What are currencies?

In by Eric Harris-Braun

From its original root, the Latin word “currere” means to run or to flow. In this original sense, currencies are tools for seeing and changing flows. Therefore we are not using the word currency in the everyday sense where it means the same thing as money. Instead we take our definition from its original and universal purpose, thus: currencies are systems made to express all forms of wealth flowing within a community.

Currencies exist everywhere around us, in nature, in our bodies, in our cells… Any social system, and life in general, needs currencies as an intermediary tool to trade, measure, and save. They are used to exchange matter or energy (water, light, ATP in our cells…), to measure the state of a system (hormones, nerve impulse…),to acknowledge an experience of reality (a scream of joy, a dance to seduce, a smile, a thank you…).

Currencies express the whole spectrum of wealth: what is tradable (partially covered by conventional money), what is measurable, and what is acknowledgeable. The alphabet allowed static representations of reality. If used at their full potential, currencies can offer us a dynamic representation of wealth (flows); in other words a totally new way to represent collective reality.