Currencies and ‘current-sees’

Money is a terrible measure of value. In the same way that most of the value you have to offer, is simply not accessible through dollars, our economy fails to access and enable the bulk of the value around us. Until we create currencies which recognize value flows at all these levels, we perpetuate intolerable poverty. This isn't a poverty of inequitable distribution, but a poverty of measurement.

I’ve been catching up on Team Human podcasts this week. In Episode 48, Douglas Rushkoff interviews Arthur Brock, who describes himself as spending most of his “time and energy on projects that [he] believe[s] support and accelerate the harmonious evolution of humanity”. His website comes across as quasi-mystical and, to be honest, wouldn’t have been something that I would have paid much attention to, had it not been for the podcast.

>> Listen to Episode 48 of the Team Human podcast

The interview covers a wide range of topics, including some insights as to why existing cryptocurrencies are set to replicate the same problems we’ve already got. The key takeaway for me, however, was captured in a play on words Brock makes between ‘currencies’ and ‘current-sees’. The diagram above kind of gets to this, in the sense of not reducing everything to a single measure of value.

Instead of thinking about fiscal exchange, Brock points out that we already ascribe value to objects that aren’t contained in the object itself. For example, food is described as ‘organic’, diamonds as ‘conflict-free’, etc. Collapsing all of that down to a price point or exchange of money doesn’t capture all of the value. This is where ‘current-sees’ come in; ways of capturing value that aren’t reducible to financial instruments.

My brain went immediately to Open Badges as a form of ‘current-see’, much in the way that people like Serge Ravet talk about the importance of ‘recognition’ over credentialing. The value of badges is that it’s a standardised way of capturing diversity and difference. That’s why initiatives that seek to standardise and lock these things down are, to my mind, misguided.

More technical people reading this might want to explore Holochain, an initiative to ‘think outside the blocks’. Instead of a single ledger with every transaction, Holochain ‘blockchains the blockchain’. “Instead of being built on top of cryptographic tokens [Holochains] are organized around cryptographic validation of people (peers) validated against an immutable cryptographic record of those peers actions.” Geek out on the details here.