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Old 04-09-2018, 06:00 PM   #1
Dalillama
 
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Default Human-octopus barter

I swear there's a thread somewhere that covers some of this, but can't find it now. Assume that you are a large (~25kg) octopus, living in the shallow waters that used to be part of the West Coast of North America. You have a net woven of seaweed, a spear and a knife tipped with sharpened glass from bottles you've found and broken, and a stone corral full of assorted shellfish which eat the offal from your fishing expeditions. You build sculptures of piled rocks for amusement. What do the post-apocalyptic descendants of the civilisation that once lived on shore have to trade with you in exchange for salvaging things from sunken ships and swamped cities?
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Old 04-09-2018, 10:59 PM   #2
David Johnston2
 
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Default Re: Human-octopus barter

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dalillama View Post
I swear there's a thread somewhere that covers some of this, but can't find it now. Assume that you are a large (~25kg) octopus, living in the shallow waters that used to be part of the West Coast of North America. You have a net woven of seaweed, a spear and a knife tipped with sharpened glass from bottles you've found and broken, and a stone corral full of assorted shellfish which eat the offal from your fishing expeditions. You build sculptures of piled rocks for amusement. What do the post-apocalyptic descendants of the civilisation that once lived on shore have to trade with you in exchange for salvaging things from sunken ships and swamped cities?
I'm pretty sure they could trade better fibers than seaweed. Rust-resistant metal tools. A smart octopus could do a lot with a screwdriver.
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Old 04-10-2018, 03:41 AM   #3
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Default Re: Human-octopus barter

Pottery might be surprisingly useful, how about cooked food?
Anything, really, that takes heat to manufacture.
Also, things that require a non-blending environment, so products of chemistry and what have you.

Part of the problem might well be the initial struggle to persuade the humans that you are a) capable of trading with them and b) not more use as calamari.
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Old 04-10-2018, 06:51 AM   #4
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Default Re: Human-octopus barter

Couple of clarifying questions:

(1) Is this first contact, or later on when the trade has had a chance to develop?

(2) How far post-apocalypse are we? Years, decades, generations, centuries, millennia?

In the case of first contact, it might be useful to think in terms of reciprocal theft: what could you steal from a hut on the shore (assuming it was close enough to reach without drying out), and what could you leave in its place?
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Old 04-10-2018, 07:19 AM   #5
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Default Re: Human-octopus barter

A spear gun would probably be handy.

Pretty coloured beads and rocks, and some kind of fixant for his sculptures?

But to expand on thrash's #2, what sort of tech is generally available?
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Old 04-10-2018, 08:58 AM   #6
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Default Re: Human-octopus barter

Vodka.

Quote:
"The terrible things that dwell beneath the bay scavenge [chocolate] from the ships they wreck and trade it to the villagers for vodka," said Dr. Bleak. "That's also where we get rum, tea, and the occasional cursed idol."
--Down Among the Sticks and Bones, Seanan McGuire

I am slightly joking, but, you know, distillation probably isn't easy down there, as a previous poster pointed out with respect to other chemistry.
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Old 04-10-2018, 09:58 AM   #7
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Default Re: Human-octopus barter

The sculpting thing makes me think it might appreciate objects of beauty. Maybe not anything the humans think of as particularly beautiful.
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Old 04-10-2018, 11:50 AM   #8
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Default Re: Human-octopus barter

The problem would be that all indications are that an octopus’s mental processes are so different from human that subjective definitions may not be the same: art, music, sculpture. Like Odo from Deepspace 9 sculpture may be appreciated in a tactile rather than visual fashion, for example.

Practical considerations would be similar: fibers, worked metals, pottery, glassware, manufactured tools.

A brisk trade may exist in scavenged glass, metal and seafood in return for worked metals, glassware and fiber like hemp.

Last edited by tanksoldier; 04-10-2018 at 11:54 AM.
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Old 04-10-2018, 11:52 AM   #9
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Default Re: Human-octopus barter

Aromatics or whatever you call something that makes the sea water "smell" nice to them.
They may love cinnamon sticks, for example.
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Old 04-10-2018, 12:12 PM   #10
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Default Re: Human-octopus barter

Artistic/decorative pieces:

Waterproof pigments paints dyes whatever: ways to apply lasting color to things while under water. Dyes will enjoy UV protection that they don't get above water, but suffer from, well, water, as well as salt and oceanic bacteria, so they'll likely have different colourfast problems.

Ways to apply lasting scents/tastes to things, or just plain old flavor enhancers / spices.

Rock sugar, in small waterproof containers/wrappers. Rock sugar instead of granulated sugar because it will dissolve slower in the water and thus be easier to work with. That said, I have no idea if octopi can taste "carbohydraty goodness" - cats can't, as an example.

Worked stone of different varieties, some with smooth sealed surfaces to discourage plantgrowth and others with deliberately roughened surfaces to encourage plantgrowth.
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