Monday, August 31, 2015

Economic Liberation: Network Economics of Abundance

Economics as API: System Design
The possibility of creating true network economies of abundance and designing personalized economic systems raises a host of issues about what kinds of behavior might result from programmed economic parameters. In moving from indirect advertiser-supported models to direct peer-supported models, for example, one first issue might be the business model - which parts of the system should (can) be free and which paid? For any paid parts, certain externalities and artificial behaviors might be created.

P2P Business Model
One of the great values of peer-produced commons goods like Wikipedia is that it is group-generated content, in part because participation has been free and easy. Further, peer-production not only powers the generation of commons resources but also flexibly shapes them into better products per multiple voices and crowd-structuring of the content. The ethos and objective of crowd-based content has been towards more participation not less. One risk is that the introduction of p2p economic system parameters might inhibit peer production by asking payment for actions that were formerly free, even if users gain more control over how their own personal data is used. Donated resources in p2p networks, freely contributed gift-economy content and hosting, are already the norm and this could persist.

Hybrid Economic Systems (economics as a system parameter)
Personalized economic systems are an equality technology and an illiberty eradication strategy, reversing the lack of liberty of not being able to self-determine one’s own economic reality. Instead, there could be greater empowerment for all individuals in being able to choose and design the economic models in which to participate. As individuals and communities, we might now be able to select the economies that correspond best to our own value systems. This could include specifically selecting a centralized or a decentralized web property or software platform. The floodgates are only just starting to open on the degree of economic system experimentation that might happen before specific models in the decentralized space become standards. Hayek advocated for each financial institution having its own currency as a market barometer of health and competitiveness (The Denationalization of Money (1976)), and this could be extended such that each individual and community has its own currency too.

Migration Plan to Hybrid Economies – Icons identify Economic System
For existing web properties, there could be a strategy to test and explore decentralized models, and ways to incorporate centralized and decentralized economic models simultaneously. This could lead to a propitious migration over time from centralized to decentralized models. One way that this could work is that the landing page of a news website could have the usual content modules of a headline and a few lines of text. This could be accompanied by two (or more) icons at the upper right of the headline identifying the economic system, for example centralized and decentralized. The user could then decide, if wanting to read the full content, whether to click for free content knowing that their data might be monetized however the site wants in the backend, or having control that their data is not going anywhere (confirmed via an inspection of the open-source software) and peer-supporting the content with a micropayment in a pre-specified and known amount. The key point is an overall sense of parameter malleability and feature-selectibility in economic systems, where the user has the freedom to decide. Users can now select economic system like any other parameter in content consumption.

Community-Voted Multi-tier Programmable Economic Systems
Economic system as a selectable parameter might be applied at different levels. For example, at the level of the content item, web property community or vertical (like Stack Exchange or Stack Overflow’s hundreds of communities), the overall website, or the collection of websites in a media consortium (all the ‘Yahoo properties’ or ‘Google properties’ have a certain economic model, for example). Each newly launching sub-property could have its own economic model, specified by the overall site owner, community moderators, facilitators, or organizers, or the community itself. Why not enroll community votes to select the economic model, or maybe launch with one model and then vote at certain liquidity intervals (e.g.; the community now has 100 or 1000 members) regarding economic model to allow different community economic models and preferences to develop over time.

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