Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

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standard_gravity standard_gravity's picture
Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

I have been trying to get my head around the idea of a rep economy. And, in short, although a very interesting concept, I cannot see why or how rep would develop to such a success as it has in EP.

In many ways a rep economy is, in terms of economics, similar to a monetary economy. That is, you make or produce things/services people desire and get “paid”. Win-win. The producer/provider receives payment (rep or credits) and thereby certain power (of consumption or otherwise).

The difference is that cash money does not smell, it’s anonymous. Anyone with money can spend it, and no one knows or cares where that money came from. Rep on the other hand is intrinsically tied to a personality, a person.

Given the above, a rep economy seem more oppressive. The successful, ambitious, skilled etc will naturally obtain more rep, and thereby more power. That rep is tied to you – once you are recognized as a low rep person, this is what YOU are, and you will be treated accordingly. In a “capitalistic” economy, at least you are (or rather: your credit status is) more anonymous, and you can always in any way obtain money and thereby power / freedom.

In other words, as the core book says, a rep economy is "more stable", but clearly this is not very pleasant for the people in the economy. If you are unsuccessful, unskilled, anti-social in an autonomous hab (or perceived as such by others) you are fucked forever, to put it bluntly. The powerful will rule and there is no guarantee that they are any nicer than the powerful in the inner systems.

This is not to say that I do not agree with the other parts of EP anarchism, e.g. open-source ideas (including availability of cornucopia machines), individual freedom of choice or individual freedom from coercion. To withhold technology from people, as the powers that be in the inner system do, is terrible (although it strikes me as very unrealistic development of a capitalistic society).

"People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes." - John Dee

TBRMInsanity TBRMInsanity's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

The Rep Economy (as you pointed out) awards the most skilled and charismatic in society. The incentive of each person is to do the best job possible as it will give them more power and influence. Like with a money economy, the driving factor is greed (which in any economic structure is crucial as you need to overcome people's inherent apathy).

I think in any society there will always be those that are too unfortunate to advance normally. You only have to look at the street bums today to notice that. In the Rep Economy it is just easier to identify individuals that are a burden to society and as a result they get ostracised (further making them a burden to society and unable to advance). In a future where 90% of all humanity was wiped out in a few short years, there is a need for everyone to pull their weight, those that don't will be treated as wasteful, ignorant, and in some cases criminal.

Jovian Motto:
Your mind is original. Preserve it.
Your body is a temple. Maintain it.
Immortality is an illusion. Forget it.

standard_gravity standard_gravity's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

Sure, I recognise that. I am all for meritocracy, IRL and elsewhere. My problem with a rep economy is that I believe it would be very difficult for a person to start afresh, given that success and failure is not tied to an act but to a person. It gets even more problematic in EP as the Networks are HUGE, e.g. all autonomists (and barsoomian, extropian, titanian and scum) individual would shun you if you have a low @-rep.

Lets say you invested as lot and pulled some strings and asked for a few favours to start a new venture, and it failed. You may as well move to the inner systems, get a fake ID or kill yourself (your ego, that is). In a capitalist economy it would be more like "ouch, that'll hurt, better luck next time". I am aware that reality (in EP...) is more nuanced, but it strikes me that the basic premise is such.

I understand that the designers have anarchistic leanings, and are keen to invent a system which is less capitalistic. I applaud this, don't get me wrong. It's just that I'm not convinced rep is the way to go, and also I am convinced money is not evil (and money is for a fact not the same as capitalism).

"People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes." - John Dee

TBRMInsanity TBRMInsanity's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

You make many valid points, but I think that if someone is willing to overcome some great failure with a string of successes then their Rep can slowly increase. It is harder to get rid of the stigma of your past failures but that is the down side of living in that society.

I think that in either economy if someone is willing to learn from their failures, and work harder to improve their status, that they will eventually make it out of a rut. I tend to look at the Rep Economy as more of a Darwinian experiment. The most fit will always lead and prosper and those that can't adapt to the environment will be pushed down the power structure and will be as good as slaves. This sort of economy actually reminds me of the Clans in Battletech (though not as military minded as in BT). Status is everything, and your status is decided by your actions (both good and bad).

Jovian Motto:
Your mind is original. Preserve it.
Your body is a temple. Maintain it.
Immortality is an illusion. Forget it.

Sealab2020 Sealab2020's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

I would recommend reading "Down and Out In the Magic Kingdom," by Corey Dochtrow. It used to be free on the net... you should see if it's still around.

It deals with this exact concept. Pretty much the entire book focuses on rep-based economy. I think the element that's missing from this model is that rep economies really only work (at least on any scale above a small group) in a post-scarcity situation.

Rep based economy only works in a place where someone can function without *any* rep. In other words, food and energy and the basics to have a normal, happy life, are free, and you don't need rep for them. So if I have zero rep, or really crappy rep, I can take all the time I need, hanging out, room and board and entertainment and such taken care of. I can study up on the mesh, learn new skills, plan new projects, so that if I want, I can come back stronger into the rep market.

*Or* I do some crap jobs. Again, in "Down and Out..." the people with some of the best rep currency are the ones who do the unpopular jobs that can't be done by automated machines. Nobody *wants* them, so the folks that do them earn crazy rep for them. And it's not skilled labor, or even dangerous. It's just... well, gross, or boring, or something like that. So you do that for a little bit, and you've got rep coming out your ears.

Anyway, just some thoughts. I recommend that book. ;)

TBRMInsanity TBRMInsanity's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

I agree that your basic needs need to be taken care of. That being said if you have horrible (or zero) rep then your more then likely in a synthmorph or your just an infomorph and as such basic needs are irrelevant. Live sucks and you are more then likely going to have to do the boring/gross/stupid job until you build up some rep. It's like a university where you have to spend some time doing research (ie very boring work) for profs before you can get your masters, PhD, and eventually tenure.

Jovian Motto:
Your mind is original. Preserve it.
Your body is a temple. Maintain it.
Immortality is an illusion. Forget it.

OneTrikPony OneTrikPony's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

I suspect that post scarcity is a falacy.
Energy and materials are in limited supply at any particular habitat. Some habitats will have more of one or the other than another habitat wich will make trade in actual goods, (even Pareto optimal trade) necessary.
1) there would be no asteroid wranglers otherwize. 2) there would be no huge progects that involve scooping heilium3 out of the atmosphere of Saturn. 3) nano scale construction is easily destroyed by heat so you can't argue that recycleing is 100% efficient.

Then there are many scarce resources that are semi-intangible (if you'll allow me to use that phrase)
4) Time on the CM it'self is limited unless you have limitless CM's wich you can't because you can't have limitless energy. 5) biomorphs are scarce 6)Personal space is scarce.

And finaly the Rep ecconomy only works up to a certain threshold of complexity in cooperative efforts. The reason anarchism works out sometimes is because there's a small enough populaton atempting the practice. There are many things that can only be accomplished by large scale cooperation. Large scale cooperation makes Currency the most efficient means of remuneration. Large scale Cooperation+Currency = Corperations. So I predict that the 'new ecconomy' will eventually evolve into a 'transitional ecconomy' once the outer system reaches a certain population dencity and/or war breaks out.

Mea Culpa: My mode of speech can make others feel uninvited to argue or participate. This is the EXACT opposite of what I intend when I post.

