A social network that can develop into an economic system

Babbling Brook is a new social networking protocol that has been designed to develop into a full new socioeconomic system. It is a tool that can make a resource economy possible.

When I first started developing Babbling Brook, I was inspired by ideas about gift economies. I found lots of people talking about the idea, and I read a lot of the literature on how gift economies work in tribal settings. At the time I couldn’t see how a gift economy could possibly work on a global scale. The problem is that traditional gift economies only work on a small scale. Tribes that have gift economies always exist in bands of less than 150 people. The reason for this is known as the Dunbar limit and it is inherent to the reason that gift economies collapse at larger scales.

Gift economies work because all the participants know each other and are able to keep track of the relationships between each other. Not just the relationships that they have with others, but all the relationships between different members of the group. The reason this is important is not in order to keep track of who is giving; it would not be a gift economy if a score was kept. Instead it is necessary so that free loaders can be kept in check. When everyone knows everyone, we know the difference between someone who is genuinely struggling and someone who is being lazy.

Once a tribal band grows beyond a hundred and fifty people it becomes impossible for individuals to know who is taking advantage. As tribes grow larger than this they tend to develop big man economies, where one particularly productive family headed by a powerful individual (nearly always a man) gains more authority than others. As the tribe grows larger this tendency towards hierarchy increases until chiefdom tribes with 10,000 or so individuals arise, where the leader is often seen as a god and there is gross inequality between the top and bottom of the social structure.

If we are to recreate a gift economy in modern times we have to work out how to make a gift economy work on a scale of billions of people. Babbling Brook makes this possible by abstracting the economic relationships between individuals into a network of relationships that all members can access. Instead of relying on our brains to tell us if someone is taking advantage we instead rely on technology.

I’ve designed Babbling Brook to work as a social network. This has the advantage of appealing to a wider range of people on a platform that they are already familiar with. It can be made to work like any existing social network, with additional features built on top to make it possible for it develop into both a political and economic system. A gift economy is just one kind of economic system that Babbling Brook could be used for. It could also be used as a traditional free market or command economy. It can even be used in multiple different ways simultaneously. The type of market that is expressed depends on how the users use it.

There are three core features that enable Babbling Brook to become a socio-economic system. Firstly the network is distributed and bottom up. Anyone can set up a website to act as a data store and anyone can set up a client website that allows users to interact with each other. The reason this is essential is that it prevents the system from being controlled and corralled by a powerful few. If users are unhappy with the direction a Babbling Brook website takes, then they can join a different one without loosing their data.

Secondly, relationships in Babbling Brook are very important. Whenever you use a Babbling Brook website, your computer is busy generating connections with other users based upon how you are using Babbling Brook. These relationships are also bottom up; they are defined by the user and the websites that they use.  Relationships can be created in many ways with multiple relationships between the same users that differ due to context. This creates a network of connections between people that can be used in the third point.

Thirdly, content on many social networks can be up voted or ‘liked”. This is essentially places a numerical value against a post. This is taken a step further in Babbling Brook, where posts can be ‘liked’ conditionally. This makes it possible for posts to represent real world objects or services and where ‘liking’ them results in them being given the thing represented by the post. There are several different kinds of conditions that can be used. If Babbling Brook is used as a gift economy then you would have a condition that checks that a user requesting something is not ripping off the system. Exactly how that condition is calculated is up to the user who is giving something. Perhaps it checks that the user who wants something has given something themselves, or perhaps it makes sure the user is known to other trusted members.

To sum up, Babbling Brook makes it possible for us to build a socioeconomic system that is based on the relationships we make when we exchange resources. It is a very open ended platform which can be used in many different ways, including the ability to make a gift economy that does not depend on using our brains to keep track of relationships.

Hopefully I’ve whetted your appetite. I’ll be releasing the protocol and an open source software package to implement it after a crowd funding push in the next few months. Meanwhile I will be going into a lot more detail on the blog. Head over to babblingbrook.net for more details.

27 thoughts on “A social network that can develop into an economic system

  1. Truly sad to hear that you have to put your Babbling Brook project on hold. I recommend that you contact Noomap, wich I think have about the same goal or incentive as you do. In my opinion they are a bit too spiritual, but the technical social tool is quite open and I would say revolutionary. They can really bring change.
    They have a facebook page, if you want to get in contact.

