[iDC] Time Banks, Playgrounds, and Factories

Michael Bauwens michelsub2003 at yahoo.com
Tue Sep 22 08:38:08 UTC 2009

Dear Jonah,

I think the important insight that travels from free software to money is this. Power lies in the code and in the invisible structures that enable or disenable actions and relationships, what Alexander Galloway calls 'protocolarry power'.

The great insight of the current age is that money has a code as well. But just as we do not have the power to change the code of microsoft, we do not have (yet) the power to change to code of political money, so the alternative world-constructing route is to peer produce our own, differently coded money.

This is why open money infrastructures are prominently configured on the Open Everything visualisation here at http://www.mindmeister.com/28717702/everything-open-and-free

The experience is that civil society communities are not coding one alternative, but multiple, just as we have different kinds of free software. 

LETS and Time Banks work to a certain degree with smaller local communities, and do not seem to scale at this moment in time. One of the weaknesses of time banks, if I understand it correctly, that it only works for those willing to exchange their labor for equal value.

There are many exciting developments in this space, see http://p2pfoundation.net/Category:Money, monitored here at http://del.icio.us/mbauwens/P2P-Money,

among those I recommend looking at are:

- the metacurrency project and its flowspace implementation: the first meta-platform for open money

- WIR and Jak Bank as successul credit commons and mutual credit clearing houses

- the Whuffie bank, which prefigures possible reputation and community work rewarding schemes

- the Open Source Hardware Central Bank of the Arduino open hardware community, which funds open hardware developments ...

----- Original Message ----
> From: Jonah Bossewitch <mrenoch at phantomcynthetics.com>
> To: idc at mailman.thing.net
> Sent: Monday, September 21, 2009 11:56:26 AM
> Subject: [iDC] Time Banks, Playgrounds, and Factories
> Yesterday was Software Freedom Day and I attended a wonderful
> celebration (http://hackervisions.org/?p=523) which highlighted some
> amazing free software projects as well as the joys of sharing (we even
> got treated to a live rendition of the "Copyright Song"
> http://boingboing.net/2009/03/18/nina-paleys-copyrigh.html). 
> I was reminded of an idea I meant to send to this list earlier this
> summer about an event hosted by Evolver.net entitled "Beyond Money"
> (http://evolver.net/event/nycspore2 - IDC doesn't post upcoming events,
> but this one is safely in the past, so it's ripe for academic analysis
> ;-)).  Many of the participants in this aspiring social movement are
> actively exploring alternative currencies.  On a few occasions they have
> brought in organizers to explain time banking, and are actively
> participating and encouraging their membership base to get involved with
> the local time bank.
> If you have not heard of time banking, it is a growing practice that
> strives to create local communities of people who exchange services with
> each other through the time bank.  They talk alot about how these time
> banks are intended to foster community, and how its good to be in time
> debt since that will lead to more participation, and how they imagine
> the positive social interactions that time banking will facilitate. Time
> banking is thriving in a few locations across the US, and some
> municipalities are considering issuing time credits to volunteers.
> Time Bank Central http://www.timebanks.org/ and one of  New York's Time
> Banks http://www.timeinterchange.com/
> I think that Time Banking presents a wonderful gedanken experiment for
> digital labor critics to consider.  The time bank designers (part of
> this larger http://www.economicsofpeace.net/ conversation) are striving
> to route around many of the issues that this list expertly dissects and
> critiques, and they could benefit greatly from some of our critical
> perspectives.
> Personally, I am cautiously skeptical of the promise of time banking.  I
> wonder, as I do with the Wealth of Networks, about the downsides of
> quantifying every social transaction and the (a)counting of what used to
> be considered favors and gifts.
> I see many direct parallels between the Time Banker's alternatives to
> money, and the Free Culture movement's alternatives to property.  Both
> have the /potential/ to treat the underlying phenomenological condition
> of Greed with its antidote of sharing.  But, I wonder what sorts of
> unanticipated pitfalls the Time Banking movement may encounter as they
> attempt to set up an alternate economy. Can activist organizations adopt
> time banking to improve accountability?  What does it mean for an
> organization or state to issue time credits?  Who will you collect those
> credits from? What subtle forms of exploitation (surveillance,
> peer-pressure, affective control) will time bankees be subjected to? 
> What cultural practices accompany the successful time banks that lead to
> their success?  How should Time Banks be designed to optimize their
> positive social impact?
> Just a thought (experiment).
> best,
> /Jonah
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