Personal finances and whuffie

An unproductive visit to the outhouse this morning as far as bowels were concerned, but the brain – oh the brain.

I receive $2000 a month in investment income. I invested in my family, in a weird juxtapostion of truth and reality. It turned out to be a disaster – my investment meant 40 years of feeling insecure and questioning my own ability, not really going after my dreams.

Six years ago I divested and initiated recovery. The universe then authorized compensation for those 40 years of squandered potential in the form of monthly cash payments. Access to the Artist house has to be included in the universal compensation, it’s worth about $8k a year in taxes, utilities and insurance. So my compensation is more nearly 32k.

With 32k of effective annual income, what am I doing with 25k in low interest credit card debt? It’s not decadence, fast women and gambling. 75% was spent on DOG and 25% was from loans made to friends in need. I also squandered a bit on collaborations that went no where, call that decadence or just plain hard knocks.

The plan is to evaporate the 25k while moving forward with my life’s work. I’ve liquidated most of my hard assets including car and bulky production gear. I sublet my apartment in Brooklyn for 4 months. After building a more portable kit and catching up on business expenses such as domain names, etc. I’ve got about $4000 in the bank, enough to go west and run the Desire Project. Meanwhile I am diverting my universal compensation to reduce debt. By the end of the summer I should have about 2k in the bank, be only 20k in the hole and have a bunch of world saving new footage in the can. Not only that, but Faisal should have some exciting new insights into DOG and Jonathan should be an After Effects guru. How much better can it get?

The whole reason for this transparency and full disclosure is the open source ethic. Let’s assume that On Desire, DOG or one of our other projects actually makes a big splash.  Blogs become maps, a trail of breadcrumbs so that someone else can repeat the process. That’s one of the reasons I include prices next to gear and resources. In a monetary society, the question of money is central. How much did it cost, where did they get the money? It feels a little odd dropping my financial pants for the whole world wide web, but it’s an essential part of the story – if an open source, transparent and knowledge sharing ethic is worth exploring. If there is a path to building a resource based society, open source might be it.

Credit scores as whuffie.

Recently, Advanta shut down all it’s credit card accounts. What does it mean when a huge credit card company just ceases operations? Remain calm.

One of the factors in credit scores is the ratio of debt to credit limit.  If I can borrow 10k and I do borrow 5k, that’s a debt to credit ratio of 50%. Decent credit scores are possible when the debt to credit ratio is less than 50%.

In 2008 I set a goal of having a 100k credit limit to enable creative options for financing projects and access to emergency finishing funds. As of early May, I had about 8 different credit cards with a combined limit of about 40k… and about 25k in debt – a 65% debt to credit ratio. By continuing to liquidate gear I could taste a debt to credit ratio of 50%, joy! Once under that mark I was planning to swing some modest limit increases and thus boost my theoretical buying power to about 45k, nearly halfway to the 100k goal. When my Advanta card died last week I instantly lost 10k of credit limit. My debt to credit ratio jumped to nearly 90% – screwed!

These specific details may be trivia in terms of our trail of breadcrumbs, but in contemplating demonic credit scores we discover the precursor to whoofie, as in ‘Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom‘ by Cory Doctorow. Whuffie is basically reputation maintained in virtuality. If you do cool stuff that people benefit from your whoofie gets higher. Credit scores also inhabit the data domain and rise and fall based on how much you save and borrow. Whuffie is an extension of word of mouth and recommendations by peers, which brings to mind sites like Could whuffie actually manifest? Would it be a pillar of resource society?

You can download Cory’s stories at without commercial interruption, for my money that’s the same as saying they are free. There’s that open source thing again, knowledge sharing, the resource based society. I’m working with resources on the web like democracy now and the internet archive in my quest to make movies and promote self education. On Desire aspires to be a resource too, in a week or two movies will be begin to appear and perhaps dominate the content. With luck they will be entertaining and edifying.

Here’s a scenario. Perhaps the monetary paradigm IS crumbling, perhaps defining human value in terms of debt and credit is becoming passe. What comes to the fore is an appreciation for contribution. The thank you world. When we see who is doing what and appreciate them, set them up. How does that work? I have no idea, but I like the idea of getting started and seeing what happens.

to do

send Pete O’Connell some money!

This entry was posted in Desire project preparation and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply