A Social Media imagination for a communitarian economy

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					A Social Media imagination for a
   communitarian economy

                  David Benfell
         Professor Howard Rheingold
          Introduction to Social Media
     California Institute of Integral Studies
                 March 27, 2010
   A Flawed Economic Model
 With so many people losing their jobs and
   their homes, the failings of a “law of the
  jungle” economic system are now widely
apparent. Competition implies that there are
 winners and losers; the financial crisis and
 recession which began in December 2007
    has enhanced the wealth of a very few
winners at tremendous cost to a great many.
   A Flawed Economic Model
Political scientists David Barash and Charles
  Webel define structural violence as having
“the effect of denying people important rights,
such as economic well-being; social, political,
   and sexual equality; a sense of personal
     fulfillment and self-worth; and so on.”
  A structurally violent economy
Economic conditions that require more people to work mean
  that statistics showing decreases in the labor force
  participation rate reported by the Bureau of Labor
  Statistics may be misused to imply that people are not
  available for work when in fact they would work if they
  perceived the opportunity.
The chart on the next slide shows the Bureau of Labor
  Statistics U3 “headline” unemployment figure since 1948.
  It also shows unemployment calculated as a subtraction of
  the portion of the noninstitutionalized civilian population
  (aged 16+) from previous peak labor force participation
  rates—what I call Admiral Janeway's U3.
It appears that people are feeling forced out of the labor
    market.
A structurally violent economy
                                       Admiral Janeway's Unemployment (U3) rate
                                           Unemployment from optimum labor market size
   14.00%




   12.00%




   10.00%




   8.00%




   6.00%




   4.00%




   2.00%




   0.00%
               1951          1959          1967          1975          1983          1991      1999 (1) 2007 (1)  April December August
        1947          1955          1963          1971          1979          1987          1995   2003 (1) December August   April December

                                                     Admiral Janeway's U3               BLS unemployment rate
 A structurally violent economy
    Gallup has initiated a daily survey of
    underemployment: “'Underemployed'
  respondents are employed part time, but
     want to work full time, or they are
  unemployed.” As of March 26, 2010, the
organization reports a 30-day rolling average
   underemployment rate of 20.4 percent.
A structurally violent economy

But politicians express greater concern over
           the federal budget deficit.
   A Flawed Economic Model
 This outcome reflects individualist values
   which are at the heart of the capitalist
system. That dire needs of ordinary people
  carry so little weight with those in power
 reflects what Riane Eisler refers to as the
dominator model and what Philip Slater calls
             the Controller model.
            A different idea
Eisler advocates what she calls a partnership
model, based on egalitarian values and non-
                  violence.
           A different idea
     But it can be difficult to envisage an
 economic system based on such principles.
Any system of exchange inherently privileges
  those who are most able to say no, that is,
  those who are most able to decline a deal.
This widens the gap between rich and poor.
          A different idea
 However, social media offer new means of
communication and new possibilities. Ideas
   for meeting people's needs which have
previously been tried and discarded become
     feasible under new circumstances.
              Imagine a form....

Need Category:            Economic System
What do you think you An economic system that serves people's
need?                     needs rather than enhances their greed
                          Any system of exchange inherently privileges
What is the problem
                          those who are most able to say no, that is, to
you're actually trying to
                          decline a deal. This inherently widens gaps
solve?
                          between rich and poor.
      Imagine another form....

Concrete Offer:           Communism
Comments or               Marx and Engels: From each according to their
Suggestions:              ability, to each according to their need.
(Originator response) Is
                          Link to new problem (following slide)
the offer accepted?
(Originator reponse) Did
the comment or
suggestion add            No (assigns no credit to offering party)
materially to solving the
problem?)
              Imagine a form....

Need Category:            Economic System
What do you think you A way to verify social contributions in the
need?                     absence of an exchange system
                          The difficulty with Marx and Engels dictum is
What is the problem       that the community has no way of ensuring that
you're actually trying to all members contribute. Freeloading is too easy
solve?                    and so people who actually contribute may fear
                          that they may not have their own needs met.
      Imagine another form....

                          A recursive breakdown of the problem and
Concrete Offer:
                          proposed solution as a model for that solution.
                          Credit for solving problems and constructive
                          comments accumulates on each users' profile
Comments or
                          and is shown both in aggregate and as a
Suggestions:
                          function of time, offering assurance to the whole
                          community that users are not mere freeloaders.
(Originator response) Is Yes (assigns credit to offering party for solution
the offer accepted?       accepted)
(Originator reponse) Did
the comment or
                          Yes (assigns credit to offering party for solution
suggestion add
                          accepted)
materially to solving the
problem?)
                Implementation
   This concept should incorporate the best applicable
    ideas of social media and commerce web
    applications such as Craigslist and Facebook.
   Each form entry item should be open to discussion,
    with a button to create a forum for that item if it
    doesn't already exist or to go to it if it has already
    been created. This button should exist on both the
    field identification on the left and on the entry field
    itself, encouraging discussion and collaboration and
    facilitating evolution of the system to meet
    community needs.
Now here are some more forms....

  Need Category:            Communitarian economic system development
  What do you think you A solution to the cup of sugar versus baking the
  need?                     cake problem
                            If someone is baking a cake and borrows a cup
                            of sugar from a neighbor, we would certainly
  What is the problem       acknowledge that the neighbor contributed to
  you're actually trying to the cake, but most would agree that such a
  solve?                    contribution should count for far less. So how
                            do we acknowledge this without reifying
                            money?
Now here are some more forms....

  Need Category:        Communitarian economic system development
  What do you think you An inclusive way of valuing those who care for
  need?                 others
                            Riane Eisler points out that the present
                            economic system fails to recognize the
  What is the problem
                            contributions of mothers raising children or of
  you're actually trying to
                            people caring for relatives. Such contributions
  solve?
                            need to be reflected in this system so that these
                            people, too, have a way to meet their needs.
Now here are some more forms....

  Need Category:            Communitarian economic system development
  What do you think you Web developers and web application
  need?                     developers to implement the system
                            My inspiration is that social media makes
  What is the problem       possible a solution to economic injustice that
  you're actually trying to could not be conceived previously. But I lack
  solve?                    the resources and the technical expertise to
                            implement this solution.