bank of karma

Karma is a philosophical concept probably summed up as a sum total of everything that an individual is doing or has done. Wikipedia does a better job of explaining it. A combination of collaborative categorization and filtering (folksonomy) with peer ranking (as in Ebay) would make for a good karma bank.

Take for example, the problem of good travel advice and services and finding such on the internet. One could come up with a system where a would be backpacker would pose a question asking for a place to stay at
a place he/she is travelling to and possibly also a travel guide when he/she gets there in exchange for something other than money, possibly a similar arrangement for future travels to his/her own hometown.
Another person responds saying he/she would like to take it up as an offer. This person has a karma rank listing all the good he’s done in the past. The tag for this would be travel or perhaps backpacking.

The concepts describe here borrow from systems developed by various organizations including craigslist.org, various auction sites, del.icio.us etc. It’s not meant to be a barter system though. It matches the economy more along the lines of burningman.

There are various hurdles to this of course, and none of them technical. There is a problem of bootstrapping, getting enough people with enough karma online to get the system chugging along and for newer people to trust the site.

The other more fundamental problem is the problem of good intent, not everyone will have it. There is bound to be malicious people trying to take advantage of the system for rapid gains. But then again, there are sites out there already which have defied this and are still going strong.

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the next great wall, g8 vs g17

The entire world is going down a whirlwind path of globalization. Cultures are clashing, lifestyles mashing and matching and homogenizing, people all starting to speak english and so on. Or so the US media likes us to think.

What if the protests against the likes of G8 or the WTO were slowly to take hold on people’s minds. What if the world were to be polarized again, not along the geo-political lines like during the cold war, but along socio-cultural and economic lines.

What if half of the world were to take up their own economic system, not entirely capitalistic, but closer to the chinese guanxi-based economics, or the indian improvisation and math-education based economics. What if the G17 were to band together in their own trade zone, haphazardly put together in thousands of under the radar informal business deals, as opposed to WTO sanctioned treaties. What if businessmen in Brazil were to bypass most-favored-nation deals and deal directly across oceans with the likes of Indonesia and Kirghizstan.

It’s not so far fetched as one might think. The push towards globalization is brought about more so by the pressures of western (or american) style consumerism than anything else. The masses in China and India are growing up to be middle class people with their own economic clout. Pretty soon, there will be a whole population of people, outside the western geographic area, who will have the power to buy, with or without the watchful gaze of the WTO. The power to buy from people who are willing to sell in their own backyards, also without the western big brothers watching. One could even stretch the idea of a common economic model by proposing a new monetary system as opposed to the Dollar/Euro dominated world of today. Two economic systems, based on socio-cultural needs, very different from each other. It’s not a question of will it, but when.

The bigger question is, what will the polarized world look like when it happens. There are bound to be clashes, embargos, trigger happy generals grinning and waiting for victory and so on. What if, events were to evolve so that the two systems without escalating to full-scale war or anhilation, were to tolerate each other, always eyeing each other, sparring a little, but leaving each other alone. Is that scenario even possible? Anything is possible, but one would have to assume such grand intentions as good will towards others, fear of mutually assured destruction and such from all parties involved. Even so, it is entirely possible that we will get there. If we do, the imagination of such a state of affairs just boggles the mind.