Friday, April 14, 2006

Whuffie: XXI century money?

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, is a 2003 Sci-Fi novel by Cory Doctorow that can be downloaded and read for free, has an interesting economic concept: whuffie.

What is whuffie?

Whuffie is reputation. Anyone can express his/her opinion about you, and that influences your whuffie count. The more whuffie you have, the more respected you are, and the more VIP treatment you will enjoy. Anyone can give or take whuffie to/from someone, no matter how high or low is the voter's whuffie level.

In the original novel, the world has reached a post-scarcity scenario (the so called Bitchun society). Whuffie is not used to decide if you have access to the basics, as food or housing. Whuffie is used to have access to extra resources and/or insider circles.

Whuffie works in the novel through wireless voting together with digital management, so the voting and book keeping system is totally transparent to any member of the Bitchun society.

I regard the whuffie concept very appealing. It may need some fixes to avoid demagogy and other possible abuses/deviations, but the concept is sound, an it could be the basis for a reasonable alternative to our current economic system.

An embryo of what could become a whuffie economy is already developing in Internet: Karma in slashdot, or diggs in Digg. It may not seem much right now, but I wonder how revolutionary and strange money seemed when barter was the norm.


Post a Comment

<< Home