Welcome To The Digital City Of Oikonomia

Pattern number within this pattern set: 
Burl Humana

Welcome to The Digital City of Oikonomia. Oikonomia is a digital place where digital citizens come together as community to have an effect on the character of their own future. “Oikonomia means to manage the household in a way that increases its use value to all members of the household over the long run. If we expand the scope of household to include the larger community of the land, of shared values, resources, biomes, institutions, language, and history, we have a good definition of economics for community."1 The City of Oikonomia emphasizes the fact that digital citizens are real people with human needs. The most basic of these is the need to protect the natural environment. Oikonomia supports the basic tenants of community; nature, people, business, and government in addition to an action plan for the common good. The City of Oikonomia is a digital place where “economics for community” can be advanced.
“Aristotle made a distinction between Oikonomia and another form of economy called Chrematistics. Chrematistics is a branch of political economy relating to the manipulation of property and wealth to maximize the short-term monetary exchange value for the benefit of the owner. The theory of wealth as measured by money. Our modern world of “Wall Street” dedicated to making money is the purest form of Chrematistics.”1 Chrematistics is based on exchange value which promotes insatiable materialistic need. More is always better, accumulations is unlimited. On the other hand Oikonomia is based on concrete use value that can be satisfied. Accumulation is limited. A sustainable conservation economy can exist that increases the use value of its resources to all members of the household over the long run.
Chrematistics has to do with the benefit of the individual. Oikonomia has to do with the benefit to the whole of society. Christopher Alexander’s work in developing patterns was based on the premise that 90% of what we do as humans is the same. While each person has their own individual human intricacies, this accounts for only about 10% of life. Alexander worked to emphasize the parts of us that are the same instead of focusing on what is different. Christopher Alexander says the problem is in coming to see that the whole is real. We see this again in Aristotle’s notions of cause, material, efficient, formal, and final. The material and final causes are concrete. The task is to focus on what is real or concrete.
Christopher Alexander also says the human experience is based on personal human feeling. Each individual experiences the world through their own human feelings. Our human feelings and human values play a large part in who we are. If these human feelings are extracted out of us by an economy that only measures money, life becomes less meaningful. “True wealth is living capital that makes life worthwhile.”4 As humans we need to be closely attached to our human values.
The Digital City of Oikonomia tries to solve this problem for the human experience. The method for doing this is to create a digital system for individuals (households) to enter their personal financial pattern in to. This financial pattern should include the individual human values and feelings of the person (household). Through this digital system the personal financial patterns can begin interacting or “do business together”. As individuals and households start interacting they can discern where they have mutual human values. Based on these mutual human values, trust bridges will develop that allow the households to have stronger, more complex relationships. These deeper relationships can be the “seed crop” for social change that improves our world. Individuals and households will become empowered by the opportunity to participate in an economy based on their human values. Gradually, new opportunities will open up that give the household or individual even further realization of what is meaningful to them in this world and their own lives.
Through a system of Oikonomia we can manage the household or society as a whole to increase its use value to all members of the household (society) over the long run. A pattern developed by Eco-Trust gives us a framework upon which to build Oikonomia based on a conservations economy of social, natural, and economic capital. The digital infrastructure will give household economies the opportunity to be connected to these three forms of capital based on their own human experience. NOT A DREAM
The Digital City of Oikonomia is like a port city that thrives from its economics related to the water way. The water way of Oikonomia is blue and milky with human kindness. Over the waterway the heavens reach the earth and the earth reaches the heavens.
Humankind comes together near the waterway and a common good is achieved through digital interaction. The digital interaction leads to positive human interactions and our world improves on the Waterway of Human Kindness. The preservation of natural resources is the most important component for creating a sustainable future for humanity. The natural environment of the waterway is not destroyed by the digital environment. The digital environment is invisible except for a few seconds each night when the digital infrastructure twinkles like stars in the sky and reflects like fairy dust on the waterway in praise to our maker.
This sounds like a dream but it is not. This description of the Digital City of Oikonomia is an attempt to put a face on a virtual place. Christopher Alexander calls this a topography which is rich and profound. “Topology depends on the intuition that the character of a multi-dimensional configuration R depends in some way on the system of those subsets of R which are connected. If we give all the connected subsets the measure 1, and the remaining non-connected subsets the measure 0, then the sets of measure 1 establish the connectivity of R.” There are only two classes of sub regions – open and closed. There are only two possible degrees of coherence, 0 if not connected, and 1 if connected. The character of this configuration is given by the particular system of sub regions that are connected, and by the way these connected sub regions overlap and lie within each other.”1 This topology gives cognitive dimensions to Oikonomia that allows us to imagine what The Digital City might be like.
