1 March 2009

The KashKlash game at LIFT09

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Bruce Sterling
We just came back from the LIFT conference and have lots to blog about. Our LIFT experience started off with the KashKlash game, an action-packed workshop that explored alternative methods of exchange [and I helped prepare].

The focus was on a possible future ecosystem – in a new world where today’s aging, less useful and even dangerous financial systems are replaced by (or mixed with) more disruptive innovations and exchanges. Imagine yourself deprived of all of today’s financial resources. Maybe you’re a refugee or stateless. Yet you still have your handset and laptop and Internet and a broadband cellphone connection….

This is one of the provocations posed on KashKlash, an open forum and web project focusing on alternative economies in a post-money future. What will such a world look like? How will the concept of value be measured? What concepts will shape the formal and informal economies? Bright thinkers from around the world came together online to discuss, debate and ideate in this innovative and exciting project.

KashKlash is a collaborative project between Heather Moore of Vodafone, Experientia and a group of independent visionaries. The project started with four bright and innovative provocateurs, Nicolas Nova, Joshua Klein, Bruce Sterling, and Régine Debatty, and as the debate gathered steam, contributions, comments, flickr photos and twitter streams rolled in from more than 50 additional participants to shape and envision possible futures.

Here is how Bruce Sterling, the game master par excellence, introduced the game:

“This is the KashKlash game. It is a game of development, design, construction, building. What you are trying to do is dominate the world with your group’s theory of how the world should be.

So you are going to use these devices to construct a model of your civilisation. Unfortunately you have to bid for them, and you also have to communicate among one another, to get your hands on these delightful building materials.

Now you each have different advantages and deficits.

This is the high-tech group here. They have more money than anybody else and instead of the normal chopsticks, straw, clay and cheap string, they have exciting high-tech girders.

The rather emergent slumdogs group over there repesents tomorrow’s emerging economy. There are more of them than anybody else. But they have a lesser income and lesser communication than anybody else.

This group here, the Communists, have a relatively modest income in cash, but they have an open means of communication and solidarity. They have more communication and less cash.

And this group here which represents the marketeers has modest communication skills but a booming and sometimes crashing economy.

So each turn you are going to get some money and communication tokens that you can use to bid for things and to build things. So you can buy these materials with your tokens.

Now I am the auctioneer. I am the invisible hand of the market.”

The game was won by the Pragmatic Communities, who – pragmatically – joined forces with the High-tech Progressives.

You can watch the video of the KashKlash workshop (and of many other workshops) on the Klewel website. On Flickr you can see about 75 photos of the workshop.

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