Network of Networks

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Like any other organization, networks form and shape around clusters of interests and values. Notwork-type organizations in general (OVNs and other types) are fractal structures, in the sense that networks can nest within networks. But since interests and values (culture) are powerful forces that regulate network interactions, they also define network boundaries. We can say that two networks are distinct if there is very little interaction between them, or if processes in one do not directly affect processes in another one. But despite distances / differences between networks, agents can build bridges / interface between distinct networks, bringing them closer together. Today, after over three decades of network gestation, we're moving very rapidly into a regime where networks are finding each other. We are seeing the emergence of a network-of-networks economy, which is in fact a structural aspect of the p2p economy.

Tibi proposes to develop ways through which networks can plug into each other in a permissionless way. Some permissionless connecting already happens and that is driven by the level of openness and transparency of networks. In other words, from openness we get individuals sharing their time operating in different networks at the same time. This creates social bridges between networks, through which all sorts of assets and opportunities can transit. These bridges happen informally (not tracked or measured) without anyone's permission. When it comes to transparency, information freely flows from one network to others through various social media mediums. What is not so obvious is interfacing at the infrastructure level. This still requires some form of consensus, but the situation changes very rapidly in the web3 space, where anyone can build interfaces between permissionless blockchains.


This is a discussion about modeling networks of networks and the dynamics of their formation. This discussion includes aspects of Organizational structure, such as:

Development of network-to-network interfaces is currently done within Sensorica as part of the 4th sector (see also NOICE) and Re-Imagining Wealth initiatives. Historically, the efforts started with the Open Alliance initiative.

At the infrastructure level, protocols must be conceived and implemented that allow multiple OVNs and any other type of network-type organization to interact at fundamental levels, to form stable interaction patterns.

Interfaces between networks

NOTE: it is important to distinguish between open networks and DAOs: most DAOs inherit features from traditional organizations, some DAOs are structured as open networks but not all.

During the middle ages cities were built like fortresses, which were silos of socioeconomic activity, connected by risky exchange routes. As time went by, societies developed infrastructure to connect cities at different levels: transport (roads), communication (media), energy (electrical grid), governance (government), etc.

Because of today's web architecture, information infrastructures that support organizations are effectively silos, organizations are built like fortresses. Building networks of networks means building formal relations between networks that are complementary, i.e. building formal bridges to allow flows or stuff.

For example, we can share a calendar between two (or more) networks to provide visibility to events and to plan shared events. We can share repositories, providing access to digital assets (e.c documents) to participants in different networks. We can share communication channels, allowing participants in different networks to talk to each others.

Building interfaces between networks goes beyond DeFi, which is just one aspect, not even the most important one. These bridges are built on a case-by-case basis, depending on the type of synergy between networks. This leads to the formation of a network-of-networks, which is essentially a larger scale network with more capacity.

Another concept here is to allow symbiosis, through these interfaces that are built case-by-case.

Complexity doing

Proposed by Vini, bypass formal representations, interfaces, and build individual to individual connections, nurture these connections. Lauren talks about co-creating spaces where these "healthy" relations can emerge from interactions. Tim speaks about a multiplicity of processes, processes running in parallel, some amplifying others and even having a suppressing effect. All this to day that when two organizations collide for the first time, facilitation means creating this "space", co-create the social norms that allows these connections individual to individual (NOT representative to representative, dissolve the organizational walls) to build these p2p relations, build these synapses between the two organizations. Once these interactions densify, the networks are de-facto interconnected, interfacing with each other. Perhaps, as the networks increase their bandwidth of interaction, some protocols / structures can emerge.

Growth of network of networks

We observed in Sensorica two growth modes for network of networks.

  1. by affiliation - independent networks that already exist affiliate with other networks by building interfaces or formal bridges between them, based on their complementarity and synergy.
  2. by incubation and spin off - individuals join a network, perhaps through a project or a venture, have new ideas and initiate new ventures, which can create new grow into inner networks that can spin off once they reach critical mass. This was the case with Drone and the 3D Printing ventures in Sensorica.

We are thinking about giving OVNs the internal mechanisms to nest and incubate embryo networks to be spun off later.

Development in the DAO space

Develops as DAO To DAO interaction tooling.

