Thu 16 Apr 2020 4:08PM

A Public Resource Management System

NC Nathan Cravens Public Seen by 153

How can we benefit the cooperative, peer-to-peer, open source design community, and social enterprise and more broadly apply it to our living environments? How can the web can better engage people with the material world, while also enriching the social, strengthening personal bonds.

This briefer proposes the development of a public resource management widget for Loomio.

This can start by:

Building a knowledge and design database and library of ‘things’, ‘services’, ‘transport networks’, and the ‘places’ they inhabit that link to top facilitators that theorize, build, and maintain them.  

As leading facilitators are identified, the hunt for the dream development team can begin—a team that may include some of these fields:

Operations Managers | UX Designers / Data Visualizers / Sensory Artists | Engineers: Software / Automation & Robotics | Product Designers | Materials Scientists | Hospitality | Architects | City Planners | Agriculturists & Landscape Artists

Those disciplines and more would address the following areas:

Agriculture and Fishing | Manufacturing | Repair and Installation of Machinery and Equipment | Electricity, Gas, and Water | Construction | Wholesale and Retail Trade | Transport Storage and Communication | Accommodation and Food Services | Information and Communications | Financial and Legal Activities | Professional, Scientific, and Technical Activities | Rental and Leasing Activities | Administrative and Support Services | Public Administration and Defense | Human Health and Social Work Activities | Community / Voluntary Services

The daunting complexity of the task can be narrowed by starting with a single location and a small set of processes. Company partners can distribute the workload while working in tandem. The framing can start with a single shop, factory, or transport route—and once templates are formed—expand to include city blocks, districts, and whole cities. From the beginning of development, the design principles must enable models flexible enough as not to require continuous work from scratch, by identifying core elements that can transfer to a variety of designs. 

Loomio was based on saving time by making decisions more efficiently. This proposal shares the principle of time efficiency with the insanely ambitious goal of a publicly owned resource management application. It will require extensive modeling, roadmapping, and coordination of practically every known discipline on an unprecedented scale. It is here Loomio can leverage the talent of corporations and governments, with the aim of streamlining and integrating the processes of production, service, and decision making better aligned with user feedback, particularly with products and services in mind.  

With this a public project, all processes should be made as transparent as possible, so long as it does not endanger any individuals. Mirror worlds generated by participants contributing 3D imagery, sound, and location data, in addition to other ways of data visualization and sensory output, will better enable the cooperation of both users and experts to accelerate innovation, not only for the Loomio platform, but in every field the platform facilitates. Placed in map view, logistics channels can be color coded with icons to provide clarity in depicting the type of good or service when observing streams.

Building this now is important. Facing the pandemic, with the need for lockdown measures, a publicly observable management system can greatly reduce the need for workers, reducing the spread of contagion, and enable the monitoring of processes, including the use of telerobotics to perform tasks, in a variety of locations from the safety of one’s home. Were this system already in place, thousands of lives would have been saved, as a single platform that coordinates a variety of efforts with ability to observe and anticipate demands, items such as ventilators and personal protective equipment, including the ability to direct the person in need to go to locations that can meet medical requirements, could have been utilized. A public resource management system would prevent corrupt governments and opaquely ineffective companies from holding the people that depend on their services to ransom and instead hold them to account. Just as materials, processes, and places become public knowledge, so too, those executing orders and fulfilling tasks. Having such a tool would not only save lives, but enrich life.

Once the proper connections from this proposal are made, with a list of lead developers and projects onboard, a document can be written up and collectively signed to make a proposal to a city, like Amsterdam, that is keen on implementing these ideas. Amsterdam seems like a good partnership considering they have recently expressed an effort to pursue Kate Raworth's Doughnut Economics framework. (https://bit.ly/34MlwQ0) Madrid and Barcelona may also be interested, given it has a healthy social centre culture. This would obviously include the use of Loomio to facilitate municipal decision making, and more ambitiously, may work to democratize the European Union itself, rapidly spanning the globe as an international framework. (See: DiEM25)

One pilot project can involve the partnership with or something like MIT's OpenAg initiative, able to provide food sustainably for the city, while reducing transport miles from imports. The various aspects of manufacturing, warehousing and feedstocks, transport, and construction can follow, outfitting the city with sensors that provide dashboards for non-experts to assess the health of the city, including the ability to participate in planning, product design, and all the other functions required to operate and manage a city.

