What if Social Capital became money?


For today’s #DayoftheThinker, I recommend an excellent, easy-to-read book that is perfect for the beach blanket while still providing compelling advice (I will be reading this poolside): The Whuffie Factor by Tara Hunt.

Tara Hunt is the founder of “Citizen Space” and “ShWOWp” and the head of the famous blog HorsePigCow.com.  She has become a speaker on social network marketing and communications.  The title of her book was inspired by the Sci-Fi novel by Cory Doctorow (founder of boing-boing) Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. In this novel, taking place in a near future, post-scarcity economy, the “Whuffie,” an ephemeral, reputation-based currency has replaced conventional money.  Doctorow imagines a world where all material goods are free and available to all.  Whuffies are gained and lost by good actions, contributing to a community, and ones perceived reputation.  There are thus three ways to gain Whuffies: being liked, being well connected, or by being well known.  The Whuffie is part of the donation economy where services are provided without being paid upfront.  In the donation economy, the more you give, the more Whuffies you gain, the opposite of the market economy where when you spend money, you lose it!

In The Whuffie Factor, Tara Hunt gives her teachings for taking advantages of social networking to improve ones business.  For her, the importance of social capital is neither a fiction nor a recent idea.  Her idea, contrary to Doctorow’s novel, is not that social capital will replace actual currency but that social capital will be part of a parallel economy that will interact with the real market economy.  According to Hunt, a high social capital will give access to a better job, better pay, will help win clients and sell more.  Tara Hunt advocates community marketing that is resumed in 5 points: 1. Circulate the “micro” (listen), 2. Integrate into the community (by integrating), 3. Create extraordinary experiences, 4. Accept chaos (avoid over-planning), 5. Accomplish ones vocation (contributing to the community).  These 5 themes are part of 5 chapters illustrated with numerous examples that are very accessible.  Typical of many English-language business books, Hunt offers 11 tips to maximize one’s “whuffie” capital. With idea that “the more you give, the more you can get”, Tara Hunt shows us how to do better business in a pragmatic and compelling way.  What if the Whuffie became the newest unit of measurement in the 21st century?

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