Ramidel Ramidel's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

Locus maintains a rep economy well beyond the small-town level, actually (over two million citizens). Efficient or not, it works on a pure rep/gift economy. Part of why it works, of course, is because being greedy is uncool and thus self-defeating.

Post-scarcity is a fallacy, yes, but electricity too cheap to meter and effectively unlimited masses of carbon and silicon mean that the vast majority of expenses are down to "trivial," and due to argonaut and other open-source influence in the development of the autonomist movement, blueprints are also generally free. Thus, the factors that drive the majority of the transitional economy are open for free.

What you are saying that you predict is that cornucopia machines will be actively and forcibly restricted by the elites of the anarchist movement from using open-source blueprints. When most objects can be developed from blueprints made by hackers for love of the hack, it's hard to build a corporate-level economy around protecting the intellectual property that their slaves create, particularly when the existing memes outright encourage cracking said blueprints' copy protection and releasing them on Circle-A.

Ramidel Ramidel's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

standard_gravity wrote:
Given the above, a rep economy seem more oppressive. The successful, ambitious, skilled etc will naturally obtain more rep, and thereby more power. That rep is tied to you – once you are recognized as a low rep person, this is what YOU are, and you will be treated accordingly. In a “capitalistic” economy, at least you are (or rather: your credit status is) more anonymous, and you can always in any way obtain money and thereby power / freedom.

Rep can be fixed. You can put in some time polishing the bulkheads or come up with an awesome new VR game, so long as you learn to take your lumps. (Incidentally, if you're a hypercorp indenture, I'd question the idea that you're always able to obtain money. Hypercapitalism is a tool of power for the elites, remember.)

Quote:
In other words, as the core book says, a rep economy is "more stable", but clearly this is not very pleasant for the people in the economy. If you are unsuccessful, unskilled, anti-social in an autonomous hab (or perceived as such by others) you are fucked forever, to put it bluntly. The powerful will rule and there is no guarantee that they are any nicer than the powerful in the inner systems.

Yes, there is. I'll bet you credits to catgirls that total asses don't reach the high end of the rep scale. Even in places where the culture encourages a lively degree of taking the piss with each other (Something Awful or Australia, for instance), you'll find that there's still lines to cross and people who are genuinely and actively malicious will get smacked down for it, even if they are kicking on total outcasts. Particularly because a lot of people with high rep will have gotten -to- a high rep by being extremely nice and friendly to everyone, including kids, newbies and outcasts.

There's truth in what you're saying, in that the rep economies are highly tribal and that outcasts and the unskilled have no place in Locus. Hypercorps provide security and stability for those individuals not fit for Locus; do your job, get your check, buy what you need, don't make waves and maybe you'll move up. If you want to live in Anarchist territory, you've got to be able to pull your weight for the community and do most of what you need yourself (with the help of more cornucopia machines and AI assistance than you know what to do with). If you can do that, of course, then in terms of material wealth and personal freedom you'll probably be far better off than in the inner system.

(And, of course, Titan more or less provides the best of both worlds: an even better safety net than in hypercorp space and the freedom and wealth of the new economy. Titan is a -sweet- place to live.)

Quote:
This is not to say that I do not agree with the other parts of EP anarchism, e.g. open-source ideas (including availability of cornucopia machines), individual freedom of choice or individual freedom from coercion. To withhold technology from people, as the powers that be in the inner system do, is terrible (although it strikes me as very unrealistic development of a capitalistic society).

Trust me, it's truth in television. That said, hypercapitalism isn't free-market capitalism, it's the cartel capitalism of the Gilded Age, and markets are only free to the extent that that freedom supports the hypercorps.

OneTrikPony OneTrikPony's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

Ramidel wrote:

What you are saying that you predict is that cornucopia machines will be actively and forcibly restricted by the elites of the anarchist movement from using open-source blueprints. When most objects can be developed from blueprints made by hackers for love of the hack, it's hard to build a corporate-level economy around protecting the intellectual property that their slaves create, particularly when the existing memes outright encourage cracking said blueprints' copy protection and releasing them on Circle-A.

That is absolutely not what I am saying. I'll try to better define my idea but let me address two points first.

I'm not denying the setting. I accept that Locus exists and works the way it does. The fact stretches my suspension of disbelief allot but there it is. Also, Currency economies do not = greed. Greed happens. Its as human as taking a dump. So another part of the setting that cannot be ignored is REP system gaming. If you take Locus at face value you kinda gota take people like Pax Familae and others with it.

I'll explain more about what I'm not saying by saying what I really mean. "Electricity too cheap to meter" is exactly not true. The stipend of the average anarchist is very well documented and has a hard definition. Its on page (reference to be added). "Unlimited masses of carbon and silicon" is wildly inaccurate as well as incomplete as an example of post scarcity. For one thing the only easily accessible masses are on planetary bodies. Most of those are controlled by the PC, JJ and the Titanian socialists. Most anarchists live in off world habitats which means that accessing masses of silicon and carbon requires they do the second most difficult and expensive thing that humanity has done to this point; fly stuff through space. I suspect that even with the tech of 10 A.F. getting materials to a habitat is a major undertaking. Especially when you consider that you need alot more than carbon and silicon to make a happy home. My understanding to this point is that--laws of physics being what they are--masses of carbon don't tend to hang out with masses of silicon very often. For instance, if you live in the Main Belt you will have access to masses of silicon, the Metallic asteroids of the main belt. But you'll have a difficult time getting access to masses of carbon, the Volatile asteroids for which you'll have to go All the Way to the rings of Saturn or the Jovan Trojans or simply buy them with CURRENCY from the PC. If you happen to live in the Kuiper Belt things are even worse for you because Metallic asteroids there are fairly rare and even your beloved masses of carbon are really far away from each other.

Also consider how you manage to acquire your supply of helium3 to create that "electricity to cheap to meter."

Now I don't deny that post scarcity exists in the setting. The book says it does so it does. What I do deny is that when my character pulls this weeks 'tasteless Hawaiian shirt' out of the cornucopia machine it appeared due to some fantastic magical bugs. There was allot of serious effort that required either allot of man hours or allot of time on the machine, to create bots, to supply the materials, to create 'tasteless Hawaiian shirts'.

I also deny that making this 'post scarcity' society work in a habitat of 2 million people without often experiencing actual scarcity doesn't require some heavily un-anarchistic organizational efforts by someone. This needn't be predicated on greed. They may simply do it for the same reason I do my low paying job. Because it pleases me to do so. (In EP terms I feel I have a pretty high rep in the "construction worker" network. I'm still working when allot of guys aren't and I expect to be employed as long as someone's building somewhere. But I refuse to draw my meager pay in future favors. ;) )

In short my point is that these things are not trivial Spending a month or ten risking your life/equipment out wrangling asteroids is serious business. It seems a little odd not to expect a concrete reward upon success. In fact, if it were me, I'd probably make a contract trading directly the materials I was able to wrangle for some other materials like He3, or service like time on the CM at a set rate of exchange based on future projections of (non)scarcity of those goods. But it would probably just be easier and less confusing to pay me in cash. ;)

Mea Culpa: My mode of speech can make others feel uninvited to argue or participate. This is the EXACT opposite of what I intend when I post.