However, to truly understand where and how The Digital City of Oikonomia exists we must begin to understand what is real or concrete about it in a more complex way. To do this we must learn to see that the “whole” is real. The “whole” is concrete. It is not an illusion, though we so often fail to see it. The reason this happens is because the “whole” is neutral. However, this is not like “The Emperor’s New Cloths” which were not real. In its neutral state the “whole” is real. “The “whole” is unbroken and undivided.” “In physics, the local behavior of an electron is affected by the larger configuration of the experiment in which it moves. The local behavior of a gravitational particle is affected by the large-scale gravitational field that is created by the particles.”1 “Wholeness is the important thing: the local parts exist chiefly in relation to the whole, and their behavior and character and structure are determined by the larger whole in which they exist and which they create.”1 “The fundamental idea is that we can define wholeness exactly as a structure.”1
In mathematical terms, Alexander “defines the wholeness W as the system which is created by the region R, together with the measure (of life) c and all those subregions which have measure more than some threshold and thus qualify as centers. The wholeness W is created by the interaction of the geometry of the region R and the rank order which is created on the centers of R by c.”1 Wholeness is more general than the topology of a figure. Wholeness has a powerful global character. Alexander gives the example of four different self-portraits of the painter Henri Matisse. The features in each drawing are very different. “Only the wholeness remains the same in every drawing.”1 Though the features or the topology of each face is different it is still easy to see that it is Matisse. The “whole” face of Matisse is real. The whole is neutral, it simply exists. The relative life of a given part is merely a consequence of the wholeness which exists. Grasping an understanding of this wholeness is fundamental to realizing what is concrete and real. Only by focusing on what is real and concrete through your cognitive understanding of this wholeness can you see a true picture of The Digital City of Oikonomia.
The digital infrastructure of Oikonomia is built of trust bridges that criss-cross the waterway. The trust bridges connect household economies in a grid of centers. If the grid was not invisible it would look similar to the ceiling detail of the “Palasio de Comares, Alhambra, Granada”5, only in three dimension. The grid of centers are based on the theory of centers by Christopher Alexander, in the Nature of Order series, book one, The Phenomenon of Life. The centers come into reality one household at a time. Imagine each household is a dot on the grid. At first there are no dots and no grid. As the first household joins the Digital City of Oikonomia the first dot is placed and a field of centers is created. Alexander begins to explain this concept on page 305 of his book the Nature of Order, Book One, The Phenomenon of Life, as he starts the second half of his book on the Personal Nature of Order, Section 3/ Wholeness and Feeling. Alexander calls the dot a center but he also uses the term center to define the relationship of the dot to the space around it and the personal feeling created by the dot. The first dot becomes alive because of its relationship to the whole. When the second dot is placed on the grid the field of centers change as the relationship to the space changes. As more and more dots are placed on the grid the field of centers becomes more complex. Remember the dots are household economies and as the households join the Digital City of Oikonomia they come to life in their relationship to the whole and define the city.
Each household economy has its own digital financial pattern which is a center in itself. The household economies are connected through digital trust bridges in the field of centers. The households are the power source, so to speak, for the grid of centers. The household centers effect and determine the type of social, natural, & economic capital that exists by their interaction through the grid. The household financial patterns are based on the reconnection of individual human values with social, natural, & economic capital. At the household level, people determine what is important to them. They include their emotional, physical, and spritual needs in their personal household pattern. Through the grid households communicate their needs, act on them, and have an effect on the outcome of the world they live in through their interactions.
The Digital City of Oikonomia is made up of six main patterns; the conservation economy pattern, the digital trust bridge pattern, the digital citizen pattern, the creative democratic database pattern, and the digital social task system pattern. Each of these patterns exist in relationship to the “whole” city.


Sets the Digital City of Oikonomia in context to a pattern for a sustainable society. This creates a structure upon which to develop trust bridges that further develop the Oikonomian society. The field of household centers adhere to the Conservation Economy Pattern developed by Eco-Trust for a sustainable society. It you go to http://www.conservationeconomy.net you can view an interactive version of the pattern map pictured in Figure 3. The digital infrastructure of Oikonomia will enhance Eco-Trusts


A digital structure for the trust relationships between households/centers. The digital infrastructure of Oikonomia will enhance Eco-Trusts’ Conservation Economy pattern by putting in place the noticeably missing links between household economies and social, natural, & economic capital through digital trust relationships.
Problem Statement:
Many people or households do not have relationships with others that make full use of trust as an asset. Some people live a long way away from others they can have trust relationships with. Establishing trust bridges is hard. In a region of close proximity there may be many more trust relationships a person can have if they know they are available.
Trust relationships between people are very important to daily life. They ease problems in people’s lives and foster mutual assistance. These trust relationships are what we call trust bridges. A trust bridge helps people work together and increases social capital. Most people are trustworthy in one situation or another. Trust is a vital asset that should be used to its fullest potential.
Real Life Example:
I give the real life example of Alfie & Ruth Tatum to show how trust bridges work in everyday life. Alfie and Ruth Tatum are middle-aged people with six children. They belong to an inter-city Evangelical Church they helped found over 15 years ago. Alfie works in the city as a sales man for the local city seaport. Ruth doesn’t work outside the home. She takes care of and home schools the children. The Tatum’s live about 30 miles from the inner-city where Alfie works. Everyday Ruth drives Alfie five miles to the commuter train, which takes him into the inner-city. Ruth keeps the family van to use during the day.
