I have one contribution collection to add this discussion, which is based in part on extensive research I did with BarCampBank collaborators in 2007:
At least in the US, in order for alternative currency to really see widespread uptake, the currencies will have to be supported by a government-recognized institution. This is because banks will only receive or send payment to banks, or bank-like entities (organizations that have gone to the trouble outfit themselves as nothing short of a bank, like paypal).
The institution that I am proposing people adopt is the *credit union*. http://www.ncua.gov/credituniondevelopment/start.html
My approach is based on pragmatics, not ideals: how can we use alternative currencies right now, today, in the place that I am in (midwest United States). Debates about altenative currency are moot if no onw will trust or use them.
So, what I am proposing is that credit unions can be started by the same people who found alternative currencies, for instance. These credit unions can take on the burden of letting people convert one alternative currency to another (like LETS to US Dollars) for it's members. This is going to be important in the early stages of alternative currency deployment. The unfortunate but very real truth is that people are going to need to be able to convert to US Dollars. The goal then becomes tying the alternative currency to healthier local economy ecosystems, which will make the alternative currency *more desireable* than government currency. How to do this? We are rolling out a program, funded in part by a government grant at http://localfoodsystems.org
(we are growing from "Ohio" Local Fod Systems, to Local Food Systems over the next couple of months)that starts with the most basic element in local economies: FOOD!
We seek exisitng local food systems, and work with them to ramp up infrastructure, combing food growers and producers with processors, distributors, retailers, and supporting participants, like open source and commercial equipment and technology providers, academic researchers, activists, etc. This is not a "web startup", this is a committed social movement that we have been working on for multiple years. Coincidentally, a PBS interview aired last nigth: http://socialsynergyweb.org/oardc/pbs-special-food-policies
that explains why we think this is the place to start.
For Barcampbank people copied on this, your advice is sought. Especially those who are active in founding credit unions. Local Food Systems needs BarCampBank, desperately!
All of that being said, I have much respect for everyone involved in this discussion so far. And, I do find the debate and subject matter interesting. We welcome all of your thoughts and contributions in our effort to ramp up and expand local food production (leveraging open source software, open design, open knowledge, and co-governed commons like credit unions, resource pools etc, whenever possible)
On Sun, Nov 30, 2008 at 12:52 PM, Dante-Gabryell Monson <dante....@gmail.com>
Thanks Marc ,
I m glad with the " beast " you are coming up with, and look forward to continue following up on it / think about it.
In the meantime , I realize I m being absorbed by this other variant of a "beast".
I m not sure if you and others I cc ed in feel like thinking together about such other variant -
here are some of the challenges I try to address :
The challenge is to manifest simple tools that enable greater complexity : enabling simplicity at higher levels of abstraction.
- I would like to see an economic measurement system which allows for a variety of units to be transferred ( units which have in common to define 1 ) an intention , 2 ) a unit of measure , and 3 ) profiles of groups or individuals pursuing them which issue them - each of these informations staying connected to the units )
In such a measurement system I imagine, people or groups do not owe to other people, they owe to " intentions " , and to serve the intentions, one can support the needs of the groups or individuals who serve certain intentions, by accepting their currency in exchange for what we can do.
By serving such intentions through accepting the units in exchange of our service, we show that we support the intention, and in turn others who want to support the intention can support us.
Some collective intelligence system in itself, for which the self regulation mechanisms still need to be designed.
I understand what you mean by the power money has when it does not have a smell,
when the car is not on rails.
Perhaps some solutions can be found. I felt these informations could stay connected to the information unit for some of the following reasons :
I am trying to figure out how we can develop a economic measurement system with transferable units , without it supporting dominant coercive interests.
For example , have it such that it can not support the manufacturing or transportation of weapons,
of tobacco, etc
If it becomes a more voluntary system, it becomes more difficult.
If a weapons manufacturing company issues units to pay its employees, the employees can not do much with these units if all can realize they have been created with the intention to support such weapons manufacturing - and no one wants to serve them when they want to pay with their " weapons manufacturing " currency.
And if the weapons manufacturing company wants to sell weapons, and people offer them certain kinds of units with a high level of reputation to them,
these units can loose their value after transiting through the ownership of the manufacturing company, and the manufacturing company can not do anything with such units.
