Thu 9 Apr 2020 2:59PM

'new economy' ontology - working group

OS Oli SB Public Seen by 163

I'm shifting this conversation to a new thread where we can discuss developing an ontology for the 'new economy' (which is a term which needs defining!) - if you would like to contribute to this 'working group' please add a comment to that effect


Ollie Bream McIntosh Fri 27 Mar 2020 2:19PM

Hi all

Just something I've been thinking about recently, coming from linguistics background - would be nice to have a few sessions defining/unpacking key vocabulary/concepts/debates aside from the project-focused content. I imagine some of the attendees (and wider population who might come across recordings of sessions online) could benefit from a few of these conceptual primers, so whenever the concepts come up later, we all have a common sense of what it is we’re talking about, and to a common level of detail. This may sound a bit basic, but I think its value can be easily underestimated.

Not sure if this is the right forum for that sort of work, but I’ve had the feeling at other conferences (mainly in the world of futures studies) that people are using newly-coined words and invoking abstract and/or technical principles for which everyone has a *slightly* differing definition, meaning lots of overlapping and head-nodding but little explicit consensus, making common vision (as precursor to good collaboration) harder. Just a feeling, but I'm junior in the group here, so by all means tell me if this doesn't correspond to your previous experiences.

Some of these 'conceptual primers' could really serve not just so 'we' can learn from each other, but so what we're doing has an impact on those who have never heard of mutual credit or LETS, let alone their latest sophisticated tech-spangled incarnations. To this end, Oli SB and I chatted about potential pedagogical output from the conference back when it was an offline event, ie: mini interviews on the side, edited strings of clips from panels and keynotes, audience popvox etc. This could then be published for people who don't know anything about 'new economy' to begin to get familiar with it, but obviously requires a bit of work to be put together.

If we like the idea, I wondered if we might want to flag up what terms/concepts that are likely to come up in the sessions are the hardest to pin down/least accessible? What terms and concepts do 'the people' most need to know? And do any of these align with what 'the Open2020 crowd' already knows but might benefit from communally clarifying? Could we even seek to co-produce an authoritative 'dictionary of the new economy'? (Don't want to reinvent the 'p2p wiki' wheel though...)

In practice, this could involve simply asking some of the ppl who are presenting webinars to do mini video-glossaries covering some of the trickier concepts they're working with in their respective projects, separate from their main presentations? Or to introduce their talks with a clear/accessible working definition of the specialist vocab they're wokring with, which we can edit out into separate content. Alternatively, have a bunch of presenters AND attendees summarise the concepts in a sentence or two, to be glued together and published later?

Just a thought. Happy hand-washing all :)


mike_hales Fri 27 Mar 2020 4:24PM

I like this 🙂 Conceptualising is an important aspect of organising - especially when breaking new ground and attempting to link and bridge fragments - there are so many fragments!?

My specific take on this would be, aim not simply for a lexicon or glossary, but for a pattern language? That's something ongoing, not a one-off. An collaborative enquiry practice. A strong way of communicating experience and facilitating practical achievement. So, a conference session would be a starter, in on ongoing project of language-evolving and -mobilising.


Ollie Bream McIntosh Sat 28 Mar 2020 4:13PM

Thanks Mike :) will read up on pattern languages too!


Vincenzo Giorgino Thu 9 Apr 2020 3:09PM

Hi Oli,

yes please: it will be fine to continue the discussion wherever you wish.




RobertD Thu 9 Apr 2020 3:12PM

Yes, I would like to participate in that discussion.


Robert Damashek
571-221-3914 Mobile


mike_hales Sun 29 Mar 2020 11:54AM

There are a few resources here @Ollie Bream McIntosh wiki


matt wilson Thu 9 Apr 2020 3:19PM


Just requesting that I get added to the ontology of the new economy working group. Cheers


Ollie Bream McIntosh Sun 29 Mar 2020 1:01PM

Brilliant thank you @mike_hales


John Waters Thu 9 Apr 2020 4:48PM

I'd be very interested to see how this unfolds, especially given the ambiguity resulting from catachresis and linguistic dift. "Catachresis" itself seems to have become warped by catachresis, and until quite recently "ontology" was unambiguously a branch of metaphysics dealing with existence. The newer meaning (originated by computer scientists) seems to be accepted assume here, but may grate on some. While I accept Humpty Dumpty's right to use words to mean whatever he chooses them to mean, we must remain conscious of the power of catachresis to destroy words and to render confusing many writings which were originally clear and unambiguous. Let's try to prevent the sort of destruction that befell "cybernetics" and "anarchism".