Alfie earns enough to support the family in a modest way. The Tatum’s home is in a semi-rural area. They own approximately three quarters of an acre with a large three story five-bedroom house on it. Sales at the port have been down in the last two years. Alfie’s income has been less than normal for an extended period. Sometimes the Tatum’s are not able to make their house payment. The pastor of their church helps them pay bills when the Tatum’s cannot.
The Tatum’s lifestyle is based on human values that are important to them. They have certain religious beliefs that are manifested in the church they belong to. They believe in home schooling their children even though public education is available and there is a school within one block of their home. Caring for the children is very draining on Ruth. She is clinically depressed but able to maintain her daily responsibilities as a mother and a teacher. Both Alfie and Ruth are intelligent, socially minded people. The Tatum children are socialized with one another and play together on the property. The children participate in some activities with other home schooled children.
The Tatum’s find people in their neighborhood are not as friendly as they would like. However, the Tatum’s are not involved in the school, community grange, or sports activities that bring others in the community together. Instead the Tatum’s are involved in their church which is over 30 miles away. Sometimes Ruth and the children feel isolated in their home environment. They had lived in the inter-city within the close proximity of other people. There was more social interaction in their daily lives. On the other hand, Alfie, who still works in the city, is happy to be home with his family on the weekends and away from other people. He is glad to come back to a semi-rural community.
One neighbor, named Gilly, has become a good friend of Ruth. Sometimes they walk together for exercise. Ruth and Gilly have a lot in common and enjoy talking together. Their friendship has blossomed because they seem to have mutual human values. Gilly has a son named Prince who enjoys playing with the Tatum children. Ruth and Gilly have a mutually supportive relationship. One time Ruth’s freezer went out and she was unable to afford one for a few weeks. Gilly stored Ruth’s meat in her freezer until Ruth was able to purchase a new freezer. Another time, Gilly’s boss wouldn’t let her off work in time to pick up her son from school. Ruth had her boys walk to the school to pickup Prince and kept him for the afternoon until Gilly could get home from work. Recently, Gilly and Prince were on their way home near dusk. They saw Alfie and the four boys walking by the road up a long hill about two miles from home. Gilly stopped the car to talk to them. Alfie had taken the boys to a park to collect salamanders. They had locked the keys in the van. Ruth couldn’t come pick them up because their other vehicle was broken down. Their only choice was to walk home, which was especially difficult for the smallest boy. Gilly gave them a ride home to get the car keys. Without the good fortune of Gilly passing by to help, they would have not made it home before dark let alone back to the van before the park closed and the gate was locked.
The Tatum’s do not have a strong financial position. However, there are other aspects of their life that are important and valuable to them. It is important to the Tatum’s to home school the children. To care for the children in this way Ruth does not work outside the home. This reduces the annual income of the Tatum family considerably. They would not trade this aspect for money. Other relationship’s, like with the pastor of their church, make up the difference when the Tatum’s are short of money. The commuter train and their friend Gilly are examples of how alternate resources can make up for the fact the Tatum’s only afford to keep one vehicle operational at a time. These alternative resources have value as part of the Tatum’s household economy.
Forces: Fear is a barrier to relationships and peoples willingness to build bridges. Fear inhibits positive social traits, and instead results in greed or other negative social influences Dropping the fear quotient is an important component in developing social capital and building trust bridges. Information, knowledge, openness, diversity, inclusivity, and a middle ground help people to open up, become unguarded and feel safe. This helps the way people use their social resources like networks, norms, and trust (collectively known as social capital) to better their conditions. “Trust and networks are defined not only as outcomes of social capital but as factors that help build social capital between individuals, supporting a non linear definition of the concept.”
Soluton Statement:
Therefore, we should connect people with compatible values by establishing digital trust bridges through computer-mediated communication. Digital trust bridges can help people find trust relationships with one another. Each household creates their own digital economic pattern in a digital system set up to accept household patterns. The household economic patterns in the digital system communicate their values with one another. One household pattern, talks to another household pattern, talks to another household pattern, sometimes one to one and sometimes one to many. The households both find and offer alternate resources for and to one another. This opens up more opportunities for the households to afford the values that are important to their own lives and the lives of other people. In this type of trust relationship the players develop a new “greater good” pattern that benefits a group of people as a whole. You probably have experiences similar to those of Alfie and Ruth in your own life. Your own digital trust bridges can make life more worthwhile by the social capital that is created in these relationships.
Digital Example:
If households are digitally connected through trust bridges they can have trust relationships of new and creative kinds. In a digital system, Alfie and Ruth can create a digital economic pattern of their household including their human values as part of their financial plan. If many households, like the Tatum’s, have a digital economic pattern, these patterns can talk to one another or “do business”. The same way Ruth and Gilly do business but through a digital trust bridge. As the Tatum household tells their human values through their economic pattern, potential trust relationships will come into view. Some relationships will be with close neighbors and some will be with people far away. Maybe a digitally connected home school family from the East Coast would mail used books to a digitally connected home school family on the West Coast via a trust bridge. Maybe a digitally connected pastor from one parish would have a reciprocal relationship to send money through a digital trust bridge to the pastor of another parish to help his people through a financially difficult time.
