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Re: [ox-en] There is no such thing as "equal exchange" - respect instead of money

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I guess all us programmers think alike.

I'm already experimenting with "near zero cost" software production services
and people's behavior (as documented through the exchanges I've had to date,
which I will anonymize and publicize as part of a study) is very interesting
and defeats every economic theory out there, including my own thinking on
'equtable exchnge' (or "at cost" exchange)

I put out this ad on Craigslist - Manhattan, and I picked Manhattan because
it's the bustling center of capitalism. I wanted the input to the experiment
to be well defined, with as little ambiguity as possible.


So what is $250 (upfront cost of the service) for a local developer with my
experience when programmers in Belarus (who have contacted me following the
ad) charge 10X the money for the same service?

It is basically "near zero" relative to the market price of the service but
to me it is roughly how much it would cost me in calories and coffee to
deliver the service.

So that's me experimenting with my own theory of "trading at the cost in
work energy it takes to produce and deliver the good or service."

The result is very mind opening.

It seems that "trade" has far more deeper emotional/psychological dimensions
than rational ones.

Rationally, you'd think people would be hounding me to work on their iPhone
this and iPhone that.

I have great samples to show them and I have a 100% rational step-driven
interaction process that I designed carefully to be as rationally assuring
as possible so that a rational person would experience a flow-through
process from initial contact to delivery.  I will publish this interaction
process as part of the study, in anonymized fashion.

I also say something nice about their idea and thank them for their interest

So you would think that paying for software production as a service at a
price that is 10X less than what you'd get from a programmer in Belarus and
10X less than what you'd get from the lowest market price out there, at
conceivably 10X the quality, combined very powerful/creative demos (work
samples) and an exact, logical (yet emotionally positive/affirming)
interaction process in a very hot market (relative to the state of the
general market) would results in people 'begging' to get the service.

What is happening, however, is that if I read deeply (or listen deeply) to
their intent what they really want (which is hugely obfuscated by the way
language is used in business dialog) is that they have other unmet needs
that supercede making money and it may be scary for some to realize that
they CAN actually produce that idea they have been fantasizing about (many
have told me of their iPhone ideas that they have been fantasizing about for
a while) which then exposes them to the fear of what if the idea does not
sell once it's made? will that expose them to their insecurities which are
now hiding behind a cost barrier?

In other words, I am realizing that trade has many hidden dimensions, one of
which that some people, some of the time, actually need to hide behind
barriers like the barrier of something being too costly to attain.

Yes, when people are given a zero barrier to a certain want or need that
they did not realistically think they could have but always dreamt about
having then they may prefer the dream to the reality.

For example, as I said already, let's say that these people are mostly
dreamers (because the ad I wrote probably appeals most to that segment) and
they have this one idea that they have been harboring and dreaming about for
a while and it has become a psychological shelter like: if only I can make
this idea happen I will be all set. So when someone comes to them and offers
to make the idea at near-zero cost (i.e. lowers the barrier enough that they
can simply walk over it, and even if they had no legs they can crawl over
it) then all the sudden they pull back. They recognize something wrong has
happened: they need the dream of having the product more than they need the
actual product.

Now, if I was to change the barrier so that it is just a little beyond their
reach, e.g. $2,500 instead of $500, then they would feel a strong pull from
their other insecurity: "if I can only take a little more risk I bet I will

The people are invited to check out some really clever and powerful iPhone
demos I've made (mostly game physics/graphics related) and they are invited
to talk to former CEOs, VCs, etc, i.e. an over abundance of assurance of my
ability to make their dream happen, and I am genuine about wanting to help
them realize their dreams (in my spare time.) It's an experiment at one
level and a genuine desire to help people at another level (without over
stretching myself)

So the conclusion from this is that "trade" or "exchange" is a pyschological
game with many up-till-now hidden dimensions. Equal exchange maybe less
favorable than unequal exchange or vice versa, and we cannot decide on what
will make people engage and complete an exchange unless we understand their
psychological motives.

If I offer the service completely for free, then people who want
"dependence" on others as a way to live will definitely want to complete the
exchnge but only if "I" take care of them and cater to their every need.
Same if I offer it for money. It does not change a thing. Peopel are willing
to pay to be able to have such dependence on someone, and my process is
totally against dependence. I want to empower them to co-produce the product
and I want them to achieve their dream, but they may want to purchase
dependence or get dependence for free and cling to their dream instead of
turning it into a reality.