OneTrikPony OneTrikPony's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

Ramidel wrote:
Yes, there is. I'll bet you credits to catgirls that total asses don't reach the high end of the rep scale.

Highschool and every thing that comes after it in human experience tells us that this is absolutely oposite of the truth. I had to fight all the time, just to be left-the-fuck-alone, having any reputation aside from that was not even an option. The truth is that REP in any system is heavily influenced by Popularity. My experience is that the high reputation that gives you access has very little to do with your skills or success but rather other's perceptions of your skills and success.

The Very Purpose of benevolent anarchism is to accept and hold dear the dissposessed. If it turns out that the success of Locus is based entirely on 'cool' people who all have above average SAV and COG I will instantly make a character who's sole purpose in life is to NUKE That FUCKER. :D

I'm certain that that's not the claim here but it kinda sounds like that.

Mea Culpa: My mode of speech can make others feel uninvited to argue or participate. This is the EXACT opposite of what I intend when I post.

standard_gravity standard_gravity's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

I agree with the above speakers that EP’s new economies are not true post-scarcity economies. It then follows that the only remarkable difference between the transitional and the new economies (in economic terms) is non-restricted nanofabrication in the latter. (Which I am, as mentioned earlier, well in favour of.)

This is important, as the economic benefit of nanofabricators is that labour costs are drastically lowered (costs related to raw materials, energy and R&D – for example – remain the same). However, with the availability of cheap synthmorphs and AIs it would be very possible even without nanofabricators to push down labour costs to almost zero.

The issue is that of rep. The developers have – with all respect (I love this game!) – not given the economic considerations proper thought. For example, they equate money with capitalism, which is blatantly wrong. Money is used so that you don’t have to barter and so that you can store your wealth over time, and is a waaay older invention than capitalism. Money is not an ideology, it’s a basic economic tool. Even Soviet Russia soon realized they could not function without money.

So removing money from the new economies give rise to a lot of problems. For example, there are no prices as such in a rep economy. But as established in the posts above, certain things cannot be produced for free in cornucopia machines, even if all blueprints are free and open source. Examples are very large objects (e.g. starships) or things that require unusual raw materials. Also important/secret information and services can be added to the list. (Briefly discussed here: http://www.eclipsephase.com/new-economy-and-item-cost). In such cases, the person (consumer) must use Rep to hopefully achieve his ends. (And burn a lot of rep, judging by the core book.)

The problem with Rep is that is focuses only on the consumer, not the producer. It only tells us who “deserves” goods and services the most, not what people want (i.e. not what should be produced or provided). Prices in a monetary economy are invaluable sources of information: they tell producers what to produce and in what quantity (economics 101). How does an anarchist habitat with limited recourses (raw materials and energy) know if they should produce that starship or instead 14 shuttles? How does it prioritise? And how do members of that habitat know what other members want in terms of, say, services from him? Should he give legal advice, bookkeeping services, become a stand-up comedian? Similarly to a monetary system, a system of pricing is an economic tool, not oppressive capitalistic humbug.

"People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes." - John Dee

standard_gravity standard_gravity's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

Ramidel wrote:
I'll bet you credits to catgirls that total asses don't reach the high end of the rep scale. /.../ Particularly because a lot of people with high rep will have gotten -to- a high rep by being extremely nice and friendly to everyone, including kids, newbies and outcasts.

Also politicians of today (elected by the populace as they are) are extremely “nice and friendly”, yet they bomb innocent people, put people in prison although they have not harmed others, force you to fight their wars, steal around half of your wealth etc etc. In ALL societies in (trans?)human history, our leaders have been charismatic, scheming, social animals. Even most dictators (although judged as monsters by later generations) often seemed very friendly and nice to contemporaries.

Ramidel wrote:
That said, hypercapitalism isn't free-market capitalism, it's the cartel capitalism of the Gilded Age, and markets are only free to the extent that that freedom supports the hypercorps.

This is an important point. What the hypercorps have created in the inner system is a worse corporatist system than what we have today IRL. Hence, I throw in my lot in with the Extropians!

"People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes." - John Dee

Ramidel Ramidel's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

standard_gravity wrote:
I agree with the above speakers that EP’s new economies are not true post-scarcity economies. It then follows that the only remarkable difference between the transitional and the new economies (in economic terms) is non-restricted nanofabrication in the latter. (Which I am, as mentioned earlier, well in favour of.)

This is important, as the economic benefit of nanofabricators is that labour costs are drastically lowered (costs related to raw materials, energy and R&D – for example – remain the same). However, with the availability of cheap synthmorphs and AIs it would be very possible even without nanofabricators to push down labour costs to almost zero.

The issue is that of rep. The developers have – with all respect (I love this game!) – not given the economic considerations proper thought. For example, they equate money with capitalism, which is blatantly wrong. Money is used so that you don’t have to barter and so that you can store your wealth over time, and is a waaay older invention than capitalism. Money is not an ideology, it’s a basic economic tool. Even Soviet Russia soon realized they could not function without money.

So removing money from the new economies give rise to a lot of problems. For example, there are no prices as such in a rep economy. But as established in the posts above, certain things cannot be produced for free in cornucopia machines, even if all blueprints are free and open source. Examples are very large objects (e.g. starships) or things that require unusual raw materials. Also important/secret information and services can be added to the list. (Briefly discussed here: http://www.eclipsephase.com/new-economy-and-item-cost). In such cases, the person (consumer) must use Rep to hopefully achieve his ends. (And burn a lot of rep, judging by the core book.)

The problem with Rep is that is focuses only on the consumer, not the producer. It only tells us who “deserves” goods and services the most, not what people want (i.e. not what should be produced or provided). Prices in a monetary economy are invaluable sources of information: they tell producers what to produce and in what quantity (economics 101). How does an anarchist habitat with limited recourses (raw materials and energy) know if they should produce that starship or instead 14 shuttles? How does it prioritise? And how do members of that habitat know what other members want in terms of, say, services from him? Should he give legal advice, bookkeeping services, become a stand-up comedian? Similarly to a monetary system, a system of pricing is an economic tool, not oppressive capitalistic humbug.

I thought on this, and just as I was about to come up with a snappy reply, I hit my head on the corebook because the developers tricked themselves.

Habitats have internal currencies: the energy and materials allowances. Which are tradable for rep...

Whoops. We have a currency.
----
That said, most people don't appear to use it. The vast majority of Locusites live within their allowance and have no personal use for extra energy. Furthermore, Locusites usually appear to prefer to trade favors or do favors based on rep and mutual friendship, rather than use e-credits and m-credits (or just credits). Does money have value if nobody uses it? Nope.

Now, Luna -does- have some penetration into the marker market, but that's heavily limited. What, exactly, the Lunar banks (or their Consortium clients) buy -from- Locus is still unknown.

standard_gravity wrote:
Also politicians of today (elected by the populace as they are) are extremely “nice and friendly”, yet they bomb innocent people, put people in prison although they have not harmed others, force you to fight their wars, steal around half of your wealth etc etc. In ALL societies in (trans?)human history, our leaders have been charismatic, scheming, social animals. Even most dictators (although judged as monsters by later generations) often seemed very friendly and nice to contemporaries.