Another option for Ruth is to create more trust relationships with people in her own neighborhood whom she hasn’t met but have similar values. Someone who Ruth is connected with through a digital trust bridge might offer freezer space to a family of eight, if Gilly didn’t live across the street. If Ruth was part of a digital structure that helped her communicate her needs and values these relationships could get started. In reciprocity, Ruth could also offer her services to others who have a need. These trust relationships built in a digital environment can help Ruth build trust relationships in her neighborhood that are currently lacking. This would relieve the sense of isolation Ruth is currently feeling. The household patterns grow and interrelate with one another in an organic way in a digitally collocated setting.
Known Uses:
At Evergreen College in Olympia, Washington, USA, I participated in a year long class called Community Information Systems. In small groups of students we worked with organizations and groups of people around the world interested in building information systems that created trust relationships. One group worked with a small town in Orient, Iowa, USA. The town had a database of its citizens and surrounding population. They wanted to find a way to use the database to communicate weather conditions to people in their community through the internet. Sometimes roads were closed or school schedules were changed due to snow. This caused safety hazards and worries about children. Especially if you worked in a town fifteen miles away and you weren’t sure when your child got out of school and if they were in a safe place. The radio station was in the next largest city and didn’t report information about roads and schools in their little community. Through weather postings on their website and broadcast e-mail using the database they hoped to notify community members of weather related safety information. In theory, community members could add, change, update and access personal contact information in the database. This would allow friends and neighbors the information they needed to contact one another and help others out in an emergency.
Other students helped a community in Africa report health problems and collect health data in local villages. Sometimes villagers were afraid for others to know their health problems because of social taboos. This type of reporting increases awareness and lessens local fears about health problems.
Another group helped in a writing project. They created a forum for authors to share creative ideas in a safe environment. A common fear for a writer is the exposure of their ideas to others.
The first patterns that identify the household economy on the Oikonomian landscape.
The first stage of development for Oikonomia is to create a digital financial pattern for households to enter their personal financial information into. In the beginning these patterns will look much like a conventional financial plan. However a human values piece will be developed and integrated into the conventional financial pattern. Over time the human values piece will be improved with use and the evolution of this concept. As this happens, hopefully, the conventional financial plan will be diminished or become so integrated with the human values piece that it is one and the same.
Problem: In a Chrematistic economy individuals can build a financial plan that shows their net worth in an exchange value, “money” system. Based on this traditional plan the individual can take action to increase his or her net worth. A traditional financial plan does not include many other aspects of every day living that are valuable to an individual, household, or society as a whole.
For an Oikonomian economy, I propose individuals build household economy patterns that include information from their traditional financial plan, but are not limited to this type of economic information. Other aspects of daily living are of value and can be included in the household pattern. Examples of these important aspects are listed on the Genuine Progress Index developed by John Cobb and include such things as the value of volunteerism, parenting and eldercare, or subsistence living; the cost of crime, gambling, or substance abuse; and the value of forests and wetlands. This is just to name a few, as households create economic patterns the list will grow exponentially. These listed aspects of daily living are based on what is important, useful, and valuable to the individual household.
Once these household financial patterns are in place the patterns can begin talking to one another and “do business” together. This “business” will include the human values the digital household patterns are based on. In the chrematistic economy these human values would be excluded from the financial plan. These household financial patterns are “centers” inside a larger pattern of trust bridges that benefit society as a whole. The benefit to the whole society is a center made up of these smaller household economy patterns.
Real Life Example:
The Tatum’s assets include a home and land valued at $350,000. Their equity in the home is $75,000. The bank loan on the real estate is $275,000 which they just refinanced at 5.5% They have used up all of their savings. They are buying a large van valued at $18,000 on credit at 1.5% interest. They use available credit cards to purchase clothing, necessities, and emergency repairs. Their credit card debt exceeds $8,000 at 9.5% interest. This debt includes payment they made for a new drain field.
Alfie’s gross income is $48,000. Ruth does not work outside the home. Alfie receives medical and dental benefits for his family through his employer’s group plan. At age 58 Alfie’s 401k retirement plan is worth $200,000. He has a Universal Life Insurance policy with a $500,000 death benefit and a cash value of $8,000.
The Tatum’s have six children ranging from age four to age nineteen. There are no funds available for the children’s college education. They can borrow against the cash value of Alfie’s 401k and life insurance policy. The children are home schooled and will need to take a proficiency test to receive a high school diploma. Both parents are college educated.
The average monthly expenses for the household total $3,700 including taxes. This leaves approximately $300.00 per month or $3,600 per year for any extras like household appliances, furnishings, or emergency funds.