There is also a problem with the term "new economics". Everything labelled "new" ages before too long, and accepted meanings ramify. Every user of this term has the right to define it (even those who clearly intend to abuse it), so an assessment of the usefulness, applicability or acceptabililty (within the context of our shared objectives) is (in my opinion) far more useful than trying to converge on a common unique definition of each term.


Danyl Strype Sun 5 Apr 2020 9:46AM

I think of the P2PF wiki as more like an 'encyclopedia of the new economy'. A 'glossary of the new economy' - especially a video one - is a fantastic idea, and would be of ongoing value. I agree with @mike_hales that it could precipitate the ongoing development of a pluralistic 'pattern language' of the commons. Just within this comment there are at least 3 words and phrases that could do with glossary entries; 'new economy', pluralistic, and 'pattern language' ;) As an example of a pattern language, here is one for anti-user 'dark patterns' in web design: https://www.darkpatterns.org/


Simon Grant Thu 9 Apr 2020 8:02PM

Nice points @John Waters , thanks! There seem to be many words for which there are several meanings, some more precise than others. Can we, I wonder, get this together by listening carefully to all the different relevant language communities, trying to discern what their communication needs are? This would be a mutual process, naturally -- we all need to be listening to each other, and that itself would help communication and building shared meanings. I would hope that we can find a set of relatively stable meanings for terms, and then use those in our efforts towards collaboration on important things. It is the governance of these shared meanings which has struck me more and more as the central challenge. No elite-created "Newspeak" designed to silence dissent. Nor the chaos of unlimited private languages. Can we initiate something like a commons of language? We could surely regard language as a commons...

Though I am not optimistic on whether we can "converge on a common unique identification of each term", I would have thought that the task of "an assessment of the usefulness ..." etc. would itself rely on a common language at some level. Can we at least look for that?


Titan Cassini Thu 9 Apr 2020 8:36PM

A new ontology is definitely needed as the West's fixation on 'growth' and unlimited expansion is rooted in a problematic dimension of Enlightenment era ontology that is fixed, eg 'I think, therefore I am', that aspires for 'man's' domination of nature and elevates private space and private time over public space and public time. I'm interested in developing a new ontology which resurrects self-reflective social struggle in modern public space and time for the objective of social deliberation and direct democracy today. If the group is open to perspectives like this, I'd be interested in trying to contribute.


Simon Grant Sun 5 Apr 2020 1:34PM

Very nice, I like that. Naturally, I would also be delighted to work towards a commons ontology, necessarily governed as a commons, of course. A glossary would probably work on the existing wiki, though we should first think about what would fit and how, and what would work well with all of Michel's work. For an ontology, my guess would be that a semantic wiki would be better. Resurrect the commons transition wiki???


DaveDarby Sun 5 Apr 2020 10:35PM

I think this is a great idea, and I don’t think it’s too basic – I think we could be surprised where there will be confusion and debate. There could be an introductory section on the need for a new economy for more mainstream, new-economy-curious folks, that the already convinced can skip. After that, even the basic vocabulary might bring up some debates – probably with more general terms rather than specialist ones. For example, new economy might be hard to define. I don’t think new economy is synonymous with the commons – it’s more than that, including co-ops and sole traders (co-ops of one?) – but what about small, non-co-op businesses with employees – extractive at the level of the business, but not extractive from their communities. It’s a tricky one – Franco Manca started as one little stall in Brixton Market, and is now a chain, with branches all over the country, and has been bought by a PLC. If it was new economy as one branch in Brixton, when did it cross the line? When it opened a second branch? When it got its first external shareholder? When it didn’t co-operativise as soon as there was more than one person involved?

