Invisible Economy: A View
Sparrow, also know as BlackBoxDotArt, is a cryptoartist, mathematician, and DADA collaborator.
This article appeared originally on Cent.
Last week the three working groups of the Invisible Economy held their kick-off meetings — and boy what an amazing group of people has gathered to work on this! It seems to me to be a testament to the powerful ideas and sheer strength of vision of both Bea and Judy, founders of DADA, and to the ideas themselves and people’s appetite for a real alternative to the current systems which seem to be replicating familiar practices from the non-blockchain legacy world.
In case you aren’t familiar with the Invisible Economy, you can read the Whitepaper published in 12 parts on Medium. (Yes, it is a lot to take in. This is not a simple problem we’re trying to solve, nor will a quick fix solution be the answer. This will take time and care — and it should take time and care.)
You can also watch the introduction of the Whitepaper at RxC 2020 on the RadicalxChange Channel:
The three working groups were set out in this presentation and people were invited to sign up to any or all groups they were interested in. There is also a Telegram group and a Discord for people who are interested in contributing to the creation of the Invisible Economy.
The first workgroup to meet was the Governance group:
That is the one of the three that I did not sign up for. (Alas, I only have as many hours in my day as everyone else, and there are a couple of other worthy projects that I want to have time for — plus, of course, I want to have time to create art!) I am, however, a part of the other two; so I can write directly about my experience of these.
Contribution Metrics Meeting 01 was an amazing two hours of conversation and sharing and connecting. It is the meeting, I think, that made us all realise that the *way* we create this system — *how* we work, *how* we interact, and how we *think* about things — is as important, if not more so, than the outcomes we produce. This is actually the Invisible Economy already in action!
The third workgroup was Value Flows Meeting 01. As much information and insights come from these meetings in follow up conversations after the meeting has ended as they do in the meeting themselves. To me, this indicates just how successful these meetings are. They are leading people down new paths and discovering new connections to things they already are aware of, but perhaps seeing in a new light. For example, after this meeting /hex6c brought up the work of Georgia Lupi and how much her approach to information design aligned with what we are trying to do with these workgroups.
We have only just begun. Though for Bea and Judy, and indeed for DADA as a whole, this is just the next stage in a journey they have been on for over two years now. I am amazingly happy to have the opportunity to join that journey with them.
So, I’ll end this post with some personal thoughts on the Invisible Economy so far…
“Money is one specific version of this tool we invented to facilitate tradable wealth-building. However, trying to apply it to building measurable and nameable wealth creates deep problems.” Harris-Braun, MetaCurrency Project.
I think this is the one area that becomes the most problematic in the crypto space, as nearly everyone equates tokens to money. ETH is money. NFTs, on the other hand, particularly Art NFTs are not money. But we are encouraged to view them with a trader mentality. They are ‘traded’ and ‘collected’, ‘bought’ and ‘exchanged’, they are often expected to provide a ‘return on investment’ (that investment often being solely in money). In short, we are encouraged to treat them like we do money.
When we lose sight of the other, non-money, aspects and uses of tokens, we end up with a deeply fragile and imbalanced system that reduces our overall ‘wealth’ from a rich and varied assortment of money, relationships, vitality, harmony, and possibilities to just the size and number of our financial transactions. This loss, to me, is what the Invisible Economy is trying to recover for us.
By making the only thing that is currently visible as a metric in cryptoart (sales transactions) invisible, the Invisible Economy has the opportunity to make visible (and track in quantitative and qualitative ways) those other forms of value that flow within the system.
In helping to build (define the mechanisms of) the Invisible Economy, the goal for me is to create a system that recognises all of these types of wealth and the exchanges of value. The direct inputs and output of the system, the transactional/tradable wealth is familiar and well-explored territory. It is what we see in every cryptoart marketplace we have now. It is easily measured by this blockchain technology we have. So, we have taken the easy path and based our metrics around what is easily measured.
More interesting to me are the other forms of value that are not being measured. Yes, they are harder to define, harder to measure, or track. But who doesn’t like a wicked problem to solve?
For me, the Invisible Economy is the opportunity to solve this.