[Edit: we now are working on a wiki of Econ-SF works]
A research network need not only be about chasing research funding. Edgeryders being what it is, it is only appropriate that some of our effort goes into “blue sky” thinking. This can inspire the way people in the broader community build their lives (myself included), and tends to draw interesting crowds. Plus – and importantly – it is in general a lot of fun.
There is an important idea that is not receiving enough attention: the economic foundations of a modern society (let’s say late 21st century). All I am seeing being discussed is minor tweaks on capitalism-with-state-corrections. This was not always the case: in the 19th century we had attempts at sweeping paradigm design (Marx, Proudhon, anarchic collectivism and mutualism), as well as prototypes (Fourier’s Phalanstères, Owen’s New Lanark, and, later, Adriano Olivetti’s Ivrea factory as the economic engine of the Community Movement).
We seem to have lost this alliance between top-notch economists like Marx and bold entrepreneurs like Owen in imagining possible alternative organizing principles for the economy. And that’s a shame: even if we do not want to change our economic system, there’s something wrong in not even being able to imagine anything else. It makes society more fragile.
The one exception I am seeing is a small cadre of science fiction authors. Exhibit A is Cory Doctorow, who is definitely economics-literate (see here). His recent Walkaway (see here) comes closest to painting a picture of a completely different economic system. There are a few others: Bruce Sterling; Neal Stephenson; and, partially, William Gibson and Peter Watts.
I would like to organize a “blue sky” seminar bringing together some of these authors; some professional economists willing to play ball; and some entrepreneurs who are experimenting with enterprise-scale economic models. There is no immediate goal other than the pleasure of having an interesting conversation with interesting people. It should probably be crowdfunded; crowdfunding is itself time- and resource-consuming, so we can only afford to go ahead if we find a lightweight way to get it going. I, however, would be willing to do work on it.
I suggest this would be a smart move for Edgeryders now. As mentioned above, it can draw an interesting crowd, among which we might find new partners or clients; it can help raise our profile; and it can help us think more outside the box. Anyone would be willing to help me? Any other thoughts?