Using time-based currency


I expect my comment will take 20 minutes of @metasj time and this is only for @metasj . All others should save their time and not read further as this is of little interest to them.

I spent aprox 15 minutes reading your message, followed your link, and considering the site ‘time lords manifesto’ that you linked to. Then spent another 25 minutes composing this reply. . .

I think you’re comment topic should be moved to the "time well spent"
category on this website at Apps that are Time Well Spent for you .

The time lords manifesto is good, but the application and product seems like a time suck for me personally because I don’t do that kind of scheduling and my time is usually free and unstructured. I mostly just don’t make plans and is a paid service to help people save time making plans. Ironically, took more time than I expected and when I visited the site there was no indication of how much time it would take me or the average reader. I wonder if tracks the average amount of time spent by new visitors before they leave or buy? I wonder if would share that information before people read or visit the site. I think it’s a good concept and probably a time saver for some people, just not me personally.

Since I spent 20 minutes considering you’re idea and acting on it, will you spend 20 minutes doing the same for me in fair return of time? Why or why not?

[edit] After spending my time writing and composing this I clicked reply and got a message saying I had made too many replies today and needed to wait 2 hours before the “reply” button would work for me. GRRR! delayed reward and delayed satisfaction is not time well spent. I’m definitely not going to spend any more time on this site for a day or two. It was just not satisfying enough per minute of my time invested after I got that “wait message”.

Thanks for framing this with time expectations. You can send private messages to people on discourse if you only want it to be read by them.

You’re right, they rae basically a paid service that may not be all that relevant; but popular among early enthusiasts of TWS.

And yes, discourse has a default feature that limits the burstiness of posts from any one contributor. That helps keep overall discourse a steady flow among people with varying amounts of time to invest.

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Hm, your project does not seem overly relevant to humane tech / time well spent.

I also can’t see how it would work. Big corps do this (price segmentation) but not to lower price on the poorest. And projects are nifty but have not [yet] been too popular.



Are you joking about the relevance? I’m building a product with nothing but time from people who contribute because they feel its well spent. The time is spent to designing and test a price tag that lets you SPEND TIME literally and and at the cash register. We’re also doing research into how much TIME it takes you to spend your money in various economic transactions. How do you see that as not very relevant to “spending time well” and “time well spent”? Or are you talking about some specific product called that you promote and mentioning this isn’t part of your product?

My project is a novel variation of what you see on wikipedia. I agree some of the past experiments in this field have faired barely better than that in terms of demonstrated value and market effects. But I’m developing a new product based on a different economic model so I say using the current market economy to judge merit is probably a flawed basis for deciding relevance.

I can understand how you don’t think what I suggested in one paragraph will be foolproof. I left a lot out for brevity. I have answers to your questions, but there’s a lot of skeptical questions and it’s better to answer them in a presentation or slideshow. I could send you link to how this does work, but will it be considered spam and off topic? Ask if you want a link to slideshow or presentation or youtube video or project brief or white paper. You’re right that time based currencies haven’t achieved mass market importance yet compared to cash exchange or fiat currency, But compared to your product recommendations time based pricing solution, time based currencies are way more popular and successful and proven.

Splitting this into its own topic. Please keep discussions of time-based currency here, and limit mentions of it in other discussions to a link to this topic. (A number of your posts have been flagged as being self-promotion or off-topic, so please be aware of this and courteous.)

A time-based currency doesn’t necessarily help people spend time well. It does change how we value things and effort! but also disincentivizes many of the time-optimizations that other currencies & forms of trade bring about.

“Time well spent” tools, in the context of Humane Tech, are tools that help users minimize how much time it takes to do things [including minimizing use of such tools].

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I am also skeptical that your project qualifies as humane tech. I understand the importance for businesses of being able to charge people just as much as they’re willing to pay, but in my opinion it’s actually too close to what most of us seem to be fighting against in this forum.

Many would see charging people differently in itself as unfair. It would require “sizing” people up, things like profiling people based on time of day, the color of their skin, their clothes, their credit limits. This could all be done using machine learning. It could also be done with tracking. Clearly this sounds like some kind of dystopian world that we all hope to avoid!

As an entrepreneur and also from the US I understand where you’re coming from and the mentality of pitching. It’s a mentality I disagree with. We need to think more about if it’s really beneficial and what would be the effect on others before we try to sell people on something, otherwise what’s the point, right?


Do you think there needs to be some kind of limitation on people promoting their own projects? I have noticed that many new users sign up, instantly make a post pushing their app/project, then never engage in meaningful discussion on any other topic. It’s great that people want to talk about what they are working on, but maybe it could be useful to create a separate space for discussing personal projects so it doesn’t overrun more productive and insightful conversation?

