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introduction - theory - practice - London - ( revisions )


Commercial barter is an early instance (and anomaly) - now over $30b pa in transactions, with $3b operating turnover. This is an increase of over a factor of 10 since the mid '80s, and must prove something. However, the commercial "barter" sector is in many ways equivalent to email before the internet - territorial and exclusive, with limited variety.

Think how email addresses hosted at isp enable the creation of and participation in email lists by individuals everywhere, without restriction to any particular host or geography. You can go Yahoo, set up a list on your own terms and see who joins. In much the same way, virtual money accounts at ccsp (community currency service providers) enable creation of and participation in virtual money networks of all sorts, under whatever terms are specified.

Metcalfe's law says the value of the network is proportional to the square of its size, but Reed's law rules - http://www.reed.com/dprframeweb/dprframe.asp?section=gfn - particularly "That Sneaky Exponential-Beyond Metcalfe's Law to the Power of Community Building". The most important factor is the proliferation of networks within the network.

This is material anyone can explore themselves. There are many websites addressing various parts of the matter, but the most advanced materials are on www.openmoney.org, which includes the LETSplay game and a demonstration of software that meets the open money specifications.

The "community way" programme.

However, practical realities can cut through a fog of theory and speculation. Let's consider a practical application of a virtual currency that provides the level of assurance needed to attract participation. This is for virtual money the equivalent of Newton's coin with a ring to it, a system that establishes a useful level of confidence and thus an opening into the wider context and opportunities of open money systems.

The community way strategy is designed to appeal to the business community and in particular to address their aversion to risk - it's the shallow end of the pool, the bunny slopes, the tricycle before the bicycle. If a business participates in community way and follows the recommended procedures, there is no way it can lose.

Community way is also, therefore, springtime for the early adopters who can see the opportunities.

The proposition to the participating businesses raises no complex considerations of monetary theory, sustainability or social justice - just some basic questions -

    "Do you want:

      a) to earn more money?

      b) to have more customers?

      c) to do good in the community?"

The choice to participate or not depends on whether they can overcome their anxiety that something this simple must be a trap or a fantasy.

For more details, see