Ok, I know this sounds over the top geeky, but hear me out. WoW (World of Warcraft) may actually provide a valuable model for how to run a post scarcity economy. After having watched and LOVED Jane McGonigal's TED talk, I realized how much those of us in the new economics world have to learn from WoW. I have never actually played WoW (no interest in goblins, ogres, or wizards), but I have talked to many who have and have learned quite a bit about how the WoW "workplace" is constructed. Here are some important parallels to the new economy.
Much like the real economy, WoW provides a series of tasks that can only be accomplished with a team. The difference is that there is no "employer." Teams spontaneously self assemble with the skill sets needed to accomplish the task. In the real world, we call these skills "core competencies," but in WoW each player has a special set of skills appropriate to their player class (healers heal people, wizards cast spells, etc).
The interesting part is that each mission requires a slightly different configuration of skills. One mission may favor fighters, and another may favor healers, and so on. This is quite similar to real life as different tasks in the real world require different sets of core competencies on the team. However, in WoW rather than being assigned tasks by a boss, teams self assemble based on prior experience, reputation, and a set of transparent metrics (currencies) about each player. WoW allows players to "level up," meaning that they get better, faster, stronger the more they play. More difficult missions require teams comprised of players at a higher level. What level you are on is transparent to those around you, so others know whether or not you would be an appropriate member of a given team. This transparency is what allows teams to self-assemble. It also allows for new comers to feel welcomed into the fold since people at lower levels can seek each other out for missions.
Also, in WoW there is NEVER a shortage of tasks to accomplish. This is of course true in the real world as well, but we have tricked ourselves into thinking there is a shortage of work (due to the chronic shortage of federal money). WoW does not have this limitation so there is always something VERY IMPORTANT to do with a team.
Even more importantly, in WoW the primary motivation for players is to "level their characters." The higher a level you attain, the more likely it is you will be asked to join a team for a really interesting mission. This is important because WoW is NOT about climbing a corporate ladder. It is about improving one's skills so as to get the most out of the experience. Think for a moment how radically awesome that is. Is this not exactly the kind of intrinsic motivation that spurs people to their highest potential in the real world?
To recap, in WoW, you don't need an employer because there is always work to be done, people can always connect with the right people to do the work, and the real motivation is in developing one's own skill set. And if you think this is too pie-in-the-sky to work outside the context of a video game, just remember how many young people are playing games like this for hours on end. They are in the midst of learning the skills for the new economy. Go future!
What platforms do you know about (and want to share) that are about taking this logic into the real world? How can we start building buildings this way? How can we start doing industry this way? I want to hear your thoughts.