Michael Linton on Open Money at Gnomedex 2007

I was privileged to have driven Michael to Seattle from Vancouver.  Granted we nearly didn’t get across the border, but that’s another story.

Michael is absolutely freakin’ fascinating.  Pardon me if I don’t update this post often, because the idea of open money, well, it’s something that you have sit back to think to be able to grok.

What Michael is talking about is a true paradigm shift of how we deal with value, goods, services, and exchange.  Michael foresees that we will all be using open money at sometime in the future.  He doesn’t really know the when or the how … by the why, the why is clear.

The why is because we really need some creative ways to make economies tick.  Something more sophisticated than barter, more flexible than money and central banks.

The story of what happened to the Comox Valley when CFB Comox took the fighter squadron away, the pulp and paper market fell, and fishing was poor … reality…there was no money in the community.  Imagine what happens when your money dries up in a community.  Disaster could strike, people could leave, but in Comox they did something different … they created their own virtual monetary system. (lets.net has the history)

Closed loop systems keeps the gifting within the community and keeps it going. Becomes self propagating.

Gotta get Michael’s slides, because you just can’t capture it all.

Community currencies (cc) are:

  • not replacement or alternatives … used with not instead of $
  • still tax accountable
  • not in competition with anything not impeded or in conflict
  • business friendly … a collaborative loyalty system

In 1983 LETS was run on an answering machine, cost about $0.25 a transaction.

Cc’s … increasing in the world, except the U.S. of course.  There are some start up costs.

Wow a smartcard system only cost $10k to develop to have card with several currencies … so you could power a community based on their own distributed currency without too much trouble.

It works with a system of domains the software was stymied until they hit upon that it’s really 4 entities:

  • accounts
  • currencies
  • context
  • (missed the last one)

rubyom.openmoney.info … all this info is now just a URI.

Proposing/thinking this to VanCity credit union.  Hmm, I think not.  I don’t think they will go for it.  Is the world ready for this?  Not yet.  Although given the problems that the U.S. economy has been having…

AndruEdwards asked me to try to explain this everyone, since I had the chance to chat with him for a while about this.. I, frankly, don’t think I can do it justice.  We’re really talking about doing something rather radical.  Money is the ultimate social network, and it sucks.

OMG … question time.  I don’t even know if I will be able to follow these ….

Here’s the thing …. you spend money before you actually have it.  Negative balance means that you’ve issued money, positive holding money.  Michael says women get it quickly, men take longer.  Interesting.

Bounty.com … where you can help fund the LETS game and Michael’s trip here.

Technorati Tags: Gnomedex2007, Gnomedex, Michael Linton, open money, pshift,


  1. Thanks Tris – I think you caught it very well, given the pace and density. For anyone who is interested, the slides are at http://lets.net/gnomedex.ppt. There may be a podcast soon. If so I’ll note it here.

  2. Thanks for the link to the slides Michael! Everyone keeps asking for them.

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