As we were discussing California's IOUs (which are a form of currency) earlier today, I present for your consideration something I happened to hear on the radio this afternoon:
Doug Rushkoff speaks with Arthur Brock of metacurrency.org, about "how we've mistaken money for currency, and how to recognize the real flows of value and power in the world around us." (Quote from the description of the show here.) There are archives of the show in MP3 form linked just above the playlist and comment section on this page (scroll down).
Also interesting are these two articles by Rushkoff:
I'm not sure what I think about all this yet, but it's certainly food for thought. Like a lot of people in the cyberpunk-hacker culture, which I am kind of halfway in, Rushkoff often can seem a little too dismissive of the real suffering the spectre of losing much or all of their retirement savings causes people who "worked hard and followed the rules" (in WJC's words) - Rushkoff admits it might be "irritating" to them.
That's only one example of a kind of insensitivity to how people would be affected by the kind of transistions he envisions. For example, in the first essay he also says this:
If the corporate supermarket chain’s debt structure renders it incapable of stocking its shelves this spring, this may be the wake-up call that consumers need to finally subscribe to a Community Supported Agriculture farmer.
Uhh, I don't think the local CSA farmers could, by themselves, feed all of Upper Manahttan if our grocery shelves went empty. (And some of those shelves are getting kinda thin recently.)
There are others. I'll leave you to find them yourselves.
But for all that, Rushkoff gives an interesting analysis of what has been going on in our economy, in particular, on the role of corporatism and the "speculative economy", and on local currencies and interest-backed centralized currency. And we really do need to think about these things.
metcurrency.org is the website of the Metacurrency Project. Here is how they describe themselves:
We are building platforms and protocols necessary for an open source economy. This requires new technology capacities which need to function in a non-monopolizable manner.
* Open Identity: Create, manage and own your identity in a trustworthy manner, independent of any central authority.
* Open Rules: Know the rules of any currency you participate in and see when they change.
* Open Transport: A protocol to enable a participant to transact with any other participant and a currency to interact with any other currency.
* Open Data: The ability to share, decentralize and distribute data (like your account balance) and ensure its integrity and privacy… also, to allow you to be a reliable authority of your own data. (You can represent your own accounts, and I can validate your data.)