Pool of shareables
A pool of shareables is a set of shared material (or physical) resources, such as physical space, equipment and tools, consumable materials, limited resources, etc. It can be represented by a catalog of all material resources that are available to affiliates of an OVN and beyond.
The implementation in the NRP-CAS is the Inventory. Very item in the catalog can specify the type of resource (see more on Resource type), property regime, location, etc. Note that resources in the pool do not need to be at the same location. Moreover, resources in the pool are treated as independent building blocks (see the REA ontology), not necessarily related to an organizational context, they are primitives like agent and event. In other words, a resource from the pool can be in one of many property regimes (private, shared, nondominium, etc.), and at a specific time can be used / consumed in a process, which can be part of any project or venture (call it context of work), and at a later time it can be used, consumed in another process, belonging to another context of work. This defines the fluidity of the pool of shareables in terms of unhindered resource flow. The flow is tracked using an NRP-CAS.
To regulate access to these resources in an OVN, i.e. use or consumption in a specific process, within a specific project or venture, by a specific agent \ affiliate, Physical resource governance is used.
Materials resources play an important role in innovation and co-creation and they are not valuable if they sit idle. In other words, down time of an equipment can constitute a loss of opportunities for an OVN, so we need to make sure, for example, that tools and equipment are well-maintained. One proposition is to implement a budget for maintenance (replenishment, revitalization, upgrade, etc.), which is a practice already established in Sensorica. This maintenance budget can be used by any affiliate who takes the task of maintenance, under specific conditions, according to the Physical resource governance of this particular resource, which may require credentials for the affiliate and other conditions.
Another way to look at it is that a pool of shareable exists as an environment in which agents feel safe to share, and are even incentivized to share all sorts of material assets (share idle, excess, underutilized assets). For example, why would anyone take a 3D printer from his basement and bring it to the Sensorica lab, and allow other people to use it? If the lab is seen as a safe environment (no one can steal), if there are people who can provide technical support (safe and secure use), if there is a mechanism in place to repair it in case it breaks down (not only free riding), if there is some sort of mechanism for traceability of who used it and for what (accountability for users) and other such mechanisms, the individual in question may feel safe to share. The NRP-CAS has been designed with this idea in mind, to provide a network of individuals the security and the incentives to share idle (or excess, underutilized) assets and to put them to good collaborative use. One of the motto that Sensorica uses is Do more with less, which speaks to sharing and recycling resources across the network, in any process.
In short, the pool of shareables is a list of all sorts of material resources that are made available for use or consumption by all affiliates of the OVN, in any project or venture, under certain conditions, as described in the Physical resource governance.
Augmentation: This pool can be augmented through acquisition (purchasing of new materials) or crowdsourcing (anyone can commit a material resource to the pool of shareable simply by adding it to the catalog). Various mechanisms of augmentation of the pool of shareables are available:
- donations: anyone donates equipment.
- investment: one or more affiliates can purchase material assets and make them available to the network. Cost (+ interest) is returned to these affiliates who have invested, according to the use of the asset. These affiliates runs the risk not to be reimbursed (+ interest), if the asset is underused. Ownership is maintained by these affiliates until the asset is reimbursed (+ interest), after which ownership is transferred to the custodian. See section on property. This replenishment process has been prototyped within Sensorica - see the case of the 3D printer.
- sharing: some affiliates decide to share material assets (ex. lab space, equipment, etc.) in the context of a project. Scope can be limited and access might be restricted. There is no transfer of ownership during the sharing period. This replenishment process has been prototyped within Sensorica - see the case with professor Philippe Comtois from Montreal Heart Institute.
Attrition or degradation: Some shared material resources are consumable, therefore they are naturally depleted during use, they require replenishment. Others are usable and their usability degrades over time, they require maintenance or upgrades. Maintenance (repair) of a material resource can also be treated as a type of access, as a transaction.
Availability: Access to use items from the pool of shareables can be seen as a transaction and every access event can be recorded into a ledger of activities, associating the resource, the user and the process. It is regulated as described in the Physical resource governance. Resources are primitives in the REA ontology that is used to model an OVN. As such, they are treated as independent entities, abstracted from an organizational context. This makes resources available to agents / affiliates in an OVN traceable across the network, across processes and projects / ventures (or contexts of work).
Investment and sharing make the OVN very elastic in terms of access to resources. In other words, capacity can grow dynamically according to needs. At the same time, it makes the pool of resources volatile, because some investors and sharing agents can retract their assets from the pool. Volatility can be modulated from governance and through incentives (see also benefit redistribution algorithm) and reputation systems.
The implementation of the pool of shareables in Sensorica through the NRP-CAS as Inventory can keep track of all these flows.
Note that the pool of shareables does NOT constitute a market of resources. The market setting is typified by a number of agents that own resources, exchanging these resources for financial gains or favors in return. Although the pool of shareables includes these types of arrangements and transactions (i.e. some resources are privately owned and renting a resource is a possible transaction), it also includes other arrangements and transactions that are not typically found in markets. Thus, we can say that a pool of shareables is more generative than a market. For example, a pool of shareables allows relations of co-creation, where agents contribute with resources in a process as "investment", which may guarantee some benefits extracted from the collective output, based on a benefit redistribution algorithm. Sharing resources as investment in a co-creation process is a one-to-many relationship with potential future benefits, not a reciprocal one-to-one relationship between two agents like in a market. Another example of departure from the market is the possibility of resources as nondominium, which are not owned, cannot be owned, but anyone can have access to, based on some rules, as described in the Physical resource governance.
