Types of open value networks

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Material conditions determine the type of an open value network (OVN).

Note related to infrastructure development

We are trying to set the bases of a self-organizing OVN. In other words, the network doesn't have a predefined structure, or an initial blueprint, it emerges in reaction to environmental conditions. The infrastructure needs to be flexible enough in order to allow the network to self-organize. The design of core elements of the infrastructure needs to take into consideration key characteristics of different types of environments in order to somewhat anticipate emergent structures and to provide the conditions for them to emerge. In short, self-organization depends on infrastructure, which needs to be designed in anticipation of future states of the network, based on some understanding of environmental conditions.

Different application of the OVN model

  • High tech products - example is Sensorica
  • Software development - examples are metamaps.cc, the OVN-I development (the network building the infrastructure for this OVN model)
  • Knowledge work - Guerrilla Translations, see wiki
  • Local food systems - example [Greener Acres], not very active
  • Accountability - proposed by Steve Bosserman, related to his project in Tanzania, Africa, not developed yet.
  • Waste management/recycling - proposed by Dante, not developed yet.
  • Local value ecosystem - proposed by Yasir, related to creating abundance (by creating innovative solutions - social innovation, technological innovation, services, etc) in a local ecosystem in collaboration with non OVN based models (traditional institutions). Example: NOICE, currently incubated within Sensorica.

Important conditions

Type of products or deliverables created

See on the Resource types.

Benefits capturing method

Capturing mechanisms, as well as redistribution mechanisms determine the type of OVN. In other words, the architecture of OVN will be designed to optimize the specific type of capturing mechanism.


Dependency on fixed material assets

Production processes in large scale agriculture are very dependent on land and water. The notion of property is important in this case: who owns the land and who controls access to water. New forms of property are emerging (see Water Commons post from p2p foundation). Moreover, this dependency on fixed resources binds the OVN to the same geographical location.

The development process of high tech products/devices has been mostly virtualized, meaning that the design and the simulations can be done using computer programs and through online collaboration. This eliminates the need for agents/actors/affiliates to be in the same space at the same time, and reduces the dependency on material resources for prototyping. An OVN focused on the design of high tech products/devices can be geographically dispersed, like in the case of software development, and can scale to tens of thousands of agents/actors/affiliates co-creating in a swarm-like manner.

Dependency on time

Agricultural production requires a high level of time coordination and synchronicity, because some important processes are fixed in time, like seeding and harvesting. The time scale in this particular case is quite large. Since the product is perishable, important time constraints are imposed in distribution and consumption. Services might have tighter schedules and require even better time coordination.


Service of translation

A group of translators may decide to form an OVN to offer translation services. Working in a larger group allows them to take on larger projects. In this example, the service produced is translation. Almost all affiliates works with text, some work on infrastructure development and maintenance (building and maintaining the website, etc.), some work on business-related activities (find customers, outreach and social media, etc.). It is not difficult to imagine a simple mechanism for evaluating someone’s contribution. Contributions to the service (translation) are in fact very easily quantifiable: proportional to the number of words translated. We can also imagine modulators for legal, technical, scientific, literary… translations. But this is almost it. In fact, this is the model used by translators to estimate price. Once we have a clearer idea about the value system, we need to think of a set of incentives that would encourage the proper behavior, in order to keep the OVN productive. In this example, the service produced by the network is translation of text. In exchange, the network offers its affiliates some form of remuneration (can be financial, which in turn is used by affiliates to acquire basic necessities, to sustain their lives). By linking some behavioral characteristics to the value equation to affect the benefits that go to the affiliate (which is what motivates the affiliate to be part of the OVN in the first place), we influence behavior. In this case, the revenue of affiliates should be calculated from contributions to translation activities (how much text was translated), modulated by different parameters extracted from the how the contribution was made (quality of the translation, respect of deadlines imposed by the customer, overall customer service, etc.).

See Guerrilla Translation! and their wiki for example.

Service of hosting

Let’s imagine a different type of OVN, in order to better understand how the incentive system can be designed. Suppose a group of individuals forms an OVN to share a space for housing. This example is very different from the previous one, in that the benefit it offers to affiliates is not revenue, but a place to sleep. A set of incentives needs to be designed in order to induce proper behavior in this example as well. Proper behavior in this context would be to take care of the space, to participate in cleaning and maintenance, to participate in governance (participate in meetings where group decisions are made about the space), to respect other affiliates, to respect agreed upon schedule, etc. Incentives need to be linked directly to the benefits provided to the affiliate, which in this case is a place to sleep. Examples of negative incentives would be: a reduction in the number of days per week the person can use some common areas or appliances, a lower quality sleeping room, more work assigned for maintaining the property, etc. If incentives aren't directly related to the benefit that the network provides to affiliates it becomes more difficult to maintain the network well-structured and productive. This is a small network, in terms of number of affiliates, and geographically bounded.


Past ideas taken from Sensorica's Value System document. - INSTRUCTION: Please help integrate them to the rest of the page.