Bootstrap 2.0

Doug Englebart invented the mouse and interactive computing with his project bootstrap, and I am proposing we take his metaphor and extend it. Doug probably did anticipate that 50 years later we would have the necessary technologies to be able to work at a whole new level. As we move beyond the mouse, keyboard and screen model that his team invented to all the possibilities of modern smart phones and a robust high speed network, we now have the opportunity to more fully realize his vision. Young people grow up with ubiquitous computing and connectivity, and at least in the developing parts of the world, we anticipate that we could connect 100% of humanity even if some are allowed to be left alone to preserve their original cultures. The costs and capabilites of the systems are still moving fast in opposite directions such that universal access will only be a matter of political will. In other words, it depends on whether we become more and more equal, or less and less.

Bootstrap 2.0 is about creating the suits of open source tools that we need to revolutionize everything. This work is necessarily open source, or more generally commons based peer production where the rules and customs of open source are what encloses the commons for the sake of the peers. There are tools we need to operate peer production enterprises, and Bootstrap 2.0 is about bootstrapping the network of peer production processes. Although some of the components are in place, we will not only produce the enterprise software our organizational units need, but the network will collaboratively operate highly profitable service enterprises that compete with for-profit enterprises. We will share our profits between supporting the human needs of all of our stakeholders. Capital investors will share in low-risk of capital and equitable share of growth, but capital will not be nearly as important as customers, community and labor. We expect that the distinction between these interests will become more and more blurred as equality of access allows everyone to thrive, and for any who seek acheivement to compete for opportunities to lead.

We need a flow component that implements the new currencies and integrates them with wealth creation processes. In detail, we can have many distinct tools that do this in different ways, but they have to meet at the currency system. If you work in technology like me, you know about the all to common issue tracking systems. It's what determines what you work on at the virtual office every day, and we expect it to be the same with our open design. When you are collaborating under no command as we do in peer production, you don't need managers and administrators, you need leaders. You goals are not going to come down from the corporate tower, we'll have to peer produce those too.

New work starts with an intention to act, a tribal leader signals it is time to go on a hunt, or to build boats. In a small band possessing original collective intelligence, the next step may not be explicit. Everyone already knows who does what and most of the planning is in subtle signals of a collaborative party who all know their own tasks and the signs exchanged to coordinate in action. Now the intented actions unfold and finally the team evaluates an assesses the results. Our issue tracking system will have this characteristic wealth building cycle. In the small band who can use the tools of original collective intelligence we don't need explicit currency systems because they are embedded in the culture and life ways of the people doing this. They don't even need to be aware of what they are doing, but if we undertake a semiotic analysis we would need to illuminate as many of the subtle signs and signals throughout the wealt creation cycle.

If we are going to do this sort of thing globally, we'll need to be more exclicit about the design and structure of our currency systems. The monetary systems we have evolved in a very different environment than the peer production system emerging in the new networked world, they evolved to manage scarcity and express power through control. We need currencies for different reasons. We need to make visible the flows of things we desire to create within the network, not just they scarce things that express control.

In the bootstrap process, the first phase, the declaration of intention is where we form our collective vision. You can use a declaration to declare that you need some tool or resource to be produced, but you can also declare intentions to produce new wealth to be shared in the commons. For example, in this talks I am declaring an intetion to collaboratively produce certain tools. I need a tool that enables me to declare the need for each tool that we will bootstrap. I also need to be able to declare my offer to serve the work of designing and building each tool. To declare both my vision of what the tools need to be as well as the relevant skills and experience I can offer in the fulfillment of the needs of others.

Once we have some of these tools, I can make an intention to offer to serve the community by maintaining the tools as cloud based services so that any project in the network can use any of them by just logging in and creating new resources with the tools. Before someone objects that there isn't any way to pay for any of this in my design, that I'm saying the services are completely free. Certain they are in the sense of freedom as in liberty, but not free as in beer. I didn't leave it out, but first you have to broaden how you think about money. This is not the talk about the scarce money system, but I do need to make the point that this is different. Our system 1) Will need to interact with regular money, what is called fiat currency, 2) Our systems and networks need to be solvent at least initially on traditional terms. The cash flow can't be negative. Positive cash flows mean the transfer of assets into the commons. 3) No ownership is offered for cash, ownership is collective and traditional money has no value in controlling common assets, it is just the way of keeping score with respect to the old ways of ownership and control.

In the new currency system, all of the phases of wealth building (wealing) involve the new currencies, so as soon as we have an intention, we have new currencies. In our system design, you will need to have an intention before you can make plans and proposals. This is sort-of like bidding for contract work, but you probably won't just negotiate a price, you will negotiate more about when, where and how because the main purpose is resource allocation and figuring out whether a plan or proposal works. If it takes more resources than a similar project, you may decide not to do it, or to wait for a better proposal.

Now in the action phase is where the action is. If the second phase results in a go decision, and commitments made become active. In this phase, the functions and feature will be even more like an issue tracking system. If it is a big project, we might need things like project manager views so that team members can view progress and identify problems with schedules. Open source projects are notorious for not even having timelines and deadlines, but we would actually be able to address this problem if/when there is a need.

Then when we are done we celebrate and acknowledge what we did and didn't do and if we did it well. This is where we get paid in a contractual wealing cycle. The customer signed off and paid part of it when the second phase completes and maybe again when certain work was completed, and either they like it and pay you happily or they don't and you may have to argue and/or do more work. If the work is given by volunteers the currency is gratitude. Come to think of it, if you forget to thank your paid employees as well as paying them, not only are you behaving badly but you are risking your business as well.

It all comes down to the declaration of intention to produce value and acknowledgement of the value both in the declaration and the follow through actions.

Share the wealth. Celebrate the value in sharing and acknowledge leadership in action as experienced in community.