And what’s the relationship between the new economy and the state, when the state is so absolutely in bed with banks and corporations? I don’t know whether there will be agreement on that.

I’d be quite interested to see how a pattern language could work, as I’ve never used one (although I’ve read bits of the original book), as long as it doesn’t confuse the uninitiated. But also agree with Simon that it might fit with the P2P wiki. Could both those things happen?


Nick Meyne Thu 9 Apr 2020 10:21PM

I'd be very happy to help if I can in the shaping of an ontology for the 'new' economy, but I confess a bias in hoping to see some early simple, goals and principles. Easier to grasp and spread. Then following with more explicit design principles, making what has to be built a little more tangible: More of an architecture (both a product and a process) rich enough to accommodate diversity, but ordered, and ethical?


Simon Grant Fri 10 Apr 2020 8:41AM

Hi @Nick Meyne -- maybe we haven't met so I invite you to a one-to-one conversation so we can get to know each other's biases! Simplicity is a worthy goal. My own experience is that different people want to simplify in different ways; what seems to work is first for people to listen with care to other people even where that challenges their own simplicity. We can hope that there is simplicity in the common ground, but we cannot take that for granted -- people are complex!


Nick Meyne Sat 11 Apr 2020 10:05PM

Hi Simon! Delighted to 'meet' - let's have chat next week perhaps? Meanwhile, I agree that simplicity can easily become 'simplistic' when the context is complex, or even chaotic, and that listening is a precious thing in what is too often 'the land of the loud'.

I am a little anxious that the loud and powerful might unleash some very simple 'animal spirits' in the aftermath of covid-19, rather different from the listening and quiet collaboration that we might otherwise hope for. We might need some sharp situational awareness, in an active struggle, rather than relying on an emergent and fragile consensus?


Danyl Strype Fri 10 Apr 2020 7:31AM

Thanks John for a fantastic comment, it's not often these days that I learn a useful new word in an online discussion.

@Simon Grant (Cetis LLP)

There seem to be many words for which there are several meanings, some more precise than others.

Indeed. I'd say that applies to some degree to every word, and particularly to words that signify relationships or concepts, rather than concrete objects (the way the Nazis identified Marxists by the habits of using the word "concrete" as an adjective seems strangely relevant here).

For me, it's less important to agree on a single, fixed meaning for each term, than to try to understand what a given person means when they use it. To paraphrase @mike_hales , a chorus of voices, rather than a consensus. It's especially helpful if we can see patterns of usage, eg the difference between what metaphysicists and geeks mean by "ontology", or the difference between what marxists mean by "capitalism" and what it refers to for propertarians (the 'ownership is freedom' individualists who like to call themselves "libertarians") .


Ollie Bream McIntosh Mon 6 Apr 2020 1:40PM

@Danyl Strype @DaveDarby thanks for all your points here!

@Simon Grant (Cetis LLP) Is it worth someone getting in touch with Michel to ask how and where, if at all, such a video glossary (/pattern language) might plug into P2P wiki/his other work?


Simon Grant Fri 10 Apr 2020 8:37AM

Yes, thanks @Danyl Strype -- the difference to me between a chorus and a cacophony is the harmony. And I find it interesting that for a choir to be in harmony they have to listen to each other!


RobertD Mon 6 Apr 2020 11:26PM

It may be worthwhile stepping back a little from the technologies in this conversation and thinking about what kind of impact and value we want to achieve from the exercise of developing an ontology, dictionary and semantic wiki. I’ve worked a lot professionally with these technologies as my interest has long been on enabling more effective knowledge sharing in large organizations, hopefully leading to more timely and focused team actions and desired outcomes. 

Having a common new economy glossary and a wiki to navigate and understand those terms, perhaps with examples if people can put in the time to develop and curate those, does seem like it could help. This doesn’t really require a robust ontology and can be developed quickly using a semantic wiki. The trick comes in using it to build out a useful tool for learning, and keeping it updated. We had a team of four people doing the latter, part time, to help a client understand and keep track of progress with a major initiative, and this required a lot of time collaborating across numerous subject matter experts involved in the initiative to ensure what we had accurately reflected and applied the terms.

