Markets Without Money

Markets without money seems sort of incomprehensible, yet that is what I would like to talk about here and now.

Oddly, just a few days ago I maintained that “I do not live in fantasy land” (see “Social Business Regulation: Introduction & Socio BIZ Rule #1” [ ] ) … and yet here I am asking you to believe that markets without money are possible.

Back when I was an student of economics, I recall meeting another student — I think perhaps she was from the University of Chicago — who had worked with Professor Becker on the general topic of shadow markets … and so this at one and the same time acknowledges that even way back when — in the stone ages? — there was such a thing, a concept (if you will), about exchanges in “quasi-” markets without money.

Without getting too deep into semantics, I would simply like to point out that our conventional view of the definitions of “market” and “money” are very closely intertwined — and I think that is probably one of the main reasons why the concept of markets without money seems so odd.

Yet there has actually been a very long history of this concept in media — just a couple examples should be more than sufficient to make this case. “Front page news”, “above the fold”, “headlines”, “top 10 results” — need I say more? (wink wink, nudge nudge 😉 )

If I do need to say more, the notion of “screen space” has probably already filled entire volumes of treatises on graphic design, data visualization texts and whatnot more.

If you still don’t get IT, please look up the term “attention economy” (that ought to be a good place to start in case you have been living under a rock for most of your life 😛 ).

Now I am simply going to assume that you are already able to entertain the thought that markets without money do exist (and perhaps such so-called “shadow markets” actually overshadow our traditional concept of money and markets).

When working with information, context is paramount. A statement such as “mix two things” may be a commandment in the context of a religious text, or it may merely be a suggestion in the context of a cookbook. Or just think of the way a message might be completely appropriate in one context versus completely inappropriate in another context. The supply and demand for any particular message may be completely different.

Ideally, there ought to be enough awareness of context so that communications are better suited to their environments. This is what I was referring to when I used the word “fittest” in my question to Matt Mullenweg the other day (see “Matt Mullenweg’s Answer May Have Been Somewhat Misleading” [ ] ).

I think maybe Matt misunderstood my question about marketplaces — it seems that his answer was mostly about marketplaces with money, and hardly at all about marketplaces without money.

For more background on my thinking about the relationship between money and language, please see “In What We Trust” [ ].

One thought on “Markets Without Money

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s