We all know about Napster. The principle is simple for the few of you that don’t. I have MP3 files on my computer. Napster keeps a record of what I have. While I am online, other people online can search for MP3s, and download them directly from my computer if they want.
Now imagine that every citizen in a country has a program on their computer like Napster. Instead of MP3 files, they present themselves and the skills that they have, or merchandise and products that they produce or work with. That’s stage one – people can do a search for a good or service that they want, and find the individual or company that produced it directly. There is a separate box, optional, for the area in which the service is to operate. The next stage (which is one that is already semi-implemented by Napster) is the integration of instant messaging. All the people that you know on a daily basis and wish to communicate with are on your friends list. Now you integrate epinions‘ ‘Web of Trust’. You can rate your friends (or anyone else on the network) as to their provision of any service that they offer (from cabbages to web design). You can also rate them as a friend, whether they are someone that you intrinically like and / or trust. Now when someone does a search for ‘web design’ they first and foremost get a search that runs down their web of trust. People that they trust, who know people that they trust, might know of someone who they think is a great web designer. Each step removed from the originator lowers the potential trust rating of the person, while a separate geographically random – in order to limit the possibility of cultish behaviour – sampling of five hundred other people’s opinons presents an average of the general faith in the company or institution. Finally, combine this whole thing with an avondi style currency of barter exchange, and you’ve just heavily democritised the entire free-market economy along peer-to-peer lines.