Rational Media as Alternative Currency

Perhaps it’s just me, but I feel as though there was a great deal of revolutionary enthusiasm for the notion of alternative currencies a decade ago (even before the financial crisis), but that there is now not even a murmur of interest in this area.

I find this quite odd – especially since there is so much talk about „big data“. How can it be that with so much data in the world, there doesn’t appear to be one iota of significance in it that is comparable to the „almighty dollar“, the bang for the buck, the global standard unit of money?

Well, in fact there is – it’s just that most people don’t know about it… at least not yet.

The reason they don’t know about it is because they are by and large illiterate. The reason they are illiterate is because their teachers hadn’t taught them anything about it. The reason their teachers didn’t teach their children well is that nobody had taught them anything about it either. The reason nobody had taught them was that nobody knew – or at least it seems like nobody thought that far to the conclusion of what would happen if the world they were building actually become the real world… the reality that is just now really coming into existence.

Last week, I wrote about one example of this: the new BLOG.

Today, I would like to widen the scope.

We could argue whether terms like „blog“ (or „app“) are real words or not. Odd as it may seem, I myself am actually quite hesitant to view natural language as something that can be defined and/or controlled by single organizations (such as WordPress or Google). Lest you think this might be some kind of secluded cyber-fantasy, you might do well to consider that thousands of organizations are doing the very same thing, including for example household brand names like Johnson&Johnson (who now own „baby“) or Amazon (who already own many names, including „book“ and „song“), and also many governments such as the City of New York (which owns „nyc“).

Note that ownership is a socially constructed concept – and as such it is quite comparable to the value of the greenback mentioned above. What is or isn’t an app – at least something like „something.app“ – will be for Google to decide, much in the same manner that money is a matter that has traditionally been regulated by governments.

I have written quite a bit about issues related to the meaning of such top-level domains and also whether they should be considered „generic“ or „proprietary“. Today, I want to emphasize (or re-emphasize) that this is basically a choice … of belonging or not belonging to a community. Just as using a monetary unit such as the US dollar is a matter of engaging with the community in the United States (and/or as using Chinese money is a matter of engaging with the community in China), so too is choosing to use „app“ or „blog“ or „book“ or „song“ a matter of engaging with the corresponding corporations and corporate governance, rules, regulations, etc. Some organizations will be more open (and „generic“), other organizations will be more closed (and „proprietary“), but in any case choosing to engage is always going to be a matter of community engagement.

In that sense, exchanging or trading in „app“ or „book is very similar to trading in euros or dollars … and in that vein, these top-level domains will function very much like trading or exchanging in alternative currencies.

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