As you see, it has nothing to do with rational thought and everything to do
with emotional/psychological needs.

There are people of course who want to be empowered to achieve their dream.

I have yet to see any such people in my so-far limited sample (I got about 6
or 7 inquiries in the last 2 days since I posted the ad)

I am sure a larger sample set would have a larger variety of people, but
even though I picked New York, the city that never sleeps and the capital of
the capitalist world, I still have a sample (so far) that's made up entirely
of people who are afraid and who view money as a barrier to hide behind when
it's convenient and to jump across (if they're feeling daring enough) but
never as a means for equitable exchange, i.e. money always associated with
deeper fears and insecurities than the fear of money itself.

I'll update you on how the experiment evolves but I could easily say that
"phase I: removing the fear of money itself by making it almost irrelevant
through at-cost trading" is now done (ready to move on to Phase II) and the
conclusions I'm making from Phase I is that people have far deeper
fears/insecurities than money, and they use money as both a protective
barrier (blame their state on their lack of money) or as a great gap that
they dare themselves to jump across (blame their state on their lack of risk
taking, which if overcome with counter-phobia can lead to gambling or worse:
throwing money out of the window to prove their courage)

The relationship man has with "money" is one where man uses money to
obfuscate far deeper fears.


On Mon, Mar 2, 2009 at 2:13 AM, Stefan Noack <noackstefan>wrote:

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what you say is completely correct in my opinion. being a programmer i
expect that i will become wealthy easily (which is actually already the
now). so even though the current system has many advantages for me
personally, logic tells me that such a system cannot be good because there
are other people out there who are less fortunate. so yesterday i had a
funny idea: once i have enough for me i could open a Zero-Dollar-Shop,
everything is free. I just want to see what happens! I expect some people
act very silly, spiling goods and so on but i also expect them to quickly
get bored.

What i saw many times is that people act more sane and humane if they are
free to decide: For example when i travel to dresden by train and go back
the same day there is a special one-day ticket that is cheaper than two
rides. but additonally this ticket is valid for up to five persons. so it's
common practice that people wo have such a ticket sell the free spaces to
others. however, when i ask people if they want to travel with me and they
ask me how much they have to pay i say "you're free to decide - it's
for me either way." and i really mean it. many people react very confused.
it's interesting that all people that i asked so far gave me 5 or even 6
euros. a friend of mine once tried it the capitalist way and tried to sell
the free ticket space for 5 euro. the other person tried to beat it down to
3,80 and my friend disagreed so it was in the end more expensive for both

On Mon, Mar 2, 2009 at 10:41 AM, marc fawzi <marc.fawzi> wrote:

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I think that we can't purify human nature with logic.

The P2P Energy Economy model (on P2Pf wiki) goes to extreme lengths in
areas to make sure that the model's logic supersedes human irrationality
the impure nature) but that resulted in one fatal contradiction: people
should be able to give things completely for free without any expectation
(i.e. true generosity) which the model had no way of allowing while also
enforcing equitable exchange. So I've moved away from trying to purify
nature with logic and resorted to the much more limited goal of enabling
voluntary reciprocal exchanges in immaterial resources that are already
abundant (e.g. digital content) so as to have a participatory protocol
sustains the abundance of the given resource on scalable basis. That's a
much lower intervention than trying to constrain human behavior... and
still thinking about it...

On Mon, Mar 2, 2009 at 1:19 AM, Stefan Noack <noackstefan

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On Mon, Mar 2, 2009 at 10:05 AM, marc fawzi <marc.fawzi>

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Giving and getting recommendations (or respect) in a reciprocal or
generalized exchange is an ancient common social practice.  I can
you if you recommend me back, or I can recommend you without
you recommend me back. This is a common social practice and can
reciprocal exchange or as a generalized (non-reciprocal) exchange.

Someone who is highly political can accumulate a lot of so-called
without having any moral or intellectual merit.

Try to solve that!

i.e. how do you ensure that respect in society flows not based on
favoritism but based on rational thought.

My idea was to always have the respect coupled to the action it was
for; your example is a disadvantage of the respect systems that we have
where the motivation for paying respect can become very irrational.
the respect together with the reason it was paid for would allow me to
evaluate my personal respect to that person based on my personal
However, i have no idea how this could be implemented practically.



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