Saturday 24 November 2007

BarCamp London: Voluntary Economics - Reinier Zwitserloot

Slides available

According to rational economics if you are handed $10 and asked to agree a share with another person, you should offer them 1 cent. People offer much more in practice.

Some examples:

  • freakonomics - bagel guy: found that if dumped bagels, cream cheese & cash box at companies, found that at some places 95% of people paid
  • linux kernel: copyright of patches goes to Linus
  • wikipedia have got more than $1m from small donations
  • Oink: download site — couldn’t pay for music but some bands got famous based on usage
  • terra bite: pay as you wish restaurants
  • tipping…? though in America this comes with threats
  • “The Plant” — Stephen King book: published one chapter at a time, continued writing if more than 75% of downloads paid up for $1
  • article on boingboing how bartering makes banking work in Africa

counter examples:

  • web comics: have donate buttons but don’t really work

price discrimination & sales doesn’t work online

  • price discrimination — people pay the max that they are willing to pay
  • can search for coupon codes

“fame comes before fortune — if you have fame, fortune will follow”

  • that’s why micropayments don’t work as trading

Ways to get voluntary economics to work:

  • put a human face on it
  • peer pressure (e.g. tipping, bagels — had to be in public place)
  • communities — build a big one (e.g. when Starship Enterprise was canned, community raised $3m)
  • rewards based on community
  • emotion — you like it, pay money/contribute time to support

Has to be aimed at people — more emotional: corporations will just say thanks for free

Is voluntary economy a luxury good?

  • Does it only work when economy is good?
  • Maybe not — it’s a transaction since there are more things being transferred than money/time — blog is getting attention
    • —> redefine the rationality of the economic agent
  • economically more efficient

Short story from Bruce Sterling on the same area

Plug: TipIt — tip any blog

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