Where does value come from? Humans place value on many different things, all for seemingly similar reasons. Phones are valuable as a means of communication, whether that means checking social media or making a call. Gas has value, because it propels our cars and boats forward. Shoes are great, they protect our feet. A chocolate cake with candles flickering on top signifies another year past and we cherish the moment. Value is all around us, but what is it?
The Value of Money
Before we tackle value as a whole, let’s first take a closer look at money. The U.S. Dollar is the global currency of oil. All other currencies the world over are compared to the USD. As the wealthiest nation in the world, the United States certainly has a lot of sway in the financial world. How, though, did the humble Dollar become such a trusted currency?
As many people in the cryptocurrency space are well aware, fiat money is government issued notes that aren’t backed by anything but trust. America got a head start on fiat money at the Bretton Woods Agreement in 1944. There, the U.S. Dollar was declared the global currency, detaching the world from the gold standard. Of course, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank were created alongside this new standard as a regulatory precaution.
The most important thing to take from the Bretton Woods agreement, though, is not American superiority, but instead consensus. World leaders, who up until now relied on gold as the backbone for all loans and bank notes, decided that the U.S. Dollar heald sufficient value to be a the global currency. Everyone believed the dollar had value, and thus it did.
Tokenized Value Systems
One token that many people admire is BAT. Basic Attention Token aims to change the way we consume media online. The project recognizes the oversaturation of invasive advertisements and the fact that content creators aren’t receiving much of the ad revenue at all. It also realizes that advertisers are unrelenting. What is all the hullabaloo about?
Attention. We value each others’ attention. Marketing firms want it for product market research or to pitch our eyes a new product, picking our pockets willingly. Content creators want our attention because they put a lot of time and energy into creating their content. We thrive on attention. In school, teachers always asked (or told) us to pay attention. Well, now we can literally do just that.
BAT is just the beginning of a whole new asset class. Attention has never been an explicitly valuable thing, yet now it is. As a society, we decided that we value it. So, what other potential values could we tokenize?
Google something, anything, and look at the first page of results. Chances are you got what you were looking for, more or less. This is due to sophisticated ranking algorithms that decide which webpages are the most useful given the search keyword query. Google has managed, in a roundabout way, to rank relevance. Searchers want knowledge on a subject. Google gives searchers the most relevant answers, in order, according to algorithms dedicated to sorting relevance.
Relevance, like attention, is intangible. It is a relational phenomenon only experienced when another thought is in play. There are no physical ‘attentions’, just like there are no physical ‘relevances’.
Compassion, trust, consensus, and aesthetics are all other examples of things we value in society that are completely intangible. Tokenize those, and perhaps economic disparity will ease. More to come shortly…