First of all: I’ve thought about how OpenBump could fit together with the Fractal Future Network and my reputation system Quantified Prestige.
It seems that OpenBump and the Fractal Future Network are relatively similar:
- They are both supposed to be online communities
- They both want to help solve the bigger problems of the world
What’s different is the approach: The Fractal Future Network a target audience of “futurists”, while the target audience of OpenBump would be “problem solvers”. The overlap is certainly not small: Many futurists want to be problems solvers, and good problems solvers should also be at least somewhat futuristic.
The second difference is that the FFN is project-centric, while OpenBump is problem-centric. Other potential alternatives could be “solution-centric”, “mission-centric”, “vision-centric”, or “community-centric”. All of these approaches have their strengths and weaknesses. And perhaps we need specific platforms for all of these approaches, even though that might seem to create a splintering of the community and a multiplicity of efforts. My reasoning is that we can’t know a priori which approach is actually the best, so I’m in favour of letting a thousand flowers bloom – once we actually have the resources for that. At this early stage it may actually be the best to focus on one or two approaches, but not more.
Evaluation of different approaches
Perhaps some evaluation of the different approaches might be in order now. What I have experienced a lot is the “community-centric” approach in online communities. I’ve been in self-improvement forums, anarchist forums, transhumanist mailing lists, and more. While a lot of very interesting talk is going on there, and one may find friends via those paths, these communities don’t seem to produce tangible results (apart from difficult to measure personal growth) – on rare occasions they do. This is most visible on Facebook: Lots of talk, no results.
Out of my unhappiness with that situation, I decided to give the Fractal Future Network a project-based orientation. This actually seems to work slightly better. Of course, it’s hard to evaluate this meaningfully, because the FFN hasn’t taken off as much as I would have hoped to.
At around the same time that I founded the FFN, David Wood created the Transpolitica think-tank, which I would classify more as “mission-based”. This approach worked relatively well, as can be measured by more than a dozen contributors working together to release two ebooks within few months! A lot of this could be attributed to David Wood being relatively well connected within the futurist community and also being skilled at leading people towards actually delivering tangible results (deadlines seemed to have helped quite a lot).
How would solution-centric, vision-centric, or problem-centric approaches work out? My intuition says that a vision-centric approach would be about the same as a community-centric approach, but with a clearer goal in mind, which should make it at least somewhat more effective. Now to the solution-centric and problem-centric approaches: My intuition tells me that they should go hand-in-hand. One problem can have multiple solutions. On the other hand, one “thing” can be a solution for multiple problems (though these problems really need to be defined to be able to see that). A solution-based approach without being based on a problem-based approach doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense: At least you need to mention a problem to even frame your “thing” as solution for anything. Now, I think a problem-centric approach is not enough: You might create a community that eagerly discusses problems, but that doesn’t imply that people are getting closer to any real solution. Really solving problems is hard. So, you need to remind people again and again that we need to come up with actual solutions and being actually constructive (otherwise people tend to have the negative tendency just to shoot down the proposed solutions of others, without having any solutions themselves).
Is that actually the best way to move towards a better future? It could be. At the very least, when combined with project-based approaches, and mission-based approaches, a problem-solution platform might be very effective at catalysing real effective change.
So, you want to crowd-source solutions for the BUMPs that are in our way. That’s an excellent approach! To be actually attractive for the crowd, the platform must be actually engaging, fun, stimulating. Otherwise people will prefer to hang around on Facebook, instead of interacting with that platform. Gamification can help a platform become more engaging. Awarding badges to users for certain achievements is a component of gamification, but it’s a very basic one, and far from being sufficient. For example, this forum uses badges, but I doubt that this is the reason why anyone joins this forum, or stays active in it.
This is where Quantified Prestige comes into play. One of the motivating insights behind QP is that our monetary system can be seen as some kind of game. People often treat money as “points” and want to increase their “high score”. This is especially true for a lot of millionaires. However, it is known that money is not an optimal motivator for humans. But people want scores. They want to beat their personal best, and beat others. A quantified prestige score gives you that: It’s a score that people can use to measure their success, while at the same time, this mechanism evades some of the problems of the monetary system. QP can be used as gamification / rewarding layer for online communities, including the FFN, OpenBump, Transpolitica, or whatever. If it works right, the reward mechanisms of QP will attract people and keep them active and constructive in the community.
Repuation-coupled monetary rewards
Now let’s think a bit further. Imagine that people actually start using OpenBump and the BumpConductor to actually solve BUMPs. This turns them into actually useful and valuable platforms. But because they use QP as reward layer, the contributions of individual users are rewarded with Prestige points. That’s cool in its own right, but it becomes better: If a company uses OpenBump and pledges to use a certain percentage of their profits to share with the OpenBump community, then this money can be split up among the OpenBump users who have contributed to solving the BUMPs according to their Prestige points!
There are actually multiple ways in which that can work. One possibility is to treat the OpenBump community as a single QP network in which any people with Prestige points are rewarded whenever a company shares its profits with the OpenBump community.
Another alternative is to limit the payment of profit shares to those users who actually contributed to the BUMP in question that the company works on. This can still work with the Prestige scores of the users in question, or the company itself grants its own Esteem points to those users, based on its own evaluations of the contributions of the users.
I’m not sure which system is better. They can both be combined. Or each company decides which system to use.
Thinking even more long-term this mechanism could be replaced or complemented with payments in a global decentralized reputation-based currency (which I call Fluido). But it’s still a long time until that gets viable.