I will note that politicians' election is not done through a direct reputation poll, it's done through several organized means that are generally biased in certain directions. Furthermore, politicians have organized, hierarchical coercive authority that is absent from Locus. Coercion in Locus only happens when everyone involved in said coercing agrees that it should be done. (Which is in some cases more oppressive than an anonymous money economy. Design feature; it's a tribal society. But large sections of the populace can't be put into prison, bombed or forced to fight a war.)

Quote:
Hence, I throw in my lot in with the Extropians!

Hail Titania!

Ramidel Ramidel's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

OneTrikPony wrote:
Highschool and every thing that comes after it in human experience tells us that this is absolutely oposite of the truth. I had to fight all the time, just to be left-the-fuck-alone, having any reputation aside from that was not even an option. The truth is that REP in any system is heavily influenced by Popularity. My experience is that the high reputation that gives you access has very little to do with your skills or success but rather other's perceptions of your skills and success.

To an extent, except that the question becomes "access to what?" High rep individuals aren't in a position to exert significant force on anyone without the will of the community behind them. Locus' version of Obama isn't going to be able to go into a neighboring part of Locus and shoot someone without the guy's personal friends and family, if nobody else (and there will be "somebody else"es), saying "hey, back the hell off, loser." And the majority of Locus' community leaders of high reputation are very strongly against anything beyond pistols at dawn, because if Locus were overrun by tribal conflict we'd know that and Locus would have melted apart by now.

(Yes, the setting assumes that New Economy transhumanity is mostly composed of responsible adults. Cynical as we might like to be, there it is.)

Quote:
The Very Purpose of benevolent anarchism is to accept and hold dear the dissposessed. If it turns out that the success of Locus is based entirely on 'cool' people who all have above average SAV and COG I will instantly make a character who's sole purpose in life is to NUKE That FUCKER. :D

I'm certain that that's not the claim here but it kinda sounds like that.

Can I give you a discount on WMDs? They're pointed at Mars and several hypercorp habitats. You'll need to get quite far down the list before Locus hits your sights. ^^

Seriously, it is the case that people who -nobody- will protect have no rights. The followers of Locus' majority community memes may disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it. Similarly, serious harassment -will- lead to a "hey, knock it off" from someone important. Now, I realize that they're going to be looser on this than, say, modern high school; Locus will probably have an Internet-level tolerance for jackassery. But actual use of force will lead to consequences.

standard_gravity standard_gravity's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

Ramidel wrote:
Does money have value if nobody uses it? Nope.

I think we are missing each others’ points. I laid out the claim that not everything will be free. These things are for example the construction of a starship or a habitat. I doubt it would be possible to barter favours for such a big construction project. And even if possible, a monetary system would be much more efficient in allocating resources in this way.

Let’s take another example. Imagine that I am a great morph sculptor and you would like my services. Imagine you are a pleasure pod :). We could both trade our skill sets with each other, but _only_ provided I want pleasure from you. If I don’t, the rep system assumes that I would provide my services to you for free simply because you provide pleasure to others. I see this working in a small, close-knit society, but it would be impossible in a large habitat. At the very least, in any society over say 1,000 habitants it would be so impractical that I cannot see this system being used when there’s free competition with alternative systems, e.g. monetary ones.

Ramidel wrote:
I will note that politicians' election is not done through a direct reputation poll, it's done through several organized means that are generally biased in certain directions. Furthermore, politicians have organized, hierarchical coercive authority that is absent from Locus. Coercion in Locus only happens when everyone involved in said coercing agrees that it should be done. (Which is in some cases more oppressive than an anonymous money economy. Design feature; it's a tribal society. But large sections of the populace can't be put into prison, bombed or forced to fight a war.)

I agree that there are many differences between EP @-listers and present day democracies. Differences include the method of decision making, that power is often only given up by voluntary and direct means, and that once power is given to another, it is often of limited character and can be revoked at any time. The point of my point, so to speak, was that in a rep society just like in any other, the most charismatic, political, scheming and socially ambitious characters will be the once recognized as leaders. And in a rep _economy_ they will also be recognized as the most worthy of wealth (material and otherwise). Rep compared to money is more personal and less flexible, ergo more oppressive. Nothing wrong with the game and the setting in this respect, I just wanted to highlight this fact so as not to think that anarchism in EP is always such a pleasant and lovey-dovey thing. In fact, it is often more cut-throat than today’s capitalism.

Ramidel wrote:
Hail Titania!

As a child of Sweden, I have seen the social democratic ideas up close, and could not disagree with you more. But hell, it’s just a game, right ;)

"People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes." - John Dee

Octomorph Octomorph's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

standard_gravity wrote:
Let’s take another example. Imagine that I am a great morph sculptor and you would like my services. Imagine you are a pleasure pod :). We could both trade our skill sets with each other, but _only_ provided I want pleasure from you. If I don’t, the rep system assumes that I would provide my services to you for free simply because you provide pleasure to others. I see this working in a small, close-knit society, but it would be impossible in a large habitat. At the very least, in any society over say 1,000 habitants it would be so impractical that I cannot see this system being used when there’s free competition with alternative systems, e.g. monetary ones

I'm not so sure that it's a direct trade so much as trading through the network itself. So rather than my asking you for a favor/services, I'm asking you as a 'friend of a friend of a friend' with the exchange of services occurring all along the chain. The rep system abstracts that chain by providing a way of assessing how helpful someone has been in the past to others in the network, thus given an indication of the number of favors that can be called in.

Does this scale beyond a tribe? Hard to say, but certainly more so than the assumption of a 1:1 exchange of services (i.e. barter). Does this work for large scale projects? Again difficult but what you more likely have is a group of people in effect pooling their rep to gain access to the resources necessary to achieve the goal. In this case, they might not be trading direct goods or services for resources so much as the promise of future value (staked by their reputation for delivery of past goods or services) or overall benefit to the community.

Will there be a leader or leaders? Yes. Will they be the most charismatic or able to get a coalition to work together for more than individual good? Yes. Does that mean that they'll be more cutthroat? I don't think so. The rep economy is based on trust. Someone who fails to deliver (whether through incompetence, bad luck or intent) on their promises gets their rep dinged. Get dinged too much and you're blacklisted - might as well emigrate to another habitat or the Inner System and start over, though bad rep will travel before you even faster than good.

Rep isn't fungible in the way that currency is, true enough. It is personal and requires the individual to be accountable for their actions. If the pinnacle of society in the rep economy is a high rep, it can only be achieved by actively eschewing the wealth (material and otherwise) that people think you're worthy of (read the first couple of sections of Accelerando by Charles Stross for a pretty clear example. Manfred has such a high rep because he gives everything away). Once you've acquired it, however, you can't simply hand it over to someone else. So you can't fund that starship project with your accumulated wealth, but you can call in all of those favors to mobilize the resources and personnel necessary to make it happen.

I'm not sure how that's oppressive?

standard_gravity standard_gravity's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

Octomorph wrote:
I'm not so sure that it's a direct trade so much as trading through the network itself.

