Eindhoven wants to become a smart society. But how does that work? What’s going on in a society like that? Are there any good examples to learn from? DataStudio Eindhoven explores the transition a city has to go through to actually become such a smart society. Each week, we present a new contribution on E52. This week: Freecoin. Read all the articles here.
Denis Roio, a.k.a. Jaromil, is a developer of social software and the driving force behind software house Dyne.org. Thursday, March 23, he speaks in the context of A City As Smart As Its Residents in the bibliotheek Eindhoven.
Dyne’s way of development turns the usual process of innovation upside down. Most software is developed by coders, who know a lot about technology but usually much less about the social side of the problem they want to solve. Coders are also mostly men and they share some cultural characteristics. It’s a bit of a monoculture.
Dyne does not work from a technical opportunity but begins with the vision of people in their own lives and the ideas they have about what they could use. “We work with groups as diverse as possible: male, female, young, old, rich, poor, and many artists that are sensitive to different kinds of meanings that can be in play. In such groups, different kinds of experiences are connected with each other. We only start working in code after we completely understand the essence of what we want to know in very simple, concrete terms.
While doing that, we also look at the language we use. Software development is steeped in military terms. It’s about firewalls, shields, and security. For example, at Dowse – a tool to gain insight into all the connections laid out by connected devices inside the Internet-of-things networks – we think about hospitality and what is really needed. In being hospitable, for example, you want to look who is at your door. Guests should also behave, rude visitors can legitimately be sent away.
Freecoin is a kind of social wallet, which can run on top of any blockchain.
Freecoin is one of the Dyne’s D-Cent tools: a collection of new digital tools for direct democracy and economic self-determination. Freecoin is a kind of social wallet, which can run on top of any blockchain. It allows an organization or community to collaboratively manage and track budgets. It is designed for everyone to see how money flows through an organization (such as a city). The flow of money becomes completely transparent; a medium for understanding who is doing what, where attention goes and how the energy flows. Money management is not the final goal, but more a way to observe the group dynamics.
What Freecoin does is undress the idea of “money” completely and refill it with opportunities for social interaction. There has been a taboo around money for a long time, there was hardly a way to talk about what money really is. It is taken for granted, as a universal standard. But the technical complexity of money is huge. That comes to light through things like the banking crisis and flash crashes, which no one understands really well.
Behind money is always a complex interplay of power, trust and social responsibility.
The invention of the blockchain has changed all this. Suddenly there was a way to talk about how money actually works.
Behind money, there’s always a complex interplay of power, trust and social responsibility. With Freecoin new opportunities for people arise to organize things like that. It’s not like a framework that is designed from a single master plan, but more like a toolkit of different parts that can all be adapted to different needs.
All these applications have one thing in common: power is distributed from within it. They do not work in a centralized way, like it is going with banks; they operate in collectives. In it, there is much more peer pressure around what happens to the money, every action must be constantly validated by the majority. ”
So where would these toolkits be used? “With Freecoin we ran pilot projects in cities such as Reykjavik and Barcelona. These are cities that of themselves recognize that they are in the midst of a major social, political, and social transformation. Citizens and governments and other stakeholders all see that things need to be arranged differently and they have the will and decisiveness to make it happen.
But in a slightly less radical sense, something similar happens in Amsterdam, which has been named the European Commission’s 2016 innovation capital of Europe (beating Eindhoven in this race), partly because of their bottom-up approach to digital social innovation. Amsterdam suffers from major digital platforms like Uber and Airbnb with trade data and their destructive impact on working conditions in the case of Uber, and housing prices in the case of Airbnb. We will work together with Amsterdam to develop serious alternatives. We help Amsterdam to acquire greater technological sovereignty. Will Eindhoven be next? How can we improve Eindhoven’s smartness through this system? Listen, think and talk along with us on March 23 in the Eindhoven Library Eindhoven.”