The role of virtual currency in MoSoSo applications


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Presented at the conference "Mobile Communication and the ethics of social networking” in Budapest (Hungary) on 25-27.9.2008.

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The role of virtual currency in MoSoSo applications

  1. 1. Reconciling Social and Economic Development: the role of virtual currency in mobile social applications Giuseppe Lugano [email_address] Corporate R&D TeliaSonera Finland Social ICT - Human Dimensions Research Group University of Jyväskylä (Finland) Budapest (Hungary), 26.9.2008
  2. 2. The challenges of globalization: a context for action <ul><li>In the 60s and 70s, futurists described scenarios of </li></ul><ul><li>alternative futures following economic or social goals: the </li></ul><ul><li>former would have man </li></ul><ul><li>” rapidly depleting the earth’s food, energy and mineral </li></ul><ul><li>resources, and even running out of space for getting rid of </li></ul><ul><li>pollution products [...] </li></ul><ul><li>most of these problems will not arise in catastrophic form </li></ul><ul><li>until early in the next century [...] </li></ul><ul><li>we must change our priorities. In particular, market </li></ul><ul><li>demand is not the same as need; GNP is not wealth; high </li></ul><ul><li>technology is not the same as good life ” (H.Kahn, 1976) </li></ul>
  3. 3. The challenges of globalization: a context for action
  4. 4. The challenges of globalization: a context for action <ul><li>In addition to the question </li></ul><ul><li>” who do I want to be? ” </li></ul><ul><li>we must address also </li></ul><ul><li>” in what kind of world do I want to live? ” </li></ul><ul><li>and </li></ul><ul><li>” what can I do to make it a better place? ” </li></ul>
  5. 5. The challenges of globalization: a context for action <ul><li>Why ”me”? Aren’t governments already doing their best to ” save the world ”? </li></ul><ul><li>Everyone must do something. Even the best strategy, without citizens involvement, would fail. The world needs a ” collective effort ” </li></ul><ul><li>Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for the Information Society and Media, stated the goal of ” getting citizens on board ” (Helsinki, IST meeting 2006) </li></ul>
  6. 6. The challenges of globalization: a context for action <ul><li>Two parallel trends in the Information Society: </li></ul><ul><li>Need for collective action to address the challenges of globalization </li></ul><ul><li>Ongoing process of individualization of society </li></ul><ul><li>Reconcile economic and social development also requires </li></ul><ul><li>reconciling these dimensions of the problem </li></ul><ul><li>commons vs private property </li></ul><ul><li>public vs private sphere for interaction </li></ul><ul><li>individual vs group as structural unit </li></ul>
  7. 7. The challenges of globalization: a context for action <ul><li>The challenges of globalization reveal the non sustainable nature of the current form of Information Society </li></ul><ul><li>Challenge: re-balancing the Information Society reconciling social and economic development , or obtaining economic growth as a side effect of policies based on human and social development </li></ul><ul><li>Rethinking the role of ICT : from engine of economic growth to tool for social change, enabling citizens to self-organize, create and share knowledge and resources (tangible and intangible) </li></ul>
  8. 8. The role of ICT <ul><li>New goals of ICT </li></ul><ul><ul><li>promote a new form of cohesion based on voluntary participation and contribution in social networks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>enabling citizens to self-organize, produce and share knowledge and resources (tangible and intangible) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Key role of communities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>how do Internet and mobile devices support communities? </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Why the mobile? <ul><li>The Internet already provides some support to both virtual communities (communitarian) and online social network (egocentric) </li></ul><ul><li>On the contrary, current mobile applications support mainly interpersonal and small group communication centred on the individual and on the private sphere of interaction </li></ul><ul><li>However, the enhanced capabilities of 3G networks and Smartphones allow enhancing mobile communication with community support </li></ul>
  10. 10. Conceptual framework: Digital Communities <ul><li>Acknowledging ICT users as citizens to be involved in the creation of a more balanced form of Information Society means investing in digital communities , defined as “ field of human interactions mediated by ICT ” </li></ul><ul><li>Depending on the choice of the structural unit (individual, group/community), six configurations are possible: </li></ul>Digital community Online Mobile Mobile virtual community Ubiquitous Virtual community Ubiquitous Online social network Virtual community Mobile social network Ubiquitous social network
  11. 11. Conceptual framework: Social ICT <ul><li>Mobile Social Software (MoSoSo) as candidate platform for enabling mobile social networking </li></ul><ul><li>MoSoSo is one of the main paradigms of Social ICT, umbrella term including all social applications running on past, present and future technological platforms </li></ul>Mobile – Internet of humans and Internet of Things Mobile – Emerged with convergence between media, computer and mobile networks. So far, MoSoSo just as entertainment gadget Static – all social uses of the Internet, including formal and informal interactions Static – social uses of computer networks (LAN, Internet) for formal interactions (working, learning) Groupware Social Software Mobile Social Software Ubiquitous Social Software
