Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Time, Value, and the Answer - Part 3

Bob Fiske
May, 2009

I see a role for technology in this sweeping vision of assigning VALUE to human activities.  Many activities involve material goods.  In these transactions, there already exist capitalistic and accounting methods to equate these goods to monetary value.  In many cases "market factors" are largely responsible for the adjustment of value.

For instance, a company that wishes to increase market share for its product could attempt to manipulate the market by lowering price or creating other buying incentives.

Here are some examples:  the cell phone company that offers a "family deal" of getting 4 cell phones for the price of 1.  Or the innovative pizza store manager (Anita) who sold mugs of beer for 25 cents from 2 to 5pm on weekdays.  (This was so successful at drawing in customers that the purchase of food exceeded the peak lunch-hour times.)

In the service sector, however, the valuation of non-material (time based) activities can be difficult to establish.  There are groups of people that are attempting to pioneer an alternative to money-based valuation as a means of conducting business.  These are barter-based movements in which goods and services are exchanged directly without using the intermediate convention of money-based value.

Here are some links to explore:

Overview article about the method of exchanging goods or services directly without using currency.  Barter can be an alternative form of conducting commerce in extreme situations (hyperinflation, deflation, frozen currency flow).

Local exchange trading systems (LETS)
A non-currency-based credit system in which people swap skills or “favors”.  These systems are developed locally among people in a geographic situation who want to conduct trade among themselves.

The LETSystem Design Manual
This is of historical interest since it dates back to the mid- to late 1990s.  This online manual documents the fine points of users in Canada and the U.K. who were setting up and participating in local exchange trading systems.

Gift economies.
This is a fascinating overview of non-market-driven economic systems based up giving without an expectation of receiving in return.  Often, the non-monetary societies organized this way viewed “gifting” as an ongoing activity in which to stop the flow of giving resulted in social disapproval.  Article reviewers have faulted this exposition for its many un-referenced statement, unfortunately.

A commercial, online bartering database/network founded by Dr. Paul Bocheck and Michael Satz.

A widely used swapping web site where people can post “wants” and “haves” and form trades.

Craigslist bartering
A crude barter system where people can post ads about something they have and something they want in exchange for it.

Time banking
A system of commerce using time as the currency.  In this system services are exchanged, rather than goods.

Examples of time bank web sites
California Federation of Time Banks

Long Beach Time Exchange

Orange County Time Bank

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