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= UK-based project by "Tav" which aims to monetise the Attention and gift economies



James Arthur:

To monetise the attention and gift economies by creating what he calls the Plexnet. Or, in other words, to help people get paid for what they’re doing out of interest and enjoyment already. 24 weeks planned to get towards this by building the communication tools viewed as a necessary precursor to such an economy. However, in these mashable days post Twitter and Facebook, that infrastructure is already in place. So now, Tav’s aiming to use them to provide a simple system where people can voluntarily reward people who help them.

How’s this going to work? Well, you can read the first “here” link in the previous paragraph for the implementation details (the section on “pecus”). In summary, though, it works as follows. The Plexnet provides a mechanism for people to allocate points (they call them pecus) to people who do useful things. For example, if I post a link to one of Tav’s blog posts, or if I re-tweet one of his tweets, I’m making a very small (but nonetheless real) contribution to supporting his online presence. If that’s valuable to him, he can voluntarily choose to pay a certain amount of money (could be low, could be high) to all the people who have earned points over a certain period. This money would be rationed out in proportion to the amount of points each person had earned. This way, people can earn money and it becomes an alternative economy (however small). Over time, this second or extra income may help people move from left to right on the actualisation scale, for example, by allowing them to cut their hours working in the logistics warehouse and spending more time with their children.

There are many factors that influence whether this alternative economy would be a force for good. For example, it needs to be secure and not allow people to game the system. Points need to be allocated fairly, etc. Let’s assume that Tav has these aspects covered off (he’s nodding vigorously). The crucial question is why would people give their real hard earned cash to other people when they don’t have to? After all, they don’t at the moment. It’s all very well saying if there were this wonderful gift economy, then we’d be more fulfilled if such an economy just breaks down when confronted with human nature. Which brings us to our last sliding scale:

The beauty of Tav’s voluntary gift economy is that it harnesses self-interest to make the world a better place. At the moment, even if we grant that cultural creatives start using the Plexnet, we have to assume that we start right on the left edge of the scale, with nobody currently paying anybody for anything. This is an equilibrium position and a stable state. If nobody pays anybody then nobody loses anything by not paying. Like asking for directions in real life. (Aside from one car journey into Panjim when on holiday in India) no one has ever asked me to pay them for directions. They simply don’t expect to be paid and I don’t expect to pay them. Much as, at the moment, I don’t expect to get paid for including the links to Tav in this blog post. However, the key to unlocking the potential for a gift economy is that this is a weak equilibrium." (


Saul Albert:

"Energy never being destroyed, but simply transformed from one form to another is the first law of espian social dynamics. Countless ideas and initiatives have sprung from the nexus of people, skills, ideas and ambitions that have congregated around Tav and the plex. These might have started as techno-utopian whims, but many have achieved a lot - technically, socially, economically.

Attribution within a highly fluid milieu is never straight forward, but for example, was very inspired by the 24weeks espian project, even if none of the 24weekers were involved directly, and, however down-to-earth it might look, came from the same wellspring. And countless more amazing ideas, businesses and projects were shaped through their involvement with espianism.

I'm always thrilled to be involved because I meet such interesting people - and learn a lot. Even if the plexnet never comes into existence, it's definitely all about the journey, not the destination.

In some ways, I think the plexnet works very much like the binding mythology of the in Berlin. A collective of highly skilled and interesting individuals who might find themselves in regular conflict if they didn't have a simple shared mission: "to reconstruct the technical and social infrastructure of the ancient, crashed space station that likes buried beneath the city". It's a great way to set aside existential arguments about the group's purpose and just get on with it.

That said, the plex is always just close enough to being achievable for extremely smart and ambitious people to set their hands and minds to it, with incredibly interesting and often useful side-effects." (June 2009, [email protected])