Small Systems Design Associates

Home page for Design and Prototype Testing for the Commerce panel in the Walkabout series.

Panel 2 - Commerce

Panel 2 - Commerce

Tribes settle along game migration routes where rivers and streams cross. Hunting and survival is not a primary concern among those who chose to stay in the settlement. With year-round fresh water settled tribes can grow food crops near their settlements. Harvests of grains and nuts can be stored and used in winter, when game and other perishable food sources are scarce. Travelers passing through the settlements have goods, services, and desirable objects to trade for food and other products and services developed by the settlers.

As the number of trades, the variety of trade goods, and the number of traders expands, systems of recording individual transactions become more sophisticated. Over time these trading notes, the written symbols, the verbal and visual shorthand for the traders and their trades - and the occasional decorative object that marks a memorable exchange - become part of an oral and written history of the community. As more people learn to use and record this "language" of quantities, symbols, and decorative objects, the language itself becomes the primary foundation for stability and continuity in the community.

The traders travel long distances, and trade in more than goods and services. As they travel and trade they absorb the songs and stories that are important in the settlements they pass through. The best of these songs and stories, if not something of value to also be traded, can always be used to stir the spirit, and perhaps soften the resistance of reluctant tradesmen and tradeswomen.