Posts tagged ‘future’

seeing, believing, acting

by Nik Baerten

At the outbreak of any major crisis, there is always the question of ‘why didn’t we see this coming?’. The financial crisis? Oh, many saw it coming alright … yet few managed to make others believe a meltdown was not only possible, but most likely, and none managed to mobilize believers-decision-makers to act upon their belief to an extent that would have prevented the crisis from happening (or the latter proved insufficiently equipped/organized to do so).

Adam Gordon of FutureStudio reflects upon the relationships between belief & action in foresight contexts in his most recent post over at The Future Savvy Journal. He refers to a letter from Peter Schwartz explaining the added value of scenario thinking in assessing and acting upon future challenges. They help to keep various options open, alternatives about what the future might be like, hence serve as a tool-to-think-through & to learn, and pave the way for action. According to Peter Schwartz:

“The problem is that decision-makers believe that they are forced to pick one right answer: the most likely scenario. Their approach to decision-making does not afford them the opportunity to consider apparently low probability but highly consequential scenarios. The answer, therefore, to the “believe” half of the question is a decision-making process that considers several scenarios: compelling stories about alternative futures that incorporate the analysis of “outliers” and describe three or four plausible paths forward.
Good scenarios force decision-makers to challenge their own assumptions and reconsider what is possible. As a result, they can take seriously those scenarios that seemed less likely at first, but whose plausibility increases over time.”

It is also a people matter in the sense that to make radical, systemic changes happen, various roles or skills are needed (e.g. to understand the complexity of the challenge at hand, to network and form the necessary alliances to tackle it, to draft innovative solutions, to scale and sell these, to monitor progress and motivate etc.). Seldomly these are found in one person or one type of person, even one group of people only. Also because of this aspect, the action part of the equation of systemic change is a complex one and no one, easy recipe can be prescribed to orchestrate massive change as such. Nevertheless, insight in these matters is growing, both academically and practically, which will hopefully serve as well in the many futures and societal challenges ahead of us.

New money

by David Birch

[Dave Birch] National currencies are (like nations) a relatively recent invention. And fiat national currencies are an even more recent invention. We tend to see them as a physical law, much like the speed of light, but in reality current monetary arrangements are of human making. And they are transient: money didn’t use to work this way, and there’s no obvious reason for it work this way in the future. So what are the alternatives?

There are a few people out there beginning to wonder if the Totnes Pound (or, more likely in my opinion, the Tesco Pound) mightn’t be a good alternative for the weekly shop and a better long-term hedge than Sterling (which dropped like a stone after a recent speech by the Governor of the Bank of England — not because of any change in the real economy, but because of a speech). There seem to be proto-alternative currencies popping up all over the place at the moment, so there are a few people out there who are doing more than just moan about the fiat currency:

An East Sussex town is introducing its own currency in an effort to encourage shoppers to support the local economy.

[From BBC NEWS | England | Sussex | Lewes launches its own currency]

Personally, I’m unconvinced about these “think global, act local” currency initiatives, but they do deserve study.

Read the rest of this entry »

E pluribus pluribus

by David Birch

Will there be a world currency, a universal currency? is the “universal credit” beloved of science fiction writers even remotely plausible when some people think that a single currency for Europe is unworkable (and when some people — eg, me — think that a single currency for the UK is economically sub-optimal). In science fiction, the assumption appears to be that some kind of universal single currency represent not only progress but an implicit goal in itself.

Why? Perhaps it’s because creative people (eg, science fiction authors) don’t really think about money because it’ is just (as Bruce Sterling pointed out to me in a podcast I made with him) boring. Maybe it’s something more though. I have a vague memory, which may well be wrong, that the author Brian Aldiss in his Billion Year Spree, a history of science fiction that I can’t find online to search an can’t be bothered to go and look for in my loft, said that it’s because science fiction and heroic fantasy are written for teenage boys and the one commodity that they do not have is money. This may well be part of the explanation, but it seems to me just a likely that it’s because many people don’t really understand what money is or how it works, so speculating on where it might go is outside their envelope. I’m the other way round: I find it hard to imagine time travel (if it does get invented in the future, where are they?) but easy to imagine Google issuing its own currency.