If there’s interest and energy in going further, a robust ontology and supporting dictionaries can be applied to enable, at a minimum, rapid searching and review of practices, techniques, tools and lessons learned in implementing the new economy. Natural language understanding and analysis tools exist to facilitate this across a corpus of documents, even when that content is not well organized for navigating manually. Taking this another step, it’s possible to apply AI to the challenge of organizing and delivering content based on people’s specific goals, interests and immediate needs. At Find My Way, we have this ultimate vision in mind and are starting to build a knowledge sharing platform cooperative, with content owned by, controlled by and benefiting the members.

Given clarity on what’s most valuable to achieve first, we would be glad to help.


Ollie Bream McIntosh Fri 10 Apr 2020 2:08PM


@RobertD - as for outcomes, I'd say something like "the working groups aims to create a continually-evolving common reference point, in which the building-blocks (operating principles, values, concepts, terms) of the new economy can be succinctly and accessibly defined with concrete examples, and linked together, particularly for the benefit of newcomers to the field, but also for the sake of 'same-paging' those already working in this space.

Not, as @Danyl Strype has pointed out "a single, fixed meaning for each term", but as a functional starting place. @mike_hales' suggestion of a pattern language could be a powerful one in this regard, with linked entries each consisting of a context, problem and solution, but it would be nice to see some really beautifully visualised and highly navigable working examples online of this, to consider whether this format should define the project going forward. Any suggestions of such examples?

Then there is the question of how and where, if at all, video should be involved... I had thought (back when this was an offline event) that filming in situ could generate some good material,. but now we're all going to be on webcams and screens, I'm inclined to think that we are unlikely to be generating the sort of content that would serve to entice the uninitiated. A shareable, well-made animation could be transformative for laying the foundations, with a few primary definitions, but to do well I imagine we are looking at a lot of money here, unless there are any animators in OCN


Also, I think the word 'ontology' isn't helpful, maybe a tad esoteric. It's the kind of language used by people who already know what this stuff is about. Quite aside from how the word itself has been pushed and pulled from philosophy to computing, it is not used in everyday life. Compared to something like 'what is the New Economy?', I would wager that the word "ontology" in the headline would be cause for many of the people we want to be talking to to tune out and switch off within seconds. I see the virtue of the 'new' economy as it being something for everyone to understand and participate in, but that means at every turn we have to be conscious about who it is we are speaking to. To that end, I see part of the (very challenging) work we ought to be doing with said 'ontology' as distilling, translating, and paring down the nitty-gritty (where possible) into something devoid of jargon, scientific terminology, and pre-requisite knowledge.

Jumping to @John Waters' brilliant point about the liability of 'New Anything' to age quickly, perhaps we should consider conjuring another (ACCESSIBLE) metaphor to sit atop this whole field, as the exponents of 'circular economy', 'social economy', 'doughnut economics' all have. This is, admittedly, a task unto itself. Perhaps 'ecological economics', 'community economics' or 'solidarity economics', as existing terms, can be borrowed to provide the umbrella we need, perhaps this is bastardising and muddying their original meanings. Perhaps we could start afresh with a term not yet in currency (to my knowledge!), like 'planetary economics' or 'plural economics'. Perhaps we strike while the iron is hot and call it post-corona economics. Or... (showing my bias here for the value of 'the future' in our thinking about 'the present') simply 'the economy of the future' - although this is perhaps a move too far towards 'colonising the future' with a dominant conception of what is possible, and also liable to age quickly. All just provocations, not ideas per se. My vote would probably go to something centring on the commons, it's just that 'the commons economy' is a bit of a mouthful!


Oli SB Tue 7 Apr 2020 10:31AM

This sounds like a good approach - we should learn from this and other experiences. Perhaps a first step would be to see who might be interested in joining a working group to help develop, currate and maintain an ontology / glossary for the new / commons economy? Then, if there's enough interest we define a place to work on this and a way of working ...?


Oli SB Fri 10 Apr 2020 2:44PM

These are all brilliant comments... I agree with all the sentiment and wonder if (building on, and cutting down @Ollie Bream McIntosh 's ideas again) a possible shared purpose might be:

The working groups aims to curate an evolving reference point, in which the principles, values, concepts and terms of the commons economy can be defined and linked together for the benefit of newcomers and those already working to build the commons.

