David Birch at kashklash has been thinking about alternative currencies. He’s decided that local currencies, while their hearts are in the right place, are not the solution their advocates claim them to be:
They’re wrong because their notions of locality are too backward-looking. So while I buy the idea that some form of localisation of money it might be part of an overall trend, a reaction against globalisation and so on, I think that localisation in the coming online world means something different from the slightly romantic, slightly unworldly, geographic notion of locality that is at the heart of many current schemes.
People don’t seem to have a problem holding World of Warcraft money, or iTunes’ money, in addition to money in their bank accounts. Given a free (or, at least, vanishingly small marginal cost) choice, what would they prefer? We’ve already touched on gold in the earlier discussion about alternative currencies and the price of oil. But I’m curious about other non-commodity suggestions: telecommunications bandwidth, mobile minutes…
As a commenter points out, bandwidth and mobile minutes are commodities to most of us… and the more I think about it, the harder I find it to think of anything that would make a practical currency that isn’t a commodity. Calories; water; kilowatt/hours… can you think of any more? [image by bradipo]