I’m intrigued by the question of “what form the world’s monetary systems will take on in the 22nd century?” I’ve read it suggested in a few places that a “Facebook like” or its equivalent could potentially become a central holder of monetary value. So in such a world, presumably, information is king. I would earn “likes” by providing useful information, and would then spend those “likes” to gain other useful information.
Unfortunately, in this day and age, a “facebook like” often incentivizes not the exchange of valuable information but the exchange of entertaining information. While truly informative, useful, or insightful content will sometimes gather a lot of “likes”, most of the time the popular stuff is just witty silliness or something with shock-value. News networks and newspapers suffer from the same problem. Most of the time, good old-fashioned investigative journalism just doesn’t sell.
Wikipedia and StackExchange are two sites that give me hope that a crowd-driven reputation system can grow a solid knowledge repository. The incentives on those sites are centered around the quality of information. Anyone interested in having a trollin’-good-time is somehow naturally driven away from those sites. In a way, it’s the very kind of “democracy” that we have in America. We elect a group of “elites” that in theory are supposed to be the most capable in representing our needs as a society. In that same way, StackExchange elects moderators that in theory represent the interests of the community and the knowledge that community is seeking to gather.
YouTube, in particular, has some of the most educational and fascinating content (lectures, documentaries, tutorials, etc), but at the same time it welcomes the random, the offensive, and the absurd. To me nothing represents that better than the #1 video on YouTube is 1.6 BILLION views: