Contemporary Currencies: Does money still matter most?



Increasingly, we consider our attention, time, energy and values as if not more precious than money. These are our contemporary currencies, which we spend, save, invest, donate or waste, just as we do with our money.

How we calculate each currency’s value, and combine them, depends on what we’re making a decision to do or buy, our personal situation, and a range of futureNOW influences.

Many of us are frazzled and time-poor. We consciously or unconsciously calculate the value of our attention, time and energy, as well as dollars, when we’re making decisions about where and how to relax, energise, entertain or affirm ourselves; where and when to shop, and what to buy; where to live; how to get places; and how to earn money. 

Increasingly more of us want to align our values with our spending so we consider these, alongside price, when we buy food or clothes; decide how to stay healthy; choose a job or career; consider our transport options; or plan a holiday.

We’re human so we’re contrary! We buy online to save time and attention YET fritter away large quantities of both on social media. We drive a car, even though it costs more and our values are green, because it’s convenient OR we use public transport because our sustainability values override the energy, time and distractions involved. For some of us, time or money usually have the highest exchange rates AND we know the longterm cost on our attention and energy isn’t sustainable.

In making our currency calculations and combinations, we’re influenced by a variety of futureNOW trends, irrespective of our personal situations: mobile digital devices and apps transforming just-about-everything; Not-Acting-My-Age whatever our age; access, share or borrow rather than buy and own; precarious employment across income levels; conscious and ethical consumption; self-generated culture; sustainability; mindfulness; local and artisanal; experiences over stuff; food as healthcare.

All these are changing the way we value and use places, spaces and nature.  Our homes and neighbourhoods; workplaces; shops; urban precincts and cityscapes; culture and entertainment places; streets, footpaths and verges; landscaping, parks, trees and views.  In turn, challenging many of the assumptions, value propositions and business models that they operate under.

What then does this mean for the people and businesses who invest in, own, manage or rent places and spaces, or the natural world? For the politicians and officials with responsibility for regulating and supporting sustainable growth in cities, suburbs and communities? For the variety of professionals who advise any or all of them? For designers who want to create future-focused solutions to current problems? For entrepreneurs seeking new opportunities? For artists, craftspeople, makers and performers seeking sustainable incomes?

What new knowledge, frameworks, insights and tools are needed to take advantage of the opportunities and respond to the challenges created by contemporary currency calculations and combinations?