The Tatum’s financial information can be entered into a financial planner’s software and net worth and cash flow financial statements prepared. This will give the Tatum’s a good idea of their financial position and the action’s they can take to improve their financial situation.
Up to now a main purpose for people’s financial information has been to help them “do business” with businesses, organizations, government agencies, and schools. People are client or consumers of these organizing structures’ products. To inter-relate with the structure the person must provide or “give up” certain personal information. This serves the purpose of the organization in “selling” their product to the person. This upward flow of personal financial information was invented by and for the use of bureaucratic organizations.
On the other hand, untraditional economic information includes the benefits of and costs to social and natural capital. This information has not been measured in our Chrematistic economy as a standard rule. We don’t have a lot of experience in measuring this type of capital. It is also possible different units of measure will be needed to calculate the value of both tangible and intangible social and natural capital. Providing opportunities for humans to begin working on this social and natural capital valuation problem on an individual basis will create new social innovations.
Therefore, we should create a digital input system where households can input their economic patterns including both financial information and other forms of social and natural capital information important to the individual or household. These patterns should start by including financial information that would exist in a traditional financial plan. This information would include personal information, income, expenses, assets, liabilities, and forms of insurance attributable to the household as a whole. Then there should be a place in the digital economic pattern for untraditional economic information. This untraditional information should include benefits and costs of important aspects of social and natural capital that are of value to the household on a personal level. Development of untraditional economic information will be a science The Digital City of Oikonomia can take up in a leadership role toward world social development.
Digital Example:
The Tatum’s traditional financial information is listed in the Real Life Example above. This same financial information would also be listed in the household’s digital financial pattern. However, this information does not reflect many true costs and benefits of social and natural capital that affects their livelihood. Additional information important to the Tatum’s human values would be added to the traditional financial information. With the development of a values based digital financial pattern for households, the Tatum’s could record, evaluate, and make decisions based on more specific and personal information
Alfie travels by commuter train to work each day. This saves in the cost of wear and tear on the one family vehicle and extends the life of their van. The cost of commuting is cheaper than the cost of gas to travel to and from work. The cost of insurance on the van would be higher also if he was using it to commute 30 miles to work each day. By taking the train Alfie is able to leave his van for the family to use during the day. Ruth can take the children to doctor appointments and swimming lessons. In addition, Alfie is helping the environment by not polluting the atmosphere with fuel emissions on his commute. Some of these costs and benefits of commuting can be added up in a monetary way. Some of the costs and benefits are not equitable in terms of money but have social and natural value. These costs and benefits can at least be listed through words that describe their value to the Tatum family. Maybe a number value could also be attributed to the costs and benefits to help the Tatum’s evaluate their importance to the family as a whole.
The Tatum’s can collect and then control this type of information in their digital financial pattern. The purpose of the information is to benefit the household in allowing them to find economic alternatives that grant them their human values instead of depleting them. As the Tatum’s digital household pattern talks to other household patterns through a trust bridge they may find other commuters in their same situation. All of these commuters are interested in lowering fuel emissions in their community. However, one of the other households has no vehicle at all. As an act of Social Capital, Alfie can pickup the other commuter, named Steven, and help him get to the train. In reciprocity, the other commuter may be the one who stores the Tatum’s meat in their freezer when the freezer goes out until the Tatums can afford a new one. It was their digital household patterns that brought Alfie and Steven together.
If the Tatum’s only objective was to get Alfie to work on time so the boss doesn’t get mad and he can hold down his job, a lot of social capital would have been lost along the way. Alfie might jump in the van and speed off to work everyday thinking his first and only objective is to earn a living without thinking of alternatives. He would probably run up a large gas credit card to be paid off at 18% interest. By considering his other human values, Alfie can accomplish his need to get to work in a timely manner through alternative resources, help others, and in turn create social capital that ends up to be directly beneficial to his family. His digital financial pattern gives him a new kind of vehicle in which to work with other considerations.
Known Uses:
At this time many people are learning to manage their own financial position using software built for the personal computer. Some well-known personal financial software programs are Microsoft Money and Quicken. For preparing personal income tax there are software programs like Turbo Tax and Tax Cut by HR Block. Personal account transaction information from some banks and investment houses can be downloaded and integrated with these financial software programs.
All of these programs help the individual or household get their arms around their personal financial information. However, these well-known programs are not open source software. These programs also do not allow the individual to add other information that is important and can have a large effect on the financial life of the household.
Most important of all, current financial software programs for individuals do not allow households to interact with one another. Some user groups like E-Bay come the closest in allowing individuals to “do business” with one another.
Digital Citizens are the real people that make up the real households that digitally inhabit the City of Oikonomia.
Problem Statement:
Whether citizens interact in a real world or a virtual world they are still human beings. As people, digital citizens have the same human characteristics and the same human needs they have always had in the real world. From a digital perspective nothing changes about the human being except the ability to interact with more human beings in new and innovative ways. Sometimes this means the ability to interact with more strangers. The positive aspect for the Digital Citizen is the possibility for new opportunities to solve unmet human needs and enhance current interpersonal relationships through computer generated media.