When I was pottering around the World Bank bookshop in Washington I came across The Future of Money by Benjamin Cohen of University of California, Santa Barbara. One of the key questions that the book addresses is whether the dynamic of monetary evolution is a tendency to the one currency because the minimisation of global transaction costs is driving factor or an explosion of currencies because new technology minimises transaction costs in other ways? He concludes that “the power of scale economies notwithstanding, monetary geography is set to become more, not less, complex” and he compares the future to the “heterogenous, multiform mosaic that existed prior to the era of territorial money”. Setting to one side the fact that he knows fantastically more about the topic than I do, I disagree slightly with his conclusion here. As a technologist, I suspect that there will be more different kinds of money, not just more currencies, than ever before. At the end of the transition to e-money, the marginal cost of introducing another currency will be approximately zero. So we will be in the “let a thousand flowers bloom” mode and might reasonably expect a rash of experimentation. At the end of this period, who knows whether dollar bills or Bill’s dollars (an old joke, beloved of us e-cash types) will be more successful?

There are a couple of other things I disagree with him about. One is the issue of anonymity: Cohen says that one of factors that may make it difficult for e-money to substitute for physical notes and coins (”p-money”) is that e-money cannot reproduce the anonymity of p-money but I think that technology can offer more than he thinks in that area. The other is geography, which I’ll go into below.

What might the far future really look like? It’s hard to say, except that it won’t be like the past. There won’t, probably, be widespread barter for example despite the ability of networks to reduce the associated transaction costs. As Nick Szabo says

mental transaction costs are a problem even if there are no commodities like fish with storage costs. A world of pure barter has O(N^2) prices for N commodities, and the mental transaction costs in such a world are correspondingly much higher than a world with a single currency and O(N) prices. So even a market with no transport or storage costs for any commodity whatsoever, but with sufficiently high mental transaction costs, will converge on a single currency.

[From Unenumerated: Logical emergence of money from barter]

Hold on. Doesn’t Nick’s argument here extend from the trading of salted cod in Newfoundland to the trading of Xenodollars in Frankfurt? Won’t mental transaction costs take over once financial transaction costs have fallen to a particular level? I’m not to sure about this: as Hayek pointed out a generation ago, people who lived in “border areas” in days of old seemed perfectly capable of understanding multiple monies (and surely we are all on the border now: the border between the physical world and cyberspace) so there’s no reason to think that they couldn’t do again. More importantly, however, the exchange of medieval moolah took place without mobile phones and 24/7 F/X markets.

If I’ve already told my mobile phone that I want to collect U.S. dollars because I’m going to go on holiday to New York as well as World of Warcraft gold pieces because I feel like a relaxing weekend of Orc slaughter, then my mental transaction cost subsequently falls to zero. My mobile phone is perfectly capable of negotiating with yours…

  • Have you got any WoW gold?
  • No, will you take British Airways miles?
  • Yes, but as they are worthless junk (*) it will be at a 95% discount
  • Alright, fair enough, here you go…

Cohen’s cogent analysis of direction forced me to reassess some of my own fairly superficial thoughts on the topic, with the result that I firmed up on one axis of the projection. I think his view of geography is wrong: perhaps in the future, all money will be local, it just that local will mean something different in the connected world. Reed’s Law readies will all be local to someone, so perhaps community currency might be the best description. Whether the community is Totnes or World of Warcraft won’t matter, but the shared desire to minimise transactions costs for “us” at the possible expense of transactions costs from “them”, will. Since the overwhelming majority of retail transactions are local, most people’s transactions most of the time will be in their local currency with minimal transaction costs. A small number of transactions will be in “foreign” currencies (ie, someone else’s local currency).

There’s another refinement to this vision. Going back to Nick Szabo again, these currencies may not be money in the conventional sense at all but what might be termed “near money”. Cohen refers to the cross-elasticity of demand between currencies but if the cost of using near money is low enough (because of new technology) then just as tally sticks switched from being a mechanism for deferred payment into a temporary store of value and then a means of exchange, so technology might go down the same path again but with some more modern implementation. Back to Nick again:

Commodity prices now reflect more the value of commodities as stores of value and hedges or media of exchange, i.e. their values as money substitutes or hedges, than they reflect demand for their industrial consumption.