Personally I find people’s projects the most substantive part of this community. Many are people who’ve invested great effort. I’m not a fan of censorship myself. This is a place to debate what is ethical, and those are very difficult questions with no clear correct answers.

We do have a category for personal-project discussion and feedback, where all of these topics should be classified. Maybe we can find a way to change the default view when you visit the forum for the first time, so that this category is less visible / shows up further down the page.

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We should only allow promotion of projects that are well established and promoted by other non-involved people? That would leave us talking about big business initiatives that we have no ability to affect. Personal projects are where community starts and where you can make a difference with your time. But if you want to debate for now effect what facebook should do or not do, then talk to the aether where it will also be ignored by the decision making powers.

I would also ask, how do you know the other non-personal projects you recommend people focus on produce more productive and insightful conversation? There’s about 5000 conversations on what facebook means and should do with their “time well spent” initiative and none of them make much difference. Do we want a community dedicated to discussing things we have no interest in and no ability to affect?

Also, you make some interesting critiques about new users who sign up, make a post and then never make discussions on other topics. That assumes that making a discussion on other topics is valuable in ways that making a quick post is not. Who decides what’s valuable? Why not a system where you’re comments get rated and people can upvote your comments to give you more freedom to post what you want or downvote your comments to limit the number of posts you can make. For example?

I think your concerns come down to time management and I’ve spent 15 minutes reading your comment and replying. How does that that benefit me? We all ask that question and we all want answers to that question before we spend our time reading or writing. I think a time based currency allows us to charge for things like “I wasted 2 hours reading that” and it allows us to issue credit like “that 2 hours reading was worth 2 hours of my time and I would have even worked 3 hours to read the 2 hours worth of material because it was that good.” Now you could do the same sort of feedback review questioning without time based currency and with paid subscriptions we do that sort of math in our head about how many hours on the job we have to work to pay for reading a book or article and pay in dollars. So your subscription to wired magazine is a price in dollars but also in practice most people convert that back into how many hours they have to work to pay for something before making the decision to buy or not.

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I’ll spend 5 minutes of my time however you want if you spend 5 minutes to give me a direct link to the category for personal-project discussion and feedback. How do I move this conversation there?

ps. Who gets rewarded and how by organizing comments and keeping things easy to read for new readers? What’s the incentive mechanism that encourages and rewards people at humantech? I’d vote to give you the power to move threads and re-organize based on your past value contributed. Can I vote to give you that power and also vote to give the person who’s thread is moved some say in the matter? I appreciate the time you spent on behalf of new readers, but how do I reward you?

Steve, thanks for your well thought-out reply. I’ll go along with your time-exchange thing and try to give an equal comment that explains my point of view on this. This post took me about 20 minutes to write, but it has been brewing ever since I made my account on here.

I think there are many people in this community who question the utility of smartphone apps/software projects - of any size - to solve the issues that humane tech is concerned with. In order to explain why I think personal projects should be corralled into a separate space on this site, I feel like I should try to explain those questions the best I can. Hopefully others can chime in where I come up short.

One of the core concerns of humane tech is that software designers’ ability to influence human behavior has become way too advanced - to the point where it isn’t really a fair fight anymore. The ecosystem of the mobile internet is fundamentally based on apps that purposefully cultivate compulsive behavior in their users - which at this point constitute a majority of humans living on earth - in order to extract personal information from people and build datasets to sell to advertisers. The more granular the data, the better insights it gives into our habits of consumption, thus the more valuable it is to advertisers. This is what (I am pretty sure) we all agree on.

Here’s where I see the split. Many of us would like to take the question a step further than simply asking why do we tolerate addiction by design. Why should we allow computer software that is designed to influence our behavior at all, even if that influence is meant to direct us away from compulsive behavior? In my thinking, submitting control to such a piece of software is ultimately not much better than submitting to Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.

For example, ironically enough, I have a browser add-on called StayFocusd installed - which blocks websites of my choosing and doesn’t allow me to change the settings without passing an annoying “challenge”. Has it kept me from wasting hours following Wikipedia rabbit holes? Absolutely. But has it fundamentally changed my relationship with technology? I would say not. It controls behavior, but doesn’t encourage any contemplation or real engagement with the issues that drive compulsive internet use. Ditto with apps like Forest, which try to turn the gamification techniques of social media into a pro-attention weapon. Well what if I don’t want to be “gamified” at all? Such apps mean well, but they are still, as @joseadna would say, based on inhumane behaviorist models of human psychology.

If this movement engages with people by telling them that they can stop wasting time on Facebook by downloading an app in 5 seconds, or (even worse) simply turning their screen grey, we will be promising something unrealistic and setting people up for failure. How will we ask people to challenge themselves? Confronting one’s own bad habits requires some messy, vulnerable, deep contemplation - doesn’t yet another piece of software provide an all-too-easy way around that? It’s like putting out fire with a flamethrower, putting a bandaid on a bullet wound, etcetera.