Oh, I understand that. This was in response to Ramidel saying one also traded favours based on friendships (and I would add any other relationships or one-to-one exchanges for mutual benefit / bartering). Other than that, you have recourse to the rep system, where you trade your goods or services in exchange for 1) a (hopefully) positive rep feedback from your counterparty and/or 2) an abstract feeling of belonging to the community, helping out your fellows and rewarding those who have in the past helped the community (i.e. have an adequate rep score).

I believe this could work in a small community, perhaps even in a mid-sized one if there is a strong-enough sense of communal purpose or feeling of “we-against-the-universe”, but beyond that I maintain that it goes against the very nature of (trans)humans. I am happy to be proven wrong here - how would you (in theory and in game) rationalize that your nomadic, wild scum NPC would sacrifice his time or material wealth in favour of a barsoomian settler or a titanian bureaucrat PC? What do these people have in common other than a mutual distrust for inner system politics?

Octomorph wrote:
Does this work for large scale projects? Again difficult but what you more likely have is a group of people in effect pooling their rep to gain access to the resources necessary to achieve the goal. In this case, they might not be trading direct goods or services for resources so much as the promise of future value (staked by their reputation for delivery of past goods or services) or overall benefit to the community.

This could work, i.e. communal rep-pooling. Again, only in a tangible community/tribe I think. However, in terms of economics it would be highly inefficient compared to a monetary system where prices give clear signals to all actors as to what resources are in demand/supply and their relative level of demand/supply.

As to leaders in a rep society, I’m not saying they would on average be any worse than leaders in any other type of society. I’m just saying that they may be just as bad. If you are good at selling yourself and impress others, you will be rewarded with rep, regardless of whether you are objectively speaking worthy of all that rep.

"People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes." - John Dee

jackgraham jackgraham's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

Wow, interesting discussion. I was heavily involved in designing the rep system, so I'll throw in my .02TKroners on this. I hope I won't disappoint anyone by not actively joining the debate, but time is limited. So I'm just gonna throw some chum in the shark tank and then go back to working on Project Hotfix. :)

1. Is the rep system better than using currency? Is it better than market capitalism?
As someone rightly pointed out, these are two different questions, as money is just a tool for trying to measure someone's wealth and purchasing power. In some respects, yeah, rep is just money. It's easy to forget, though, that in the real world, people are -really- irrational about their money. It has symbolic value that ties in to a persons sense of self worth, their willingness to take risks, and all of the other stuff that behavioral economics tries to study. So for the mass of humanity (who don't see life as a point-buy system the way some of us gamers do... heh), rep is a huge symbolic shift.
I'm not an anarchist; I'm more of a social democrat (blame me if you don't like Titan). I don't have any fixed assumptions that a rep economy is better, but I definitely think it's worth experimenting with in the context of a game. Just look at Kronos Cluster; it's like the anti-Locus -- a fairly crappy place to live where anarchist ideals have not worked out and the rep economy serves people poorly.
Finally, remember that the Titanians have their own monetary system; they just don't use it for day-to-day transactions. It's for big stuff like investing in infrastructure. For an example of this at work in another fictional setting, see Bruce Sterling's _Holy Fire_, which was one inspiration for the Titanian social money system.

2. Rep economies are not a lefty idea.
You don't have to be a starry-eyed anarchist to see a rep economy as a likely eventuality. If any of you follow our Facebook page, I posted a video on there from a talk I did to Social Media Club Boston about augmented reality:

http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%253A%252F%252Fwww.vimeo.com%252F7657169&h=22ef4f4dac8749e14f4d35878c94fcf1&ref=mf

My part on AR is going to be kind of a snore to EP fans; what's more interesting is the second guy who talked. He's a banker here in Boston, not a sci-fi geek as far as I know, and he's talking about rep economies. His way of looking at it is much different from ours, but when I asked him whether he thought rep could ever simply replace money, he didn't blink. He thinks they're likely to become so closely tied that sitting on a huge pile of currency will be of little use if you're not in the rep game, too.

3. Have you guys played with the system, and if so, how's it working out for you?
I've been running an EP campaign since 2007, and I think it's pretty playable (but I'm obviously biased). We had to make some trade-offs in the interest of game balance, though. In a real rep economy, everything you get with rep wouldn't convert neatly to a fixed cost in credits the way it does in EP.

4. The macroeconomics of the game and how rep plays out are broadly subject to GM interpretation.
First off, let me admit to a flaw in the game -- and then try to put a positive spin on it. :) You guys have already put your collective fingers on it in this thread: The underlying macroeconomic assumptions of the game are inconsistent in some respects. Fortunately, I think they're inconsistent in a way that will only drive the economic thinkers among us nuts; most gamers can just go on with their day, because it doesn't screw up things like gear costs and game balance.
Part of it was a design problem. I wrote the solar system gazetteer, which probably contains the most description within the Core book materials of where the solar system's resources are, how H+ is going about exploiting them, and how this has played out in terms of where people live and how dense populations are. John Snead wrote up most of the gear and space ships. He and I never really agreed on how important Helium 3 would be to future macroeconomics. At the time we wrote the core book, I was taking kind of a Zubrinist "Saturn is the Persian Gulf of the Solar System" position, while Snead was assuming other forms of fusion were more plausible for wide adoption. Rob never really came down on either side (which I don't fault him for -- on a busy production schedule, it was kind of a small detail relative to putting out a playable game), so the inconsistency stands for now. It'll probably get patched up some in forthcoming books.
Either way, scarcity isn't defeated, but it's on the run in this setting. How this plays out on the micro level, when you're dealing with individual tribes and habitats, is totally up to the GM. I think it's good that it's kind of chaotic, because it gives GMs a lot of potential story hooks. Trade between the inner and outer systems, with the Extropians in the middle, provides some dramatic tension in the game. The outer system needs nickel-iron asteroids; the inner system needs water and ammonia ice comets for their terraforming efforts. What will they exchange when they don't have a common currency? New product designs? Alien artifacts? Recovered TITAN technology? Likewise, the tensions between different economic blocks create a battleground on which Firewall agents may frequently find themselves picking up the pieces.

Anyhoo, I'm glad this has spawned so much discussion, and if people have examples of how rep has worked out for them in play, I'd love to hear them.

J A C K   G R A H A M :: Hooray for Earth!
  http://eclipsephase.com :: twitter @jackgraham @faketsr :: Google+Jack Graham

The Doctor The Doctor's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

Anyhoo, I'm glad this has spawned so much discussion, and if people have examples of how rep has worked out for them in play, I'd love to hear them.

I have a few examples from a recent game. One of the characters (the uplifted housecat alluded to in another thread) has a decently high criminal reputation due to his discretion in transporting cargoes and capacity for exacting revenge upon anyone, at any time (the Guan Xi think he is scarily vicious).

We have decided that the player is running Basement Cat.

Another character in the game has a very high CivicNet reputation due to his skill at investment banking (which he is running, in character, to raise credits), criminal reputation (for being a skilled systems cracker and stock market manipulator), and I-rep (for helping to fund Firewall with his investments, infiltrating installations on his missions, and cleaning up after incidents that went out of control).