[From Unenumerated: The "hoarding" and "speculation" in commodities]

So what does this mean? Nick goes on to develop a bigger context:

Speaking perhaps a bit metaphorically, we are witnessing the rise of new and privately issued fractional reserve currencies. They need not and effectively cannot legally be called “money” by their “issuers”, nor can they effectively be used directly in most contracts for payments. But they can be used indirectly to hedge payment terms or investments denominated in flawed, that is in inflating or otherwise unstable, government currencies in which normal contracts and instruments are generally denominated. The results are synthetic “currencies” that, in their economic behavior, may be almost indistinguishable from a tradtional commodity-backed and privately issued fractional reserve currency.

[From Unenumerated: Commodity derivatives: the new currencies]

To paraphrase Cohen’s conclusions, a new era of monetary competition will mean that monetary policy will become even less effective than it is now and governments will need new kinds of fiscal policy to “manage” the economy. My conclusions are that the long-term outcome will surely be that technology is not used to develop replicants — electronic means of exchange that simulate, as perfectly as possible, physical means of exchange — but to develop new means of exchange that are better for society as a whole. Thus e-money as a vehicle for synthetic currencies that could be used directly in contracts as payments ought to be the science fiction writers’ new monetary paradigm. No more “that will be ten galactic credits, thank you”, more “you owe me a return trip to Uranus and a kilogram of platinum for delivery in 12 months”. Well, that’s what my payments autodroid bot (ie, mobile phone) and your payments autodroid bot will agree between themselves anyway.

Creating money is easy. The hard part is getting it accepted.
Economist Hyam Minsky (1986).

[posted with ecto]

Mind your language

by David Birch

[Dave Birch] We might often think about the impact of digital money on the economy and business, and indeed society, but what about it’s impact on our language. Here’s an example. I’m going to have to stop using the time-worn vernacular “as bent as a nine-bob note”. Up until decimalisation in 1973, the British shilling of twelve pennies was known as the “bob”. Hence the ten shilling note was the ten bob note. For some odd reason, and I really can’t remember why, I never saw the replacement 5p piece as a bob, nor have I ever referred to a 10p piece as two bob, but for a long time I called a 50p piece a “ten bob piece” (in fact I can distinctly remember once asking my younger brother for ten bob and being genuinely surprised when he had no idea what I was talking about). So ten bob was a sizable amount of coin of the realm whereas nine bob meant something that was clearly fraudulent (as in “the Enron P&L statement was as bent as nine bob note”). But there was in fact at least one nine bob note: the Irish “Newports Bank” issued a nine shilling note in 1799, and a specimen was sold at auction in the U.K. for three thousand euros. So what is to be our post-cash alternative: as bent as a… what? As bent as a card with a magnetic stripe on it… no, wait… as bent as an IBAN with an invalid check digit… as bent as an SDA clone with an invalid digital signature… they don’t seem to have the ring to them, do they?

Our children will surely miss the rich language of cash once it evaporates into cyberspace. No more greenbacks or dimes, no more fivers or farthings. No appropriate slang term has yet arisen to mean — specifically — electronic cash. We need to put our thinking caps on: what is the 21st century addition to beans, bread, bucks, cabbage, chips, dough, lucre, loot, mazuma, moolah, wad or spondoolicks that will make its way into the thesaurus? I’ve always liked wonga, so I was thinking “vonga” (constructed from virtual + wonga) or perhaps “wenga” (I don’t know why, I just like the “e” in there). I also think it would be nice to have new verb to indicate payment by reputation transfer (”to rep” doesn’t seem good enough) but that’s a personal whim.

Or perhaps our children will keep the language of cash, dissociated from the technology. Thus, to draw on a commonly-used example, when I ask my kids “can you dial grandma for me” while I’m driving they know what the verb “to dial” means despite the fact that neither of them have ever seen, much less used, a telephone dial. Soon, the etymology of the verb will be opaque, and kids will come across it only in games of Trivial Pursuit. It’s just like the way many of us talk about making a buck many times a day without having the slightest idea what the origin of “buck” is.