  2. Most everyone’s negative coments are based on scarcity a very limited assumption. The problem I see is trying to adapt an economic system based on this assumption. Why not conceive and design a system that is based on FREE/NEW Energy? Everything in Universe (ie.the Sun) is free, what makes our planet different? Our monetary system is man made and although it once served in civilization’s development, it has evolved into a system as a means on to itself creating poverty. Poverty is arguably at the root of all that is negative in our planet. Our monetary system has put a strangle hold on Earth that is unsustainable and failing. It is a global rigged Ponzi Scheme that is collapsing. Designing and implimenting a system to take it’s place is critical in saving our planet Earth. A Resource Based Economy based on Earth’s NATURAL state of unlimited resources is a good start.

    What if we discovered how to tap into the universe’s FREE/NEW Energy? A world where everything is free (such a system may have already been discovered). In such a world why would anyone be greedy or choose not to be productive? Even if they were so what, they would only be negatively impacting themselves and run the risk of extinction. Use this FREE/NEW Energy principle as the fundamental premise in developing an RBE economy rather than extrapolating the false premise of scarcity.

    Fundamental Basic Human Needs in a Resource Based Economy (not necasarily in this order of importance): Energy, Food, Water, Shelter, Clothing, Health Care, Education, Communication, Transportation, Recreation, Logistics.

  3. Peter Peter Peter – That’s all I can say to your rhetoric. I want no arguments with you. I have read your words. I don’t agree with any of them. EOM

  4. The very concept of gift economies is that each group is self sufficient in advance! They share GIFTS as a way to bond only. The very concept of making a economy of giving comes from me. I am the original. The economy of SURPLUS only works in a low population that has full control over births. YOU ALL LIVE IN A GROWING POPULATION and by growth you steal from yourselves shares you should of got but will not due to others needs that YOU permit to be born. By simple refusal of population growth you can balance. With reduced population you thrive in surplus and tech. TVP was challenged to prove RBE can work on ANY SCALE and FAILED! RBE failed with 10 people! always one kept a surplus or advantage of tools or skill over others and complains some were slaved to serve all the time as others skills permitted them to be do nothing.
    even at 10 people TVP failed to show RBE to work…it is not real.
    truth is all economies are resource based and we are just building wrong and overpopulating to make things worse. Cure was and always will be balance of population and set kinds by kinds and function by function in the correct form copied. TVP only used the concept of E.P.C.O.T. and did all it could to ruin the plans for humanity since.

  5. ALL economies are resource based! TVP lied a LOT. we live in a resource based economy NOW and you permitted your kids unborn to owe to the fools that waste today. It is still resource based and even the dead the unborn and the mind and skills of each human and not is part of it… only fools think resources = what TVP claims. Shame on fresco to make victims of you. NOW go learn what an economy is and why all economies are resourced based and why TVP is fraud.

    1. No you will not! You will LEARN that we live in RBE now and ALL ECONOMIES are RBE and that TVP lies and made you a victim. ALL is a resource, the dead the living the unborn the unknown. What YOU will learn is the world is based on the economy of BIRTHS and CREDIT. CREDIT based on the FACT the lives of the born are a resource.
      Capitalism can’t die! it will capitalize on ANYTHING!
      it can only be controlled as a tool.
      RBE = lies
      reduced population via vasectomies and better jobs and li9ves for they that do is the true key to solving world problems…no baby couples get boons for not making kids AND serving the whole human race DIRECT. So such people make clones plant seed make stuff that supports humanity and the new lower populations. If the pop goes up… we all suffer in any kind of economy. Try to see the big picture and not get lost in TVP lack of wisdom.

      1. Capitalism=planned obsolescence, reward based on greed not innovations or hard work, the third world, endless quest to aquire until every square inch of space is owned and exploited, waste of all kinds, need I go on.

  6. what if the RBE would be applied in Africa.. because the most aren’t happy with today’s economy, when the poor city’s of Africa rise up, then it will show the rest of the world what a RBE can do, and many will follow..

    just adding change to a country that wants to..
    adding change to rich city’s will not work because they are afraid of change..
    it’s just as easy as 1+1.

    when you give them an opportunity they will work for it, just like chinese people..

    1. RBE is pure 100% fraud… all economies are resource based and Africa was RAPED by yours for what you have. you can’t make a economy based on natural resources… it is dumb as making sand castles with no water. ALL the planet is resource and all you think and all you do… all you will do and all to be born too… stop thinking you can fix the world by not understanding RBE is pure fraud

  7. I think a resource based economy is inherently possible, but to start it, I think you’ll need a government that works in parallel to our current system. Most non-mainstream (non monetary) societies seem to fail due to a collapse of leadership (case in point, the Venus Project (not exactly failed yet, but is about to.)) I’m not a scientist or anything, but I’d be happy to contribute to a resource based society if it benefited me and didn’t put my current place in my monetary society at risk. I know, with Risk comes Reward, however, I’d have to be very convinced in order to give up my monetary society that is currently working. To do that, I’d have to see a society that works and is not likely to fail after a few years.
    Honestly, we may not like our government, but in my opinion, the US Government is one of the best setups out there. Just imagine how it would work if you remove financial policy issues. There might actually be fair elections for someone you’d actually want to see in office.
    But again, I’m not a scientist, history buff, or anyone of importance. Just a citizen.

