LETS, Cultural Value, and Remix Reading

LETS, Local Exchange Trading Schemes, are local money systems. They aim to keep value within the local community by using a kind of labour barter system.

The very strength of LETS, that they are local schemes, works against them in a globalised society. Local value cannot compete with global value, indeed it is ghettoising.

Remix * is an organisation that is working to create projects across the UK to help people share culture. These are local projects, such as Remix Reading or Remix Brighton. The cultural value of each project is identified locally. But the cultural value of each project is made globally available, through the internet, under Creative Commons licenses. Remix *’s local focus contrasts with other Creative Commons projects such as OurMedia, which rely on a globally distributed community to provide large volumes of “content”.

Like LETS, the Remix * projects are locally targeted and keep existing value in the local community. Unlike LETS, the Remix * projects allow both global use and global return of value through the Internet, assuming the local contributors use the copyleft ‘SA’ license.

LETS, like Remix *, are a kind of gift economy. This stretches the definition of a gift economy, but it is true at least trivially; money is not exchanged, only the promise of a return of labour or culture. For LETS this promise is quantified, for Remix * it is

The Remix * projects therefore take the best of LETS, capturing local value and building local community, and add the potential of the internet, global building of reputation and sharing of value. Each seems appropriate to the age that spawned them, the post-industrial 1980s for LETS, and the post-dot-com 2000s for Remix *.

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