Shearables vs Commons
Note that in the OVN jargon we distinguish shearables from commons. The difference is that we consider commons things that cannot be depleted/consumed or destroyed and the costs associated with their use (access, operation, etc.) are minimal. We call sherables material resources that are shared across the network under certain rules and conditions, they have high costs associated with their use and maintenance. Ex. the whole of scientific knowledge is a commons. A shared working space, a makerspace for example, with tools is part of a pool of sherables.
Access to the pool of shareables needs to be regulated because physical resources have costs associated with their use, for maintenance and end-of-life treatment. Moreover, some physical resources, ex. specialized lab equipment, require a minimal level of technical skills to use/operate. Safety is another important aspect and governance can help to insure safe and efficient use.
According to the practice established by Sensorica, using things from the pool of shareables doesn't involve use-costs for affiliates of the OVN, such as rent. Nevertheless, the use of certain things must be sanctioned and/or rationed by the community. The commons must NOT be monetized. Active affiliates should NOT compete for the use of shareables in order to co-create. The focus should be on the preservation of shareables, rather than on its consumption/depletion.
See more on Physical resource governance.
- Free: some resources can be used by all OVN affiliates, even by the public (use time/quantity may be restricted)
- Permissioned: For some resources, such as high tech equipment for example, access to use may require credentials. The user may be forced to follow a training session (defined by the community closer to the resource) and perhaps to pass a test. Moreover, some resources are scarce and can be in high demand. In this case, allocation may follow a system of prioritization (defined by the community closer to the resource). Some resources require regular maintenance, therefore permission to use may require some form of commitment to maintenance, which can be a payment or a guarantee of time to repair.
- Formally restricted: Access to some resources can be restricted based on Reputation or Role
Back in 2014 Sensorica eas experimenting with QR codes and apps that were to be linked to the NRP-CAS to facilitate access to shared resources in a pool. See video of prototype at the Sensorica lab.
Incentives: Allocation of material resources requires work. In order to insure efficient and effective allocation of resources it is strongly advised to associate immediate tangible rewards (example is revenue/hours of service) with the allocation.
Scope is related to the domain a resource can affect. They respond to the question "Who benefits?"
- Project specific: some resources are intended for a specific project or venture and benefit mostly those who are involved. Examples: a chemical solution that can only be used in a specific research process.
- Network specific: some resources are intended for a wider domain, for a cluster of projects or ventures or for an entire network constituted around a broader mission like the Sensorica network for example. Ex. a website used by the entire network, like [www.sensorica.co Sensorica's website], or a microscope that can be used in many processes by affiliates of a network.
- Public: some resources can benefit the entire world and are usually managed as public goods, managed by governments.
The traditional use of commons also designates resources shared within a community, which have a broader scope of use, not reserved to a specific project or venture. Ex. a park.
See more on the Property page.
Responds to the question "Who owns it?" The pool of shareables can be a mix of material assets owned by
- Custodian serving the OVN.
- Affiliates or partners of the OVN, in which case they are governed by rules imposed by the owner. The community might also impose some generic rules on them (to be determined).
The custodian has no rights to exploit the pool of resources, i.e. to use it in a way to extract benefits, in the form of revenue or others. Separation between management and exploitation is important in order to avoid conflict of interest and to make sure that all agents of an OVN have access to resources. The goal is to avoid problems like: Makerbot, Occupy Thingiverse, and the reality of selling Open Hardware
- If a custodian-based governance structure is adopted, one possibility is to have the custodian offer the maintenance and allocation service to the community.
- OVN affiliates can take roles of resource allocation agents.
In order to insure efficient and effective maintenance and allocation of material resources it is strongly advised to immediately rewarded related activities.
In order to insure a more effective and efficient management of material resources an NRP-CAS is required. - see also NRP for value networks.
See this old video for QR code-based resource management from Sensorica.
Some properties are desirable, others are necessary.
- OPEN SOURCE (integrating open innovation, sharing design, build communities)
- SHAREABLE (the sharing economy)
- MODULAR perpetual products and customizable) - effort to define a standard for scientific parts.
- IINTEROPERABLE (standards)
- SOCIALIZABLE (offer value through social interactions and communities)
- ECOLOGICAL (sustainable) and Ethical
The property of being shareable means that the resource is
- searchable (location, GPS, barcode, etc.),
- accessible (may require verification, approval, transaction),
- movable ( for consumable materials, tools and equipment, i.e. change location, which is also considered a transaction),
- easy to operate (safety and user manuals),
- monitorable (sensors and recording of use, misuse and abuse, GPS, etc.).
Relations to open science
The pool of shareables applied to academic labs, together with the commons, related to published scientific information, data and knowledge, are compatible with the open science vision put forward by Sensorica. See also Open Science page on the Sensorica website.