The characters' criminal reputation scores have been used to get them a private table at a Triad-operated restaurant for a meeting (complete with RF jammers and TEMPEST hardening for privacy) with no questions asked and a much lower monetary cost (because they are respected by local organized crime, and more importantly the characters know how to show the proper respect and deference to the powers that be). One of the players is not using his I-rep to gain access to anything but is beginning to build and share a network of contacts in the habitat with Firewall whom he has befriended and worked with convertly (they now have I-rep scores of their own, albeit very, very low ones at this point in time). The NPCs helped without realizing it and the character is inclined to do them favors and potentially help them in the future. The same character's CivicNet reputation score was used to open a number of brokerage accounts which were then used to invest in local companies (and will possibly grow into leverage in the companies themselves, if I know the player) and escrow accounts which will be used as payment for other characters.

Character's reputation scores were also useful in drawing the PCs together throughout the game session (through AR bubbles while in public, searching the local mesh for information and finding blog posts and lifelogs, and tracking down old contacts).



Wayfinder Wayfinder's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

So, if I want to be a lazy douche-bag and do nothing but eat and sleep, I should go to a faction that supports me in spite of whatever rep I may have?

On the other hand, if I want to be a pure individualist, and provide strictly for myself and build my own economy and my own property, that means my rep might not be so good, so I might want to go somewhere where what I trade is more important than whatever social rep I might have, provided I'm honest enough.

Ramidel Ramidel's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

If you want to be a lazy douche-bag and do nothing but eat and sleep, you're better off being born a hyperelite and given allowance by your big rich parental unit. The anarchists won't tolerate you being a total slackoff (even on Locus you'll need to do something for the community), and in hypercorp space you need to be able to provide credit for what you want.

As for pure individualism, the only place you can do that is Extropia, and that's because Extropia is strange. Hypercorp economies prevent you from nanofacturing your own stuff, while anarchists judge you by your value to the community. Extropia has its own problems, however: unrestricted nanofacture and open-source software means that your ability to trade is limited by your value in labor, since anyone else can do their own manufacturing and has unlimited access to AIs and skillsofts for anything they might want. You need a high level of personal skill to be able to work in that environment.

standard_gravity standard_gravity's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

I'd imagine there are anarchist or at least outer system habitats where the habitants do nothing but eat and sleep. If they happen to have a stock pile of resources and a few nanofabricators, why not just relax and enjoy life?

"You need a high level of personal skill to be able to work in that environment." I think this goes for socialist anarchist societies as well, as they too have free open-source blueprints and free-for-all nanofabrication. However, anarcho-capitalists have an advantage in that they can more easily trade with the inner system and use credits at home. Also, their acceptance of all kinds of entrepreneurial ideas (unfettered by political restraints which is more likely to exist in socialist anarchist habitats) makes for a more dynamic economic environment.

"People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes." - John Dee

Zophiel Zophiel's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

Once again, a bit late to the party, but here's my personal take on what I've seen so far.

Assuming nanites provide for near 100% recycling and that there is access to ridiculous computational power and AI, its reasonable to assume that a colony can supply all of its basic needs with each colonist doing four hours of work per week towards that upkeep (as per somewhere in the book). In exchange for the four hours you get 200 square meters and a daily (or weekly or whatever) use-it-or-lose-it material allowance. Realistically, this probably takes the form of currency, if only because a gram of gold costs more than a gram of carbon against that allowance.

Maybe you design new nanofab blueprints. Maybe you make AR games. Whatever you do with your four hours per week, the dividends go to the colony, which uses them to trade for raw materials. Or maybe your work directly supports the colony through maintenance. This, in essence, provides for the not quite post scarcity portion of your existence. Everything else comes from rep, which I can better illustrate by example.

A modern example is the major media celebrity. Let's arbitrarily assign the late Elvis Presely a 90 f-rep as the single most recognized media figure in the world. Now, if Elvis wants the best seat in the house at Bubba Gump's Shrimpatorium restaurant, he's going to get it. Why? Because he's The King, baby. Because by doing him this favor, Bubba gets to say he hosted Elvis, which in turn boosts his rep. Elvis wants a new Pink Cadillac? Caddy gives him one because it showcases their product. Everything they do for him reflects his rep on them.

Similarly, if the head of Pax Familiae comes to you to do a job and you pull it off, it reflects on you. You're now one of the top ten badasses in the underworld. Would you (or Bubba or Caddy) do it for free? Not necessarily. In fact, in terms of fame, criminal rep and hypercorp rep you probably won't get (or give) it for free unless you're rolling at a much higher favor level.

On the @-rep side, money exists, its just not nearly as much of a motivating factor. Once you've got your endo, your gold plated toilet and your tacky Hawaiian shirt there simply isn't much more to do with your money. So if you want to do something that requires more than your money can do, you need instead to get cooperation. Want to hold a dinner party for the visiting scum barge's officers? Get ten buddies to sign half their daily quota over to you and you can do it. Hey, they probably have enough Hawaiian shirts anyway.

Now, when the software designer who made that sweet data intrusion package for you (high @-rep) runs into that scum barge next year a few planets over he'll ask you for a reference. You'll send an e-mail to the captain telling him to expect your buddy. More likely he'll post a notice on his lifelog asking for a reference and your muse will see that and provide it for you. In short, the captain isn't doing this guy a favor based on some nebulous contribution to society. He's doing it because you made his officers a great dinner (after his muse reminds him where he knows that name from). Now your buddy owes you a favor. Maybe you get it directly, maybe he hooks you up with someone else. Meanwhile, one of the guys who helped you with dinner needs some data intrusion software. . .in a world where social networking is a finely honed art, the friend-of-a-friend favor can extend a lot farther.

The Sandman The Sandman's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

standard_gravity wrote:
So removing money from the new economies give rise to a lot of problems. For example, there are no prices as such in a rep economy. But as established in the posts above, certain things cannot be produced for free in cornucopia machines, even if all blueprints are free and open source. Examples are very large objects (e.g. starships) or things that require unusual raw materials. Also important/secret information and services can be added to the list. (Briefly discussed here: http://www.eclipsephase.com/new-economy-and-item-cost). In such cases, the person (consumer) must use Rep to hopefully achieve his ends. (And burn a lot of rep, judging by the core book.)

The problem with Rep is that is focuses only on the consumer, not the producer. It only tells us who “deserves” goods and services the most, not what people want (i.e. not what should be produced or provided). Prices in a monetary economy are invaluable sources of information: they tell producers what to produce and in what quantity (economics 101). How does an anarchist habitat with limited recourses (raw materials and energy) know if they should produce that starship or instead 14 shuttles? How does it prioritise? And how do members of that habitat know what other members want in terms of, say, services from him? Should he give legal advice, bookkeeping services, become a stand-up comedian? Similarly to a monetary system, a system of pricing is an economic tool, not oppressive capitalistic humbug.

I think what you're overlooking is that the resource budget allotted to even a zero-rep person in the average "new economy" hab, while technically limited by resources and therefore not post-scarcity, is effectively post-scarcity in that it's still far more than a person is likely to use for any but the most outlandish personal needs and desires. And rep itself IS a form of pricing. In order to do something that's going to severely cut into the hab's overall resource budget, or in order to get a service that's not widely available, you're going to have to spend some of your rep as a way of convincing people that you deserve this particular item. The better your rep with a group, the more willing its members are to trust that you know what you're doing and give you what you want.