That's probably still a bit too wordy - Please evolve and improve or suggest other ideas... I think the sooner we can agree (or at least get to the point that nobody objects) a shared purpose, then the easier it will be to move on to 'the work'...


Oli SB Tue 7 Apr 2020 3:41PM

Yes - please do - and post any answers / advice back here :)


RobertD Tue 7 Apr 2020 11:01PM


Yes, we could move forward that way and I do want to make sure the working group starts by defining the outcomes we want to achieve before delving into the technology.

Can you take the ball on polling the community to see who wants to participate in the working group, and collating the responses?



Johnny Firmin Robert Fri 10 Apr 2020 3:53PM

Hello Oli and all members of the group.

Thank you for your invitation.

I am John. I am a native French speaker from Belgium living confined in London. Sorry for probably a few mistakes in my English.

I have been selected for OpenCoop 2018 with ‘tokenisation as a language’, an R&D initiative I carry, promoting a new coded symbolics of co-operative calculus for values issued from organic consensus; organic means before signing any contract of associations. Signed written contracts are the way we imagine associations, their formalization for recording their existence when our connectivity is based on writing techniques. Coding techniques offer much better, mostly when we think out of the box for numbers. Shortly, coded symbolics with co-operative calculus offer to go investing, to go jobbing, to go shopping in each exchange for an economy we don’t need to count anymore. I will detail on demand. I am focusing on the research making this possible.

About the current invitation for defining an ontology for economy,  let’s pin some contextual elements nurturing needs for a ‘new economy’, for revisiting the sense we have for economy, avoiding ecological and inequity problematics in front argumentations – a move to better address them.

Connected by code, humankind moves to a global world before having nurtured the decision. And Western democratic values– as good and universal we have matured them -  experiment a crucible of painful experiences. Traveling is, of course, welcome to test the universality of our values and now, from colonizers, it is the world coming to us. We travel staying at home. Although not always desired, it’s certainly a joyful opportunity to reinvent us!

Connected by code, we live an end of civilization, the civilization of writing techniques – literacy and numeracy included. What will be economy in the ‘codacy’ era? A code era for which notions like the country as a shared territory, the nation as a shared destiny, and the state as share governance, do not overlap anymore. And in this context, Money is Law for Economy and Science is Law for Nature are two correlated vanishing mantras, resisting and resilient as they can. They are both funded in our operating beliefs in numbers for realities as measurable entities – I am mathematician, I have nothing against numbers. They just fail to identify and codify our wealth of co-operation for sustaining abundance and life openness.

Fortunately, with code, we are moving from objectivity defined as what is measurable by numbers to objectivity to what is codifiable by code. Moreover, we lose in a world of software, of soft goods, with instant communication, the weight as referential magnitude for the organic consensus about our values. Statistics about Millenials witness it. It will make less and less sense to weight things of any nature, to price them, in order to share a consensus on their values.  The language of money as mass (cf. Pound) is losing its body, its embodiment in a shared tangible experience,  and for the same reasons too,  sciences are losing measuring magnitudes as referential reality. Indeed,  programming does not require symbolics of magnitudes to implement a multimedia world, much richer and tangible than mechanics, having promoted disenchantment narratives. No mass, no time, no space to implement a world in coded symbolics. Language features hold new symbolics for a world we implement before being observable and observed; also any coding tutorial for beginners educates to reflect ‘Hello World!’ on their freedom of implementing. And a world we implement, reflecting our freedom, it is the world of economy. Software engineering incubates for decades epistemic values which will soon usurp physics as referential authority for natural realities. An invaluable wealth sowing our present! I work on this non-conventional research. The connected world is currently incubating a new sense of reality, silently, embodying people in connectivity by code for their socialization, the way they work, they play and project their existence. Our global consciousness of life will make a bigger shift in the coming decades that the one we knew with Copernic, Gutenberg, Galileo, and Newton revolutions together.

Let’s point that Open Coop is a child of this connectivity by code,  boosting co-operative socio-community trends, crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, decentralized internet as Holochain.

