Socialstructing: Statement of Social Currency

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Guestblogger Marina Gorbis is executive director at Institute for the Future.

For the past 8 years at Institute for the Future, we have been creating "artifacts from the future." We see them as a means of converting abstract, high-level trends and future visions into tangible objects that help people internalize our forecasts. However, we do not view them as prototypes for building new products or services. Artifacts from the future are a good way to engage people in important conversations about the future and to elicit meaningful insights that hopefully lead to positive actions.

The above artifact, a "Reputation Statement of Account," was designed by our colleague Jason Tester, a researcher and a designer, as a part of our 2004 Ten Year Forecast. It remains one of my favorite artifacts and seems to perfectly encapsulate emergence of new types of social currencies as a part of a reorganization of our lives around social relationships. In this world, it would be easy to imagine that the statement of your wealth would include accounting of your social capital as measured by contributions to various types of open communities, such as Wikipedia or Flickr.