Friday, June 18, 2010

The Wall St. Journal: The coming currency revolution

I think this is a great video showing the organic emergence of currencies around the world and how technology is helping to spread them. I think this speaks a lot about the future and the rise of this as a new economic space. It will bring value to things that have not been recognized as valuable in the past. However, I don't agree that value is all about scarcity. The idea of scarcity as the driving motivation for value in my opinion is flawed and is exactly why we have landed up in such an environmental crunch. We need to think about how to design currencies for abundance. How do we get abundance to be recognized as valuable? This to me is the big question.

I do wonder again about what this means in terms of scarcity and a system that only responds to things that are scarce - surely the freeing up of information and its increasing cheapness due to abundance is not a loss of value. The increased abundance of information is increasingly valuable to society. The more information, the more value this has to us. This is the same question to be explored around the environment and questions of abundant and healthy eco-systems.

I do think what these currencies raise is the question of democracy as Douglas Rushkoff points out the democratization of economics and of money is a movement we are steadily heading towards. However, we have to understand democracy in the way that it has been used to enable capitalism and the role that ideas of scarcity and representation play in limiting the power of the citizen. Perhaps, this currency movement will both highlight questions of scarcity vs abundance and representation vs participation.

However, I love seeing these discussions entering mainstream. I think at some point there is going to be a serious challenge from the state as it attempts to regulate and claim control over the currency space. This is important because our entire capitalist democracy that we live under is dependent on the control over the creation of money. The future will be interesting as is the current moment.

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