Digital Tender

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— Another post from The Man

I was born just prior to the end of the paper currency era. Although I still carry cash for those transactions that are simply easier to conduct in such a manner, the vast majority of all of my financial negotiations are merely the electronic handshake of data that determines the flow of wealth from one bucket to another. This is not just at the point of sale; I protect and stabilize the movement of ones and zeros in my career, which is valued at a certain amount. On a periodic basis, my accounts increase with deposits that are a result of this valuation, in similar digital transactions. I then acknowledge, through computing, which parties are owed for recurring services or products, and finally, the remainder is used for the day-to-day digital negotiations of swiping cards or submitting check-out actions for purchases made online.

In one thirty-day span between July and August, I visited Montreal, Upstate New York/Vermont, London, and Washington, D.C. I should include Austin, yet since this is a weekly haunt for me, I’ll focus on those. Throughout this time, as I was shuttled by bus, train, car, boat and plane from source to destination, I cannot help but feel as though I am becoming my own form of digital tender. Regardless of my Boolean position, whether I am a one or a zero, I find myself in queue, seat, aisle, or braced with a handrail, being transacted not from a bucket of funds, but between destinations.


While in Montreal, we visited the Vieux-Port (Old Port) where French explorers sailed down the St. Lawrence River and found an amazing island where bartering and negotiations led to decades of struggle with foreign rule. In London, I spent the morning in Maggs, an archeological dig of a bookstore, where I stumbled across a journal of a Commander’s wife who felt exiled in “FeeJee” and wrote of a culture with no sense of ownership of property, which she equated to wealth. In Washington, my late-night inability to comprehend metro pass purchase instructions resulted in my paying seven times the fee necessary for a one-way ticket to M and Vermont from DCA.

In my mind’s eye, I see myself, in truth I see all seven billion plus humans, as the red blood cells in the veins and arteries of the world. Instead of representing a plus or minus in the touch of a transaction, we are Gaia’s pulse, coursing through our navigable passages in a symphony of ordered chaos. We only miss one another by fractions of time. Yet when collisions occur, and build in the narrows of our journeys, it is akin to the heart-stoppage of the world’s life-blood, much like the clog that our global economies currently suffer.

Wealth is not an easy concept to grasp. Is it the distribution of wealth through aforementioned means that causes me to be on the other side of the world in just a few hours? When the French traveled to North America, when the Commander’s wife stepped foot into the breach and breaks of paradise, they were committing an act not pursued lightly, and one that was a sacrifice of immense time for the potential of wealth. For me, Montreal and New York were planned over a year ago. London and Washington were mere weeks from planning to execution. Without the funds available to purchase the tickets for these destinations, I would not have been yet another faceless blood cell in the artery of the Queen’s Land, a Breath-bearer in Columbia’s District.

In the age of digital tender, it is information that we buy and sell, hoard and profer. Terms like Big Data, Cloud, High Availability, and Retention policies are those yelled by the barkers at the street corners of my hemopolis. My business meeting in London was in Slough, just outside of Windsor. I was meeting to determine the aptitude of a new partner to house, secure, and transact my data, eating lunch beside a castle built roughly one thousand years ago.


How can our economy not gasp for breath if wealth is now merely data, and not a stone foundation on which dynasties are measured by eons? I assure you as you read this, it will not be read (as data pushed to pixels on the insignificant screen before you) one thousand years from now in any manner similar to the business conducted beside Windsor Castle. If we wish to remain able to shuttle all over the world, it’s likely we must begin to equate the creation of wealth with actual product, and not the digital representation of such.

I’m no longer a reluctant traveler. Being married to Mommy Points is a blessing and a blessing. She has aided in the sloughing of my reluctant flying, my disillusion at visiting the rest of the world. There are mysteries to behold in all the round corners of this silly little planet, and I am gifted to be led to them like the proverbial ring-nosed bull. Yet knowing that I am either a one, or a zero, and through the occasional temporal anomaly, the conjoined twins of neither and both, I can’t help but deeply feel that my personal wealth, as measured by my being shuttled to and fro, could seriously use a long-term investment strategy. Do we move because fortune favors the transient?

I’m currently challenged in my field by the concept of creating or discovering the algorithm for the probability of data value over time. If I can accurately predict whether the bit of data you are about to create and store will ever be recalled again, I can save tremendous cost by simply not storing that information. Much like my value of being transient, there exists value, in theory, in never moving at all. Yet all I need to do to recognize that we are more valuable in motion is to discover another Treasury of Tomes or Aging Port and know that being there, rather than formerly here, holds immeasurable value.

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  1. That was really a deep, thought provoking post to be reading with my first cup of coffee on Saturday. 0.o But I liked it. I also found myself nodding in semi-agreement (I say “semi” b/c in my un-caffeinated state, I may only sorta understand what you were saying) at a few of the points. Anyway, good post!

    BTW, while you guys were at Windsor, did you happen to have tea at the Crooked House? One of my favorite “finds” when I visited years ago.

  2. I don’t always understand everything you are talking about, but I love the part about you no longer being a reluctant traveler. 😉
    @nknight, I can promise you they weren’t forced, that is how he thinks/talks (….and I sometimes get lost)! I like old fashioned trip reports, too, but I’m all for mixing it up for a day as well. 😉

  3. Sorry….I really stop by to read about family travel and points/miles. I appreciate the effort to mix it up once in awhile, but this rambling didn’t hit it. I have enjoyed previous posts from The Man, so please give it another try.

  4. The Man, Welcome to Looking Glass World.

    You look for reality (actual product) in a world that is all just Alice’s dream. Leaves falling from a tree in the real world turn into card soldiers falling upon you in Looking Glass World.

    Nothing is really what it appears on the other side of the Looking Glass. Good luck trying to put a value on data. The value of data can only be measured by the size of the loss once the data is proven irrecoverable. Don’t look at things from the real, physical world of IT – you have to look from the Looking Glass World of insurance and risk (chaos and fuzzy measure theory).

    “If we wish to remain able to shuttle all over the world, it’s likely we must begin to equate the creation of wealth with actual product, and not the digital representation of such.”

  5. ” …, it’s likely we must begin to equate the creation of wealth with actual product, and not the digital representation of such.”

    Well said.
    And, try being a senior citizen with diminishing capabilites in a world that would prefer to deal in “digital representation” over “actual”.

  6. Very interesting post-please come back from time to time and contribute again. Those who are more concerned with why the International in Lima cut back the shrimp cocktails from 8 to 6 will find plenty of places to mourn their loss.

  7. Wow, just stumbled across this when wonder what the category “the man” referred to. I love it. I wish The Man would post more.
    I love that mommypoints is “a blessing and a blessing”. Very sweet.

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