Economies of Design and Other Adventures in Nomad Economics

I just finished reading Abe Burmeister’s master’s thesis, Economies of Design and Other Adventures in Nomad Economics. It’s available as a free pdf or as a printed book. This is the “public draft.” It’s still pretty rough, but still quite good.

This book is very straight forward and easy to read. I don’t have much of a background in economics, but I found Abe’s writing clear and accessible. Abe’s a designer by trade, not an economist, and this book/paper was written for the Interactive Telecommunications Program, not for an econ program.

Abe seems to be mostly inspired by this quote by Manuel De Landa:

I believe that the main task for today’s left is to create a new political economy (the resources are all there: Max Weber, T.B. Veblen and the old institutionalists, John Kenneth Galbraith, Fernand Braudel, some of the new institutionalists, like Douglass North; redefinitions of the market, like those of Herbert Simon etc) based as you acknowledged before, on a non-equilibrium view of the matter? But how can we do this if we continue to believe that Marxists got it right, that it is just a matter of tinkering with the basic ideas? At any rate, concepts like “mode of production” do not fit a flat ontology of individuals as far as I can tell.

Abe takes this and runs with it. This book lays the ground work. He doesn’t have all the answers yet (he’s mentioned he’s already working on a complete re-write), but this is a great starting point. Abe’s mostly focused on designers, but this book would be a good starting point for anyone interested in the idea of “economic hacking” – activists, artists, and yes, magicians.

More links:

Abe’s research blog.

His main blog.

Bonus: More “edge” economics.