Monday, November 17, 2003

Pitched Optimaes to WorldChanging : Add to Brian Eno's "250 Projects"

Here's the vision thing (TM)

What? : Democratising the understanding of money.

Why? : Our economic understanding is at the heart of our political beliefs and projects. And money is the deep underlying protocol that biases how our economy and society run.

We need to understand the implications of the details of our money system a lot better. And we need discussion and understanding of money to be wide-spread.

What's been done? : I'm here pitching for the Optimaes project (Open Project to Investigate Money and Economic Systems - ) We're equally inspired by money reformers and alternative currency enthusiasts, the open source community, and those like Alan Kay ( ) who are using computer simulation in education.

Optimaes combines software for computer simulation of "toy" economies, with a discussion forum and community who use it to ask and answer questions about the way money works.

The code is free (naturally). And the discussion is open, encouraging debate between socialists and libertarians, eco-feminists and "Austrian" economists.

What's to be done? :

Phase one (where we are). Build the community. Get the geeks talking to the alternative money people. Show those with the "hacker" mindset that money is a network protocol, and the ultimate platform to hack.

Phase two : A larger community will start spawning more projects. There'll be different questions and simulations and economic theories. But there'll also be new online and offline markets and currencies to test the theories with real communities in real life.

Phase three : Get the message out! Webloggers will discuss this stuff, to death, of course.

But we'll also make the software easier and more accessable :

* Simulation software aimed at schools, so that the next generation grows up with a deep understanding of how monetary systems work.

* Simulation software so simple it can be used as a token in a political debate. A politician's blog will embed a model to demonstrate the working-out of her proposed reforms. A constituant will mail a question, complete with an awkward parameter-set which drives the model into chaos.

The endgame : Money system(s) that work as well as we know how to design them. And politicians who tend them well, because they know that the electorate knows how they work.

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