PrimeDAO: Prime’s mission is to create “next-generation coordination tools to connect DAOs which are recognized to be growing in power but remaining isolated as digital organizations”

Two major drivers: first the inherent composability of web3, where open and transparent data and programmable interfaces provide strong affordances for composability, and – on the other hand – from an ethos that seems to characterize this new space, that pushes to go beyond agile and the teal movement, and hints towards:

  1. overcoming market competition towards more cooperation;
  2. getting more skin in the game for contributors expressed mainly through the ideas of “permissionless” participation (making the self much more sovereign) and through the easier connection of financial and governance incentives with work (contrarian to a salary, potentially tokens can embed any kind of utility and rights, including actual equity-like ownership)

Economic integration

Building interfaces between networks to allow flows of resources and coordination of economic activities.

NOTE: The following discussion is based on the development work around the NRP-CAS, the server-client architecture. This presentation needs to be expanded to p2p infrastructure, blockchain and others.

User Stories

Network formation and organization (Sensorica)

A bunch of folks with various scientific and engineering skills decide to work together, and form a loose network to make sensors called Sensorica. They rent some lab space together. They start working on an idea for a product which they call the Mosquito. They create a website. They identify themselves as part of Sensorica when they talk to other people.

They decide that they could market a piece of the Mosquito called the Piezo. So they create a new project for that and further develop it.

Another guy comes along with another idea for a sensor not related to the Mosquito. They create a new project for that and a few of them work with the new guy on it.

They combine orders for parts and supplies when they can to get better prices.

Soon they are working on a number of projects. Some of these use the same simpler purchased parts as the others. Some of these create components that can be sold as is or used for other projects.

People bring equipment to the lab, which they sometimes share with others.

When people share the profits of something that is sold, they can make the decision of the value equation used at the project level.

Exchange firm for a network (Sensorica)

The Sensorica people know they have to have some legal entity to sell products, to be able to take advantage of benefits for legal companies, and to be able generally to operate legally in the system.

They create Tactus for this purpose. From a legal perspective, Tactus is selling the products, filing all required government forms, paying required taxes, etc. Tactus has the bank account. Tactus reports sales tax for everything purchased by individuals for Sensorica activities.

Then they decide to create a new legal organization to market other products, such as consulting for the network software. They then need to know which work was part of this and which work was part of Tactus.

It could be that other legal organizations are created that would sell products from the same projects as each other. Or possibly the same resource type. Some of the same people would work on products sold by different legal organizations.

Would/could people create an exchange firm that would represent products from different networks?

Project across networks

(The specifics of this are completely made up; but this sort of thing has been discussed.)

A few people from Sensorica and a few people from Green Wall decide to create an agricultural sensor together. Some of them work in the Sensorica lab, some at the Green Wall lab, some at home. They consider that they are working on a project together. They create a product they can potentially sell. They don't think of themselves as a long term network, but as formed more to complete a specific project, so they work together for a year and then disband.

Network of networks

Sensorica and several other organizations from the area (networks, individuals, loose associations of individuals, cooperatives) decide to come together to share space and equipment. They have some shared values. They can possibly get grant money to help with the cost of the space. This involves also sharing the space with conventional firms.

They might be able to get grant money also to buy shared equipment, which would be part of the commons of the network of like minded organizations.

The network of groups would probably need to form a legal organization to own and manage the shared equipment, and pay rent on the space.

They also want to share equipment and tools, and possibly consumables, owned by individuals or member organizations.

Network formation and organization (GMC)

Guerrilla Translators (GT) is an informal network of people that translate works they consider useful to society, they have a set of shared values. They have a website. They identify as part of the group. They don't make money at these translations. The translations they consider as becoming part of the commons. There might be incidental money coming in for these translations, but not usually.

They would like to create an agency to do translations for money, and distribute the money in a fair manner, so people can make a living at their trade. They plan to form a new organization called Guerrilla Glocalization (GG), which would do this. It would be a legal cooperative.

They also might form a legal organization for GT along the lines of a foundation.

GT and GG would be part of an umbrella organization called Guerrilla Media Collective (GMC). (Don't know if this will be a legal organization.)

Most of the same people do work as part of GT and GG both.

The actual work done for GT and GG is basically the same. The methods of distribution of money received would be different.

Network coordination (SA)

(from Ampie) There is an agriculture/food distribution network. Lots of participating farmers, most are subsistence farmers (3000+). They find that, in general, they have to transport fresh produce to urban areas.

Then there is a low cost construction network. They need to build lots of low cost houses primarily in rural areas. They find that, in general, they have to transport building materials to rural areas.

So the one network has empty trucks coming back from urban areas, the other has empty trucks coming back from rural areas.

In the typical perspective on this scenario, there is no explicit relationship between the construction network and the agriculture network. But if the building material trucks going to rural areas could be loaded with fresh produce when coming back, it may open up some really interesting opportunities.