  12. 12. Mobile Social Software (MoSoSo) <ul><li>So far, MoSoSo has been just designed as an entertainment gadget used for urban gaming, dating, serendipitous interactions... </li></ul><ul><li>Challenge : how to turn MoSoSo into a tool for social change? </li></ul><ul><li>Approach: integrate the network theory of social capital (Lin, 2001) into MoSoSo design </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Social capital is regarded as the possibility to access and/or mobilize resources embedded in the social structure for purposive actions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Cooperation as a design issue - how to achieve balance between self-interest and public good? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Virtual currency as mechanism stimulating cooperation </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Virtual currency in MoSoSo <ul><li>Why users’ motivation in sharing resources would increase using a virtual currency system? </li></ul><ul><li>Internet P2p literature found that approaches based on virtual currency linked to the sharing of computational resources (cpu, storage, network bandwidth) stimulate cooperative behavior </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bittorrent: share bandwidth in order to download </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Why not extending this approach to all types of resources, not only computational ones, and to the everyday life mediated by the mobile phone? </li></ul><ul><li>Mobiles already support consumption, creation and sharing of digital content. With the shift towards sustainability, the mobile can encourage creation and sharing not only of symbolic, but also of real resources </li></ul>
  14. 14. From real to virtual currency <ul><li>While traditional currency supports the economy, its virtual counterpart can sustain social development </li></ul><ul><li>Virtual currency , a type of fictional currency in use in digital networks, can be easily linked to community practices and converted in other forms of capital </li></ul><ul><ul><li>virtual credits accumulated in Internet forums and MOOs or ratings in SNS or eCommerce systems are a form of reputation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Virtual currency already employed in the context of virtual economies ,where transactions of virtual goods produce real money </li></ul>$ 1,5 billion spent on virtual items every year (TechCrunch, 20.6.07) $ 34,5 million spent on Facebook virtual goods in 2008 (Cnet News, 20.9.08) 1 st Virtual goods summit held in 2007 at Stanford 2 nd VG Summit in a few days (10.10) in San Francisco
  15. 15. Sustainable use of fictional currency <ul><li>Since 1987, the community of ” Communication Campers ” operate as a miniature model of a self-organizing network-based civil society (Viherä, 1999) </li></ul><ul><li>A fictional currency, the Lecu, is in use in the camp and is earned by activities useful to the whole community. Lecus are used to purchase goods and services </li></ul><ul><li>A public bulletin board displays how many Lecus have been earned by campers. Every day the campers with the highest score are publicly awarded </li></ul>
  16. 16. Virtual currency in MoSoSo <ul><li>Using the mobile, virtual currency </li></ul><ul><li>and socialnetworking to enhance an </li></ul><ul><li>existing practice </li></ul><ul><li>In many countries bottles and cans can be recycled in supermarkets </li></ul><ul><li>A receipt is returned with the corresponding amount of real currency </li></ul><ul><li>The receipt could also contain a 2D-bardcode that can be scanned with the mobile camera and store in the virtual walled of the user profile a number of virtual credits </li></ul><ul><li>The information on the amount of credits is shared with the personal network and ranks are compiled </li></ul><ul><li>Best results are periodically awarded </li></ul>
  17. 17. Virtual currency in MoSoSo <ul><li>Adding credits or virtual currency to a ” virtual wallet ” situated in the mobile device is an approach already used by brands in managing customers’ relationship through loyalty cards </li></ul><ul><li>The ”virtual wallet”: accumulate different types of credits according to the type of activities (environment, social life, consumption, civic involvement...), providing a multidimensional view of currency that complements the current unidimensional concept of economic currency </li></ul><ul><li>As forms of capital, all types of currency should be convertible into each other or at least into the economic form </li></ul>
  18. 18. Virtual currency in MoSoSo <ul><li>The concepts of virtual currency and virtual wallet are only part of a new approach to MoSoSo as platform for community interaction </li></ul>A three-layer approach to MoSoSo design (Lugano, 2006)
  19. 19. Conclusion <ul><li>ICT can play a key role in reconciling social and economic development and in contributing to a more balanced form of Information Society </li></ul><ul><ul><li>public and private sector shall agree on a convergence of policies in order to fight the challenges of globalization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>research projects shall address how ICT tools could empower citizens to self-organize, create and share resources </li></ul></ul><ul><li>MoSoSo and its future extension, UbiSoSo, shall promote the activity of digital communities and lead to a network-based civil society counterbalancing the negative forces of globalization </li></ul><ul><li>Multidisciplinary research is needed to understand the structure and dynamics of digital communities; such knowledge is essential to develop tools responding to human and social needs </li></ul>
  20. 20. Thanks for your attention! Questions / Comments? [email_address]