Remember the heady days of CouchSurfing? A high-watermark of social optimism on the web, now disgraced and collapsed, what idealism and optimism remains of the heady days of the sharing economy?
Fast forward to the present and the winners of the sharing economy are the monetized models. Beyond Wikipedia, open source software and people just being nice to their friends, there are few functioning gift economies at meaningful scale.
For me this is a dream crushed. The gift economy model of CS is why I learned to code. With the help of wonderful friends, Brandon and Cris, eight years ago, we started GiftFlow.org. Connecting non profits, neighbors and businesses in pay-it-forward mutual aid, the hope was that reputation and gratitude alone would be enough to power an economy.
Could the rise of crypto economy contain the promise of a better economy? New crypto-economic models, while still transactional, do provide more open and level power structures. Hopefully we will see the emergence of a new value system more informed by social and environmental costs than the current market.
Personally I still hold out hope for ideas like Chris Anderson’s Document Coin.
Like he says “its kind of an art project”, so perhaps too soon, but not too late either.
As for old ideas. Here is a TEDx talk I gave years ago.