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Project started!

February 29, 2008

Alright, so I’ve finally started reading material to use in a paper that I’m writing this spring at ITU (the IT University in Copenhagen). The subject of the paper is going to be “Alternate economies, Social Economy and IT” – and I will try and keep track of my progress via this blog. Any and all suggestions for further material or interesting observations are more than welcome.

So far I’ve read:
– Adam Arvidsson: Crisis of Value and the Ethical Economy
– Michael Bauwens: Dornbirn Manifesto
– A lot of material about an alternative monetary system called “LETSystem”.

Adam Arvidsson basically describes an emerging phenomenon which he calls the “Ethical Economy”. He describes it as an alternative economy, which (1) is largely coordinated by respect, peer-status, networks, friendship and other forms of inter-personal recognition and (2) often produces something ethical (a community, a shared value or an affective intensity).

Michael Bauwens talks about a peer-to-peer economy which covers much of human activity that isn’t included in the traditional economy. After all, as he says “..the market can only indirectly and partially provide monetary compensation for processes which are not motivated by such compensation”. Or put in other words, if I’m not in it for the money, then money will only have partial effect on my motivation.

And then I stumbled upon the LETSystem. This is a brilliant practical idea, which I believe adresses many of the same points as Adam and Michael talk about. Basically it is an alternative monetary system, which has some very noteworthy rules:
1. NO interest
2. Money are submitted by the users, not a state or national bank. YES that’s right, anyone can issue money.
3. Everyone knows how much money everyone else has
4. Everyone has a starting balance of 0
5. It is locally founded, not meant to include huge amounts of users

I think an example will help illustrate. Let’s say that two persons both are members of a LETSystem. One user would like the other to help installing electricity in his house. So they agree on a price of 10 units. This is noted in the public books, so now user one has a balance of -10 and user two has a balance of 10. Later on user one helps someone else for the amount of 10 units, bringing his balance back to 0.

Right now I’m reading a book by Margrit Kennedy, called “Ekonomi utan ränta och inflation”, which seems very interesting. I haven’t read too far yet, but one thing she says is that interest on money is like a cancer on society!

Combined project time at this point is approximately 10 hours.

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