And as far as a member of the habitat figuring out what services or specialty goods the other members want, that's incredibly easy. They just go onto the local section of the Mesh and look at whatever the EP equivalent of a bulletin board is to see what services people are asking for, as well as what services people are actually offering. Sifting through this data on a day-to-day basis is probably something that most people end up delegating to their muses, taking a more personal interest only when they're looking for something very, very specific.

Cardul Cardul's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

Zophiel, I find it amusing that the underworld Rep is called Guanxi, when,
in effect, the degree of social Networking in Eclipse Phase is, actually, Guanxi.
Of course, in other games we might call it "prestation." But, yeah, I think you
summed up what is going on with Rep(at least, as I see it) very well.

In fact, this is a good way to explain how people get cross-faction rep so easily.
I mean, to use your example, say Elvis does not want that Cadillac, but, instead,
wants that Cobra. However, Cadillac would really like him to be seen in their car,
so they "gift" him with a Cadi. He, understanding what is going on, drives it around
in the very public places, and he ends up gaining Hypercorps rep, despite the fact
that he still drives the Cobra around when he wants to. People see him driving the
Cadillac around, Cadillac gets the publicity, so what if sometimes people see him
driving the Cobra?

But, now, let us go a little further. Elvis has a friend who needs Elvis to carry
something large for him, and Elvis' caddy has a nice, HUGE trunk. Well, Elvis
always looks out for his friends, so he goes ahead and helps the guy out. Even
if Elvis did not know that what was in the trunk was an illegally brought in Cornucopia
Machine, when the friend tells people in his Guanxi network that Elvis helped him
smuggle it in, Elvis will find himself with some Guanxi rep. And, of course, Elvis
was not even TRYING to get Guanxi Rep. But, now, this Cornucopia Machine was
delivered to some Autonomists, who are actually getting it to make food and medicine
for people who could use more then the allotment they are getting from the Hypercorp
facility they are. That Elvis, personally, delivered it, will stick in their minds, and they
will talk about it, and, suddenly, Elvis is seeing himself generating Autonomist rep, as
well.

Yeah, not everything needs to be(or should be) cut and dried about Rep.

standard_gravity standard_gravity's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

Interesting examples above!

I do understand how to use rep in the game. I also understand the usefulness of rep. In fact, a lot of what we do today anno 2009 is based on rep, and the EP vision is one where the rep system is socially formalized and, with the help of technology, quite user-friendly.

The main question I wanted to raise in the OP (and subsequent posts) was whether or not a rep system is more advantageous to economic actors than a monetary system (above all in terms of freedom and efficiency). I am still not convinced that it is. Moreover, I think it is unlikely that a rep system would be adopted and – above all – maintained in a situation where there is free competition with other (i.e. monetary) systems. Example 1: accounting in a rep system is impossible, and without accounting there would be a lot of waste and chaos and, in the end, misery. Example 2: I get into the bad books of the highest-rep guy in my habitat; I am in deep trouble and may lose all my years of building rep in this place and am left with nothing.

(What prompted my OP was the anti-money rant in the Accelerated Future chapter, along the lines of “money is barbaric and those still stuck in the old ways are doomed”.)

However, I take the EP universe for what it is and roll with it. Personally, in my campaigns the explanation why the autonomists are very weak indeed compared to the inner system can to a large extent be explained by the former’s economic system.

In any case, I find the rep concept thrilling and makes for a lot of interesting roleplaying. This is obviously a great advantage! I also think that a mixed system of rep and hard currency, much like what has developed in anarcho-capitalist habitats, is the best of two worlds: incentives to excel, social cohesion, sound economics and personal and commercial freedom.

"People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes." - John Dee

Zophiel Zophiel's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

I think the answer is that a strictly rep economy is a relatively rare thing. It exists primarily as a means of exchange between groups that are largely post-scarcity. A character with zero rep has a standard of living comparable to an inner system upper class (although not a hypercorp elite). Because of easy access to CM's, open source plans and a material supply well in excess of need, commerce in a new economy is a rarer thing. Like an 18th Century American farm family, each person makes most of what they need themselves. As such commerce tends to occur less formally. The new economy habs also tend to be making a political statement by eschewing money.

Is it inherently more liberating? No. You could certainly have a draconian government and a new economy. A new economy by virtue of using rep doesn't support or deny priavte/communal ownership, regulation on what can and can't be legally made (even anarchist habs are careful about handing out anything that can blow them up) etc. Rep can be used to persecute people, or even hire someone to ego-kill them. Its just another medium of exchange, a sort of time delayed barter for people who universally have a surplus.

Karri Karri's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

OneTrikPony wrote:
Ramidel wrote:

Highschool and every thing that comes after it in human experience tells us that this is absolutely oposite of the truth. I had to fight all the time, just to be left-the-fuck-alone, having any reputation aside from that was not even an option. The truth is that REP in any system is heavily influenced by Popularity. My experience is that the high reputation that gives you access has very little to do with your skills or success but rather other's perceptions of your skills and success.

The way I read it, it doesn't precisely work like that. I understand rep as something you earn, not just popularity. That douche from high school might be popular and manipulative, but he doesn't have a high rep - he just knows how to throw what little he has around, whereas you skimped on your social skills and might not be as capable of drawing on your larger bundle of rep. (I don't need to imply anything here, just using that example, even though EP isn't high school.)
standard_gravity wrote:

Also politicians of today (elected by the populace as they are) are extremely “nice and friendly”, yet they bomb innocent people, put people in prison although they have not harmed others, force you to fight their wars, steal around half of your wealth etc etc. In ALL societies in (trans?)human history, our leaders have been charismatic, scheming, social animals. Even most dictators (although judged as monsters by later generations) often seemed very friendly and nice to contemporaries.

Many, if not most, of those politicians are old money. It seems that in an economy where rep is the focus, you have to stand on your own legs. There's probably no helping that family and friends can and will help out, but if you're utterly incapable of earning rep yourself, you probably can't get anywhere in such an economy. I doubt it'd be perfect in this regard, but I do think it'd be more "fair" than a monetary based economy.

Wayfinder wrote:
So, if I want to be a lazy douche-bag and do nothing but eat and sleep, I should go to a faction that supports me in spite of whatever rep I may have?

On the other hand, if I want to be a pure individualist, and provide strictly for myself and build my own economy and my own property, that means my rep might not be so good, so I might want to go somewhere where what I trade is more important than whatever social rep I might have, provided I'm honest enough.


Like Ramidel said, it doesn't seem to be that simple. Unless you were born into wealth, you have to pull your weight... anywhere but Titania. Titania takes care of its dregs, which is one of the problems they have. You can't just show up on their doorstep and head for the fridge, though. Unless you were born there, you have to earn your citizenship... so you'd be forced to make an effort initially, at least.

I don't really understand what you mean by the second part. If you perform a valuable service, you'll earn rep, which can be used to get the goods you desire. To get a low rep, you'd have to burn it... but you could have the same issues elsewhere. Living above your means, all that.

standard_gravity wrote:
I believe this could work in a small community, perhaps even in a mid-sized one if there is a strong-enough sense of communal purpose or feeling of “we-against-the-universe”, but beyond that I maintain that it goes against the very nature of (trans)humans. I am happy to be proven wrong here - how would you (in theory and in game) rationalize that your nomadic, wild scum NPC would sacrifice his time or material wealth in favour of a barsoomian settler or a titanian bureaucrat PC? What do these people have in common other than a mutual distrust for inner system politics?

