One thought on “Rethinking Economy

  1. Riley

    Hi, Eric.

    OK, I think I’m starting to get this more than I did when you described it at the reunion. (I do better with visual aids!) Other posts on this blog helped, too. I’m still not clear on (a) how the unlimited aspect of a currency would play out and (b) how a currency applies to the acknowledgeable but unmeasurable types of wealth.

    Let me write out my thoughts as I try out the ideas, and then if you get a chance, I would love to get your reaction, particularly about where I may be missing big pieces of the concepts.

    I use the site okcupid, which gives points based on the number and type of activities I carry out on the site (creating a profile, posting a photo, creating a quiz, etc.). My activities are measurable, but not tradeable.

    These activity points entitle me to certain benefits (avoiding advertisements, etc.), so I get a pay back for my activities. The fact that I have gained 20 points by performing an activity does not mean that anyone else loses 20 points, so the activity-point aspect of okcupid is an open system.

    Everyone in the okcupid user community benefits from the incentive provided by activity points, because the usefulness or value of a social-interaction site is dependent on the amount of activity by users. Because the number of users is another key element of the value of a social-interaction site, it would behoove okcupid to award activity points for referrals of new users.

    However, if too many users gain enough activity points to avoid ads, then the business model of the site will collapse, unless some other way is developed to pay back those who provide the services and technology that keep the site going.

    This could be addressed through a currency that acknowledges social connectedness, an unmeasurable, non-tradeable form of wealth. Since okcupid’s continued existence presumably increases society’s overall connectedness, society could choose to acknowledge those who run okcupid with some sort of currency. Perhaps if okcupid staffer Stephanie wants to create an antisocial blog with a bigoted theme, she can spend some of her social-connectedness credits for the right to do so. Same for okcupid staffer Boris, who wants to disseminate an addictive, isolating, single-player video game.

    Who would decide how many social-connectedness credits would be issued for running a site like okcupid, or how many social-connectedness credits would be demanded for running an antisocial site? And who would issue and demand these credits? All I can think is that it would be the community as a whole, through some sort of deliberative process. If people produce social connectedness more than they create isolation or alienation, then this social-connectedness economy will grow.

    Reactions? Thanks!


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