Maybe my netiquette sensor was broken, as there was some offense taken at me spamming K5. It's a fine line, and I did worry about this before posting. I guess I just thought that if I wrote a sufficient background, and had enough openings for discussion in the article itself, it would be taken as interesting enough. Maybe I was wrong.
There have been several encouraging and supportive messages though. A good suggestion to read Hernando de Soto (who I was raving about last year, and ought to write more about) and some interesting criticism. Also, the first statistical comments which I added in ScientificCriticism.
The other thing that surprised me. A lot of people took against this : I thought of studying economics. But, friends who were economists were disillusioned with the subject. And I didn't have the maths. They felt that I was unqualified and wasting their time. Some seemed quite hostile to the idea of an amateur project at all and demanded that : You want to study economics? Then study economics from people who've been studying it for the past 300 years. That is, economists. In a university. Get a degree. Work as an economist for a few years. Until that point you have zero credentials or knowledge that hasn't been already investigated countless times over.
I wonder if this is right.
Well, your article just got to the front page of K5, that should give you your answer ;). -- JoaoNeves
I think it was a good decision to post it on Kuro5hin. I discovered the project this way and if I have the time I'll get involved. :) Such a project is a great idea in my opinion, hopefully many others will come and say their opinion to this or that topic or will even write some code. I guess this project can give us some facts that no economist can ever analyse: How it works in a (of course, _very_ simplified) experiment. When you study, you will get an opinion about a specific thing. If you study more, your opinion will be revised and either falsified or considered to be true by you and maybe others. I guess our thinking is heavily influenced by our character, environment, etc. The German Philosopher Hegel once said (translated): "We are all children of our time." So generally we all have a different opinion about things. Why not test this and that theory? I think the world gets much further with things like that. Experiments have been made in science for centuries: In physics, biology and that. But noone in the 17th century had a computer to check their theory about social interaction or other 'immaterial' things. We have it now! Maybe it's a bit naive to hope that this will produce good results in a short time. But do you know the wikipedia project? I did not think that they would get over 140.000 articles in just three years. Maybe this project can grow as well. I think it will get important to have something like configuration files instead of having to edit the source code directly. Of course that's not so important, yet, but to get very different results it probably will. The reason is that the 'typical free software programmer' probably is quite liberal. (I don't mean economical liberal, neoliberal or something, but the way he thinks about society in general.) To get interesting results it would be good to have liberal socialists(anarchist, liberal communists) authorian socialists( stalinists, maoists, etc.) neoliberals and others, this list could be endless. Not all can probably program. Of course they could write their feedback into the wiki, but giving people the chance to implement their ideas, even if they can't program, is probably better. However, I like this project and will hopefully have some time to contribute my ideas to it, with both criticising and programming.
I'm here because of the K5 article. Take that for what it's worth. I'm also really tired, so this comment is probably pretty disjoint. Take that for what it's worth as well.
I think you would get value out of studying both economics and psychology. The oldest economies - those from the Middle Eastern fertile crescent societies of 3000 and 4000 years ago - would be very interesting to study: I am willing to bet that some of the assumptions and characteristics of those first economies have survived to our current world economy. Economies of (so-called) primitive cultures would also be interesting to study, and examine the comparisons and contrasts with our Western economy.
Psychology is essential in order to make comparative studies about the success (value) of different economies. Or, perhaps more mundanely, an understanding of "the human condition". The catch there, of course, is that different people have different but equally valid beliefs about what people are like. Start with a different set of assumptions about what people are like, and you get a different set of profiles.
When people say they're modeling economics, what it really means is they are modeling human behavior as expressed in a system, called an economy, which has a particular set of rules.
I think since being in an economy is such a major part of our daily lives, it's very difficult to think outside the context of our economy, or economies in general. We make assumptions without even realizing those assumptions are being made.
Okay, none of this probably makes sense, but there you have it. Good luck with your project; I wish I had the time to contribute some code to it.
I'm now copying a few of of the useful comments from Kuro5hin here where they may spark some more debate :