Creating money is easy. The hard part is getting it accepted.” — Economist Hyam Minsky (1986).
[posted with ecto]

KashKlash, my thoughts

by Michele Visciola

Michele Visciola is a partner of Experientia, but is contributing these ideas as his personal contribution to the project.

I have some thoughts that I want to share with you after having read yours:

I believe that we will never get rid of money. Be realistic! Forget about virtual currency. We will keep living in the physical world in 2015. So let’s be real. A world with no currency would simply mean that we are regressing to a post-future era. A world without a reliable currency would mean the end of the history for all humanity. That has already been forecast several times; however, luckily enough, we are still debating about the future and I hope that in 2015 we will still be here armed with the willingness and desire to understand how to best deal with current challenges. Further, I also believe that we can easily imagine a world with one unique currency valid for everybody; but that would also imply an unrealistic scenario: a world where differences (such as origin, genre, class, education) have disappeared for ever and people can – e.g. - have the same opportunities everywhere, regardless of local economies. I am not a pessimistic guy, however I feel that achievements like this are out of reach for the next several decades.

I also believe that the main challenges we have to deal with today are dependent on two main tenets which are deep-rooted in our culture: first of all, our faith in limitless growth and, second, the regulations that allow the accumulation of unlimited resources in the hands of few, with no care for our general wellbeing. In western-like economies, we generally consume resources up to 9 times our capability to produce goods and new resources within the same timeframe. In fact, we consume vast amounts of energy to produce our goods and we throw things away even before the end of the normal life cycle they were designed for. We look at the future with no parsimony. We envisage an expanded future. We imagine our future to always contain more and more. To make that possible the legislators need to deregulate access to resources, and often completely obscure any reference to reality and to the wisdom of the past.

[This graphic is built through service and property of IBM.]

I very much like the idea that we as individuals act under the pressure of three kinds of forces: the social, the political and the financial. However, we need to be aware that at this precise moment the social and political forces are subordinate to financial power and its forces. I believe that this is mainly because financial power has been able to embody and enact the 2 tenets I was referring to above. It has done so with perseverance and persistency. Financial power has shown no limit in its fantasy and has been able to literally invent unlimited wealth, even if only virtual. These virtual riches are in the hands of few, their creators, and can literally destroy any social or political resistance to counteract or simply control them. What is worse, they can completely obfuscate any reference to the production of goods and services and further put at risk the reality of many innocent savers and other citizens.

We do not suffer a clash of currencies; indeed we are suffering a clash of risk cultures (Ulrich Beck – Conditio Humana). The creators of virtual wealth do not have the same risk culture that is at the basis of individual behavior. In fact, we as individuals are limited; our rationality is bounded, our actions are contextual and therefore restricted by the boundaries of the social and physical contexts. We make our decisions trying to reduce the amount of possible bad consequences. We do not behave to maximize our potential gains. Our behavior is fit only when it shows a clear understanding of the constraints of the situations we live in. We are normally able to assess the possible outcomes of our decisions and also determine to what extent we want to act riskily. In a virtual financial world there are no more physical (goods), nor social (rules) constraints. As a consequence, the related culture of risk will easily consider any perceived limitation as a barrier to the immediate profit of the few manipulators of huge flows of virtual cash.

So let me jump to the conclusions of my few observations: I feel that there is an urgency to reduce the power of financial forces. Will that be possible by making the manipulation of values through digital currencies more transparent? For instance, is there any opportunity to reduce the mediator role of financial institutions? How can digital currency improve the perception of artificial richness and make it vanish as soon as one institution or few individuals accumulate more than is physically conceivable?

I also believe that we need to put our faith in the limitless growth of our resources and values under serious scrutiny. How might digital currency limit the greed of the homo economicus? Is there something that we can imagine as a future scenario in which social pressure and forces get financial power into the right perspective? How can the creation of commons incrementally expand the number of people who can have access to produced values? What are the new services that might consistently increase our capability to improve our wealth without destroying values?

