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.
19 Nov 2014

The Laws of Thermodynamics Reinterpreted

in Commonwealth, Currencies, Design Principles, Evolution, Flows, Generosity Economy, Paradox, Thermodynamics, Upward Spirals

Let's do a quick review of principles of thermodynamics for those who may be rusty. Remember, there are many different ways of precisely stating the Laws. I'm paraphrasing to convey basic meaning and context.

  1. The First Law is about the conservation of matter and energy. They can be neither created nor destroyed, but can change form.
  2. The Second Law is about entropy or energy dispersal. Whenever you use energy to do some work, or whenever energy is converted from one form to another, some of that energy is lost (dissipates as heat) in the process. 

These "laws" are understood to have been universally empirically validated. But mostly they are interpreted in a fairly restrictive sense to mean things like: the laws prove that perpetual motion machines (of the first and second class) are impossible.

Having spent so many years looking at the world through the lens of currencies (current-sees), I have to admit, it's hard not to also see these Laws through that lens. I'm used to seeing, and using currencies to help groups collectively see, system behaviors that emerge from making seemingly small, and simple decisions about flows which over time create huge changes in direction. For example, the seemingly small rule of issuing money as debt which bears interest has massive consequences on the large scale pattern of the economy (forcing economic growth to stave off currency collapse, creating artificial scarcity and competition between people, consistent wealth transfer to those who already have it, etc.)

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

04 May 2009

We use currencies to keep records of currents...

in Currency, Currents, Flows

I originally posted this to the Complementary Currencies discussion group on Skype in response to a question from Christoph Hensch. But it probably merits inclusion here.

Christoph, I believe we are in the lazy habit of thinking that the flow of the currency itself is the one that matters instead of the actual flow of goods, services, resources, knowledge or participation which flows COUNTER to an exchange currency.

Those real-world currents shaped and enabled by currencies are what make them so valuable and powerful.