For this reason, I don’t think personal projects should have such a high visibility to newcomers to the site. If this place becomes some sort of free incubator for humane tech projects, then that sounds great to me. But we also need to make room for the tougher personal discussions about our own relationships with technology - discussions which can be far more transformative than any slight variation on an attention-saving app could ever be.

By extending the principle of rejecting addictive software to that which controls behavior of any kind, I know I am setting myself up for accusations of idealism. So be it, I’ll embrace that. There is some kind of categorical imperative to be found in all this - that if it’s unethical for apps to control our behavior for the purposes of data harvesting, then it is unethical for them to control behavior for any reason whatsoever, even if we give them permission to do so. There is the underlying principle of all this.

Like almost every aspect of human society since the 17th century, the cohesiveness of this movement will be threatened by a split between idealists - of whose views I have hopefully just given a fair explanation - and realists, who believe that rabbits do not get put back into hats, that we need to tolerate the existence of behaviorally-unethical apps, that we should fight fire with fire, principles be damned. If you have read this far, I assume you know which camp you are in. If we can recognize this difference in opinion and continue to work on the same problems in different ways, then human tech can become a movement that has real impact. Thanks for your time!


Great answer. well worth my 5 minutes to read. I think I owe you another 15 minutes. be sure to let me know what you want me to do with my time on your behalf. This is a bit long and only vaguely related to my topic at the top of this thread, but I wanted to reply. no one else but you @afuchs should bother reading further as this reply is focused on providing reading value just for you @afuchs.

I agree about the visibility of my personal project and I’m happy to move my project to a “personal projects page” but just haven’t figured out how to do that or where it is. There’s lots of potential solutions and lots of good solutions and I just want a place to share mine alongside and equal to the others.

I do disagree with the tougher personal argument that “it is unethical for them to control behavior for any reason whatsoever, even if we give them permission to do so”. Or more accurately, it seems like we have a different definition of control because as a user experience designer, I don’t think what you want is even theoretically possible. In my understanding and worldview, behavior is never controlled except by the individual but there are lot and lots of things that influence behavior. For me the difference between control and influence is significant because you can not escape being “influenced”. things like the weather influence whether you buy a rain coat and that’s not a problem for me. Things like the price of a product influence my decision to buy and I certainly wouldn’t want a world without prices out of fear the knowledge of the price might “control” what I choose to spend my money on. So I guess before I am asking for understanding of what you mean by control.

More specifically, what about additional choices. can it be fairly agreed to by you that if we take the current system of selling and buying things and offer an additional choice for sellers and buyers to use for calculating a price that just the option of giving people a second price is not “controlling” as you say? Or in the case of your apps that time out facebook for you successfully, why do you feel they are controlling you since you can presumably turn them off after a time delay. I don’t own one of those apps, but I designed one once that worked on the principle of a “commitment device”.

A commitment device is something people with low will power use to make sure they keep their commitments. Commitment devices work by the principle and idea that you can create a nudge for yourself that allows you to use your limited will power at one moment in time to limit your own freedom at another moment in time. The typical example of a commitment device is a time lock you put on the cookie jar so you can only get one cookie a day unless you reprogram it one week in advance. So a commitment device “controls” or “influences” your choices later in time. So would an app that prevented you from buying donuts with your credit card after you reach a limit of 10 donuts a month be an ethical problem for you? even if the app only worked if you told it a month in advance how much donuts you wanted to allow yourself to buy for the next month? and you could cancel the app with one month for free or turn it off for $500 immediately (the money goes into a saving account to buy a weight loss book?). That would be a very effective commitment device in my opinion and not a problem of control in my opinion because it seems to me like just me controlling myself with the aid of a mechanical or electronic device. But what is your opinion?

I worry that you’re imagining self control as a muscle that gets stronger with practice and use. Under that frame of understanding for self control, the theory is that the only way to self direct is by strengthening your will power. Under, that theory, what I call the Niche theory of “what ever we resist makes us stronger at resisting” then you solution seems reasonable. under that theory everything that assists you in resisting tempatation makes you less capable of resisting other temptations. My research into psychology suggests that that is a flawed understanding of human nature. Research I’ve read about the psychology of “self control” is that those old ideas were deeply flawed. Self control isn’t an exhaustible resource that decreases with use as some claim and it’s not like a muscle that gets stronger with use either. That was just plain non-repeatable bad science that’s been mostly debunked as far as I know. The new theories on self control and will power are more complicated but better at explaining real behavior and involve a much more complicated set of trade offs and semi-rational thinking. Most significantly is research showing that people who claim to be good at resisting temptation are actually wrong and in fact what they do is avoid feelings of temptations. In the classic will power experiment the kids who are asked to wait 15 minutes to get two cookies or instead if they eat the cookie on the table they only get the one cooky. The idea is that the kids who can resist gratification the longest have the most self control which will help them in later life. But, on closer examination, the kids did nothing of the sort. The kids who resisted the quick cookie did so by distracting themselves and tricking themselves into not thinking about the cookie. Kids who looked at the cookie and couldn’t distract themselves were judged in the test to have less will power, but really they just had less ability to consciously distract their own attention. So the lesson from psychology I take from that is the dubious skepticism of the claim that will power works like a muscle that gets stronger with use.

