Striking a Balance

There really is not a lot to update for the first quarter of 2011, at least not in the form of code and documentation. However, I could easily account for 15 hours a week in March spent on related research activities, which include reading, conceptualizing, and setting strategies. I have read, for example, a few of the latest IJCCR articles. Another web site that I have been reading lately is matslat’s blog. A consistently excellent resource is the Communications of the ACM, which even has an article on virtual goods and currencies in the April issue.

Why bother with ‘conceptualizing’? Mainly to avoid making contradictory or confusing statements. An example would be in this cc typology article, which is an otherwise well-written paper. Blanc’s description of first generation of CC schemes contains the oft-repeated “money is created (at) the very time of exchange.” I have written a while back that this description is misleading when there are debit limits involved in mutual-credit system. As soon as some kind of issuance or trading limit is imposed by a system administrator, the money (as limits) is only exchanged, and NOT created, at the time of transactions. Misleading notions should be carefully filtered out to clarify one what is doing and see where the pitfalls lay.

What about strategies? To use an analogy, strategies are not as crucial in a 100m dash as they are in long distance races. Working on nontraditional currency designs is like a marathon, a long term endeavor where the goals are not clearly in sight and various paths, some untried, are open for exploration. I have long ago shed any misconception that I could code an idea quickly and hope for spontaneous transmission (‘viral’ is another oft-repeated but misleading description thrown around by enthusiasts.) The work requires commitment and endurance, luck and inspiration. It certainly helps to be in a community of similarly-minded advocates, but shared interest is actually less important to me than having a shared notion of what constitutes quality effort.