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Introduction 1: An Introduction to the Introductions

Experiments and Research in Nomad Economics. A title, a beginning. But a beginning to what?

A thesis to start, a thesis in more ways than one. It is my thesis project for a master's degree from NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP). And it is a thesis question, does a nomad economics exist? I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't suspect that it does, but I also expect it will be difficult to explain just what it is. This blog is in many ways an experiment in writing, a way to release ideas, to test them and refine them, to see how they evolve in a semi-public space. The goal is a book, although I have never written one and in a way the idea still seems somewhat distant. Perhaps on a level the goal is actually a book proposal, but I suppose that distinction is one that might emerge from the experiment itself.

So what is a nomad economics? It is something I think that can only be seen properly if approached from multiple angles. This is a blog still, not a book, there will be multiple introductions to it, multiple viewpoints to approach the subject from. It is only from this multiplication of perspective I think that an accurate understanding can arise. There also may well be a need for a multitude of authors, on one level perhaps the commenting abilities of the blog might address that, but I may well begin seeking other voices to bring to the mix, and I can always be reached via the email address public [at] abstractdynamics [dot] org, and I want to here your voice, your reactions, your confusion and clarity.

Ok, one more time, you deserve and answer, what is a nomad economics? A nomad economics is an attempt to answer one simple question: howmight you spend your money?

The mainstream economics of today, what will sometimes be referred to as neoclassical economics, or orthodox economics, has only one answer to that question. Or more accurately they have an answer to a related but altogether different question: how should you spend your money? That answer is that you should spend it rationally and with the goal of maximizing value. While this idea has been constantly challenged within economics itself, there are plenty of exceptions and modifications to the concept, it remains central. Pick up an economics textbook, say perhaps Paul Krugman's and you'll find it encoded on page three. The orthodox economics of the last 100 years is built around this concept and no amount of modification can take it away fully. In many ways the field of economics resembles a classic Mexican standoff, a ring of potential fire, pick a core idea in economics and you'll find a mainstream economist attacking it. But the guns are drawn all around, and no one has quite pulled the trigger for if they do it is quite possible no ideas would be left standing.

A nomad economics is not a critical economics, it is not here to attack neoclassical theory, to make those guns go off. Nor is it here to mediate, to bring peace and settlement to the discipline. Instead it is here to swarm around economics, to open new spaces, to bring out potentials hidden in the field, to unlock doors held shut. A nomad economics is an economics of multiplying possibilities. How might you spend your money? What can we do? It is not enough to say how the world does work, one must also answer how the world can work. And that is where we begin.



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