Digital citizenship and identity will be one of the subjects of discussion among the first citizens of Oikonomia. No real person will be denied entry to the city, but proving that you are who you say you are will be a responsibility of citizenship. Fingerprints will be proof there are not two of the same person in the City but they will not be used for identification. A system of anonymous identity numbers will be issued to those who prove their identity but the city will not track identities or identity numbers. The digital citizen can work, interact, do business and keep anonymous records in the Creative Democratic Database once issued an identity number. Identity numbers can be changed as often as desired within the system because the actual number is not important for citizenship, you just have to have one to interact.
Duplicate, false, and even suspicious identities will be locked out of the city until re-verification is made by the citizen. Reporting of duplicate, false or suspicious identities will be a responsibility of every citizen, every day, in every way. Reporting will be made easy as will the re-verification of identity for the legitimate citizen. Leniency will be given to false reporting because little harm is done to the digital citizen.
Trust bridges will determine layers of interaction between citizens. The trust bridges may exclude or include citizens based on criteria. However, there is no criteria for being a citizen except authentic verification as a real person.
Real Life Example:
You only need to be born to live in this world. Who you are is unimportant to your right to be born. Once you are born you have an identity. Your identity stays the same throughout your life. You can change your names as often as you want but you are still the same person. However, citizenship is limited to your country of origin or choice. You cannot be a citizen of multiple countries. Except in the case of dual-citizenship which is limited to two countries. Citizenship in the real world is limited by place which also limits opportunities for people to be connected around the world.
People around the world have similar basic needs. One of these needs is identity which includes values, spirit, and personal integrity. As digital citizens people can look for ways to protect their identity from becoming diminished. Entering into reciprocity relationships through digital media will help humans build security, self-esteem, and hope for themselves
All people can become citizens of The Digital City of Oikonomia. Digital citizenship is similar to birth in the real world but without borders. There are no barriers to entry because the only criteria is that you be a real person. No matter what race, religion, creed, or ethnic origin you can enter the city, exist and interact. This allows people from all around the world to become connected. The unrestricted connections of digital citizenship can help people find new ways to help one another. Through digital interaction people from around the world can work together to fill human needs.
Digital Example:
Many people are from indigenous cultures that do not participate in the market economy. These people are often not as connected to the rest of the world. Sometimes this is for the best. However, if and when natural resources are diminished the world will probably come to them eventually. At this point and time it appears the market economy will be the first one knocking on the door (so to speak) of indigenous people. The American Indian is a testimony to the ill fate of indigenous cultures. By becoming digital citizens indigenous people might find solutions to preserve their culture and heritage in a proactive way. This will also help preserve diversity in our world.
Known Uses:
Salmon Nation is described as anywhere that Pacific salmon have ever run which includes an area on the west coast rain forest of North America from Alaska to California. Salmon Nation is “a community of caretakers and citizens, a community that stretches across arbitrary boundaries and bridges urban-rural divides. We bring new meaning to the word cooperative -- with unusual alliances of tribes, fishermen, farmers, loggers, and urban-dwellers working together to improve our neighborhoods and watersheds.”7
Anyone can become a citizen of Salmon Nation by logging on to http://www.salmonnation.com. To become a citizen you must say the Salmon Nation oath:
“I believe that where I live matters.
I believe that there is enough for everyone.
I recognize that we all live downstream of one another and are thus interconnected.
I believe our experience makes the difference and that it is important to know the stories of this place.
I am right where I belong.
I am a Citizen of Salmon Nation and
I pledge to live here like I mean it!”7
“The goal (of Salmon Nation) is to create a citizenry that votes and makes behavioral choices that contribute to enhancing the health of whole watersheds and the economies of the people that live in them.”7
Discusses principles of trust and interaction in the digital city and define how private data is controlled.
Problem Statement:
With some type of technology to connect household economies, people will have more opportunities to build trust relationships that create good interactions and empower society to solve important problems. Hopefully, over time, a technology will evolve that can accomplish this task in a big way. This technology must invoke representation of individual feelings and values. In a very rudimentary way this technology can be started by establishing The Creative Democratic Database to connect household economies with one another. I would imagine this database to be the beginning of a much greater technological system that develops through innovations resulting from use of the database.
Individual households will begin to use the Creative Democratic Database to store their personal information in an anonymous way. In the Creative Democratic Database personal and financial information will be owned and kept private by the individual, not given to corporation or government agencies in order to do business. This information has long been used by businesses or governments as power. It has helped keep economic capital in the hands of a few. However, the personal and financial information of households and individuals belongs to the people. The power of this information should remain in the hands of people.
Collectively, the power of this personal information is like water behind a dam. This power can be used for the betterment of human kind if people as a society can harness it. In the Creative Democratic Database there will be a reverse flow of information from what is normal operating procedure today. Personal information that once flowed up hill to businesses and government to perform transactions will now flow downhill to individuals based on their interactions.
