Posts tagged ‘exchange’

Principles for a digital social enterprise

by ToryD
Jolly conversationalist at Lift09

Jolly conversationalist at Lift09

Over the last few months, Franco and I have been thinking about what makes a project – a design or service design project, for instance -  fall into the camp of social and ethical design. From that we ended up thinking that those categories needed to be enriched further to consider the actual outcome of the thing that is being designed and launched on the world.

Franco met up with the Kashklash crew at Lift09 and a jolly conversation started about how the ideas we were playing with could interact with Kashklash. At the core of the conversation was the nature of value co-creation, both in social enterprise and in a world beyond a monetary economy. During our discussions we found that new ideas of value and relationship are the starting point for defining a shared perspective on how society could evolve through initiatives and action outside of established institutions.

To invite further discussion, we are posting below the initial thinking we have done on a set of principles and guidelines to support the formation of ethical / sustainable social enterprise services. (With contributions from Heather, Irene and Mark..thanks!)

  1. Does the initiative help people use time to their best advantage?
  2. Does it strengthen relationships between people?
  3. Does it have a clear socially* beneficial mission (or in the absence of clarity, a positive trajectory in a socially beneficial direction)?
  4. Does it produce more for a community/society/environment than it takes, including balance of profit distribution v. social reinvestment?
  5. Is the initiative and its outcome sustainable in the long term?
  6. Are the workings transparent, including products, processes, consequences? Are there processes in place to protect and steward the socially beneficial intent and outcomes?
  7. Is it at least neutral for people who don’t use it? (i.e. doesn’t permanently reduce resources for non-users)
  8. Is the result of any accumulation process socially positive?
  9. Does it reduce barriers to access? Does it make things easier? Is it accessible in the broad sense of the word?
  10. Is there no unjustified and/or artificial barrier to entry or exit?
  11. Does it respect human rights and the culture it is in? (Although these may be in opposition, in which case, we believe, human rights should prevail.) Does it value diversity?
  12. Does it build and substantiate trust and collaboration?
  13. Does it foster socially positive, sustainable use of the data/information it generates?
  14. Does it provide/use a means of value exchange that is appropriate to the context?

Further elements to be considered include:

  1. Does it leverage and / or facilitate local ownership and economic development?
  2. Is it scalable?
  3. Is it applicable in different contexts/sectors?
  4. Is it culturally adaptable?
  5. Does if follow best practice in user-centric design?

*social used to indicate social / environmental throughout

We started this project focusing on the way social enterprise services can be designed to “create sustainable business-driven solutions to societal problems” (Paraphrased from, but we feel that the framework can be applied to all projects that aim to benefit society at large.

In application to a given initiative, we realise there will be specific additional principles, such as those that could be appended in relation to the creation of a digital exchange framework. We offer this to the discussion of the future of digital value co-creation and exchange. Further comments welcome.

-Franco Papeschi & Tory Dunn

Funny Money

by Heather Moore

A recent survey of the landscape of economic-themed comics revealed some gems.

I’ve been a longtime fan of xkcd and this time Randall poses his take on alternative currency and cultural memes:

(The tooltip reveals a nod to 4chan.) on the possible origins of Craigslist:
Married To The Sea

On exchange:

and finally this quite interesting anonymously posted primer on subprime loans:

The Subprime Primer

Turtling all the way down to 5 key questions

by Nicolas Nova

Reading all the content we have produced so far in the train, I am quite amazed by the richness of the material we have. It’s a bit messy but that’s how collaboration is generally made of. Given the schedule we have, I think it’s important to shoot the questionnaire to secondary authors pretty soon. I am not sure whether we should wait for other refinements of issues. The most urgent is to agree on 5 key questions and shoot them over to the others. After browsing the material, we can for instance propose the following 5 key issues:

  • Driver for change: what factors, according to you, may change the way we exchange, buy, trade objects and services?
  • An ecosystem of currencies: what are the alternative currencies or exchange systems you foresee in the next 10 years? Think about experimental forms of exchange, the role of technologies.
  • What are the economic aspects of this? How do disparate groups exchange goods and services without a stabilized and intergroup fungible currency?
  • How different social scales will be impacted by this? How nation-states/communities/families/man/woman/kids will change?
  • What do you hope/desire for the future?

I tried to clean up and remove some elements (like the
global currency
which is unlikely, or the absence of currency) and went straight to the point in terms of the most important questions that came out from our discussion this week. The question may have to be reformulated but I do think they give a clear overview of what we talked about. The last bit (about people’s desire) is important IMO as it aims at grasping secondary authors’ personal impressions. I hope we can get a wide range of insights here. That being said, I wonder about the openness of the question. It’s clearly more valuable to get some open answers but it will require more work on the part of the contacts.

Areas of possible interest in designing new scenarios - my stab

by Irene Cassarino

Thank you Nicolas for your proposal!!

As I promised, this is my stab: I tried to include some of Nicolas’ hints, althought something is different. I do hope differences will feed the discussion!

1. Drivers for potential change

Is there any? which one? in which direction will it/they likely lead us?

What about reactionary forces that could hamper the change/ run against it?

Are some of us, in a sense, already in the future?

Do we really have to care about the change trajectory from now to them or should we be bolder and assume that the money will disappear and everything will be totally different from now, like starting from scratch?

2. Parameters of the 2015 model

What will people exchange with what?
What will the relationship/ exchange rate be between physical and non physical goods? How will the pattern of them change our perception / usage?

Will there be any difference on how we will relate with that model due to gender/age/political view/geography/previous economical path…

Will there by a global currency or a multitude of local ones? In the second case how will the multiplicity/liquidity of them be managed among communities?

Will we have a ‘cost of labour’ in 2015?