Starting from scratch

by Heather Moore

This is a thought exercise:

Imagine waking up in 2015 and all money has disappeared. All cash, credit cards and forms of currency, gone. Stock markets, kaput. A world without money.

What’s more, you can’t even remember that it had existed or that it had been important to you or the world.

All you have is yourself and the people and ideas you value. You have your unique combination of history, talent, skills and creativity. Your understanding of the world based on your DNA, your upbringing, your geographic location and your influences. You have your thoughts, ideas, perceptions, sensory experiences.  And you have the need to process, share, express and inspire.

Then imagine people coming together to solve problems with nothing but this, and with no prior knowledge of what exchange used to be.

Would you think in terms of what you need or what you can share? Would you exchange or contribute?

If you were to offer something to exchange, what would it be? How do you conduct this exchange? How is value established, among individuals? Among communities?

How might you set up an exchange that leverages everyone’s talents, creativity, perspectives and passions? How would you form groups? How would you solve problems?

And how might you prepare now for this future?

[Note: This is meant to be a thought exercise to explore omission, and inspired by one of John Maeda's Laws of Simplicity: 'Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.']

Some questions

by Nicolas Nova

One of the most important point in the picture I sketched in my other post is the cultural and geographical fragmentation of communities. Based mostly on ethnic and religious segmentation, this phenomena will be an acute driver of change. Why is that? simply because people from the same culture will be scattered in different countries, cities and continent; because these cultures will have trouble cohabiting with each others in the local; because these diaspora will stay connected all around the world, etc. What this means practically is that “friction and connection” are definitely interesting keywords to describe the near future (2015 is the near future right?). Frictions between different cultures who may fight against each others on one hand, and connections between people within the same diaspora (but geographically dispersed) or between cultures who may learn from each other.

Frictions and connections actually set up the scene for imagining issues regarding value exchange as they show the underlying factors that can explain the near future. The tension between the local and the global is also an interesting couple of factor.

[This graphics is built through service and property of IBM.]

A list of questions I am thinking about sitting at the airport in Geneva:

Will these communities stop using regular currency such as dollar-euro-yen-yuan-… and use their own currency?

Will Hawala spread out of the islamic world to other communities? Which, back tot he factors I delineated above corresponds to ask whether the local connections between different in big cities communities may lead to the spread of a value system from one culture to another. Will technology-based currencies (M-Pesa) spread from developing countries to the developed world?

Will there be a growing bartering/micro-tasks platforms (such as the one I described in my post last week)?  Who will it serve? Will it be limited to specific communities? Will it be limited to techno-geeks?

Will be bartering be limited to obscure communities? Will current currencies be only used by the developed world? Or will the situation be more complicated with currencies to support legal transactions and bartering to support non-legal ones?

Which forms bartering systems can take? Will mobile and location-based applications will enable bartering process? Is this view too technology-centric and eventually only local population would manage to barter services and goods?

What would be the consequence of having more and more bartering systems? How would States react?

What about the inter-relationships between the digital and the physical? Would I be able to trade my google history against a free access to the local foodstore (which would actually correspond to a huge hydroponic plant connected to a server farm that provide enough energy to grow apples and cherries in winter?)

If my on-line material (history of interaction uploaded pictures, mass amount of emails, google docs and communications such as tweets and blogposts) is intrinsically valued, the ones who host them act like a bank. Who’s going to be such “bank”: mobile phone carriers? search engines? internet providers? internet hosts? what sorts of other services will they eventually propose?

Will there be some “esperanto“-like transaction system? a group of people/country/institutions tired with the tyranny of the euro-dollar which will propose its own attempt to replace them by a more valuable and user-centric money? Possibly by developing countries who both manage to have enough economical resources and intellectual workers to set this up around 2010 after the big subprime crisis? I find this scenario intriguing and may expand it a bit later on, especially because esperanto is close to “desperanto” (desperate) and I can quickly imagine the failure of the high expectations people would put in an esperanto-like transaction system.