    1. The only reason you think Amarka is so grand is because your products are brought to by slave labor in the third world, which are denied resourses. Or is it because they have no ambition. Your dogmatic system awards this greed with unimaginable wealth and power.
      Science is built on falsability and so should any system we use, even if it means change or challenging status quo.

  8. I am opposed to pretty much all the assertions you make about gift-economies prior to promoting your website. Your historical reference is sloppy and unsound, as it is pretty usual for scientific claims these days, and your idea of the human being and human relations are dull and physicalistic sadly and therfor rather inhumane, but that again is typical.

    It doesn’t seem to me, that you are capable to understand the magnitude of this revolutionary concept. To me, the gift-economy isn’t a science project, tho some of the labor rats of Zeitgeist want to make it that. It is the path toward a more loving and fullfilled human culture that will flourish the individual in a vast community.

    Neither is it necessary to know all the members of a gift-economy in person, nor would it be in the spirit of our community to rely on technology instead of our own own hearts and brains. Technology is a tool, that we can use or not, but the general idea is to trust each other and therefor create a climate of friendship, that will spread beyond a number of few.

    And the very last thing of importance would be to keep track of the people “who take advantage”, and chase them down with paranoid surveillance structures, because, you know, that’s a system we already got and really don’t need more of.

  9. We can’t do anything but receive. It would be amazing if everyone had the correct intention, i.e. unlimited potential. I am imploring resource based economics in my American Constitution class. My final paper is on regulation of commerce. Onwards to Access Abundance and True Utilitarianism!


  10. You don’t have to wait for it to be implemented. Start it on your own. Good luck with that. Of course you’ll have to get over the major obstacle of the state stealing your “gifts”. But all is well, you’ll have to implement your own oppressive gov’t to regulate the gift giving in Narnia, errr – whatever you’ll be calling your new world. Just get on your unicorns and ride on!

    1. Please state your concerns and questions in a respectful way, and we can have a real discussion. What are you implying, exactly?

      1. He’s implying that this idea is wishful thinking, that it cannot possible work. Frankly, I agree with him.

        1. all change for the betterment of humans is wishful thinking.however what is missing from the wish is a way to get there from here that is why we must get into our language a measurement of some kind. that is what the HUMAN ENERGY RENEWABLE MEASUREMENT (thehearm.org) is all about . just a measurement . to get us started please check it out .its just a measurement…….. jeff

  11. I guess history, human nature, and reality are meaningless in the eyes of the fantasy world of RBE. This has got to be the stupidest idea in the history of civilization.

    1. I think this must be the stupidest comment in the history of this website. What are you implying, exactly? That historically….what? If you think the monetary system has existed ‘forever’, it is you who need to read up on history my friend. Money is a fairly new invention. And before that, sharing gift economy prevailed. And you imply that human nature is…what? Read this, whatever you think human nature is: www.theresourcebasedeconomy.com/2012/05/human-nature/. And what are you thinking about….’reality’? In REALITY, we already have sharing, gift economy, and in several ways a resource based economy. Only in the US there are over 64 million volunteers, doing work without money (www.volunteeringinamerica.gov/national), not to speak of the huge free software movement online, free information, open source, etc. etc. In many ways we are already living RBE, and it only spreads. Read up man. Educate yourself. Don’t be stupid.

  12. I am aware of gift economy because of Jacque Fresco of the Venus Project who also promotes the concept of resource based economy (RBE). I am very interested in working to his end. Please keep me informed so that I may participate.

    1. By far the biggest help anyone can be at the moment is to spread the word. Talk about Babbling Brook on whatever social networks you engage with. Like it, follow it, link it etc.

  13. This sounds like a great concept. This measurement will help us get there.Human Energy Renewable Measurement . We would like to do programming on this topic on( Our streaming planet . com )if you like thx jeff

  14. It sounds like a very interesting system and I am looking forward to see it implemented. Still, for it to be used for gift economy requires people to wake up to the possibility and benefits of gift economy vs. monetary economy, and to ‘free’ exchange (like in nature) vs. ‘reciprocal’ exchange (like in monetary economy).

