Saturday, August 6, 2011

Swap economy

Could we be facing the end-of-money? Will we still need money as a mode of exchange in the new networking society? And how much more stuff do we need to buy with money? These seem to all be relevant questions in the current economic crisis. Reason enough for me at least to attend a local swap-market "ruilmarkt" that was held recently in the neighborhood.

I was impressed with the entrepreneurship and creativity displayed by these two girls that took initiative. They have used Facebook to "flyer" the event, spread the word. The little square had little stalls all with their own little angle to the swapping. There was the swap-musician, swap-restaurant and swap-experiences, so it wasn't simply only swapping goods, it was also swapping services.

It is really interesting to see how approaches that in the recent past where only adopted by the counter-culture movements now seem to be adopted by the bigger mass of people. When I first saw the note of this event, I thought, ok another anti-establishment initiative. So I was really positively surprised, the two girls that took initiative simply said, that they thought they had enough, so why not swap?

Of course we all know the swap-parties we, particularly girls, hold with our girl-friends every now and then to swap clothes. Or if you are a crafter; swapping yarn, because you always tend to have or buy too much.

But could this become a serious new business model or economic model? Certainly people like Otto van Busch has deep-dived into the topics of over-consumption of particularly fashion and the in principle suppressive system of fashion-renwal. In a playful way he has held swap- and repair parties in galleries and musea to test different modus of swapping and up-cycling. By stopping participation in the fashion-system you can unleash empowerment and creativity. In the arts and counter-culture movements many ways have been explored to create an alternative economic system; for example the simple "give-away" shops.
HUT by Carin van Dongen, Su Thomsen and Hans Josso

Do we see here the birth of a new economic model? A different sort of give-and-take economy, empowered by the social web, and fueled by the economic crisis. Time-is-money certainly more than ever seems to be a statement that comes from the industrial age. Maybe the new currency will have more to do with how connected you are. Your level of connectivity will be determining for how well you can spread the word and therefore connect peers to peers. and that network is of course going to be worth. money.

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