And there we go to Brazil again! Sao Paulo though, not Rio – a much safer place for BTC’es. I had to go to present Creative Commons at the Encontre Internacional de Cultura Digital organized by the SESC, a pretty amazing cultural center that did an amazing job organising one of the best cultural event I had the opportunity to attend until now. Most importantly, from a Bitcoin perspective, they did actually fund the speakers (quite well, indeed) in addition to paying for the transportation and hotel. Not only did they give a decent amount of dollars for my presentation, but they even came to pick me up at the airport and provided a van back and forth from the hotel to the venue, and so on. They also gave me extra money for the per-diem expenses, which they insisted should be in Brazilian reais, in spite of my attempt to get them to pay me in Bitcoin. So, I ended up with quite a lot of money in my hands, dollars and reais, and no way of spending them – not only because of my oath, but also because everything was so well taken care of, that I simply could not imagine a situation in which I would actually need to spend that money on anything else but souvenirs perhaps. So I just put it into my pocket, and promised not to spend any of it, till I get back home and convert them into Bitcoin.
Since I did, however, want to spend some bitcoin, I contacted Rodrigo from Mercado Bitcoin, so that I could hang out and hopefully discover interesting places in Sao Paulo where I could spend my Bitcoins. The conference was, however, way too interesting to miss any single part of it, so I ended up not being able to meet up with anyone outside of the venue, but rather invited people to come and meet me there – although, again, everything was perfectly taken care of in the venue, so spending Bitcoin was not only meaningless, but also impossible.
While most of the presentations were extremely interesting, perhaps the one that marked me the most was the one from Gilson Swartz, whose name I did not know until now, but I was highly impressed by his presentation, which touched many topics that I feel closely related to, including the topic of crypto-currencies as applied to an alternative model of non-market transactions. It turns out, Gilson is the co-supervisor of Ricardo, from Mercado Bitcoin, who I had the pleasure to meet last time I was in Sao Paulo, and who had expressed great interest in Sabir. Again, things were magically coming together without even trying ;)
Serendipity always kicks in, and Gilson actually informed me that, in the past, he had already coined a currency together with Bernard Lietar, whose name was actually “saber” (funny, but I had never realized that Sabir is so similar to Saber, and yet, it turns out that this is actually the root of the word, from the old Lingua Franca times.. ;) Gilson also produced a short film about the “Creative Currencies” project (Ministry of Culture and BNDES, at www.culturadigital.br/schwartz, also support from BNDES) which was highlighted by UNESCO during the Rio+20 Forum.
Definitely interesting research is going on this field, and – even if it was just for Glison – the whole trip to Sao Paulo was definitely worth it ! It is interesting to see how everyone is currently starting to think about the new opportunities provided by crypto-currencies, but so few people actually manage to look beyond the “currency” paradigm to start looking towards alternative models which are actually not based on ‘scarcity’ and ‘exchange’ but rather on ‘abundance’ and ‘sharing’. Hopefully, we will be able to build fruitful interactions with Gilson’s Saber and our Sabir ! :)