A Discussion with Benjamin Buchholz

This is part of a series of blog posts in which I will be asking innovators three important questions.  If you would like to participate in the conversation, shoot me a note on LinkedIn.

The views expressed in the below statements are those of the individuals and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of Defense or the U.S. government.

Benjamin Buchholz

Ben is the Co Founder and CEO of Nthos Solutions, which helps commercial companies understand and influence hard to reach groups through the power of hyper-local open source human networks.

 

Graham: What are you currently working on that you think others would find interesting?

Ben: My company, Nthos Solutions, has developed a capability for conducting cyber-enabled information and influence work that uses gamification and other incentive techniques to provide companies with high-fidelity, low-touch, local information and engagement opportunities.  Originally we began working with this capability in the security field, helping companies extend their awareness and engagement beyond the perimeter of their traditional stand-off spaces.  But we quickly discovered the capability had applications in the PR and HR realms for large companies (no matter the vertical) and for the financial and risk management sectors.  We fit between the time/labor intensive ground-pounding activities of volunteer campaigns and the too-broad brushstrokes of PR and marketing solutions, able to precisely go after target markets but do so with a very light footprint.

Graham: What is one application of an emerging technology that makes you excited or concerned or both?

Ben: I’m really excited about blockchain.  I think it offers the promise to disrupt the financial sector, and that it also has a lot of interesting things to say about the permanence of IP.   What I’d really like to think about and write about is what the military/security implications of blockchain might be – not just in terms of the instability that might be a by-product of financial sector disruption but other security aspects that might not be getting thought about.

Graham: What is one way that you think people will need to adapt given new technological and cultural contexts?

My younger son, who just turned 15, is the number 3 ranked player in the game Destiny (out of 30 million worldwide players).  It’s been a big learning curve for me to not only accept but to encourage and facilitate what seems, from my parental perspective, a gaming addiction.  But I had to learn to look at it as a social activity, a sport, a hobby, AND a burgeoning career all at once.  Although mitigating the negative health effects of long periods of game play is still at the forefront of my mind (we talk a lot about balance in his choices of activities), I’m also continually looking for opportunities to help him explore his options as a young professional in this field.  It’s a strange world.  It’s a world he knows more about than I do.  So as an adult the trick seems to be in transferring, or somehow communicating, some of the successful strategies I’ve learned (in life, in business) to not only his new/weird chosen field, but also into the terms and motivations that appeal to him as a 15-year old.  Is he thinking of a career?  No.  But can he, and is he by default, preparing himself for a place in the gaming world?  Absolutely.  The gaming realm has its own tech (of course) and its own culture.  It’s not going away.  And just like everywhere else, there are people who are going to be masters of the system, innovators for the future, and profiteers, and those who end up on the wrong end of that equation.  So I think it is wise to look at gaming as something other than a hobby.  I’m working through that pain daily.

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