Trade Up to the Future

A couple of Sundays ago Thomas Friedman wrote his Op-Ed Sunday piece for the NY Times. It was about how he was in India and a couple of people approached him about riding in their car. He was reluctant but won over by how the car is different. It is an electric car – an engineering marvel. But these two Indians have upfitted it with even greater innovations for the batteries and solar roof. They are driving around India to show off their work and see who else is working in the same green field. They’ve tapped a green network.

A couple of years ago I read a book called One Red Paperclip by Kyle MacDonald. The story is about how this guy, who had no real job or future, decided to try and trade from one red paperclip up to a house. It was a whim. It was fun for him. He chronicled the experience on his blog. Blogging at the time was still quaint so his audience was captivated by his real time story. His trades took him across Canada and the US. He traded items like a novelty door knob and a cube van on his way to a house. His extraordinary year is filled with oddball situations and negotiations.

Why doesn’t someone combine the two with the goal of trading from a simple solar device all the way to a self powering home. Maybe call it one solar calculator. The person running the blog can post the item with the rule that the trading item must be some form of green powering device as well. The author can write about how efficient it is, the type of energy conversion it is (solar, wind, and so on), and other details. Documenting  the learning experience would turn a novice into an expert. And it would be on the internet, so potential employers would see a self motivated individual. I can see it now – “I will trade you one hand crank radio for three home built mini windmills.” And that is an added benefit of this; garage style engineers would come to light and several, perhaps many, new ideas would be shared through this story.

I bet there is a sub culture working on these solutions. Friedman tapped into it in India, but the US has them too. The mainstream media hasn’t identified a character or storyline to latch onto yet and that is too bad. I feel like just one positive portrayal will take it to the next level.


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