LETS marketplace from a feature ‘phone

This post follows on from a previous post: Alternative currencies – Simbi and the Flying Brick. Thinking about how alternative currencies can be designed to suit the particular circumstances they are intended to improve, I suddenly realised that it should now be possible to implement LETS in any part of the world where people generally have access to feature ‘phones – which nowadays includes many places where access to hard cash is extremely difficult.

LETS Stands for Local Exchange and Trading Scheme. LETS systems exists to enable groups of people who for any reason at all find trading with traditional ‘hard’ currencies difficult.

For instance: people without enough money, people denied access to markets, people who want to be sure that the results of their efforts benefit their community as much as possible.

LETS systems must be able to do four simple things:

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Progressive Ethics Project – Launched!

The Project for a Progressive Ethics is now a thing. At least, it’s a Meetup, we’ve had an exciting first meeting, and we have a supportive home.

The prospect we have in mind is this. A well-respected, public place (OK a website), which you can use as a sounding board for ethical considerations of any sort – from a personal dilemma, to something in the news, to a debate in the pub, to a Phd thesis. A place where you will find a richly interconnected network of ethical propositions, easy to navigate, designed so that you can easily home in on the issues that concern you, or zoom out to get a wider view – where you can ask simple, quick questions and get simple, straightforward answers – but where you can also dive deep and wide to explore things to your satisfaction. Somewhere you can engage with – where, if you get an answer you think is wrong, or misguided, you can understand where that answer came from, and challenge it – knowing that there is a community of humans who will respond – that the underlying wish of the framework is to be deeply congruent with a reasoned, progressive viewpoint.


I had no idea what to expect from the first public discussion of this possibly insanely over-ambitious project. As I’ve written before, this is something I didn’t plan to start, which somehow came upon me, from a short forum comment after a London Futurists event.

I had no way of knowing what the people who would actually turn up might be expecting, or whether there would be much overlap between a group of strangers’ views on ethics. Truthfully, it could easily have been something of a trainwreck…

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Trust Aggregation, reputation economies and privacy

Last night I listened to this feature on the excellent BBC World Service – Hacking the Vote – pegged on claims by companies hawking their services to political parties that they know enough about a great many individuals to be able to create specific pyschological profiles and thus enable carefully crafted messages to be shown to them, to get them to vote for the candidate paying for the service.

The shocking reminder of the extent to which data is being collected on all of us and put to murky use in the shadows prompted this post.

It’s not about data privacy, particularly – although I personally make my online life stupidly difficult by using a vpn, by installing the anti-tracking, anti java-script, anti adverts, anti-everything extensions I can find to my browsers in an attempt to at least put some road-bumps down for those who would treat my as a statistical profit centre. With the self-defeating result that half the sites I use won’t work unless I grant them freedom to do it all anyway.

It’s about a way that we, as individuals, might be able to use that data for our own purposes. If it’s all being collected and used to manipulate us anyway, why shouldn’t it work for us, a little?

Aggregated trust scores

There have been several attempts at building tools that provide reputation metrics, trust scores – think credit ratings on steroids.

The idea being that individuals will sign up to aggregator sites, and give them access to various kinds of trust/social standing scores. The aggregator sites will then publish trust metrics on individuals, to be used by all sorts of people. Employers, potential service users, lenders, contacts, dating matches.

If anyone manages to crack this (it’s not easy – see this dead indiegogo site for peeple), then individuals will spend more effort curating these than they do on their credit rating. Lawsuits will be brought over harsh ratings using defamation laws drafted decades before the internet was even imagined.

The trust aggregator metric that is itself trusted will be the locus of immense influence.  If that doesn’t already sound scary, there’s another big problem.

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Therapy-smarter is the new name for MyPhysioLink

In April I introduced MyPhysioLink – the physiotherapy start-up that I and my co-founder, Cris Costa, have been working on. With the beta launch of the service imminent, we looked long and hard at the name and decided it wasn’t good enough.

So we are now Therapy-Smarter.com. Visit our website to see what we’re up to, and for the latest news on our progress. Physiotherapists can sign up for a free trial.


Project Proposal: Co-Founder Jamming

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single startup wannabee, in possession of only some grand ideas and a sub-set of the necessary skills, must be in want of a co-founder.

(apologies … many and very humble apologies, indeed .. to Jane Austen).

As an aspiring startup founder, possessing only some of the skills needed to make any of my ideas fly, not even sure if one of my own ideas should be the first one I work on (see earlier post), I need to find a co-founder or two – or five.

How do I do this? Well, as far as I can see, I’m already going along the accepted pathway. Attending tech networking events, talking to people, putting myself about, writing to people, trying to be as noticeably helpful and interesting as is consistent with not seeming creepy. And it’s great – I am consistently impressed by how positive my experience at each event is, by how interesting/interested the people and their ideas are (posts passim).

But is it enough?

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Ideas, ideas … ten a penny!

1% inspiration, 99% perspiration, right?

Implementation is everything. Right.

No argument. However, great ideas are still great ideas. I have ideas all the time. Maybe you do too – I hope so. But I can’t / won’t implement almost any of them. So, should they be stillborn, stay locked away in my head until they fade into obscurity? Somehow, this seems a waste – ideas are a uniquely human resource, after all. A little research reveals several sites which act as idea repositories, free for anyone to take and develop ([1],[2], [3],[4] – number 3 is my favourite). They are almost terrifying, the list of good ideas is so long.

A developer/team in search of a killer app could do themselves a favour and scan a thousand of these ideas before starting work on anything – but do they? I don’t think I’ve met a startup team who have been developing an idea that didn’t originate with one of them.

Why is this?

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First Project Proposal – Wikitect

OK, so the primary purpose of my venture into the world of tech is to become a part of it. I am confident of the skills, creativity and work ethic I have to offer, but somewhat short on substantive CV matter. In the long term, this blog will hopefully serve as some part of a distributed resume – an aspect of a career bootstrap process.

One plank of this will be to publish project proposals – ideas for ventures of various kinds, more or less deeply considered – to give a flavour of the way I think, the areas I’m interested in, the thought processes I use.

Going public with ideas is an interesting undertaking – taking us straight to the heart of one of the startup dilemmas – are our ideas so precious (my precious…) that we need to keep them secret until we can unveil them in glory (or at least as an MVP), or is the need to find collaborators, to develop traction, so important that it requires us to come out in the open?

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