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.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Network Economies: Economic System as a Configurable Parameter

We personalize everything else, why not economic systems too? Starbucks selectability comes to economic system participations! Some interesting implications for personalized economic system design arise per a recent post about ‘Decentralized Reddit.’

The New World: Network Economies of Abundance (chart)
There are two archetypal economic systems. First is the usual indirect model that we are used to as consumers: content is free to consume, and supported by advertising, where personalized data might be sold in the backend to other parties in any number of undisclosed ways; this is true for radio, TV, and Internet content. Second is the direct model of content producers and consumers existing in a network where users (content consumers) might pay for content or for certain premium actions they can do with content like up/down-voting it. The business model is that consumer micropayments support content providers and the cost of content-hosting – this is a true peer-to-peer network ecology. The direct model is now possible due to having large and available liquid networks where supply and demand can meet in an automated auto-discovered way. Examples of decentralized p2p network concepts have been Tor, Napster, the Internet itself, and also now Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, and blockchain technology. One way to implement the direct model is through micropayments, where users click on icons to allocate pre-specified amounts of Bitcoin or token to take community actions. The central issue in decentralized p2p content systems to be prototyped and tested is user willingness to micropay for content operations.

Economic System as a Configurable Parameter is engaged in developing a software platform for decentralized content hosting communities. Conceptually, this could be like a standalone decentralized reddit. The software platform could also be deployed by existing centralized content communities (like Stack Exchange and Stack Overflow) as an offered parameter at the launch of new communities. Community participants or facilitators could choose the economic model for their community, either 1) advertising-supported (the centralized indirect model), or 2) peer-supported (the decentralized direct model). Other web properties could experiment with this platform to test both kinds of economic models, for example offering private-labeled decentralized versions of Instagram, Twitter, etc. Already-existing blockchain-based decentralized versions of social networking properties like Diaspora, Twister, Gems, Reveal, and BitCloud could further extend their functionality with the decentralized content-hosting platform.

What is decentralization?
In this potentially burgeoning era of personalized economic system design at every level ranging from individual agents to group participations, there is a questioning and defining of key parameters. For example, an ongoing question is ‘What is decentralization?’ Decentralization is more than peer production. While peer production and peer participation might be a feature in decentralized economic systems, true decentralization connotes that the model itself should be decentralized, with decision-making made in a flat, non-hierarchical manner. For example, ‘peer production properties’ like AirBnB, Wikipedia, and Reddit are still centrally organized, hosted, and coordinated, and users or community participants are not able to participate in decision-making, for example about how the content they contribute is monetized, or if some of that monetization could be returned to them as content creators. The content is produced by decentralized peers, but decisions about the economy are centralized.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Personalized Economic Systems: Self-Determination and Economic Theory

In addition to blockchain technology, another clear node of current innovation is in self-determined economic systems. Increasingly, as individuals, we are consciously examining the economic systems into which we were born by default, and questioning their validity, utility, and reach; and proposing alternatives. In some sense capitalism is the new feudalism and there is a finally starting to be the conception and realization of a viable postcapitalist position. The new sensibility could be that economic systems are determined at the level of the individual as opposed to the level of the nation-state, and further that different economies might be appropriate at different levels of scale in an overall world of economic multiplicity. Further, economics means discovery and exchange more generally and conceptually as opposed to exclusively transactionally. As individuals we have become our own selection node for the news, information, and entertainment we consume. The same could happen with economic systems and governance systems: downscaling the locus to the level of the individual as another context for personalization and right to self-determination.

Personalized Economic Systems: Platforms and Features
There could be a new world of ‘let a million economies bloom’ (in an esprit of self-blossoming not socialism). As every individual might have their own social media platform with a channels like a blog, Twitter feed, YouTube channel, and Instagram stream, so too as individuals we might have our own personalized economic platform, with our own personal currency and economic system. A common set of feature functionality could coalesce in these programmable economic systems. The core feature set could include token issuance, exchange, and conversion mechanisms; transaction validation, confirmation, and tracking; identity and reputation management systems; bounty, reward, and appreciation systems; consensus protocol; node on-boarding/off-boarding; and basic income systems mechanism including with redistribution (demurrage) parameters.

How these features are implemented in different individual and group economies could be via a combination of pre-specification and emergence (including via community prediction market voting) through the ongoing operation of the economy. Some emerging platforms for personalized economic systems for individuals and communities include (a decentralized reddit for any user-content created community), Ethereum CIRCLES (personal economic coinplatforms for creating user-specified self-determined economies), HyLo (social network based on intentionality of asset-mapping, intent-casting, and crowd-resourcing), and those integrating direct democracy with economic empowerment like D-CENT, LiquidFeedback, and Citizen Code.