At this time, it may be a very long leap of faith to believe it is possible to change this flow of information. Personally, I believe it is entirely probable with creative ingenuity. However, the most important idea here is not how we can accomplish the change in flow of personal information. How to accomplish a task takes the focus off what is real. We must concentrate on what is real, the final cause. The concrete idea is to protect the security of people’s personal and financial information and control this information in a format that empowers the person, household, or society as a whole by changing the direction or flow of the information altogether. Once we have this idea firmly planted we can go on to the work of accomplishing the idea.
Real Life Example:
We give out a large amount of personal information every time we enter into a business transaction. To buy a house we tell the mortgage company our personal financial history. We report where we live and who lives with us, where we work, what we do at work, how much we earn, how long we have worked in the same place, and other places we have worked. We tell the mortgage company about the value of our personal assets, who we owe money to, and how well we pay our debts. We give out personal and government identification numbers, account numbers, and bank account information. We provide all of this information to a total stranger so they can decide if we are worthy to perform a business transaction with them.
From the perspective of the business owner this information makes sure the individual he is doing business with is trustworthy. The business owner wants to decide this for himself on every transaction so he requires the individual to provide a truck load of personal information. However, the main thing the business owner needs to know is that the person is trustworthy.
Giving up personal information to strangers leaves individuals vulnerable to those who would do harm to the individual by using this information for unintended uses. As our world becomes more connected through information technology we do business with more strangers. There needs to be a way for individuals to do business that does not require you to give up personal information to complete a transaction.
With their anonymous information collected in the Creative Democratic Database the individual can begin to do business together with other households, businesses, and government agencies. A social system of human values can be built that makes it possible for people to interact with businesses without giving up their personal information. Instead of giving up personal information, each household can interact based on trust standards developed for various levels of interaction. The most basic of these trust standards will be that only one of each real person exists within the digital city. There are no false identities.
As trust transactions take place the individual will take control of the information generated by these transactions. In addition to controlling their own information the household can begin interjecting their personal values into these same transactions. People will be more likely to interact with others that share their values.
By gravitating to transactions that also represent their own human feeling and values, people will begin to concentrate on what is important to them. As they do this they will become more aware of ways to interact with other people and household that accomplish mutual tasks. These mutual personal tasks will lead to awareness of mutual social tasks.
Digital Example:
One way to change the flow of personal information is in the trust bridges. A “Good Housekeeping Seal” type of approval for anonymous identities that interact to certain standards can be set up and maintained. This seal would create the same type of value that has been associated with the trust of a handshake. To “do business” with an individual the commercial business would be required to set up an account without the usual demand for personal information. Instead, the business would be required to push account transaction information into the individual’s data collection site for management by the person. All this would happen digitally without a lot of work by the citizen.
Known Uses:
At this time many businesses and government agencies allow account holders to access their record keeping system of personal and financial information about the account holder. These systems allow the client to see recent transactions, find out account balances, or change personal information. This assists the client in managing their account with the business or government agency. However, this use of personal information does not give control of the account information back to the account holder. It also does not keep the personal information of the client private from the business. Because these information systems are privately owned by the business or government agency they do not address the need for households to do business with one another.
Good social health is real, not a dream. Having good social health is similar to having good physical health. A social system should serve the needs of society and make it healthy. Our current social health is starved by an economy that extracts human values from itself. Poor social health is unreal. Our task is to create a healthy society for all human beings.
Problem Statement:
Creating a healthy social system can seem like a larger than life task. It can only be accomplished by seeing beyond our current reality and into the realm of the possible. Figure 1. The Waterway of Human Kindness is only a figurative place but it can become a real place if we allow it into our hearts and minds. In this same way we can create a socially healthy world by collectively envisioning in our hearts and minds how to go about doing this.
Our world picture of the social change we need to accomplish is vague. It is hard for the average person to understand the personal actions they might take to help improve our world as a whole.
By building a technological system, that measures our human values and allows us to act on them, we can get a more accurate picture of the current social state of our world. This will help us design methods to create a more liveable world for everyone. On a personal level we will be able to see more clearly what our individual role is in defining and creating a world we like.
Starting with our own household financial plans we can express how we relate with the world. Then we can add in our human values and start to create change in our personal lives. Through our own eyes we can see where and with whom we want to do business. We can become collectively involved with others who share our human values. Instead of being numb to the future of our world we can begin to take action that will make a difference.
Social engagement is the energizing force for creating a healthy society in the Digital City of Oikonomia. The most important factors for social engagement are “net working, common understanding, action, and levels of scale. A social safety net is created through networks of exchange and support. Networks are also an important means for transporting information, goods, and services across society.”3
Common understanding creates awareness and cultural consciousness and a greater depth of explanation. Information and self-awareness allow people to take the next step to determine our social values and how they will be assessed. With empathy for others we can develop the big picture view that we share in common as a global society.
Action is the way we adapt to changing forces in the world from within and outside society. We shift from resistance to pro-action and look for positive alternatives. We make changes through collaboration, catalysts, & transitions. Collaboration is also a catalyst in itself. Through collaboration we build credibility which enhances the chances for action. We make transitions through gaps and leverage points that take us to the next level. Action varies from easy to difficult, supported to unsupported, from empowering to exclusive so we must gage our actions.