    Now, just to point out, in a true resource based economy where machines will do a lot of the work, freeloaders will be a minimal problem. In fact, most people will BE ‘freeloaders’, in terms of them ‘freeloading’ on what the machines produce.

    In a resource based economy, there will only be necessary with a small percentage of people contributing to society for the basic needs of all. Now, that might sound like ‘oh, but what are the rest going to do’. The answer is: Whatever they want, as long as they don’t hurt anyone. And trust me, they will most probably contribute in all kinds of imaginary and un-imaginary ways. Because that’s what people do. Think and create and participate. So, ‘freeloading’ is not an issue in my opinion.

    Still, I am not saying that the system that Babbling Brook proposes will not be handy. It will create connection all over the world. It will potentially take the power away from established social networks and put it in the hands of the users. It WILL give indications of ‘how people behave’ and how much or little they contribute. And of course, in smaller contexts where we’d like to know these kinds of things, that will definitely come in handy.

    Also, it might, hopefully, serve as a transitional system into a resource based economy, where people give without the expectation of getting, and get without an expectation of giving.

    As an answer to a post on your blog: babblingbrook.net/blog/article/Payment

    I must say I don’t fully agree with you here. You state that everything is a payment, that we do ‘pay’ for our social media use and that we have a kind of ‘reciprocal exchange’ here as well, as if we used money. But instead of money, we ‘pay’ with our attention.

    Here, you assume that everything is exchanged and that money is the ultimate goal. As you say:

    “You are reading this blog post yet there are no adverts. How am I getting paid for the service of writing this blog? I’m doing it in the hope that you will tell your friends about Babbling Brook. I need to get the attention of as many people as possible before I launch a crowd funding campaign so that I can buy more onions to feed me whilst I work on Babbling Brook.”

    And this is the crux of this website (www.theresourcebasedeconomy.com), that ‘getting paid’ is not necessary. That we can do what we do just for the love of it. No expectations or hopes.

    There is also a social network that is not ad driven: joindiaspora.com/

    Sure, you can give donations, and yes, they had a crowd funding campaign, but those were not their GOALS. Their goals were not ‘payment’ driven, they were driven by their passion towards giving people a safe and secure social network where the users have full control of their own data.

    And this is the goal of the whole free open source software movement, to give and share software that works. It is not to ‘get paid’ somewhere down the road. The reason donation buttons are there is only because we live in a monetary system. And that is what we want to change.

    Now, there IS an exchange going on here as well, only much more subtle. It is not in ‘Likes’ or money or funding, but in joy, excitement, fulfillment, mastery, development, etc. etc. Completely open and free exchange.

    This is the ‘free’ exchange we find in nature, where the sun shines completely without any expectations of return. The sun just gives. A plant also gives oxygen that we breath, and we breath out carbon dioxide that plants breath. But we are not ‘hoping’ to get some oxygen down the line. It just is that way.

    This kind of gift economy is what I believe is possible in the human world as well. Where we simply give and share, and take and receive freely. No hopes or expectations. It is like that because it just is.

    Just wanted to point this out, as the Babbling Brook seems to be centered around exchange, which is a double edged sword. 🙂

    1. Hi Harald

      It is interesting that you mention Diaspora. I quit my job to start work on Babbling Brook full time just a week before Diaspora went public. It is an admirable project and at first glance I thought they were doing what I wanted to do with Babbling Brook. However as I looked into it I realised that the projects are quite different. They have some similarities such as a distributed bottom up structure, but as you point out, Babbling Brook centres around resource relationships rather than just social ones.

      If Babbling Brook is looked at from a free-market perspective then it can as you say be interpreted as an exchange network. In a way this is correct, but it is a shallow understanding. I’m explaining it in this way in my blog to help introduce people to how it works in small steps from something they are familiar with. A deeper understanding is in seeing it as a resource creation and distribution network that uses trust and respect rather than money and power in order to regulate itself.

      Many idealist social structures have been proposed from Marxism to Libertarianism and I think they mostly make the same mistake; that humans are in control of society and that we can decide how it works. I disagree with this sentiment. I think that society works in the same way as all other systems in nature, from atoms to zebra herds. Every system in nature takes in energy with low entropy, uses that energy to do work and then excretes energy with higher entropy. This is a universal truth. (See the Babbling Brook theory page for more info). Society can be described as such a structure. It takes in low entropy energy in the form of fossil fuels, sunlight, wind, nuclear etc and uses that energy to create the material that humans use in their lives. It outputs mostly disorganised infra-red radiation. It doesn’t matter what social structure we adopt, nor how technically advanced and automated our society becomes, this will always remain true.

