Merit badges don’t have any economic value, but emotional and moral value. What holds emotional value for people, in a political context? I think this is what we should be designing for, even if there are hundreds of different answers to that question.
Bail Bloc https://thenewinquiry.com/bail-bloc/ is an acceptable example of using a cryptocurrency for its literal (financial) value. It lacks the “engage the public” character though, since it essentially is something that you install in your browser, and let it run.
Maybe we can think of it this way: we need to identify whether we can design something:
that makes it easier for people to communicate, leaving what happens after than open-ended (softStack is going there I think)
or easier for people to take action independently, where we clearly define “action” (fifty-nifty is an example of that, bail bloc too).
or both? can we have both?
This is a compelling way to engage people who might already be motivated to be involved in political action. It’s heartening to have some record of the ‘work’ you have done, and it gives you a sense of progress toward a goal that you care about. For example, the seeing the accumulation of little green squares on GitHub over time gives you a feeling of having done dedicated work (see also pedometers etc). The nice thing about these is that they represent nontrivial but modular effort: they are the ‘strong signal’ that judith talks about, but also reinforce the idea that small efforts over time can make a big difference.
I think that the limits of this may lie in people who don't care so much about political action — maybe they need a different network model to be engaged.
Nice analogy to github. Agree that the harder part is getting people who are not already motivated. I think the best we can do there is engage real friends. For example, a “help me vote” app/campaign would get you talking to friends about voting. That is stronger than another mass mailing from an org.
The idea of the social token is not new. We considered it long ago and again with FiftyNifty. But it is timely. For two reasons:
FIrst, there is too much attention to tokens as an asset. The opposite is under-explored.
Second, we are becoming the center for non-financial uses of blockchains. This may be a case where one doesn’t consider “why do you need a blockchain?” Rather we take a system that can or does work without it, then we add it as a way of managing duplication, management of a distributed system, and building consensus.
For these reasons, I think we should fold a token into the political discussion.