In other words, the population can directly put out of business the intentions it does not see beneficial to society.
If some government wants to issue units to support an effort of offensive war, the value of its units might not have a high reputation, hence not have much, or any value, and become useless.
I also imagine connecting choices with a holoptic ( opposite of panoptic ) information system.
The filters people apply to their currency receipt, can both provide information to the system about the state of the intentional "market",
but can also inspire itself from the " currency creation " market,
and allow for offer and demand mechanisms in the field of intention,
and in the field of the reputation of groups or ( networked ) individuals that work on certain intentions,
hence the reputation of the currencies these groups or individuals decide to issue,
and their desirability/acceptance by other users in the system to "give" their resources to the intentions of these units,
and allow their own reputation to be influenced by their capability to be " response-able" to such units.
All intentions are inter related and inter-dependent and can mutually support each other
The expression of the intentions, and their inter-dependence with other
intentions, is expressed by individuals, into the "filter"/demand part
of the information system.
The data base/filters are emergent and update each other continually
One could imagine that such economic intentional measurment system could be a complementary currency that could at first be used in the field of the volunteering economy - making it easier for voluntary people to find projects to support, and receive reputation points for it on their profile ( which in turn increases their credibility to issue units if and when they owuld need support ),
and receive intentional units which can be used or given on afterwords.
It could include time banks ( or some units connected to energy production , food production , etc )
but also other information systems which combine
1) defined intention in creation of currency
2 ) defined measurment unit
3 ) contain reputation of issuer, or of supporters of the issuer
On Sat, Nov 29, 2008 at 10:05 PM, marc fawzi <marc....@gmail.com>
But the criteria/intention are applied only for each transaction. Having them be glued to the money as it circulate is like tagging units of electrical current in a computer as 1 or 0 and having them circulate throughout the motherboard, not only for carrying data but also for carrying power. A separation is needed between data/informtaion and power.
lets use another example:
if we use paper notes, it is possible to add a stamp to the paper note every time it is being used.
That's consistent with the affinity matrix, i.e. changing the stamp every time the paper note is exchanged.
The paper note already carries information, e.g. person A was willing to pay $3 per pound for some brand of apple and $2 per pound for this other brand of apple. The information here is that the first brand is either more scarce, more expensive to produce or it's more favored by the general population (higher demand). With the affinity matrix you can add more information such as: first brand is organic and seller is a generous lender or a supporter of the environment or first brand has some other social/ecological value that's important to buyer. Making the information (conditions for the transaction) explicit changes money/power flows in such a way that it changes the nature of the 'system'/economy to be more in sync with people's values.
However, if the money was to retain that extra information (stamp) beyond the buy/sell transaction then you will end up with a different beast. The model I've been working on simply gives the nodes in the network the enhanced ability to affect the flow of money going through them, i.e. it allows each node to control the flow of money going through it, by expanding and making explicit the conditions (information) for the transaction.
but it is feasible to also allow the information to enrich itself by connecting itself to other pieces of information ?
The information forms the conditions for the transaction. Its lifetime is limited to each transactions. If the information persists beyond the single transaction, i.e. after money has been transferred from buyer to seller, then the conditions represented by the information will constrain the power of money (which constrain the power of the user) and it would be akin to buying a car on rails that can only go back and forth to school, the church or the cabaret. What if I want to go to the park? I own the car and I should be able to decide. If someone wants to sell me a car on rails and I have a choice to buy a car that travels on any road, I will definitely buy a car that travels on any road. Haveing freedom to decide what I do is key, as long as I don't use the car to run over people or damage property.
The 'Car on rails' model doesn't work because people want freedom of choice (within the confines of some moral law)
Having said that, if the car comes pre-programmed with possible trip destinations (using GPS maps) then YES, in that case I would want the information/stamp retained but not as "rails" (or conditions) that limit what I do with the car/money. Instead the information becomes stored accumulatively in "potential" value dimensions and I can think of many good use cases for it in the affinity matrix.
I'll mention that possibility in the next draft, but the biggest next task I have is to move from abstract/techie rationalizations to using everyday metaphors like "cars", "apples" etc.. That would make the model a breeze to read
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"There are two kinds of people in the world, those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don't."
Robert Benchley, Benchley's Law of Distinction