OpenAg can be one of many partners that supply the open source restaurant, a concept demostrated by the Waag community in 2009. (waag.org/en/project/instructables-restaurant) Local farm and supply partners will be aware of each open restaurant, while the resturant will be aware of all participating projects that might serve it.

In simple terms, this proposal is advocating to become something like Docker in that it provides a framework for any variety of projects to launch quickly and work and communicate with everyone else in the ecosystem, while also retaining a vision, roadmap, and collective mentorship that encourages the thriving population of that ecosystem, including mobilization to attract interest from and to convert legacy systems. Widgets or design elements must be assembled into an intuitively navigable library similar to that of Git, also coupled with a prediction engine that automatically draws up a list of widgets for each problem area as it is pursued within the design process.

Hack on! Such systems can develop using a planned staging of hackathons. The following tools assembled by the hackathon team at EUvsVirus are a go-to for making viable products from hackathons:

  • Miro: team collaboration, charts and planning

  • Airtable: collect data via a form view and manipulate it via table view

  • Bubble: build full apps without coding (database, view, logic)

  • Glide: build mobile web apps in minutes

  • Firebase: powerful and easy to setup backend with api and websocket support

  • Backendless: powerful and easy to setup backend with api and websocket support

  • InVision: easy to use design tool with click-dummy features

  • Workstreams: results-oriented, data-driven task management solution & kanban board app integrated to Slack

A number of hackathons can be planned to take on each sector and each area within a sector. It can start with the most vital areas such as energy, agriculture, manufacturing, logistics, services, and the most labor intensive aspect of the economy: maintenance.

Business plan. Once people and projects are onboard, having remotely and collectively developed a white paper and roadmap, we can then work to drum up funding. The funding would go to 'core support': cloud services, a core programming and design team, marketing/promoting/outreach and customer support. The program would be open source and free to use, enabling rapid adoption and networking of users within the ecosystem. Donation campaigns can be tried, as they seem to work for the Wikimedia and Mozilla foundations, but if needed, a monthly fee can be introduced to high volume users, with free use for low volume, small business/governments until, in time, the protocols are tweaked and usable without need for core support nor funding.

Thank you for considering and discussing this proposal. Feel free to contact me at [email protected]. You can find me on Twitter: @nwcrav. For further context, see my writings at https://wiki.p2pfoundation.net/Nathan_Cravens. I'm up for a video chat. Once we have a sizeable group: brainstorming, outlining-detailing, and roadmapping can begin with an experienced facilitator or two privy to remote collaboration. Or, one can quietly apply this information to one's own work. I hope it inspires further development in the directions mentioned!

Compatible projects mentioned in the discussion below include:

Projects that may adopt one or more of the above tools:

What other people or projects might be helpful?

Concluding on a meditation:


Eva Gladek: Sustainable Urban Systems and Circular Cities of the Future



Danyl Strype Fri 17 Apr 2020 1:40AM

@pukkamustard how does this proposal by Nathan fit with the vision for OpenEngiadina?


Nathan Cravens Fri 17 Apr 2020 10:42AM

@pukkamustard Looks like a good starting point.


pukkamustard Sat 25 Apr 2020 9:28AM

Thanks for the mention @Danyl Strype!

@Nathan Cravens It is an ambitions vision! I like the idea of a "Docker" for variety of projects.

I agree that narrowing on a specific use-case and encouraging diverse initiatives to tackle their specific problems is a good way to face the daunting complexity. I believe the only thing required is agreeing on a common interoperable data-model, that is expressive enough to capture many different use-cases.

Finding such a minimal data-model that allows interoperability is a research question we are trying to approach with openEngiadina. We are focusing on a subset of RDF, the data-model of the Semantic Web, that has been proven to be extremely expressive and inter-operable. We are working on some details to make RDF usable in completely decentralized systems.

Examples of structured data that build on RDF and would just work include:

Like CommonPub (mentioned below) we are using ActivityPub (protocol for federated social networking) for creating, managing and disseminating content. This may be seen as an admission that data-management is primarily a social activity.

One little secret about ActivityPub is that the data-model is RDF. ActivityPub natively supports all existing RDF based vocabularies/ontologies.

openEngiadina was conceived for the management of "local knowledge". E.g. things such as events, local organizations and businesses, points of interest and status of infrastructure. The use-case might overlap with the system proposed.


