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Tuesday
Feb022016

The Krewe of Blockchain

The other morning, I woke up still dreaming, dreaming of a complex society that seemed to be based on Krewes, with doubloons as the only rate of exchange. Members of each Krewe kicked in dollars at some earlier off-screen moment, but we all had a sense of shared value and commitment to our doubloons. Doubloons were allocated out to members and their families (families, couples rather had shared accounts) through the Krewe hierarchy. Allocations were determined by some complex hierarchical social structure.

All economic allocations were made at some sort of masked ball. Exchanges were made on little linen cards, in exquisite copper-plate hand-lettered transactions. Sometimes they would be crossed out and a larger number written in, but the crossing out might be by either party of the transaction. A new, always (necessarily?) larger number was written in above the original.

Negotiations were always dramatic and honor based. Accusations of too low an allotment were loud and public. Within the Krewe there were always numerous disputes in allotment that were worked out by stalking back and forth between these little tables at the masked ball and demanding satisfaction.

The King of the Krewe was in charge of the initial allocation from the funds kicked in by all in the Krewe. The king of the Krewe kept a far larger allocation, as he should for he had to pay for the ballroom, and other expenses. No one was bothered by that. The relative allocations, and the allocations that I got were matters of great concern, and I had to demand a larger allocation at one point.

The entire economy of the city was based on doubloons, but no two Krewes shared the same doubloons. Strictly speaking, the doubloons were non-convertible, one could get whatever goods for doubloons that a shopkeeper or business named at checkout, leading too much haggling at check-out. There was some consistency of value, a shop keeper who charged twice as much for one good as another would do so for the doubloons of all Krewes, but the numbers demanded from each Crewe, the valuations of each doubloon were different.

Some of it was again almost tribal, those in one part of town would value the doubloons of a particular Crewe more highly, and of another Crewe less. Across the street the relative values might be reversed. There was no internal consistency, even within a shop; one might be able to set up a chain of conversions that resulted in a great loss, or great increase by trading the doubloons of Krewe A for Krewe B, those for Krewe C, and those for Krewe D, and so on back to Krewe A.

There was some regionality as well. A shopkeeper would normally value the doubloons of the local Krewe more highly, and of a well-known Krewe more highly, and heavily discount those from a Krewe that did not spend much locally.

Given the season, and my family ties to New Orleans, the culture of Mardi Gras was on my mind. As a too abbreviated explanation, each Mardi Gras parade is put on by a Krewe, and traditionally ends at a masked ball. The coins tossed from floats are always called doubloons.

I have been obsessing on managing resources in closed environments through micromarkets, held together by anonymous markets built on blockchain. A given node might participate in many such micromarkets at the same time. For example, a fuel cell might participate in both power and thermal markets, and a cooling market might opt to buy from chillers energized by either. Funds within these markets may or may not be useable outside its micromarket.

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