Will current distortions in the accumulation mechanism be solved, normalized, humanized… whatsoever?

Will there be actually a new form of value accumulation into capital? Through what? How will we keep it? What will be the dynamic of it over time?

Will accumulation be collective or individual?

What about devaluation? And scarcity?

What will be the new drivers of humanity growth/innovation?

3. Macro implications

How will political/social/financial powers find a new balance (if any, if sustainable…)?

Regulation / Control / Justice : who/what will control the new values and in what terms?

4. Micro implications

Try to imagine the 2015 man/woman/child/retired/wrongdoer… in their day life

5. Technology

Which is the role/weight of technology in all that? And of technology providers (link to area 3)

Hot issues / tweet list:

Physical vs digital goods
Single - global vs Multiple - local
Technology / Communication

The Bank of Common Knowledge

by Régine Debatty

With the motto “taking the Internet to the streets” and inspired by the way the web works, Barcelona-based group Platoniq explores alternative models to distribute, shape and share information, knowledge and cultures. The models they propose are both innovative and built upon a tradition based on political, social and cultural movements that started thirty years ago. But while in the past such projects and structures were mostly the isolated doings of so-called anarchists, punks, and evangelists of ’skillshares’, nowadays they are connecting local structures and processes with global dynamics and networks.

Platoniq gained world fame when they launched Burn Station , a mobile self-service system for searching, listening to and copying music and audio files with no charge. Legally and under a Copyleft Licence. Launched in 2003, Burn Station has met with an enormous and worldwide success. Its system and structure has been autonomously reproduced in schools, social centers, libraries and universities in Europe and South America, demonstrating its value as an educational tool.

Video documentation of Burn Station.

Platoniq’s latest endeavour is the Bank of Common Knowledge , a lab platform that engages with new ways of enhancing the distribution channels for practical and informal knowledge. Stephen Downes believes that : The greatest non-technical issue is the mindset. We have to view information as a flow rather than as a thing. Online learning is a flow. It’s like electricity or water. It’s there, it’s available and it flows. It’s not stuff you collect….

Could the same philosophy apply to the knowledge that does not flow in the digital space?

The Bank of Common Knowledge exports the dynamics of Free Culture and the Copyleft philosophy to processes of knowledge generation and transmission among citizens.

The contents generated are Copyleft, and can be copied, redistributed or modified freely. Based on the organization of meetings among citizens, the Bank of Common Knowledge experiments with new forms of production, learning and citizen participation.

For more details check the video presentation.

Platoniq has organized several free knowledge markets over the past two years. As a member of Platoniq recently explained me, their activities cover an extensive range of topics: The Bank of Common Knowledge Markets are made possible through the offers and requests that BCK receives from citizens: How does a consumer cooperative function?, How can i share wifi with my neighbours?, Is it possible to earn money through collaboration instead of competition?, Is it possible to unfreeze patent-protected scientific knowledge? What can we learn from traditional cultures in the economic context? How can we regularize immigration documents in Spain? How can we set up a wiki without computer?

The exchanges generated during the activities are recorded and published online under a copyleft license in order to guarantee that knowledge keep on circulating.

Video of the Cambridge’s market

Video of the Lisbon edition.

In order to make BCK truly public (in the sense that its appeal should go beyond the usual copyleft and the free culture crowd), Platoniq is testing various knowledge transmission and communication formats, such as games, demos, workshops, first person experiences, challenges, first aid kits or take away theory. These activities are documented in a set of  video manuals or knowledge capsules produced for inclusion in the Bank of Common Knowledge.

The main goal of the project is not to build an online video archive, even if that would end up being one of the consequences , says Platoniq. The real challenge for the Bank of Common Knowledge is to build a model of transmission and free exchange whose social organization and self-training strategies can be easily replicated.

Future Fungible - Multiplicity or Singularity?

by Joshua Klein

The biggest concern for me in facing 2015’s currency issues is that of proliferation - I can barely manage the multiplicity of social currencies I have now. I shudder to think how it would be if I were to find an order of magnitude more limited-platform transactable commodities I had to trade in order to realize their value.

How would we manage, or fail to manage, multiple currencies whose value is in many cases unregulated and only socially restricted? Will cross-platform transactions be available only on a case-by-case basis? Will currencies have all the vague value implications of favors?

What’s more, how will these massively multiplayer economies resist all the pitfalls of classic economies? Will World of Warcraft suddenly go bankrupt due to Second Life land loans? Can a nation state bail out a reality shard? Can IRC serve as a guarentor for an RSS feed?

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

When value becomes intrinsicly relative to a social group that is porous, both geographically and psychologically, what does that mean for the ability of the group to transact? Is a commodity only as good as its owner? Is reputation the gold standard of interactivity and trust? If so, what does that mean for online smear campaigns and the future liquidity of the digitally aged?

On the other hand, as we saw in the scip currencies of old Austria, perhaps living off a currency that is only as good as your last blog post will prompt better human relations. Right now hard federal currencies are embroidered with mores that gift them their true value - dollars are only as good as your banker, as Iceland recently learned. If reputation economies take an upper hand in measuring the worth of your word as mitigated by quantifiable computer systems, perhaps we can live and die by more than google.

This multiverse view expects that the rapid fluidity will exceed human capacity for mass manipulation and exploitation, which might also be folly. Will AI emerge that can manage the tender mercies of public opinion for personal gain? Will spamfarms move over to subtle, innocuous posts across the blogosphere which serve to tank certain currencies and bolster others? Will the resistance of a currency to devaluation increase its net worth, and hence its scarcity?

Or will we all be bound into a single, universal currency - one ring to rule them all - in order to facilitate commerce, legal or otherwise?

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.']