OS Letter

Summary: Blockchain Inspired Data Structures Supporting New Modes of Production, Commons Based Peer Production. Distributed governance/production of everything from cell phones to democracy.

We need new social forms for creating wealth. We know it is possible to produce complex systems requiring coordination on complex tasks by many people who only know each other by their work. They automatically form networks of support between teams of task specialists.

We have an open vision. No fixed frameworks, only general directions and experimentation. Instead of systems and software, our design space is social relations, or (social) process architecture based on the practices of leading process artists. We can convene multidisciplinary teams to map emergent collective visions as just one of many collectively curated digital living documents. Open Source Software (OSS) experience suggests that this would be more than sufficient to spark dozens of whole new industries.

Although OSS is a great example of commons production, its financial system is ad hoc at best. The rapidly emerging space of cypto-currencies provides an opportunity to change that. Although much of the interest in crypto-currencies is generated by people who want to route around or replace parts of current financial infrastructure, this isn't all of what makes this the second great innovation of the internet after the web.

One can't have any effective financial systems without governance and ultimately settlements through particular legal jurisdictions. Therefore governing systems will always be critical components.   Even when in principle democratic, they can be captured and become autocratic. Commons Based Peer Production (CBPP) demands bottom up democracy, direct forms that allow for autonomy. We will need to experiment in process architectures to see what works, and draw on our long human history of peer production within a living environment. The Earth is our shared Commons and its continued productivity is in danger.

If the tools I envision were ready, I would want to use them to finance the building of real democracy where I live. We, the future leaders of a new economy with a renewed democracy, would gather and plan our work and issue crypto-currencies to finance the plan. As the plans are executed and goals achieved, the entire currency system tracks contributions and implements governance processes. The leaders can use the systems to view progress and gaps, adjust the plans and recognize exceptional performance. We have to build all these systems before we can really imagine the power we can give to future process architects that will enable them to create initiatives and carry them out by issuing currencies to create incentive structures and generate common wealth.

In truth, the current productions system, capitalism and its currencies and financial institutions, are in reality CBPP systems themselves. The only problem is that it is a commons of capital and capital wealth, not living wealth. The design space of new currency systems is an opportunity to reveal and understand the current financial commons and its pros and cons in such a way that we can design better systems. The system as it stands is not sustainable.  We need more options; we need to measure value differently.

I also want to thank the Open Society Foundation for this opportunity. While thinking about this, I watched videos and read about other authors and thinkers associated with OSF, and the possibility of networking and collaborating is beyond my imagination. I'm particularly inspired by Mariana Mazzucato, and would like to connect CBPP ideas with her reconception of the role of public funding of leading technologies. I too would like to see much more investment in our collective futures and turning away from what is destroying us. It is all hands on deck time for humanity; state sponsored missions to the future are a good way and we need to do that and more. CBPP could be even greater in scope than missions. We need to try all of it and solutions will emerge.

The answer to "how?" is yes!