When the developed world gets over its bias for "printing press–era cash technology" then complementary currencies will be commonplace here too, Rushkoff predicts. He sees a future that has people literally reprogramming their economic systems, using computer networks and handheld devices to administer new forms of grassroots cash. Those currencies could be almost anything: Cash we can use only at one local restaurant, cash cards for Wal-Mart or other chain stores, babysitting dollars we can trade in our neighborhoods.
There are some small examples of people of this future here now. In Japan, people trade “elder-care units,” which are measured in time spent caring for elders in the community, and they've become quite valuable as the population in that country ages. In the United States, hours of service are exchanged via the online Time Bank or locally in Ithaca, New York. Then there are the “Life Dollars,” an electronic currency used in the Pacific Northwest. The experiments have been successful, albeit quite small. The total amount of Ithaca hours in circulation is $100,000, while Life Dollars are used for perhaps $2,000 worth of transactions per month.
Newmark isn't sold on the "craigbucks" idea, but that isn't stopping Rushkoff. "If he doesn't want to do it, I can do it myself," he says with a laugh.
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