Re: [ox-en] There is no such thing like "peer money"
- From: "Samuel Rose" <samuel.rose gmail.com>
- Date: Tue, 8 Jul 2008 12:26:35 -0400
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Great discussion, I have a small comment below:
On Sun, Jul 6, 2008 at 2:03 AM, Michel Bauwens <michelsub2004 gmail.com>
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He brought up the issue that there are big cultural differences totally
neglected in Marxist theory, not in Marx ouvre thouh. Marx took the issue
dead serious, as his letter to Vera Sassulitsch and his long preparatory
do you have any reference to that letter?
(by the way, my recent discoveries are here
The question is: are there some cultures habitually more prone to adapt
cooperative schemes of production? Particulary in Eastern cultures.
This is a very interesting but also complex theme. I believe that there are
both invariant structural development issues (the partial truth of systems
like Spiral Dynamics), and culturally specific social-DNA systems
(marvellously explained in this key book:
One of the major factors in Spiral Dynamics/Clare W Graves's theories is the
environment. Also, Graves did most of his research on people in the West
(people from communist and NATO countries, Africans, and North/South
America) He did very little work with people from Asia, and it could be that
he would have come up with a different set of "levels" had he done so.
But even so, the fundamental core of his theory, which had nothing to do
with the "levels" (or
"colors" as they became in Spiral dynamics), is the "inner directed/ outer
directed" focus of an individual in a complex environment. And the internal
systems/external systems. These are definitely universal among humans
For example, why is techno-savvy Japan not taking up the internet, but
focused on the mobile instead, this is a discussion by a japanese
Similarly, why are Africans using mobile to develop an alternative currency
(airtime) and Chinese workers using it to better their working conditions,
These are all local adaptations that fit bot the mindsets and needs.
The environment is the under-observed factor when looking through Clare W
Graves's lens. Or, when looking at anything that talks about a "social DNA"
etc. In organisms, as explored by Richard Lewontin, the environment is as
huge a factor as the DNA. Graves argued the same for psycho-social systems.
Also, there are clues in the work of Marshall McLuhan, too, as to why people
are taking up and using technology in different ways. A huge part of it has
to do with the unique enviroment/local conditions.
One of the unique, directions that p2p-oriented systems seem to be moving
towards is the mimicing of biological systems in different ways. We are
really at an early stage, but I think that doing things liek employing
stigmerngic collaboration, and simple rules that help self-regulate and
self-assemble complex behavior are some early examples of the direction this
is going in.
When it comes to the development and deployment of mediums and technologies,
humans have traditionally been surprisingly non-flexible, and have tended to
make systems that are not very adaptable. But this is changing, and I think
some of the early changes come from human technology development areas like
F/LOSS development, plus collective action projects like Wikipedia, etc.
I think the part of the non-flexibility has come from people weighing the
costs of extendign traditional systems vs totally redesigning them. So, for
instance with software development, there often needs to be at least some
rigidity in the final decision making of what goes into a software release,
because of the nature of the computer itself, which cannot process code that
has even one comma misplaced. The cost of making a computer system platform
that is itself more adaptable has traditionally been too high, so open
source projects have shifted evolutions toward adaptability in computer
systens to the software development process instead. People may fork the
code, patch the code, add on to the code in different ways. But there is
always a stable becasue the *computer* needs the stable release, which in
turn makes people trying to do something with the computer need it.
Where an environment exists that drives down the cost of creating a whole
new computer system that is based on adaptability in the hardware, then I
think the p2p traditions around computer software development will change. I
contend that this environment exists now, but that many people simply do not
realize it. And, that within the next couple of years if not sooner, you'll
see people exploring radical new computer designs that work more like
dynamic neuronal systems ( like "Jigsaw Computing") and that these types of
computers will be the computers that are able to deal with the netwonian
physics limits of traditional computers. We'll use traditional computers to
"teach" them, likely. We'll also use current/traditional comptuers to model
and simulate the chemical and molecular structures needed to make these
"jigsaw" computers. We may also then see the utility of semantic data
technologies (as a way to teach these new kinds of computers), and the
revival of the field of semiotics, but this time as (one) way to do
I think we are at roughly the same place with money systems. The social cost
for many people in totally replacing/eliminating current money systems is
too high, so to adapt, people are currently seekign ways to extend money
I think here again, that looking at "nature", biological systems, will give
us clues about how to create conditions for change away from just extending
existing systems. If there are ways to lower the cost for creating whole new
systems that are more flexible and adaptable, then they will begin to
But, how will these new bio-mimetic money systems work? What are "p2p money
systems" try ing to change, extend? What problems are they trying to solve?
One of the first clues that I have come across in how biomimetic money
systems will work (money systems that mimic biological systems) is based in
the fact that anyone can start a money system, and that anyone else can
recognize another's money system. Money is really a medium. We choose
interact with the medium of money in the way that we currently do.
A bio-mimetic money system might actually be one where each person issues
their own currency, and is responsible for it's value in the marketplace. An
infinite number of factors could then determine the value of your currency
in the eyes of other people. And, those factors will differ depending on
where you are, and what local conditions are. A group of people may then
also decide to merge their individual currencies for certain exchanges. In
natural systems, an organism merges itself into it's environment by finding
ways to sustainably intake and output with the local ecology it finds itself
in, eventually adaptations emerge and one species morphs into another.
This might become more of a possibility when many people are able to produce
much of what they want and need on their own, or procure it easily locally
for something else of value that they produce. Right now, our local
ecologies are like sterile deserts when compared to natural system
ecologies. We are more like animals in cages than an ecology under current
conditions. So we are largely forced to use existing money systems out of
shear survival necessity. Local production of basic survival and basic
civilization needs will create the conditions that change this, and we
already have the basic building blocks to make this happen.
Current explorations of creating local production systems are proving to me
that it is already possible to start creating these local conditions. Again,
I think that the problem at this time is that many people are not aware of
the possibilities that currently exist. And, I think you will see more of
this emerge very soon.
All this being said, if we take equipotentiality seriously, as well as the
adage 'designing for convergence of individual and collective interest' and
we are open to the cultural input of all, then the quest for human
emancipation can be adaptive and find the proper forms under localized
By creating the conditions for change, eg opening up channels of
communication, giving people access to new mediums, knowledge, and the time
to apply both. People then begin to gravitate towards what works best, if
all of the conditions for this type of change are met on local scales.
This is for example why the P2P Foundation is not a party or movement but a
One of the expertise areas we (P2P Foundation) seem to have gravitated
towards is the area of "literacy", helping people have a fundamental,
testable, applicable undestanding of solving problems in the ways that we
research, explore and discuss collectively.
I think this deserves very much attention from our side. It occurs to me
that the Oekonux conference never dealt with that subject - "P2P
and new possibilities in the information age".
Cant go more into the subject now, maybe others can pitch in.
Contact: projekt oekonux.de
The P2P Foundation researches, documents and promotes peer to peer
Wiki and Encyclopedia, at http://p2pfoundation.net; Blog, at
http://blog.p2pfoundation.net; Newsletter, at
Basic essay at http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=499; interview at
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