Let’s project us. Important to be able to do that. What can be economy in a context of ‘codacy’, when we drop our beliefs in number and written contracts? What are the intrinsic components of economy when we forget money, magnitudes, and numbers? That’s not anymore an academic question as coded symbolics of value is already circulating in the so-called crypto-tokens, conflicting with share equities for instance among various utilities. It opens the just-in-time question for the cooperative economy, what can be the coded symbolics of value in order to enrich the organizational value connecting diversity in the respect of freedom for life. How freely exchanging connects us into natures, whatever we exchange? It’s not first a software problem - I am a computer scientist too. It’s a programming language paradigm problematics, more precisely revisiting the concept of type in programming techniques to drive it to the epistemic value of nature, in order to identify and account the ecology of our organic associations. Economy is ecology when we know that we don’t eat gold! And a sustainable concept of economic language goes with a good concept of nature. In a connected world, it is a distributed language paradigm that must be targeted for economy. We don’t have to think in terms of money. It deeply amputates the potential of identifying our co-operative wealth by code. Software implementation of the paradigm comes in a second step in this R&D. It will be the same language paradigm to do economy or common knowledge in cognitive environments sustaining distributed rationalities.

I received an invitation to search for an ontology for economy. We have to be conscious here that, with code, we even don’t need to share a common language as 1+1=2 to reflect to each of us a common social body on the co-operative rationalities driving economy. Most probably, gamification, once driven to universal principles, will usurp stochastic models for economy. When live simulations will allow playing our global organizations, reflecting the social body connecting our diversity to our perceptive consciousness, predicting will lose its sense. We will live in the world we implement. None operative calculus can reach that. Another civilization! Clearly belonging to our sowed present. Each decade will certainly bring huge disruptions in our beliefs. I will detail on demand. The potential of a better world has never been so high! The end of civilization gives the place for the next one…A lot of joyful work in perspective…

Thank you for your reading. How do the members of the group think to organize the session?

Kind Regards.



Steve Huckle Sat 18 Apr 2020 11:18AM

@Johnny Firmin Robert - I have a sense that what you have written is important, but I'm struggling to understand. Do you have some links to share, so I can do some reading around the subject? Then I might be better able to comment...


Johnny Firmin Robert Sat 18 Apr 2020 6:24PM

Hello Mr. Steve Huckle,

Thank you for your interest.
I should publish, but I am so busy with research that I postponed always publications. Also, I authorize myself to write something in a so noisy world if tool implementations are on the way. (I only wrote one book in my life and it was an accident; I published the two first chapters of a refused master thesis in philosophy., encouraged to do so ...)

A lot of material for public events, conferences, and small committee seminars have been produced, however not structured content on the transversal subject on the web.
What I suggest at this stage, is to do a skype as we are confined and meeting prohibited, and you will motivate me to initiate propaedeutic material - planned in fact, and in progress.

Your request comes just in time as my non-conventional research arrives at maturity.
johnf.robert is my skype id. Don't hesitate to contact me. It will be a pleasure for me to sustain any explanation.

I can also share with you 4 pages of a recent grant request for research, but it will be a pleasure to go more in-depth if you wish it. This text is also an introduction as a narrative was asked without technical aspects. For technical aspects, it will depend on your background.

Few comments

I understand your struggle - I apologize - there are of course required skills for some 'doctor' underlying challenges concerning symbolics of calculus, but the difficulty first derives from the new sense of reality when we move from an observer position for our symbolics of the world to an implementer position, the prevalent position when we come globally connected by code before written techniques, literacy and numeracy included. (And this move has brought me on the way across my tribulation for research about new paradigms for common knowledge, as at 56, I am a guy having received an education in the civilization of the book.)

In-depth, silently, our global civilization is incubating a new sense of reality. Cooperative trends are in fact a child of these facts, people explore the freedom of their implementer position. And you see coded platforms for communities, coded protocols for connecting them, a lot of bubbling initiatives expressed with the concepts and tools of a connected word - platforms, open protocols - and all of these enthusiast initiatives are usually mobilized as political projects for a ' better world', promoting the cooperative values, using the political procedures, the vote at Open Coop on Loomio for instance, to drive them.