Some other foresight scenarios

by Mark Vanderbeeken

KashKlash 2015 A.D

by Bruce Sterling

KashKlash 2015 A.D

Is there any global currency?  The euro?  The amero?  The globo? What?

Is there any national currency powerful and influential enough to behave
rather like a global currency?  Dollar, pound, yen, yuan, euro, ruble, rupee?

Is there financial turmoil so severe that experimental kash-klash services
look attractive and inviting by comparison to the older status quo?

What happens if conventional financial systems are hyperinflating, deflating,
crashing in value or radically destabilized?
  Does a status quo even exist in future?
How do people live without any financial status quo?

What does a “closed currency,” or a nonconvertible currency, look like
five or six years from now?  Are wealthy people avoiding these locked currencies,
or running toward them so as to escape the scary, unstable, open global markets?

How can I get rid of my old-fashioned, burdensome, physical possessions,
and directly strengthen my important social networks online?  Can I trade my used living room couch for more Google juice?  Can I give away a camera and get more people to look at my FlickR photos?
Can I offer food and shelter to the people who help me play my online games effectively?

Can I be “more kash-klash” and “less kash-klash”?  Can I be rightwing kashklash and leftwing kashklash?  Do men and women have different kashklash styles?  How about ethnicity, age,
postal code and religion?  Where are the demographic kashklash segments? I certainly want to be in the nicest ones, if you don’t mind.

Where are the tipping points between financial power and social power?
Is it easier to be famous and to get mere money, or to be rich and just buy myself some cheap fame?

Can I get political figures elected to office without giving them huge chunks of political campaign money?  Can I move my political party into a kash-klash space?   If I can’t do that for a fancy US President, can I at least do it for my local mayor?

If I happen to be near an important event, will somebody pay me to stand there with my cameraphone waiting for something interesting to happen?  Is my position on the planet’s surface worth some kashklash?

I just got here off the train or plane. I need a cup of coffee, a shower and a place to sleep.
I don’t care who gives this vital thing to me.  I can pay for these useful services in any of 130 different ways, or not pay at all.  Who wants to talk to me? Now. Hurry.

I’m very old and tired here in the future.  Can I retire into a kash-klash? Who will look after me?  How?  I’m confused.  Can you help?  Keep helping, I’m getting older fast.  Also, there are many millions of me.

How do I rob a kashklash “bank”?

I want to put every valuable thing that I own, safely, into my beloved kashklash.  How do I do that?  I don’t care if it’s “real” or “virtual“, but I do need a safe-deposit vault.

I’m very scared by this highly insecure future that is so direly threatened by terrorists, climate change, landslides, wildfires, earthquakes, feminists, epidemics, liberals, etc.  Normally I lug around my cumbersome “survivalist bag” full of bandages, food, water, compasses, handguns, big gold bars and so forth.
Now my back really hurts from lifting all that, so I think I should have a kashklash instead.  Can you handle this for me?

Access to all my favorite items are stored in a kashklash vault.  An enemy tank just ran over my kashklash cellphone.  Now what?

I have a kashklash in one pocket for all my network services. I also have a steel multitool and fancy keychain in my other pocket for all my analog services. Can I combine these, please?  It annoys me to carry so much  tech junk that I need big ugly clownlike cargo pants.

I’m really and sincerely evil, and would like to break all Ten Commandments with my kashklash, starting with murdering some people.  Can you help me? Failing that, can you stop me?

Here in the future, I’m not worried about the past any more.  I made my peace with the past because I buried it.  Instead of just selling me some future, can you offer me an open road toward MORE future? How am I supposed to get from 2015 toward 2105?  Show me.

bruno a.

Redemption and the value of words

by Heather Moore

Redemption - such a fascinating  word. It evokes fire and brimstone. And cashing-in.

The English language is brimming with  abstracted words related to money that are full of other meanings. The words still maintain connections to their original meanings, but our culture seems to have lost them.

Margaret Atwood’s new book ‘Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth’ addresses a few of these like  interest and debt .


