At the Office 2.0 conference, I met Paul Pluschkell, the CEO of Spigit. Spigit is a marketplace for ideas, reminiscent of a prediction market. But it's not quite one, since prices are set by an algorithm that takes more into account than just market demand. "It looks really complicated," I told Pluschkell. He told me that if I gave the site 5 minutes of concentration, it'd be crystal clear.
I gave it more time than that, and found the site very interesting. It's not what I would call clear, though.
The main site is a gathering place for people exchanging ideas and feedback for new businesses. (There are separate Spigit sites discussing politics and college campus life.) People starting with a business idea can put it to the community for comment and review. It can move from this "incubation" phase into "validation" by meeting certain milestones, such as earning enough positive votes, called "spigs," and passing a threshold in the number of people who view the idea. Milestone progress is represented on each company page by a serious of achievement badges. Finally, a company can move into the "emergence" stage, after which community members can buy into it with idea stocks called spocks (no relation). Prices in this "spock market" are determined not just by buy and sell activity but also by the scores awarded by people who write reviews. However, users can't write reviews until they level up by first posting on a few idea feedback threads.
All users can see which members are smartest (based on the values of spock portfolios) and which ideas and companies are worth the most in spocks and in average user rating.
It's quite possible I have misrepresented some of the details above. As I said, I found Spigit's flow confusing.
But I also found it fascinating. It is indeed much more than a prediction market. It's more like a complex board game, but with real ideas, egos, and hopes on the line. There is a community of people on this site who are involved enough to learn (or at least play in) the system, and the feedback on ideas is often worth reading and no doubt valuable to the people putting their companies on to the site. I plan on scouting for Webware coverage candidates on Spigit. Perhaps I'll help game players earn future merit badges for press coverage. And that's cool, I'm game.
It's worth a look, but don't beat yourself up if you don't get it.
See also: ThotMarket, one guy's experimental prediction market that's trying to add currency, in more ways than one, to social bookmarking.