Sat 18 Apr 2015 12:15PM

Update: "Sustain" a protocol and tooling for giving to the commons

ST Simon Tegg Public Seen by 160

Some of us discussed what you might call an "Open Value Protocol" at the recent Open Source/Open Society conference here in Wellington. The general idea is to facilitate funds flowing back from user facing monetised software to the lower level open source software on which they depend.

We got some positive responses about the concept from other developers.

Josh has started a (very early days) repository -"sustain" for declaring a project's economic dependencies and bitcoin related tooling.

Back in October I emailed Stacco Troncoso and others in an email thread about Commons-Based Reciprocity Licenses with our plans for this and I'll post the edited version of the relevant bit here for wider interest

...with the goal of scaling Enspiral-like economic arrangements beyond Enspiral, it occurred to me that a vocab or protocol for describing contributions/revenue sharing/profit sharing could work well alongside a CBRL

the assumptions are that:
* public, transparent contributions will encourage others to do the same..
* software projects are accustomed to listing their software dependencies, listing these as economic 'dependencies' isn't a huge leap (especially if the format is similar). It might sit on github next to package.json (which lists depencies for node.js projects)
* Enspiral companies/teams could show leadership by listing (even token) amounts/percentages to FLOSS ...projects to get them interested in alternative ways of supporting FLOSS.
* A protocol makes these arrangements machine-readable. - questions like "if A gives to B who gives to C etc, where does the money end up" are easier to answer.
* A network of FLOSS projects, with voluntary economic contributions amongst each other would form an Open Value Network. The 'value equation' emerges from these relationships.
* Companies could use the same protocol to describe their profit distribution arrangements transparently.

Next steps for OpenApp:
0. See if the OpenApp community are on board.
1. Produce working software.
2. Make a sale.
3. List our economic dependencies and contributions and contact them:"how do we give you money?"
4. Publish participating Enspiral companies existing contribution arrangements in the protocol to try it out (?)


Richard D. Bartlett Sat 18 Apr 2015 11:32PM

Oh my gosh that is so exciting!


Lynn Foster Sun 19 Apr 2015 1:35PM

@simontegg great initiative!

  1. I'm on board and happy to put some time into helping develop the protocol.

Bob Haugen Sun 19 Apr 2015 1:40PM

@simontegg - where would like issues? On github or here? Or both?


Kurt Laitner Sun 19 Apr 2015 2:02PM

I am very interested. Please loop me in to this discussion on any platform or email thread it is taking place. I have given this quite a bit of thought.


Simon Tegg Mon 20 Apr 2015 4:54AM

Thanks everyone. As you may have noticed Mikey and I have gotten into an github issues focused workflow so I'm guessing its best to head there and keep it more operational.
[ @joshuavial's style is more code first, ask questions later :) ]

Although I'm happy to keep things flowing here if you don't want a github account.

I guess @ahdinosaur and I could figure out holodex's financial structure but it feels too early to do that when its not a problem if you know what I mean...


Joshua Vial Mon 20 Apr 2015 6:00AM

I'm more than happy to respond to issues on github or comments in this thread if folks want to talk more about the approach.


Josef Davies-Coates Sun 3 May 2015 6:52PM

This is great. United Diversity is going to morph into a Community Benefit Society whose members agree to pool 1% of their income (for individuals) or revenue (for orgs) into a shared pot to "empower people, build community, develop co-ops and create commons". One of the first things I thought we could do is give back to some of the many open source software communities on which we'll depend (and Loomio & Cobudget are at the top of the list in my mind :) ).


Josef Davies-Coates Sun 3 May 2015 6:57PM

PS I'm guessing people involved with and/ or who use gratipay, bountysource, open funding, snowdrift and goteo (all projects whose purpose is crowdfunding/ supporting open projects) would be interested in this too.


Apostolis Xekoukoulotakis Wed 27 May 2015 6:00AM

I recently discussed with Richard Stallman about the Open Value Network idea and the first thing he said is that trying to distribute revenue to software contributors has already been done and I should look at what they did, to get some ideas.


Bob Haugen Wed 27 May 2015 11:49AM

@xekoukou - who did Stallman have in mind?

(I participated in a couple such attempts. Both died. Which does not mean I think it is impossible: neither attempt died because they were distributing revenue to contributors. (One was BetterMeans, which I think a lot of people know about.))

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