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A Gift Worth Paying For: An Alternate Economic System

In our modernized system, it’s not as simple as identifying as a Karl Marx fan or a capitalist devotee. The economic infrastructure is an intricate design involving a multi-faceted platform with many entities. Economics is at the center of everything. Every choice we make, be it within the constructs of relationships, business, education, consumerism, politics, religion, health, communications, economics is taken into consideration. For some, that may be an unsettling thought, but it doesn’t have to be. Economics in itself, as a discipline, practice, or theory is not negative. It can become negative through how we define it, attribute value to it, and interact with it. A concept called Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein led me to carefully consider a few things about our current economic system. The video is definitely worth watching.

“Charles Eisenstein is a teacher, speaker, and writer focusing on themes of civilization, consciousness, money, and human cultural evolution” (http://bit.ly/VxHigR). The term Sacred Economics actually refers to an anthropological and social science of a Gift Economy. Wikipedia defines it as:

In anthropology and the social sciences, a gift economy (or gift culture) is a mode of exchange where valuable goods and services are regularly given without any explicit agreement for immediate or future rewards (i.e. no formal quid pro quo exists). Ideally, voluntary and recurring gift exchange circulates and redistributes wealth throughout a community, and serves to build societal ties and obligations. In contrast to a barter economy or a market economy, social norms and custom governs gift exchange, rather than an explicit exchange of goods or services for money or some other commodity.

You may wonder how this type of economic construct could apply to a modern system. Essentially, in science and technology, a gift economy prevails.

Engineers, scientists and software developers create open-source software projects. The Linux kernel and the GNU operating system are prototypical examples for the gift economy’s prominence in the technology sector and its active role in instating the use of permissive free software and copyleft licenses, which allow free reuse of software and knowledge. Other examples include: file-sharing, the commons, open access (Wiki).

Market economies were established when city states became more prevalent, and a more complex money system was necessary. Take into consideration the eruption of social media tools and management systems. Social media operates on a gift economic infrastructure in that it differentiates itself from a market economy on three accounts – context (relationship rather than transaction), earned rather than bought status, and the creation of social currencies.

In the Pacific Northwest, native tribes developed the ritual of the potlatch. Status was given not to those who accumulated the most wealth, but instead to those who gave the most to the community (http://bit.ly/MvjAuC)

Perhaps this type of economic philosophy sounds like fluff and infeasible to execute, but consider why you would think that. Our modern system no longer entirely operates on a gift economy so it’s difficult for society to comprehend an alternative economic operative process. Given our complex and expansive global economic system, an integration of a market and gift economy would be an optimal model to consider. How would we incorporate this? Would we refer to the mechanical and social operations of media, technology, and networking? Which entities would be involved? This would require a complex, collaborative process, but it’s completely plausible to execute. More on this in my next post.

-Share and spread the economic gift-


Anti-Muslim Video: A Sentiment Towards Differences

The barriers of cultural communications. The power of a message. The global accessibility of technology. Should there be a regard for ethics and cultural sensitivity when it comes to conveying a message? In the United States, citizens utilize their freedom of speech brazenly in comparison to other cultures; yet should this human right allow us to publicize content on a global level, specifically targeting cultures which indubitably do not exercise the freedom of speech to the extent westernized culture does? The key to artfully communicating is catering your message to your audience. The internet is a global technological platform for communication which places a great deal of responsibility on content creators.

Hillary Clinton’s response to Anti-Islam Video

This article is a response to the Anti-Muslim Video which has caused riots, hate crimes, and wide-spread violence world-wide. I believe that it is the responsibility of webmasters to empower users before viewing content. This can be done by providing a synopsis of the content, i.e. tagging videos as satire or inappropriate. These warnings could also be added post video upload by YouTube users based on votes. The issue at hand is not one of religious difference or the intent of the film maker. It’s an issue of communication in terms of technological accessibility, cultural awareness, and the power of a message. A simple resolution to this problem would be respecting a social group by not creating a film which blatantly depicts a parody of sorts about the Islamic culture. However, it’s obviously not that simple. Due to language and cultural barriers, what appears to be a parody to one group of people is simply an insult to others. One should have the freedom to express a message in any form in order to make a statement be it religious, political, sexual, etc. So perhaps we can develop the technology to communicate the true intent of our online content, while working to prevent and stem the outrage of unsuspecting users.

They must first provide a description and rate its content based on level of controversy. In that case, those who still wish to view it after they have read the warning (description of the content) will take responsibility. This may not seem like a significant step in improving such a matter, but psychologically speaking, if one is given the choice to view content that may stir controversy, one will feel like s/he made an independent choice and that will increase the probability of the person taking responsibility for that choice.

If anyone else has an idea on how to improve a situation as this in relation to technology, power of a message, and cultural communications, I’d love to hear your comments!

The Pedagogy of the Ivory Tower

Whether you’re an academic, graduate student, or simply an entity within an educational institution, you’ve probably heard the term Ivory Tower referring to academic elitism. As within any social group, there is an acquired language and behavior associated with the group. As a participant of that group, you learn the language, mannerisms, behavior of what the group requires in order to discover your place within that group. This is typically known as a socialization process. There are cultural, social, political, economic standards a member must adhere to in order to find her/his place in the group more adequately. Education as an institution is not any different from other institutions and/or groups such as business, the arts, fashion, technology, or religion. Even within these main groups, there are subgroups with differing standards leading to a lack of cross communication. Given this is a communications blog, this post will cover strategies to improving society through the ability to interact with different institutions.

What makes academia different? Why is it often referred to as an Ivory Tower? Knowledge and language are two of the most elemental driving forces in creating operative processes. It creates power structures and a hierarchical order, sometimes without any form of accountability. A conundrum: what use is knowledge if most people cannot comprehend the language in which the knowledge is communicated in? This is problematic on an institutional level within the educational system, especially in higher education. On the other hand, should an academic (someone who has diligently worked to reach a level of intelligence) translate her/his production to a more ‘common’ form of language so that the public can understand? Or perhaps a communicative, technological tool should be used in order to solve such a problem.

We shouldn’t expect academics and scientists to translate their work into a more common language shared by most people, but we can advocate for a communication platform in which it is translated for the general public. Most pedagogical research focuses on developing equity centric frameworks for those already within the educational system. A recent development are ivy league institutions offering free classes online to the public. This is a great leap in the right direction, allowing a greater majority of people to increase their knowledge, but this avoids the problem with the pedagogical processes and academia itself, the general public is still unaware. To solve the original problem, translating existing scholarly work into a common language, would require a large workforce or an advanced program.

This would require an intricate, complex design involving technology and communication devices. How would this advance humanity?

  • It would allow access into other social groups’ language, trends, organizational processes for growth and development.
  • It would create a better understanding and mutual alliance amongst diverse groups.
  • It would help people reach their potential and develop a sense of accomplishment.
  • An established interconnectedness amongst humankind through the comprehension of universal knowledge.
  • A cessation of social, economic, political, educational hierarchical barriers between groups.

These are just a few reasons as to why an alternative platform needs to be developed. I can understand why an accomplished academic or scientist may have a problem with such a platform given their process in achieving such credentials, but isn’t the purpose of achieving such impressive credentials to share your knowledge, discoveries, insights in order to cultivate a greater understanding and interrelatedness with others? Beneath our accomplishments which were achieved through a hierarchical process, don’t we all share a common trait – being human?

Global Communications 8:07

A piece to get your neurons firing…

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