Glancing in the dictionary, there are 13 results for the word ‘value’ alone. It’s a noun, it’s a verb.  It’s tied to the worth of everything, but the word itself has almost lost its value.

val·ue /vælyu/ [val-yoo] noun, verb, -ued, -u·ing. –noun

  1. relative worth, merit, or importance: the value of a college education; the value of a queen in chess.
  2. monetary or material worth, as in commerce or trade: This piece of land has greatly increased in value.
  3. the worth of something in terms of the amount of other things for which it can be exchanged or in terms of some medium of exchange.
  4. equivalent worth or return in money, material, services, etc.: to give value for value received.
  5. estimated or assigned worth; valuation: a painting with a current value of $500,000.
  6. denomination, as of a monetary issue or a postage stamp.
  7. Mathematics. a. magnitude; quantity; number represented by a figure, symbol, or the like: the value of an angle; the value of x; the value of a sum. b. a point in the range of a function; a point in the range corresponding to a given point in the domain of a function: The value of x 2 at 2 is 4.
  8. import or meaning; force; significance: the value of a word.
  9. liking or affection; favorable regard.
  10. values, Sociology. the ideals, customs, institutions, etc., of a society toward which the people of the group have an affective regard. These values may be positive, as cleanliness, freedom, or education, or negative, as cruelty, crime, or blasphemy.
  11. Ethics. any object or quality desirable as a means or as an end in itself.
  12. Fine Arts. a. degree of lightness or darkness in a color. b. the relation of light and shade in a painting, drawing, or the like.
  13. Music. the relative length or duration of a tone signified by a note.
  14. values, Mining. the marketable portions of an orebody.
  15. Phonetics. a. quality. b. the phonetic equivalent of a letter, as the sound of a in hat, sang, etc. -verb (used with object)
  16. to calculate or reckon the monetary value of; give a specified material or financial value to; assess; appraise: to value their assets.
  17. to consider with respect to worth, excellence, usefulness, or importance.
  18. to regard or esteem highly: He values her friendship.

[Origin: 1275– 1325; ME < OF, n. use of fem. ptp. (cf. valuta) of valoir < L valére to be worth]

I have also been thinking about what Regine said about the word ‘future’ sounding retro and devoid of meaning. Unfortunately, ‘future’ is the only word that captures  a time yet to come . Why are we lacking another word for ‘future’? Yet somehow ‘future’ has also come to mean a financial term for ‘commodities or stocks bought or sold upon agreement of delivery in time to come’.

fu·ture /fyutuur/

  1. (noun) time that is to be or come hereafter.
  2. something that will exist or happen in time to come: The future is rooted in the past.
  3. a condition, esp. of success or failure, to come: Some people believe a gypsy can tell you your future.
  4. Grammar. a. the future tense. b. another future formation or construction. c. a form in the future, as He will come.
  5. Usually, futures. speculative purchases or sales of commodities for future receipt or delivery.
  6. ( adjective) that is to be or come hereafter: future events; on some future day.
  7. pertaining to or connected with time to come: one’s future prospects; future plans.
  8. Grammar. noting or pertaining to a tense or other verb formation or construction that refers to events or states in time to come.

[Origin: 1325–75; ME futur AF, OF < L fūtū

rus about to be (fut. participle of esse to be)]

‘Interest’ has 20 different meanings. ‘Credit’ has 21. ‘Bond’ has 28. Shockingly, ’stock’ has 61. Is there a connection with attaching many meanings to a word with that word losing its meaning altogether?

Perhaps  we need to reclaim the original meanings of these wordsOr s tart from scratch and create new words that wake us up and make us think a nd act. Words that jostle us  and make us realize the urgency of creating our ‘time yet to come’  before the momentum of current events creates it for us.

Kash Klash project - the vision

by Irene Cassarino

We create our future as much as our past creates us. The relatively new digital world of the internet has offered us new methods of communicating, of discovering and of interacting. We have learned that we don’t have to simply copy familiar physical forms and adapt them to this new environment, but that we can use our collective imagination to invent new forms and tools, as dynamic and holistic as we are.

Friedrich Kiesler in 1939 defined this as co-realism: ‘an exchange of interacting forces’ and situates the idea of expanding human capacities within it. Here is an opportunity to transform our recent past as consumers and producers to that of active co-creators of our collective future— to create something new with all that we have learned from farming culture, academic enlightenment, master craftsmanship and industrial efficiency and use the essential elements to light a path through our new integrated physical/digital world.