With norms and standards we create levels of scale from local to global. Both qualitative and quantitative assessment indicators measure the flow of value at each levels of scale. The flow of value must be an open loop that shows a trend over time and is not static.
Qualitative indicators of a healthy social system can be “self-esteem, decision making ability, participation, personal experiences, vibes, self image, confidence, individual capacity, trust, and network richness and density.”3 “Quantative indicators measure that some sort of social resources are being utilized.”3 Examples of these social measures can be “meetings attended, people reached, volunteer hours, extent of involvement, neighbors known, people on your street known by name, continuity of programs, turnover, retention, contacts made, and attendees at an event.”3
Through our technological system we can make the picture of what a healthy society looks like less vague. We can create detail that addresses human needs like “identity, personal integrity, spirit, values, security, self-esteem, and hope.”3 Our communities can become places for “openness, inclusivity, and diversity.”3 Civic development will increase social capacity and include children and the aged. Through information and referral communication we can offer access to knowledge for all. A healthy society will have a chance to develop and grow.
Forces: For a social system to be useful it must be understandable and it must explain what people experience in their daily lives. The social system we create in our world must include all people. This paper is from the eyes of the western world but an equal amount of examples relating to indigenous cultures and third world people must be added and included in our social system. These third world examples may be even less quantifiable in terms of a money system and will make our social system more robust.
A new digital social system based on human values and powered by the people will evolve from The Digital City of Oikonomia and use of The Creative Democratic Database. Through social engagement our world will become a more healthy place for humans to live. The Digital City of Oikonomia is a legitimate idea that attempts to involve people who care about our world and want to see human values added to our lives, not extracted from it more and more each year. The social reality of Oikonomia is not in conflict with our current system of government and business. It’s just that a new social system will come into place as the dots on the grid appear. Perhaps our old system will just fizzle and become less useful. A new system based on Oikonomia will be more useful to the people of the world to solve problems and work collectively. Households around the world will become connected with one another in an economic way that promotes appropriate social development. How can this happen? Through people like you and like me; times two, times four, times eight, times thousands.
Digital Example:
The Seattle Community Network is ten years old now and has survived as a viable network of the many communities that make up the city of Seattle. You can visit the network at http://www.scn.org. SCN has a “commitment to access, commitment to service, commitment to democracy, commitment to the world community, and a commitment to the future.”8 The network identifies it’s area of work into communities of “activism, arts, civic education, environment, health, housing, jobs, media, neighborhoods, people, politics, recreation, sci-tech, social services, spiritual, transportation, and volunteers.”8 The slogan of the Seattle Community Network is free democratic technology for all.
The Digital City of Oikonomia is the outcome of several years of study at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, USA under the direction of Doug Schuler. My year-long involvement with Doug in his Community Information Systems course, another experience in his Digital Cities course, and a year of independent study have given plenty of food for thought and creativity. My original goal in going to Evergreen was to learn how to create an on-line financial community and that goal had developed into a more complex idea for the common good of society.


The Digital City of Oikonomia is a legitimate idea that attempts to involve people who care about our world and want to see human values added to our lives, not extracted from it more and more each year. How can it happen? Through people like you and like me; times two, times four, times eight, times thousands. Purposefully, we should not look into the future of The Digital City of Oikonomia too far. Preferably the talents of new citizens should mark the digital path of the city. Perhaps, people like you will volunteer their technical abilities to pound the first stakes in the digital ground. The first digital citizens and volunteers will work together to develop the database and smooth the road for those who come after them. The making of personal digital financial patterns and human value strategies will be the source of early interaction between digital citizens. Each financial pattern is private and there doesn’t need to be any consensus but there will be lots of discussion to bring out issues.
It will be better if the Oikonomian society develops slowly and does not become a snowball out of control. It will also be better if we can stay half way in the realm of the unrealistic and half way in a realistic world so we don’t loose sight of those things possible and the twinkle on the Waterway of Human Kindness.
Gaining an understanding of the work of EcoTrust will be another early task for Oikonomia as a city. Digital citizens will need to learn the core forms of capital in the conservation economy and how they work together.
Christopher Alexander’s theory of centers and the relationships of centers will weave together the individual financial patterns and the core forms of capital. Digital focus groups will be needed to develop Alexander’s principles and manage the grid of social patterns that transpire.
In the Digital City of Oikonomia it will be important that social interaction happens. That Alexander, EcoTrust, and Oikonomian principles are studied and played out until better ideas come along. Beyond that, the Digital City of Oikonomia should be a place for peace. There is no need to work for a better tomorrow without peace.
The Digital City of Oikonomia is a digital place for digital citizens to come together as community to have an effect on the character of their own future. Please help me make the Digital City of Oikonomia a reality. Your interest, help, assistance, or technical skills will be appreciated.

Pattern status: