Currency Design

12 Nov 2015

Why Ceptr? or Transcending Maslow's Hierarchy

in Ceptr, Collective Intelligence, Currency, Currency Design, Evolution, Flow, Flows, Language, Money

A friend of mine (Sheri Herndon) just sent me an email which I replied to. My response felt like it should be capture (and probably expanded or built on more in the future) for a glimpse of why we're building Ceptr.  In fairness, she knows a lot of what I write in my answer, but it was in part to share the purpose behind Ceptr to the others copied on the message who I may meet tomorrow at the Platform Cooperativism Conference..

From Sheri:

30 Jun 2015

Currencies for Disaster Assistance and Economic Development

in Currencies, Currency Design, Flows, Local Currency, Targeted Currencies

As a part of my recent commitment to share past designs that might be valuable to other people, I'm posting this incomplete document from 2007. It was something I started writing for a group that was talking with Michael Brown after he left FEMA about other tools for rebuilding New Orleans. Some sections of the document were to be contributed by other members of the team and unfortunately never got written, which is too bad because there were some good conversations that went into scheming them. None of these plans were ever implemented.

However, some are good examples (specifically Purgatory Parades) of how to do well-targeted currency design to activate local energy and resources to (re)build community and (re)build an economy after a disaster. Some of the ideas contained here have also been adapted for use in proposals for International Development and would likely have a more beneficial impact than many other development scenarios which further impoverish communiities and increase dependency on external funding and resources.

For local economic development, I'd recommend looking at Bangla-Pesa as an example, which was co-incidentally started by Will Ruddick who was involved with the group that I wrote this document for.

The document follows below.

Leveraging Local Currencies for Disaster Assistance



Each of the programs proposed in this section take a tack which is distinct from typical disaster assistance.  They rest on the principle that in every functioning community, most people are getting their needs met by other resources in the community.


Flow Pattern of a Healthy Economy (Resources and Needs connected via good flows of employment and spending)

Designing for Social Flows is a book curated by Jean Russel and Herman Wagter. I contributed a section in chapter 6 about Designing Incentives.
21 Nov 2014

Designing Social Flows - Chapter 6 on Designing Incentives

in Collective Intelligence, Culture, Currencies, Currency Design, Design Principles, Social DNA

[This is an original / pre-edit draft submission for a book on Designing for Social Flows. It is being curated by Jean Russel and Herman Wagter collecting pieces from thought leaders in the field. I will edit this to link to the book once it is published.]]

Social Network DiagramBecoming a Culture Hacker

When I learned that building things alone is just not as interesting as collaborative creation, community became my canvas for building new things. In the mid-1990s, this surfaced as a calling to create “community at WORK together.” So I started a company with some friends with only a commitment to build co-creative magic. By ‘only,’ I mean we had no real business experience, no business plan, no revenue model, no product and no clear idea of what value we had to offer. But we had plenty of lofty ideals about how we wanted to build community, relate to each other, and work together.

We were extremely successful at building community, and surprisingly, it turned out we even did fairly well as a business. We found ourselves as an Internet company, growing quickly in the midst of the dot-com-boom. We were a self-organizing company, structured such that people did not have managers (only projects did) and growing like that presented us with a worthy challenge. How do you build an inspiring community of friends, peers and collaborators, yet still ensure the accountability, reliability and results needed for everyone to take home a paycheck with no management or supervisors?

17 Nov 2014

Currency Design Training Materials

in Currencies, Currency Design

The combination of the blog post about designing reputation currencies and a conference call with the Earth Benign team to plan for upcoming currency design workshopping with their team had me working on documenting more currency design stuff today.  Unfortunately, the pieces are still scattered about in multiple documents and need to be unified into something more publishable.

Currency Token Life-CycleI'm re-publishing one cool thing right now, though - a map of the currency design decision space (according my 2008 thinking)

One of the things I encountered as I tried communicating with and working with people in the alternative currency space is that there was a lot of heated and emotional argument about fairly minor technicalities. Most people in the space focused on just a couple factors in currency design and seemed to ignore the whole rest of the decision landscape completely. This was my attempt to open up that landscape to everyone and hopefully move toward some shared language instead of getting tripped up over minor semantic differences.

FYI, the two things everyone normally focuses on is ISSUANCE and INTEREST. Who gets to issue the currency and how (e.g. bankers as debt vs. all participants as mutual credit) and do negative or positive balances accrue interest. 

15 Nov 2014

Reputation is Orthogonal to Exchange

in Currencies, Currency Design, Exchange, Gift Economies, Reputation

It feels like it's been a long time since I've posted about any of the principles of currency design that I've discovered in designing, building and launching currencies over the past 10 – 20 years.

This one seems worth specific mention, since it seems like such a frighteningly common mistake that everyone makes as they start to break out of the old school money model just a little bit.

It's tempting to blame Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom for setting this precedent in his depiction of Whuffie. I appreciate that he was at least creating a post-scarcity / post-monetary vision. But I don't think he started this problem, it’s just that many people fall prey to the same pattern of thinking because it's like the money we know.

Here’s the crux of it. Reputation currencies do NOT operate the same way as monetary currencies. Period.

03 Nov 2014

Some Thoughts about Feedback Loops

in Currency Design, Feedback Loops, Flow, Flows, Living Systems, System Dynamics, Upward Spirals

These are notes in progress about how feedback loops work... not complete... nor necessarily intended to be understandable by others yet... all partially formed. 


Coupling / Uncoupling – when you connect the “output” of something more directly to the factors affecting its “inputs” it becomes more tightly coupled.  You uncouple feedback by inserting another layer of components/feedback/response between the operation of something and the feedback about it.

Visibility & Response