From currency of ideas to currency of exchange/reciprocity

Repost from another list.

Starting a community currency does feel sometimes like going against the current. It’s ironic and I don’t think such initiatives should require massive exertion of will, selling, convincing, showing. To me these are symptoms of a design process that failed to progressively engage the community, starting with the very simple before moving to the ever more complex.

To be concrete, trying to replace our current medium of exchange is very complex because ensuring reciprocity is hard and I don’t think this should be the starting point.

On the simple end, I see for instance: starting a group for your community where people are encouraged to share stories, pictures for the simple purpose of seeing what they do acknowledged by others in a way that’s recorded and semi-public. Over time, these acknowledgements can be formalized from plain english comments to more formal hence accountable forms of expression such as hashtags or “like” buttons, to which the community collectively assigns meaning over time.

So how we move from the simple currency of ideas/stories to the more complex currency of reciprocity/exchange?

5 thoughts on “From currency of ideas to currency of exchange/reciprocity”

  1. I think an easier step to reach  is what I call “mutuality” rather than “reciprocity.” 

    You implement mutuality by finding out what the social agreements are for positive contributors or good citizens within a community which is able to share a resource of some kind. These resources may be stories, hash tags, “likes,” books, tools, or couches… but in each case, if you embody those agreements in the structures of a reputation currency, you enable the resource flows to cross boundaries of interpersonal unfamiliarity and scale of participation.

    This establishes mutuality by enabling me to give freely to people because they are givers too, even if they are not reciprocally giving to me in this transaction or in any future transaction. Rather than direct exchange, it is an indirect benefit of increasing access to resources of all of us.  I may choose to receive from other parties that I don't have anything of direct value to provide to them, because they can also see that I'm upholding the social agreements (e.g. giving generously).  This assures that sharing and generosity is mutual even though it is not reciprocal.  It is also the way we naturally expect sharing in networks of trust to work.
    It is worthy of noting that proper implementation of currencies which embody these agreements may in fact make it unnecessary to ever implement a medium of exchange currency, because they often operate MORE efficiently then monetary currencies to activate flows of resources and value.  My warning would be to not assume that exchange is always the desired goal. Adding additional complexity in terms of pricing and the kind of scarcity-based value measurement that accompanies it, may not add any benefits and may, in fact, stifle participation of folks who were previously participating out of fun, fellowship, generosity and goodwill.

  2. Well said @artbrock! I too prefer the concept of mutuality over reciprocity. In addition, there may be moments when we don't expect anything at all in exchange, for example from a loved one, and it is in those moments when we experience the strongest social current-see.

    Also, are you there yet? :)

  3. Timebanks are a great way to encourage mutuality and reciprocity, and act as a great way to begin a community currency.

  4. When I talk about reciprocity, I don't mean direct reciprocity of course, I just mean reciprocity: knowing that you will get when you'll need it at some point in the future, more or less what you have given out.

    My point here is exactly yours I think: best is not to focus on currencies that build on obligation or expectation of reciprocity, but simply on currencies that offer the possibility of reciprocity, simply by recording more formally what is going on.

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