You point out a good argument in whether I’m a realist or an idealist. I’d say by your understanding I’m a realist. I don’t think we, as a society, are going to give control to the users and I think that is a good thing because it will turn the internet into a swamp of useless scams and frauds and click bait. BUT, what happens after that? how does an advertiser compete when even a legitimate advertisement gets ignored as a scam or clickbait? Well first the advertising industry collapses from lack of revenue which is fine with me. But then advertisers and sellers have to resort to selling based on information they can support or people get their recommendations from non-advertising sources. Both things that should have been done in the first place.

In the land of clickbait an authentic news story stands out. in the land of authentic news stories the clickbait story sneaks in undetected. I don’t find fox news or msnbc news or any mainstreem news currently shows stories of relevance to me. I mostly read the atlantic or visit youtube videos I search for by name based on a rare authentic non-clickbait reference. These relatively unknown, but high quality, information sources stand out because they have low view counts and don’t look or sound like clickbait. without the sea of click bait, It would be harder for me to spot the genuine articles. Facebook and other media providers seem to be working on the problem, only because clickbait and fake news have reached the magnitude of being a problem to their revenue model. The way I see it is facebook is now in a position I want them to be in. People are dropping facebook left and right because of this and that gives facebook a profit motive to fix the problem.

I think if we fight fire with fire, then that would be like having another app to control facebook apps only that other app is fire we control as individuals. you mentioned " I would say not. It controls behavior, but doesn’t encourage any contemplation or real engagement with the issues that drive compulsive internet use." I say there is very little contemplation or engagement with the issues that drive compulsive behavior because compulsive behaviors operate at the subconcious level and are not influenceable by logic. Psychologists I have read point out that the brain operates on two levels, the slow conscious thought level and the fast unconscious level. at the fast subconscious level is where things like self control or desire or quick judgements happen and it’s only influenced by experience. you can tell someone logically about the dangers of touching a hot stove, but it never sinks into the subconcious fast processing of the brain until you burn yourself and experience pain or have a moment of fear that programs your subconcious with panic chemicals.

well, this is just free thinking on my part and not something I spent time now researching. I researched this all long ago and came to these conclusions. Maybe not relevant to most, but let me know if reading it was time well spent. thx.

no, that’s not clear to me. I think it’s clear that rich people would object to having to pay the same number of hours of their time to see a movie as a poor person. If a movie costs 1hr to buy then it would cost a very rich person who earns $50/hr = $50 and poor person who makes $10/hr = $10 to buy. that is something the poor people definitely would not object to and doesn’t seem dystopian to poor people.

the idea of pricing things the same for everything is actually a new concept pioneered by a religious group for theolical reasons. The mormons create the one price for all with no questions asked and it was considered immoral to a lot of people at the time, but since it was easier to manage it worked well in large stores to save time on haggling. So a one price for all solution was never considered moral except by fringe religious groups and most other religions and thinkers felt exactly the opposite. Here’s some independent news story on the origin of the price tag The Price Tag Hasn't Always Existed, It Had To Be Invented : Planet Money : NPR

You raise an interesting question of where does profiling stop. Lets assume it doesn’t stop and ignore the privacy concerns for a moment. Because, the end result is unavoidably the direction the industry is heading and it doesn’t look like we can stop it legally. The end result is in fact maybe not so bad with a few minor adjustments? If sellers had perfect information about purchasers then they would charge the maximum individually that each individual buyer could afford. This is surprisingly similar to the goals of communism that each person should pay according to their ability to pay. So ignoring privacy and civil liberty concerns, which will require some minor adjustments, we see that the sellers of the world are converging on a socialist/communist pricing structure. Ideally a smart self interested seller will charge more to rich people than poor people. They’ll charge more to people who really need something than to people who can live without it. in a free market economy this is considered legal and ethical. Pricing things higher in dollars for rich people and lower dollars for poor people is how the economy is supposed to work in communism. It’s also how the economy is supposed to work with lazy fair free market capitalism. it’s also pricing things fairly using hours of your time as a unit of payment.