[ox-en] Designing a currency for encouraging online outreach
- From: Andrius Kulikauskas <ms ms.lt>
- Date: Fri, 26 Nov 2004 02:39:47 +0200
I share my letter with the Oekonux list as a follow-up on my talk on
"Social Infrastructure for Virtual Flash Mobs"
which we've pursued at http://www.openpeople.info Andrius Kulikauskas
Thank you to Bala Pillai of MindEcos
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mindecos/ and John Rogers of the Wales
Institute for Community Currencies http://wicc.newport.ac.uk/wicc.htm
for leading our Minciu Sodas laboratory http://www.ms.lt into the
promising area of community currency.
WICC is funding our lab to develop a "currency design tool" based on the
research of Geoff Thomas, Becky Booth, John Rogers and Sarah James. Our
latest version is at:
We appreciate your thoughts. See also our further ideas at:
I'm also making steps toward designing a currency for our Minciu Sodas
lab and our Open People network http://www.openpeople.info I'm coding
pages where we can easily submit URLs that we think are noteworthy, but
especially to our letters (such as at our Cyfranogi archive
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cyfranogi/messages/ As each URL is
entered, it will be possible to include excerpts or comments in the
Public Domain. And then it will be possible to categorize those
excerpts (such as thank yous, kind words, offers to help, requests for
help, important ideas, introductions, welcomes, opportunities,
statements of principle, strategies, etc.) It will then also be
possible to note the people involved (such as the one who thanks and the
one who is thanked) and credit them both. Each such instance is vetted
by our community and the fact that we naturally keep noise down means
that such expressions are quite genuine and therefore "sound currency".
The result is that we can have a currency that is not "zero-sum" but
whose purpose is to let us know who in our community we should be
rallying round and not forgetting. Once a month or so, those people who
have participated the most actively (somebody like Lucas) will get to
choose how to redeem their points (we oblige them to!):
- they can "cash out" (based on the modest income our community is
earning through our lab's activities)
- they can use their point for some of our non-cash rewards or services
(such as our "virtual flash mobs")
- they can use their points for decision-making power regarding
particular questions at hand (for example, Lucas might say - I want our
lab to reach out to the Spanish-speaking world!)
- they can give their points away to somebody else.
In this way, their sum is reduced and then next month or so we give the
choice to whoever is on top.
In this way, I can give more and more "paid work" to our lab and network
volunteers because so long as the work gets done it doesn't matter why.
I think a small bit of money will go a long way if we can use the
currency as a rebalancing mechanism.
Note that the record-keeping overhead is eliminated because we're using
the natural "record-keeping" as our currency! I mean that there are 10%
or so of letters (or activity) that we want to return to some day, and
so by recording that we naturally highlight what is valuable. And then
we may perhaps focus on 10% of that as especially needing to be
"counterbalanced" so our community is vibrant. So really I hope this
currency might serve to continuously recenter our community (help it
find its "center of value") rather than to measure the tit-for-tat
exchanges which I think is destructive.
Another way to think of this is that our community would want its
resources to be primarily in the hands of those who are most generous.
We want to keep returning our "money" to them - keep coming back to them
for instruction. The kind of generosity that is most important to us
independent thinkers is "outreach" so that we keep having a wider
variety of minds for our social framework. So the resources should go
to the parties involved in that outreach - those who reach out, and
those they reach out to. I think we'll find a way to sort through the
"excerpts" that we collect and figure out what metric is relevant for
encouraging this outreach (and increase our "wealth as relationships").
Why do we need such a metric? We have resources that we can mobilize
(I'm happy with our most reason virtual flash mob for Global Learn Day 8
Currently, we're relying on unilateral declarations which I'm not shy to
make. But they would be more effective if there was more weight behind
them, more of a social contract. Also, it's straightforward for me to
declare support for Janet Feldman or for http://www.onevillage.biz But
it's much more subtle to realize that at some point we should get behind
Lucas Gonzalez Santa Cruz, and explain that logic to him and others. Or
what do we owe to Bala Pillai? How can we understand that? A metric
helps us acknowledge each other and also (if it's multidimensional)
helps us to convert that into some kind of authority vested (such as
strategic direction) that is not reduced to one-dimensional money (and
thereby diminished). [Bala, I'm following with interest the development
of your MindEcos website. How might we connect with Open People?]
I think we'll be able to tap into this to help us reap economies large
and small. This should help us motivate ourselves to grow our wikis.
It should also help us rally ourselves to help each other in our paid
I'm also hoping that we can use this economy to connect with some of the
larger companies like Hewlett-Packard, Apple, Sun, Intel. I and others
have need for laptops and it would make sense for those companies to
offer us (social entrepreneurs and social activists) equipment or
discounts. In return, we would to offer something of value. I think
that we can, through such an economy, mobilize people for them in ways
that they can't through money alone, partly because of the overhead in
using money for small rewards. Whereas I think that we can and do
encourage many people to make very small contributions (and that can't
be done by handing out one dollar bills). So I hope that OneVillage and
others might help us contact such companies and figure out how we might
work out such a useful connection. What purpose would it serve them?
Perhaps something that helps them reach difficult markets (such as
markets in exotic languages or niche geek cultures or specialty
industries that we can reach out to).
What would we like such a point system accomplish?
Organization: projekt oekonux.de