase supports decentralized commerce, allowing myriad small players across entire industries to connect directly.



See [1] for updated information from the Supernova website.

Prediction Markets

8:30 AM -12 PM: Prediction Markets provide more reliable forecasts of
election results than polls. They can also be used to get
improved forecasts on sales levels, project completion dates,
or to get more detailed data on consumer preferences than
focus groups provide. We’ll discuss how they are being applied
in business contexts to incorporate divergent views into
business plans.We’ll introduce the idea and its history in the first session, then proceed to current examples, tools, and discuss the future of this new approach.

  • Session I: Foundations
    • David Pennock, a researcher at Yahoo! Labs who is currently running the large-scale Tech Buzz market experiment in conjunction with O’Reilly.
    • Robin Hanson, the inventor of the term Idea Futures, will be speaking on the latest developments in prediction markets.
  • Session II: Tools & Applications
    • Bernardo Huberman, the editor of the seminal text on market-oriented architecture, ‘The Ecology of Computation’, will be speaking about his team’s latest work at HP Labs.
    • Emile Servan-Schreiber, President and CEO of NewsFutures, an independent company providing prediction markets to corporations and media websites.
    • Walter Yuan, Technical Manager, Social Science Experimental Laboratory (SSEL) at Caltech will talk about their new jMarkets software

As background, please see the recent success of the DIMACS Workshop on Markets as Predictive Devices ( our notes).


1 PM – 2:30 PM: Microformats are a set of simple open data format standards for more/better structured blogging and web microcontent publishing in general. In contrast to dedicated XML schemas, microformats for calendar events or business cards are familar XHTML with a slight level of semantic styling on top. This session will bring together top speakers from several leading blogging companies to unveil support for the latest microformats to join the stable. We’ll have some very exciting news to share there!

  • Introduction: Why CommerceNet sponsors Rohit Khare & Adam Rifkin.
  • Tutorial: What are Microformats? Tantek Çelik.
  • Panel: Implementations & Implications
    • Michael Sippey, Six Apart
    • Kevin Marks, Technorati / Tag Tuesday
    • Kragen Sitaker, CommerceNet zLab
    • Marty Tenenbaum, CommerceNet
    • Tantek Çelik, Technorati /

Co-located Sessions

2:30 PM – 4 PM : Chris Anderson, the writer who recently unleashed the meme of the Long Tail of Electronic Commerce.

4 PM – 5:30 PM: “If, as the Cluetrain Manifesto declares, markets are conversations, how can strategists and marketers effectively tap into those conversations in an authentic way?”

Call for Participation

Some portion of this is due to technological changes, such as service-oriented architectures (SOA) and business services networks (BSNs). A larger measure of credit, though, goes to cultural changes that encourage creative new mechanisms for solving problems whose answers are scattered across many people in different organizations.

Prediction markets are one example: by creating artificial financial securities that pay off under specified conditions, communities can aggregate the dispersed knowledge pertaining to forecasting quarterly sales or product development schedules. Another example is the innovative use of Information markets to gauge demand for different combinations of features for products not yet built. Web advertising is a third: now that some giants have shown that auctioning keyword advertising a nickel at a time can add up to billions of dollars, new entrepreneurs are developing new ad networks that free independent content providers to control the content of ads that appear next to their copy and to share revenues in new ways.

This workshop is being co-sponsored by CommerceNet at Wharton’s West Coast Campus as part of Supernova, the renowned executive conference on decentralization in the high-technology industry at large. It will be an intimate, interactive setting to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing innovative models for decentralized commerce.

Submission Information

Submissions are now closed. For more information, please contact Chris Hibbert for markets-related initiatives, and Rohit Khare for other aspects, including decentralized marketing and advertising.


Workshop registration, fees, and lodging information can be found at the Supernova site.