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Monday, September 28, 2015

Thoughts on stranger economy

For me it has been a huge big deal to think of money as being a tool to return a favor to a stranger for something done for you or for something you receive. Like you go to a coffee shop--one of my favorite examples--and a stranger will happily give you a tasty cup of well-brewed coffee, in exchange for some money.

So why emphasize "stranger" and "favor"? Well imagine a very giving community, which freely shares with strangers who simply take, without giving anything back, like food. And imagine that these nice people find they are running out of food themselves! Suddenly that scenario can be more than about morals or what's right, it can be functionally dangerous for that community.

In contrast consider someone within a very close community, who does something for someone within that community. For such a person such a thing can just be part of being a healthy member without concern about an immediate return. And in fact, supporting the community supports everyone. So such support functionally does not lead to lack or need.

So our world has a system, where if you have a contract of some kind, where you have something a stranger wants, and agree to provide it, then you can get money in exchange, which is a social IOU promising a return on that favor, later.

And it works great!

Our modern world exists because of this system, but it helps to understand it, which is why I talk it out so much because I got frustrated years ago out here wondering how things I was doing were supposed to pay off.

Now I think I know some important things like, contracts are usually required.

Generally if you're going to make money, some kind of arrangement has to be established ahead of time. So no, just throwing something up on the web as I've often done is unlikely to work, unless I guess you DO draw vast amounts of attention, but even then you need something in place, like that will show ads, I guess. To me that's a generally held idea which I've never personally verified to be true.

But money is just one reason to put things out here. There are many others.

Importantly I learned that community is a great reason.

Which means that you can also see the world now as a global community, and can do things for that community, without any expectation of any money in return.

And that's mostly it. Part of me wants to make a long post and link to things where I discuss more in-depth my OPINIONS on these things. But people can find those things if interested.

So I like to call the modern world economy--the stranger economy.

It really is designed in my opinion so that strangers can do things for each other without fear of being exploited, which may sound odd to some.

But when used properly, money lets people interact with strangers in a way that is mutually beneficial. So you can travel the world, and buy that cup of coffee, in so many places, from so many people. Personally knowing them? Not required.


James Harris
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