[iDC] Time Banks, Playgrounds, and Factories

Jonah Bossewitch mrenoch at phantomcynthetics.com
Wed Sep 23 05:15:55 UTC 2009

Hi Michael,

Thanks for the thoughtful reply.  What am amazing map.

In addition to my interest in the substantive question of alternative
currencies and their relation to alternative property systems,  I am
also interested in getting at our role in shaping these structures. 

Open Education /might/ lead to improved teaching and learning, but it
/might/ just perpetuate and amplify existing inequalities. My encounter
with the people setting up the time bank here in new york suggested that
they would benefit greatly from the kinds of critiques this list has
generated. But the flipside of that, is that our group might also
benefit from involving ourselves in the active production of vivid
thought experiments which capture these complex dynamics, or even
helping to design interventions and alternatives. 

Architects exercise theory by iterating over designs and critiques.  Can
we imagine the digital labor conference as a studio, producing new
designs that attempt to articulate and address the problems we have
identified?  Call it "design research"?  Call it an attempt to provide
answers to the question "what now"?

Power does lie in code, but especially now that it mediates human-human
relations, software environments have also started to resemble
traditional architecture as a leading art.  And, like Jameson
recognized,  "Architecture is, however, of all the arts that closest
constitutively to the economic" - e.g. the buildings/software going to
be built, one way or another.  How can we best advise/design these
structures so we don't wind up with the moral equivalent of the Long
Island Big Duck?

For sure, open, peer-to-peer experiments are essential. Ideally, with an
explicit understanding of these open values - would you trust a Time
Bank that ran on proprietary code?  Why not? How can we best educate
Open Currency advocates about these connections? Can we help them see
past the hype, and identify the potential pitfalls of turning every
favor into a quantifiable transaction? 

warm regards,

Michael Bauwens wrote:
> 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 ...

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