But we have to be conscious that an economy in a connected world by code is not a community problem, it has become a socio-community problem in a sense to re-invent - connected communities does not form a community - so obvious to show functionally and anthropologically... I will detail it if time permits

And so, before going with proposed solutions with tools of our times, triggering the welcome effervescence, what is the socio-community problem domain for our anthropology in a connected world should be the first question for figure out its economy. That's the ABC of any analysis: questioning what is the problem domain before addressing it with solutions - that's what I had to learn, teach, and repeat to analyst-developers when I was ICT consultant and trainer;-)

We see that unlikely when we come to consider a better world in terms of cooperative values, that people claimed to be co-operative are not prompt to use a common platform...

That's not disappointing for me. It just shows that the economy, when we come to the effectiveness of tool implementations, can't be host by a common political project for cooperative values. Diversity triumphs, cant' be tamed
I would avoid charging people of individualism and call for a soul conversion, not my cup of tea even after 7 years of monastic life.

The raised question, anthropologically, for socio-community problematic, for the economy of life, when we come global by code, is inherited from the domain itself: how code can connect diversity without a call for a common language. The economy for the anthropology of socio-community deeply exhausts the 'political' promotion of cooperative values. Addressing the question within the boundary of the language of open cooperative values can even be counter-productive to promote them.

It is an old story for human anthropology. I invite people in my previous post to project themselves. It is very important.

And a better world with a common language to get the best fruits of life, humankind has already projected itself in such a world. He did it projecting itself in the past - past or future, it changes nothing for the consciousness of the experience. Humankind did it and write it in the Babel Tower narrative. Humankind imagines itself in the past, speaking a common language for building a tower reaching life by excellence, God. And God put the diversity of languages, the diversity of ways to understand the world between human beings. And the project collapsed. By the hand of God, what could be a stronger way to say it! The millenary narrative, selected to be transmitted, witnesses that path to a common language is not a path of life...In modern terms, we would say, the path to a common language is a dystopia.

Not a reason, of course, to give up wishes and hopes for a better world, to drive ahead life for it, but a common language is not the path, even a language for cooperative values.

Happily conscious of that, the question if for me: can code help us to connect diversity without the requirement for a common language - a book can't do that even digitalized? Can coding techniques be used to objectify our socio-community body - currently in search of birth - for opening our consciousness to its condition?

Can coding techniques help to offer hospitality to diversity, even people not sharing co-operative values?
The connectivity by code pushes the challenge of sustainability for globalization very high, deeper than generating new narratives for the world, we have to deepen the core of the irreducible diversity sustaining life and so connecting economy and nature - I am formally very advanced on a coded symbolics of a co-operative calculus - probably alone on the forefront in this domain, alone in the formulation, not alone as an incubated experience of a connected world. The core delivery will be an operative symbolics of calculus as new paradigms of coding languages to unify epistemic and economic values, identifying organizational values for code-keeping, before signing an ethical contract.

Judgments for values come in a second step and are always a consensus problem and so result from what we can put in circulation. Let's time judging if cooperative values are good.

So, the way I receive the problem domain of a socio-community economy is connecting diversity to ease the circulation of life and celebrating it with loving-kindness - the latter being free from a political project.

And if you go in-depth into coding techniques and the forefront of exploration from any political orientations, we see the open road of symbolizing 'semantic silence' - cf. the language paradigm above I will detail to you - for connecting and celebrating diversity with tools for the economy of life very different than what we can imagine from the political perspectives of our time.

I work on them! The present is sowed by its potential. Time is joyful in my garage ;-) as I touch with my hand the opportunity to transcend the mantras 'money is law for economy' and 'science is law for nature'. Both mantras are deeply correlated. You can't change one without the other one. Asking politics for a monetized economy listening to science is asking two killers of diversity - respectively bio-diversity and credo-diversity - for finding a better agreement to respect life. Clearly an unsustainable conjuncture! Good if we find an adaptation of the conjuncture for transitioning but the underlying belief in number behind the symbolization of reality will collapse in a connected world, will lose its embodiment, its tangible experience. See below Angela Merkel as a witness of the world we leave.