Network splitting into multiple networks

(from Tibi) Sensorica is about to grow beyond its initial mission (sensing and sensemaking). We are now integrating two 3D printer projects. I predict that in the future Sensorica will split along lines of interest into two networks: sensing and 3D printing. The 3D printing design and production activity is now tolerated because capacity is low, and Serge (the 3D printing guy) is needed for other Sensorica traditional projects and Serge needs other Sensorica affiliates to help him design, prototype and commercialize his open source 3D printer. As capacity grows in both domains more noise will be generated and the need to stay together will be diminished, and I predict the network to split into two.

In this reverse process I believe that the 3D printing embryo network will form its own identity and culture, as the cluster grows. At some point, it will want to express all that in a separate way, which is also good to reduce confusion about the network with the exterior (suppliers, customers, funders...). This means that the 3D printing network will want to have its own CMS.

Data Experiments

This is a thought experiment to see how the events would flow in different scenarios. It assumes agents can be people, exchange firms, network communities. (Don't know yet how projects fit in.) The purpose is to see if and how the event flows might work if we don't have the context of Sensorica - that is, if there are more than one network, more than one exchange firm, projects across networks, etc., in one system.

From Agent Resource Event Type To Agent Context
Francois 20 hours work Tactus Non-production work
Tibi $323 pays Alibaba Exchange 1
Alibaba Electronic Parts X ($300) ships Tactus Exchange 1
Alibaba taxes ($23) expense Tactus Exchange 1
Tactus? PID* ?** Tibi Exchange 1
Tactus? Electronic Parts X (some of them) consumed Tactus Process 1
Jonathan 15 hours labor work Tactus Process 1
Tactus PID* ?** Jonathan Process 1
Tactus Electronic Component 1 produces Tactus Process 1
Tactus Electronic Component 1 consumes Tactus Process 2
Ivan 15 hours labor work Tactus Process 2
Tactus PID* ?** Ivan Process 2
Tactus Piezo produces Tactus Process 2
Tactus Piezo sells Customer 1 Sale 1
Customer 1 $3000 pays Tactus Sale 1
Tactus $500 pays Francois Distribution 1
Tactus $500 pays Tibi Distribution 1
Tactus $1000 pays Jonathan Distribution 1
Tactus $1000 pays Ivan Distribution 1
Ivan $1000 reinvests Tactus Distribution 1?
Tactus PID* ?** Ivan Distribution 1?
Bayle $1000 contributes Sensorica? Exchange 2?
Sensorica? PID* ?** Bayle Exchange 2?
Sensorica? $900 pays Supplier 2 Exchange 2
Supplier 2 Computer ships Sensorica? Exchange 2
Crowdfunder Joe $100 contributes Robotics Lab Co-op Exchange 3
Robotics Lab Co-op PID* ?** Crowdfunder Joe Exchange 3
Crowdfunder Mary $100 contributes Robotics Lab Co-op Exchange 3?
Robotics Lab Co-op PID* ?** Crowdfunder Mary Exchange 3?
Tibi 2 hours labor work Robotics Lab Co-op Non-production work
Robotics Lab Co-op PID* ?** Tibi Non-production work
Robotics Lab Co-op $300 pays Landlord A Exchange ?
Tactus Electronics Parts X (more of them) consumed Robotics Lab Co-op Process 3
Antonio 5 hours labor work Robotics Lab Co-op Process 3
Robotics Lab Co-op PID* ?** Antonio Process 3

* PID = Participation in Income Distributions.

** Event ? means PID might be implicit, in other words, no balancing event will happen at the time of the contribution, but the participation will be assumed. Or they might be explicit, in other words, a balancing event will happen, which will need a name, as will the PID, which will need to be some kind of Resource Type that is given in return for a contribution.


  • Agent - A person, legal organization, or informal collaboration (like a network), which participates in economic events.
  • Network - a network-type organization, can be an OVN (see also DAO)



Some brainstorming on what we want and how it would work, thoughts are evolving. Where we are now technically is that one instance (of the app and database) assumes one network (Sensorica or GMC). The data assumes the network in a lot of places, just like in enterprise software, the enterprise itself is always assumed. We had originally thought that the way this would evolve was that new networks would implement new instances of the software, and would communicate through a protocol (of necessity). This also will likely be needed in the future, but it has become apparent that in and around Sensorica, the evolution is much more fluid and complex than this. (See user stories above.)