Arnold Schrijver Sat 2 May 2020 8:35PM

@pukkamustard I am really interested in openEngiadina and the combination of technologies you intend to use. One that I also had for an idea - the open innercircles community (sorry, teaser-only still) - I've been walking around with for a long time, and recently started to elaborate further. On a practical level innercircles will offer federated tech in support of residential communities. This is the part where I'm now communicating publicly about. On a higher level innercircles is a methodology of 'applied philosophy', with the intention to make adoption easier (ideally create a snowball effect) and tackle the complexity. But I'll not elaborate on the philosophy, as I do not intend to teach it. That does never work. It should be slowly grasped, interpreted, understood and adopted by free will. Giving this high level a good start - for me - is hardest part.

Back to technical. ActivityPub had as problem that it went from spec to implementations too quickly, and now the spec has serious catching up to do. In linked data circles the problem is that things are way to much in technical and academic realms. Many - otherwise very good applications - just don't catch people's fascination, and never reach a broader public. I see this too for instance in the Solid forum, where I made a bunch of comments of that nature.

The approach of openEngiadina is spot on. It's what is needed for the fediverse at large: to have frameworks that can deal with any linked data ontologies and exchange + process messages containing data that correspond to them. It should go much further than sending a Like and an Announce and e.g. Mastodon supporting one additional property there which is not in the spec. And there should be concrete practical applications that go further than standard blog and social media features. Which is why it is nice to have common ontologies - well-analysed business domains - be the basis.

Regarding openEngiadina project and tech approach.. it would be great if we tackle things from documentation and spec perspective from the start. Synergy between like-minded initiatives. You are programming now in Guile, but I will - probably, if things get that far - go for NodeJS and Typescript, because it has a way larger developer base. Imho we should avoid everyone inventing their own way of doing things. Curious about your thoughts in this regard..

PS. My mind was blown when in 2016 viv.ai announced a linked data-like service - "the universe of capabilities" - to be accessible and extensible by every developer for creating end-user applications in an ever growing semantic web (proprietary probably). See this video from 8:50min. They were acquired by Samsung, never heard of again.. until recently. Now hiring again. Hope we won't have proprietary semantic web in the near future.


Danyl Strype Fri 17 Apr 2020 1:58AM

@Nathan Cravens are you aware of Murmurations?

"Rather than creating centralised data sets, The Murmurations protocol makes it easy for Organisations to host data about themselves on their own web sites.

The data is structured in a way that it can be automatically ‘crawled’ and aggregated, based on specific filterable criteria, so that directories and maps are automatically updated about an organisation from a single authoritative source. That source being the organisation itself!"

There's a discussion about Murmurations on the SocialHub forum for ActivityPub developers.


Nathan Cravens Fri 17 Apr 2020 10:05AM

The ability to crawl and aggregate and automatically generate directories and maps, sounds very useful!


Josh Fairhead Fri 17 Apr 2020 6:43PM

This sounds quite like REA accounting, have a look at valueflo.ws - theres a Holochain implementation getting established if your wanna find @pospi and say hello. Bob and Lynn will also be able to point you in the same direction


Nathan Cravens Fri 17 Apr 2020 9:25PM

On valueflo.ws: mapping of resource and process with tracking and tracing are vital. Holochain looks good for managing and securing data and perhaps hosting a credit system for a basic income.


Hemi Edwards Fri 17 Apr 2020 7:42PM

There's a group of us who have been working on a concept to build something like this system for about a year.

Its taken awhile to nail down the specifications for the project because of its ambitious scope but we're making progress.

Our main systems architect, Gerry Gleason, first proposed it some time ago on the Open Manufacturing Google Group.

We're actually looking to build upon Decko, an open source wiki/database platform, which probably will fulfill our requirements without too much work. We're looking at the possibility of embedding Loomio proposal discussions/voting/decisions into Decko. People were discussing this back in 2015. Is there any update on whether this is possible yet?



Hemi Edwards Fri 17 Apr 2020 7:51PM

"This is a really good point. I'm not sure how to find out what similar resources are going under-used in my area. All of this could be solved with a great website to map the resources. Both the physical/capital resources and the human ones. Maybe more important is that we develop the right kind of database and visualization tools to create and maintain an overall development roadmap. I hear that in other comments as well, the need to know what is done, and in particular to map out the parts of the roadmap for the shared tools, like this website to do the mapping.

My biggest open source contribution has been to a Wiki/Database platform that already has all the necessary core features, and I'm hopping to engage teams in extending/customizing it. It is currently called "WAGN", http://wagn.org/ but will be rebranded as Decko sometime soon. It is the underlying platform for WikiRate http://wikirate.org. This customization for this project has been funding for a couple of years by an EU grant."


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