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[Comments] (2) Time Bank: I was thinking about the "time bank" feature from back in the days of BBSes. A typical BBS was hooked up to 1 or 2 phone lines, so only 1 or 2 people could be online at once. This led to per-day time limits for users. You'd get 30 or 60 minutes of BBS time, which was enough to download about four files. Then you got kicked off so someone else could call. It was a cruel, but fair system.

The time bank was usually a BBS door (note to today's youth: terminology makes no sense) that let you deposit some of today's time and come back to collect it later. I had one of these on my BBS, but I never put any structured thought into when they're useful. Andy and I just liked having more doors than any other local BBS.

I remember using time banks occasionally, but I'm not sure why. Looking back on my previous behavior (which I barely remember), I imagine I'd use the time bank just before logging out of a BBS--it's not a big time investment to pop over to the time bank, and you can use the extra time later to download a huge file (possibly as much as a megabyte!).

A couple callers to my BBS hoarded time: they'd call in just to deposit all their time in the bank, and continue this every day until they'd reached the maximum balance. Seems like, strangely enough, a waste of time.

It should be possible to do some trendy Freakonomics-like analysis of time banks. I can't think of any analogous situations, where an allotment of time is made fungible within certain limits. Any ideas?


Posted by Jarno Virtanen at Tue Jul 10 2007 01:53

Online poker sites, well at least one, has implemented a similar concept:


It's not completely analogous to the BBS time bank, because you don't have to do anything to earn more time and the earned time is not that useful anyhow. It's just that time limit has to be a bit conservative in online poker, because there's no dealer observing, and sometimes you'd just like to think a bit longer. It's just that you don't need but a few seconds for 99% of the hands so buying back time is relatively easy.

Posted by Greg Knauss at Tue Jul 10 2007 16:55

You can't think of anything because you don't have kids: If we watch the whole movie tonight, you can't watch any TV tomorrow, OK?

I supposed that's a time loan, actually.


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