Adventures in mutual credit

Google 10 to the power 100


I just submitted my application to Google's 10 to the power 100 project to identify projects which would impact on the greatest number of people (in the opinion of the web-oriented voters).

Your idea's name (maximum 50 characters):
At last, local money support for the web!

Describe your idea in more depth. (maximum 300 words)
Money is very poorly understood; how it creates scarcity from surplus, how banks create money practically ex nihilo, by lending it, and how they then reap interest on all money in circulation. Money floats to the top of 'society' where elected and non-elected plutocrats arbitrate its allocation. Interest mechanisms lock the global economy into a consumption spiral, which only resource shortages will slow. This system draws the very producers into debt, drives the consumer society, and distorts and is distorted by government.

2nd preliminary meeting

The nascent Geneva Web Collective met again today, with Gerald, Marcus and Xavier in addition to last weeks attendees.

Herding cats

The LETS world seems to attract idealists who start projects which are bigger than their ability to pursue them. Focusing on software, I only know of one project with more than one person working on it - Cyclos. There seem to be several one man initiatives which aren't going anywhere. And it's not like everyone is trying to achieve the same thing either, which explains in part why these people aren't working together. Here is a list of people and projects I have direct experience of:

Preliminary meeting of the Geneva Web Collective

Last night I met Samuel and Florian at Tim's house to discuss what the Geneva Web collective should be. Apologies from Marc, Stephie and Gerald. This is as far as we got:

  1. The Geneva Web Collective will be an association of web professionals working under a single umbrella to support non-profit organisations and to implement their online strategies.
  2. We aim to be the first point of enquiry when non-profit and UN organisations in Geneva consider a new web project.

First Geneva meetup

Geneva is probably the non-profit capital of the world and therefore a natural target for Drupal. Development Seed, who specialise in non-profits, called this meeting as they were passing through soliciting clients. Development Seed have invested a lot in growing the community in Washington DC and there are now three groups in that city.

This meeting was attended by a mixture of developers, organisations using Drupal, and organisations considering Drupal, 16 people in all.

Selling Local money

Perhaps you have heard of LETS, timebanks, or other community projects in which arbitrary currencies are created? Well, there is now a suite of modules to support communities trading in local money?

The easy bit

Some organisations I meet have a clear idea of the web sites they want, or think they do. They will write an RFP (Request For Proposal) which broadly outlines all the features of their desired web site and I think they expect that someone will walk in and build it as described. Using a modular system like Drupal it's very easy to allocate each feature to a module, and implement several features per day until the job is done. And yes, I could just walk in and build it, and many web shops, particularly small ones, will do just that.

My first Drupal module

I have just released my first drupal module, http_headers. This allows the administrator, for each contentType, to control cache settings in the browser and proxy servers. This means that in developing countries, better use of bandwidth can be made. To download and try the module, go to
http://drupal.org/project/httpHeaders

Don't go it alone

I live and work in Geneva, the NGO capital of the world. Just in order to pay their overheads, organisations here need solid core funding. Switzerland must also have one of the highest costs of employing staff in the world. This usually means that when an NGO wants a funky web site, they can often afford to pay a commercial developer up to $1000 per person-day to build it.

Client-side caching in content management systems

Background

Users in developing countries are often extremely short of bandwidth. They don't want their browsers requesting pages that should already be cached. The HTTP protocol has excellent support for pages to declare expiry and last-modified dates, and for the server and client to decide whether to send a file accross the network or use one already cached.
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