      It is also true that whenever a system (again anything from protons to fish eggs) finds a way to make more use of energy, then it adopts it. This is very clear in human society – as we have developed from small tribal bands to a global civilisation, it is obvious that we convert increasingly large amounts of energy from states of low entropy to states of high entropy. Human society has done this by adapting new methods for exchanging resources. In other words, our socio economic systems literally describe the structure of society and the purpose for it existing. How energy is harvested and converted into material needs for humans and then exported as waste energy describes why society exists. It is its own system, with its own independence from the component parts it has been born from (humans). If we want to drive it in a certain direction then we have to understand how we can make it better at what it intrinsically wants to do. We have to work out a way to achieve our dreams by enabling society to organise itself in a way that permits this.

      This is very good news for a Resource Based Economy because humans using energy in increasingly creative ways to live lives that satisfy them, is an excellent foundation to enable society to expand its capacity to produce entropy. Society wants as many people as possible to have their material wants satisfied. This however does not answer the question of how it can be done and that is precisely what Babbling Brook is attempting to do – provide a superior mechanism for society to organise itself with.

      Such a system has to work with the reality of the material it is built from – human nature. We are complex structures; sentient beings, built from a heritage of surviving through adaptation to our environment. We can however simplify our drives to just two: competition and cooperation. Once again these two drives can be traced through all systems in existence – atoms share electrons to create molecules, but also steal them when it serves them; acid dissolves many bonds. Many see these two forces as good and bad, but I see them as two complementary forces that both serve the same purpose; entropy. Socio-economic systems can be described in terms of cooperation and competition. The genius behind the free market is that it enables societies structure to become more complex – more cooperative – by corralling and abstracting our competitive instincts away from physical violence and into a game where a score is kept. It is a flawed system, but don’t underestimate it, without it we would be serfs talking about turnips in a muddy field – until we were ordered to fight other serfs in a bloody and muddy field.

      I think you underestimate the power of free loaders in an open system. I am not talking about the homeless guy who now has a roof over his head, or the artist who no-one understands. I am talking about the sociopath who uses vast amounts of resources. In one way or another you have to provide mechanisms that prevent parasitic and rogue abuse of the system. Babbling Brook achieves this by creating a network of trust that can be used to limit abuses of the system. How would you suggest this is done?

      You are right that Babbling Brook is a transitionary system to something better. Something more automated, where we do not have to worry so much about resource consumption. However, we do not yet live in a fully automated world and we need a system that can manage the transition. If we were living in a system like Babbling Brook, it would not seem like a transitionairy state, but the reality of our lives.

      Even in a world where no-one has to work, the system will still be striving for the most effective mechanisms possible to convert entropy from low to high states. A system will be required to organise this process, and that will shape society. We are growing, adapting, finding our way to a better world. Babbling Brook is a grounded system based on today’s technology that enables the next step.

      1. Thank you for giving such insight in this matter. You say that society works like all other systems in nature from atoms to zebra herds. I’d say that that might very well be so, and you are probably right. It still doesn’t change the fact that if the components of the system (in our case, humans) becomes more aware, the system will change. And yes, collaboration and competition are two sides of the same coin. But again, awareness plays a factor here as well in terms of choosing collaboration over competition.

        And the awareness I am talking about is in relation to many things, but most importantly to how money is controlling our lives and separating us. Money is a quite new invention in the history of Mankind and it is only now that people are starting to wake up to it’s devastating effects on society and to alternative ways of living and doing things. This awareness is definitely spreading and Babbling Brook is definitely a part of that.

        About freeloaders. You are talking about ‘the sociopath who uses vast amounts of resources’. Well, we have lot’s of them today. They are called ‘world leaders’.

        I am really exited to see Babbling Brook in real life and what it can accomplish. Absolutely. In this regard, the regard about freeloaders, we need a completely new governance system of the world. A system where psychopathic ‘freeloaders’ can not be in control.

        When it comes to someone freeloading in the local distribution center, I see several measures here. IF it is a problem with some virtually emptying the center, taking much more than they need, there can be an ID scan keeping control. It can also, or instead, be guards, human or automated, keeping an eye on someone who might try to bring trolley loads of goods out of the center. If, of course, they can explain that they need what they take for 10 football teams, well, go ahead.

        But these are just probable examples. In any case, I’m looking forward to Babbling Brook. Keep up the good work!

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