I thought about that, but it does make some sense. I still think some negative modifiers would in order, but they do know they're in it together... and more importantly, that if you help them, they'll help you. The network tracks it, and someone else from your society might be needing something.
standard_gravity wrote:
Lets say you invested as lot and pulled some strings and asked for a few favours to start a new venture, and it failed. You may as well move to the inner systems, get a fake ID or kill yourself (your ego, that is). In a capitalist economy it would be more like "ouch, that'll hurt, better luck next time". I am aware that reality (in EP...) is more nuanced, but it strikes me that the basic premise is such.

I didn't get that feeling at all. I guess it'd depend how you set it up. Did you burn all your rep on a get rich quick scheme? Anyhow, I don't see why a monetary system would automatically be more forgiving. Declaring bankruptcy and moving on might not be an option - you might be stuck with that debt for the rest of your life... in which case a rep system would be a good deal "nicer."

Well, sorry about the spam. I'm a little ashamed about that, but hey. Oh, disclaimer: I might not know what I'm talking about, but at least that's how I understood it.

Nemo30 Nemo30's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

All this is assuming that reputations are only built off of entirely positive merits or tangible, quantifiable accomplishments: being beautiful and charming, designing a useful widget, painting something beautiful, throwing a successful party, killing designated bad-guys for your faction, driving the mafia don's grandma to the store, &c. I suspect there are other ways of building reputations- i.e.: nepotism, eccentricity, honest dealing, or simply living in one place long enough until everybody there knows you and you know everyone.

While all of these things would most likely gain you some kind of reputation, I think each of those examples would earn you very different reputations in different circumstances and among different groups. Being a successful killer makes you a hero somewhere, maybe a war criminal somewhere else.

The poorest people in the world know very well that if you don't have money, you have to have people. The poor rely on their (usually local) reputations to get what they need. Money is useful because it eliminates the web of favors necessary to get things done when you are relying on reputation. You pay people and they go away when you're done paying them. Granted, credit companies and banks do their best (or worst) to maintain an extended relationship with their clients, and they certainly count every favor they do.

"The greater its height grows, the more the danger of a landslide looms: a tin can, an old tire, an unraveled wine flask, if it rolls towards Leonia, is enough to bring with it an avalanche of unmated shoes, calendars of bygone years, withered flowers, su

Karri Karri's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

I think it requires some effort to earn rep, and that it isn't just "fame" or what you'd call it. I see it as "value to community." As for the war hero example, that's fairly simple. If your community were, say, fighting the Jovians, battling them would fairly quickly lose any rep you had with the Jovs, while you'd gain some in your own community. There's several kinds of rep in the game, after all, and the GM can split it into more groups if he wants to.

I'll quickly agree that rep wouldn't work in the real world (certain similarities to our reliance on paperless money aside). EP has the advantage of a low-scarcity setting, as well the muses. Favors and reputation is quickly and easily dealt with, since the muses can navigate that twisted web of favors and overall worth, and no doubt trade a few favors here and there as a matter of course. Take away all the muses, and I think all the new economies would come crashing down in minutes.

Regardless of which means of trade you pick, it'll naturally have advantages and disadvantages. I mean, say, bartering means you'll have objects with inherent worth. I don't see rep as a perfect means of transaction - it certainly has disadvantages. I don't agree with webs of favors being a large problem in game context, although the added emphasis on persuasiveness certainly is. You do need to get them to take the favor, after all. Still, I suppose I'd prefer to live in a society with such economics (again, assuming everyone had muses). There's certainly a better safety net.

Of course, when it comes to PCs, it's a different matter. Credits is pretty much a universal currency, allowing greater (or at least easier) mobility, emergency spending sprees (whereas rep has to "recharge" or suffer loss), etc. All very useful traits for player characters.

Iv Iv's picture
Re: Rep = inflexible and oppressive?

Karri wrote:
I'll quickly agree that rep wouldn't work in the real world (certain similarities to our reliance on paperless money aside). EP has the advantage of a low-scarcity setting, as well the muses.
I think that as of today, most banks are in a reputation economy and that reputation is a main drive to currencies exchange rates. Your reputation score is what a banker will look into before giving you a loan. I disagree with the OP that reputation economy is more inflexible than currency economy : in both economies, your past has some importance to negotiate future deals. There are debts that follow you in the regular economy. I am not sure that the IRS is less persistent than a reputation tracker. I think also that you make the wrong assumption that a zero-rep means no one trusts you. People with zero-rep will get most of what they need and many people will be more than willing to give them a chance. Only people who are afraid about covert agents will be suspicious.

I would also like to contribute to the conversation by describing a real-life community that I know, that works mostly by reputation (arguably on a low scale as they are only a few hundreds but split on several sites). Longo Maï is a 40 years old hippy community in France which functions in what could be called an anarcho-communist ruleset : every site has a daily morning meeting where they talk about what they'll do during the day and vote if any decision is to be made. They have fields and two factories (one for wine and one for wool processing, the later with industrial scale machinery). All the people I have met from this community admit that they are fairly lazy but that the job that needs to be done is done nonetheless. People can be voted out of the community or simply be refused access to the goods of the community unless they work a bit more. One could argue that they are low scarcity in that the community has a lot more money than what a single individual would need but if one want to take some community goods, it has to be accepted through a morning vote (I need a new trouser, I want to take this tool, I want to bake a christmas cake, etc...)

Reputation economies can work in the real world but we often get the wrong impression that they are flawed because some profiles that are highly recognized in the regular economy would score poorly in the rep economy and vice-versa. Both have ways to get more rewards than is fair but I think both would work.

Shrekgrinch Shrekgrinch's picture
It depends

There are different forms of Anarchism.

Anarcho-Communism Doesn't believe in using money at all. It is basically stateless communism in action.

Anarcho-Collectivism Issues labor certificates for performing socially useful labor, which can only be used to purchase goods and services offered in the local planned economy. They could not be used for private 1-to-1 or 1-to-many transactions between individuals or even gifting to them.

In EP, the latter is substituted by Rep. Even in the former, Rep still is applied. But for the most part, most basic needs are equal for individuals and families. Like housing on a hab and CM access and use. Where Rep applies is for incidentals or marginal stuff like being seated at a restaurant first and at the best seats, travel expenses outside the rep, access to nano-fabbed items with rare element feedstock needs or long fabrication times or quantity or design-intensive applications, etc.
What exactly these amounts/limits are is determined by consensus decision-making, which is more than a simple majority vote.

There's a saying about the difference between America vs say, Norway: In Norway, things that you need are cheaply accessible while things that you want are expensive. For America, the opposite tends to be true. Rep is just the means to allocate the expensive stuff that you want in an anarchist society in EP. It is a fancy, high tech variation of tribal gift-giving, basically.

BTW, both AnCom and AnCol were practiced here on Earth. AnCol was practiced in Barcelona for a while. It was only crushed when Franco's forces teamed up with the Spanish Communists and even the Soviet Union to crush it. AnCom was practiced in the Ukraine during the Russian post-Revolution civil war era. It also operated well until it was crushed by Red Russian forces.