Mobile Technology Creates Alternative Financial Systems

Social and mobile networking tools are helping to build financially-independent communities by facilitating informal trading markets. The services are a response to international banking crises. 

What's the Latest Development?

The population of Volos, Greece, who are suffering beneath the weight their country's financial crisis, have come together to use mobile technology as an alternative to the international banking system that has failed them so spectacularly. In Volos, markets have arisen where people meet to exchange their goods and services, with barter credits tracked by open-source community banking software called Cyclos. The software allows the entire community to enter into non-monetary systems where services can be traded throughout the entire community, not just on a one-to-one basis. 

What's the Big Idea?

Other social and mobile-driven projects are springing up, giving individuals more control of their financial destiny and a greater sense of security. In 2005, Ken Banks launched a community texting service called FrontlineSMS, allowing communities to meet their needs through text messages. "Today it is used for everything from election monitoring, dispensing legal advice to powering local radio talk shows." Banks says that, in many cases, people are suffering through no fault of their own. "They want more control over their lives, and we want to create self-help tools for those who want to rebuild something that was lost a long time ago in their communities."  

Photo credit:

NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller on ​the multiple dimensions of space and human sexuality

Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.

Flickr / 13winds
Think Again Podcasts
  • Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
  • What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
  • Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Increased air travel may decrease the chances of a global pandemic

The closer together we get, the argument goes, the healthier we'll be.

Surprising Science
  • The more exposed we are to each other, the less surprising a pathogen will be to our bodies.
  • Terrorism, high blood pressure, and staffing issues threaten to derail progress.
  • Pursuing global health has to be an active choice.
Keep reading Show less