Immediate goals: =

  1. Support network of networks (Open-alliance)
  2. Support multiple exchange firms in Sensorica
  3. Support Robotics Lab (in whatever form it takes)
  4. Support Guerrilla Media Collective using the software developed for and with Sensorica (GMC will live in a different instance of the software than Sensorica)

General goals:

  1. Make one instance of the software / database support any combination of related networks, people, legal entities (as exchange firms, as the network form of organization, whatever). Two implications: the Sensorica installation will be broadened beyond Sensorica; we will support multi-party accounting either within one network or for multiple networks. The general implication is that as things morph in and around Sensorica, people and groups can fold themselves into this installation of the software without the obstacle of setting up a new installation.
  2. Figure out and clean up the question of how projects fit into the scheme (not every network needs projects; in Sensorica, projects have some of the same behavior as networks and some of the same behavior as internal work orders). It is not clear if projects should remain a distinct concept, or become agents and in a few cases become internal orders.

I don't know yet if we can do the first without resolving the second, or not. Need more discussion and conceptualization around projects.

Model and UI

The REA model supports multi-party accounting and in fact any set of relationships between agents through economic events. The OVN-OS database also supports all of this at the core. We finessed this in the actual data because we didn't need to instantiate Sensorica or figure out how Tactus fits into economic events and reporting because they were the only network and exchange firm there. As well, there was some discomfort with thinking of "agency" in relation to Sensorica, still something that needs to be discussed.

The core model supports all of this nicely, but we will need more definition at the type layer around agent types and agent roles in relation to each other. (See agent model in this section.)

The UI does not input agents for events in cases where Sensorica or Tactus is assumed.

What this could look like

So what are we talking about concretely? Brainstorming:

First, we need to input or derive the from-agents and to-agents in all events. Then accounting or government reports can find the correct events for the entity doing the reporting (like Tactus). We can set up structures so in some cases the event agents can default, which can then be overridden or not (a decision would be needed). For example, projects or networks (or orders??) can assign an exchange firm to themselves. Then the events could be recorded or reported out against that exchange firm for work done in the project or network (or order??) The question of recording or just reporting involves timing of the assignments. Do we want to be able to decide at the last minute? Is this even possible? Do we want to record all the agents on the spot in case relationships change later and we don't want them to be retroactive? (The latter is my current opinion, but need input.)

Note if projects become agents, Sensorica can be thought of as the highest level project in the current scheme. Although really you end up with a hierarchy of agents, which in this case are loose groupings of people working together on something, perhaps a product line. We already know that current projects want to be able to define their own value equation, and perhaps elements of other governance. This is agent-like behavior. These "project agents" could choose to not define value equations etc. for themselves, in which case, they would inherit these from the parent, on up the chain. Membership could work that way also. If projects become agents, projects don't have to explicitly change into networks if in fact they do move outside of the parent network.

How to treat events that create or bring in resources that become part of the commons? And are there different levels of commons or custodians of shared resources or ?? Like, someone can donate a microscope for use of anyone in the Piezo project, or whatever....? How do we want to account for these in the events? (We already have set up some associations around the resources themselves (owner, custodian, etc.), which are related to this question, but currently explicitly defined in the data model, not derived from the event that created or contributed or purchased the resource.)

In Sensorica, do you want to think of the project as autonomous enough that it can decide when to allow resources it created to be used in other projects?

Agents will need different permission levels for different networks.

Agents could potentially pick their network context among the ones they are part of (affiliated with), and this would default down as they log etc.

Agent (organizations) would be an additional filter on: All Work, Network diagrams, ?

Internal work orders may need to be more prominent, as they may take the place of existing low level projects. (Some Sensorica projects should already be work orders anyhow, I think.)

Reality check

An idea was discussed between Lynn, Francois and Tibi, to give networks the ability to nest-incubate within a network and be spun off as independent networks after. The Drone and 3D printer projects have the ability to become networks. At this moment they are mostly using SENSORICA's resources, so they are developing as an embryo within the network. This will most probably repeat itself, since new networks need help and a platform to start their life. This reality tells us that OVNs need mechanisms to incubate other networks that will be spun off later.


As of 5/2014, we completed implementation of these ideas in the base valnet software. This means that the models and design discussion above are now out of date, and for correct models, people should refer to the software itself. (This is always the case. It is not worth keeping analysis and design docs up to date.) However, the user stories above remain valid and useful.

Some related requirements remain - accounting reports and exports; permissions for visibility to part of the data based on agents one is associated with (if this is a requirement, unknown right now).