Qualitative Economics: Registering Values as Smart Assets
Blockchains are not essential but are the obvious and contemporary information technology to include to facilitate personal economic systems and enable new kinds of functionality. For example, qualitative parameters such as group values and group needs could be registered as blockchain-based smart assets to which community coin is booked, spent, or voted to indicate the level to which the group values and needs are being met. This could be an integrated and minimally-obtrusive feedback mechanism for awareness of how community values are evolving, and the extent to which they are being embodied. There could be multiple community tokens: quantitative coin for the usual basic exchange, and qualitative coin for tracking ideas, inspiration, and other values, benefits, or needs of the community registered as smart assets. Overall this is what is meant by ‘the new economic theory’ as being a means of acknowledging and attributing value in a relevant context like an individual, group, or community.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Smartgrid Life: Blockchain Cryptosustainability

The contemporary era of blockchains as an implementation mechanism for decentralization suggests a new overall conceptualization of life as being supported by any number of smartgrids. Distributed network grids is a familiar idea for resources such as water, electricity, health services, and Internet access, and might be extended to other resources, literally and conceptually. One example is on-demand microcoaching, for example guidance for playing a certain guitar solo with Piano++. Jeremy Rifkin, in Zero Marginal Cost Society and other books, outlines the grid paradigm, contemplating three smartnetworks: Internet communications grids, energy grids, and logistics grids. Evelyn Rodriguez adds another grid, local fresh produce, in the notion of Food as Distributed Commons, possibly in the form of a blockchain-based PopupFarm Grid DCO (distributed collaborative organization).

PopupFarm Grid
The idea of the PopupFarm Grid is that the 'urban farm grid' or 'fresh food grid' is like an energy grid. As the energy grid could be participative with solar panel installers selling unused power back to the grid, so too could urban fresh food be a peer-based collaborative production. Anyone could purchase a hydroponics unit and make capacity and outputs flexibly available on the urban food grid for community consumption. There could be an Uber-like mapping app to find the local hydroponics units with items fresh and maturing today, in an on-demand real-time updating reservation-taking system. This could lead to better utilization of fresh produce, improved health, and local community sustainability, knowledge-transfer, and self-sufficiency.

Consumers could own cryptoshares in virtual food cooperatives (like permacredits, the concept of a global affinity currency supporting local operations), and arrive and pay with community token. There could be dynamic supply-demand management and rebalancing at the community level. A series of smart contracts could onboard/offboard the diverse use cases and bridge time gaps. For example, land permitted for 2018 could already join the P2P network (similar to Lazooz drivers pre-earning token), to start earning community participation against future capacity. The paper-route of the future could be kids learning and participating in container maintenance for neighborhood urban food units. There could be decentralized exchange with software from OpenBazar or BitMarkets (decentralized versions of CraigsList). Another piece in the value chain could be idle Uber drivers (Lazooz in the decentralized model) and TaskRabbit, etc. gophers fulfilling delivery on-demand.

Cryptocitizen Mentality and Cryptosustainability Communities
The emerging cryptocitizen mentality is a new level of self-responsibility-taking: designing, iterating, and participating in community sustainability initiatives, including self-defining economic models. Cryptosustainability means sustainability in low-footprint mindful use of environmental resources, and also sustainability in human society organization models, where the idea is to build, prototype, and iterate new and innovative ways of doing things at various levels of scale. There can be a lot of energy when a community comes together at the beginning of a project, but keeping the energy resident over years and different phases of the project can be elusive. Blockchains are useful for this because they can help to build community trust and transparency by keeping information and record-keeping accessible. Blockchain-based cooperatives can build trust through the transparency and auditability of community operations. Anyone can check the record anytime. This could be useful for distributed decentralized governance and the coordination of cooperative shared ownership. Blockchain smart contracts can also help facilitate ongoing community processes, for example with modules for voting and decision-making with liquid democracy (e.g.; on-demand participative democracy) in proposal development, coordination, and voting; demand-planning ahead of time regarding the amount and type food wanted this year with a prediction market like from Augur; and a P2P dispute resolution and moderation with a PrecedentCoin module.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Popup Dining as Distributed Autonomous Space

Popup dining could be a fun new idea in the trend of popup experiences - on-demand serendipity and practicality ranging from popup entertainment, co-housing, and co-working to popup farms on disused land.

Any range of food providers ranging from existing restaurants to individuals building cooking brands could sponsor on-demand popup dining tables in city streets and at festivals.

Consumers could pre-select the menu (including a blind prix fixe menu), and the time and location of the popup dining experience. At the appointed time and location, ad-hoc P2P urban delivery service contractors could deliver the table, food, and dining experience.

Uber-like, the Popup Dining app could show the progress of the popup table to the consumer location, and be the payment mechanism at completion.

You can even do your own guerrilla popup dining now, just order your Caviar restaurant courier delivery to a non-traditional location like a street corner (bring your own stool) or bar. 

Everything about popup dining as distributed autonomous space is modularized, including the basics of a table, chairs, food, service labor, location, labor, and level of service. Expansion modules could include engaging a local artist, musician, or lecturer from that neighborhood, a live chef station, a sommelier, a chocolatier, a vodka infusion expert, etc. Blockchain-based smart contracts could further facilitate the validated automation of service delivery for popup dining.

Popup as a life style and life as performance art!