Are we prescribing or determining form and behavior? Are we making means for a specific experience, or are we creating conditions for what has been called the experimental exercise of freedom? - Mies van der Rohe

KashKlash is a space to share thoughts on, and to shape, the future; a playground for visionary people like you, who, in a sense, are already living a few years ahead. One particular aspect of the future we are particularly keen to explore is related to exchanges in our culture. Let’s start from the basic consideration that people have always shared and exchanged things. Sure, it comes to us naturally. But today’s digital communication systems are changing and expanding this age-old behaviour: not only are there new things to share — pictures, music, ratings, writings, videos, data and information — but there are now also many more platforms and opportunities for sharing and exchanging to take place.

Can we consider such exchanges to be ‘economical’? Sure we can, as in the original Greek  meaning of “one who manages a household”: although these exchanges often don’t involve money, they are rapidly growing in importance. Yet, our current capitalist economy is based on the assumption that everything has a monetary value, and ought to be traded according to that value. What is challenging our imagination is that the uptake of digital technology is starting to undermine this assumption.

Consider a person uploading a picture on Flickr, with an open license.  She is making a ‘gift’ to the Flickr community in the sense that she does not expect to have any financial compensation in return, but she does get other things instead: e.g. the feeling of belonging to a community of peers, a great potential visibility for her picture, the recognition of the beauty of it, the happiness of having her friends and relatives virtually gathered around that picture, and so on. The exchange has become non-financial and is definitely shaping a different, or if you want, alternative, ecosystem. An alternative to the mainstream.

Of course we know that alternative economies are nothing new: Local communities worldwide have always practised sharing and trading things (both material and immaterial, like time) without the support of money. Even now in 2008 this local practice is still very widely diffused, yet it sits at the margin of the dominant economic model and has a reputation of being naïve. What is new, with respect to a few years ago, is the increased interaction between digital/global and physical/local sharing through digital, especially mobile, communication tools.

Personal/Shared Values vs. Monetary Value

The current world of physical currency offers a degree of anonymity that allows individuals and groups to disassociate what they produce with what they consume. What have we lost in blurring the association between the two? Does the web, rich with connections and openness, offer an opportunity to reclaim this lost territory? What are the implications of this? Can both forms co-exist? In the merging physical/digital world, will other types of compensation - time, skills, services, a sense of belonging, visibility, public recognition, identity and so on - be increasingly important?

What might replace money as it exists now? What could be sharable and what cannot? What impact could this have on people and communities? How could a post-money economy best be organised, especially given the failures of the current economic model? How do communities of sharing shape and maintain themselves? How do they build their values? Do they have explicit or implicit values? What are the differences between global/online and local/physical communities of sharing? To what extent can digital/mobile communication tools help people in both online and physical communities manage their sharing and exchanging practices? What would the rules, rituals and habits of this future world be?

To address these questions, we created KashKlash, a forum to debate, imagine and co-create this future.
It is worth noting here that the focus of this understanding is on a possible future ecosystem, rather than on the technological tools underpinning it. We want the technology to adapt to the landscape we are trying to sketch out, not to be pulled in a certain direction by technology.

We want you to feel free to express your view, even if you feel that it is loosely related to the subject of the discussion: this platform is a simply a playground for ideas coming from people who are in love with the future and we are looking forward to seeing the amazing jigsaw puzzle of insights that results!
Please experiment with your thoughts and transfer them to us through words, images, sounds, videos, whatever medium you prefer.
We know how powerful ideas can be when a suitable space is created for a diverse community of people to express them.

KashKlash is a public domain project, set up by Heather Moore of Vodafone’s User Experience group, where all the content is public and open for all to use, allowing everyone to gain from everyone else’s contributions.
Such an open and spirited climate should not be hampered by Vodafone’s involvement, and it should be clear to everybody that opinions presented within this project are not somehow attached/attachable to Vodafone but are opinions from individuals, belonging to them and to the public domain.