Okay, so most of you believe the Karma system of payment that I described in the last post is redundant with cash, or at least contrary to human nature. I disagree, since I wouldn’t walk your dog for cash, but I would do it for Karma points, so that I would feel free to ask you for a favor in return someday.
But I’ll drop that from the plan because if Cheapatopia works in other ways, you will get to know all of your neighbors well enough to arrange for a free dog-watcher when you need one anyway.
The backbone of Cheapatopia would be social networking via the Internet. You might say Facebook does what you need, but I think something far more robust is called for.
For example, if you wanted to arrange an impromptu get together for any sport or activity, it would be nice to have a web service that matched just the right number of players, at just the right mix of skills, without much human intervention. I should be able to tell the system what I’m interested in, when I can do it, and how skilled I am. Then the system should find other players. And it should happen in minutes, because alerts would be sent to the smart phones of anyone nearby who was interested in the same thing. In Cheapatopia, every citizen is required to have a smart phone. And the city would have free WiFi everywhere.
Preparing meals could also be more organized and less expensive. It would be a lot easier to make a bunch of just one thing – say a big bowl of pasta salad – than to make several items for a meal. Imagine a system that matches you with the neighbors who have complementary dishes, and you all get together to trade Tupperware containers with your contribution. The system would keep track of whether you gave more than you got, and even things out over time.
Food preparation and games would be the primary way neighbors got to know each other. And it would substitute for more expensive recreational and dining options.
The web service should also match people who have no pets, but wish they did, with people who need their pets walked or watched while they are away. No money needs to change hands because both parties benefit in the transaction. Few things are more fun than a borrowed dog.
Likewise, you could easily find someone to watch your kid for an evening if doing so gave their own kid a playmate to keep him occupied for that time. Babysitters would be unnecessary. Parents know it’s often easier to watch two kids that are amusing each other than one kid who has nothing productive to do.
Ride sharing would be made easy in Cheapatopia by this same Internet system. But the only rides you would ever need would be to the nearest airport. There would be no cars within Cheapatopia. More on that later.