For the little story, I was pointing the organic consensus of mass in our beliefs, economic and scientific, eroded day after day in a software world, where socialization is first performed by instant communication before exchanging weighting goods - a dominant protocol in the past, triggering social exchanges. (Take a bitcoin for instance. The distributed protocol proposes to miners a competitive game to play a consensus and it becomes the new gold even if a bitcoin has no mass. Enthusiasts have poured a lot of old wine in the novelty - competition for instance, but it is a first fundamental experience of how we substitute a protocol as a consensus ground for share object-value, a consensus ground replacing in some way the field of gravity with mass as organic consensus.) And about mass as organic consensus, it was emblematic to hear last week German Chancellor Angela Merkel telling in an interview one of her mantras: 'without mass, no depth'. Clearly a respectable person, witnessing with excellence a vanishing age.

Let's schedule a Skype. I listen to you, collect your questions and will write private and/or public answers.

Kind regards,

John Robert
Tokenomics Artisan
www.opentokenomics.io ( http://www.opentokenomics.io )

LinkedIn ( https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnfrobert ) | johnf.robert@opentokenomics.io | skype: johnf.robert | +32 (0)496 580 535 | +44(0)7501644724


Steve Huckle Sat 18 Apr 2020 7:37PM

@Johnny Firmin Robert I wouldn't even know where to begin with a Skype call - I'd need more references even to be in the same chapter, let alone on the same page. I'm not giving up, though...

> a coded symbolics of a co-operative calculus

I think that's the important bit amongst all that. Are you working on a kind of lambda calculus for community protocols? It's a fascinating idea.


Johnny Firmin Robert Sun 19 Apr 2020 12:16AM

Hello Steve,

What is your background? Answer to this question, it will help me.

Let's add few propaedeutic words as you refer the Lambda calculus

Lambda calculus is a mathematical axiomatization of terms thought as functions on which we process calls and so we have a theory and model - an initiated pattern since Aristotle and Plato... Models are for example cartesian closed categories. We have here also the Curry Howard equivalence with Sequent calculus...related but not what I target.

Leading the type concept at the epistemic level of nature in programming languages is the first key target.

For the moment the epistemic value in software engineering is silent, not driven to an epistemic paradigm.
The first reality of coding is to be embodied in the ramification of the flow, a flow of function calls for which we code a flow control.
Coding does not require to see or talk. Software engineering exists because we are embodied in the ramification of the flow, giving us the freedom to exercise flow control.
(Be conscious that time as an extension is a projection. What we know is from our position in the instant as a continuous present - tomorrow will be a present - and it is from this open gate of the instant, delivering the service of persistence, that we experience the wind of time. How we take place in the instant, that's the question of the economy of an embodied life...It is deeply related with investor, service provider, and service user realities - suppress capitalism and you still have to handle them. You can only exchange if you borrow to persistence and as we don't know how exchanging creates persistence, investment is an immobilization. We cant' identify how exchanging creates bodies, organic bodies. We arbitrarily set the encapsulation of bodies, live body or enterprise...Usually, science uses the name 'system' to arbitrary encapsulate realities, dynamic systems, the evolution of complex systems, the next system...A word reflecting a deep ignorance on what is a body, an encapsulation as an organic whole.
Bodies of virtual realities, you see them when the code run and they are reflecting freedom of coding, not laws of nature, they take place in the ramified flow of calls, that's why we can debug, we can go back to the code when the implementation we observe does not match our expectations.
When coding, we nurture a very different sense of reality than tracing a geometry on a given extent, to measure it, to put the world into equations.

With type as nature - under my hands for construction- we get coded principles - not mathematical - of freedom for how freedom of exchanging generates natures. A Topos genesis. How freedom of exchanging delivers, secretes positional identity without requiring a preexisting geometric ontology, an extent., a space-time.
It will allow recognizing the bodies of any nature in any game, and so economic bodies, from the flow of free exchanges - technically ramified flow of function calls, even if you don't know what the exchanges and the semantics are. Phenomenal ontologies with their laws become useless hypotheses to play our tangible world and forms conditioning it...

A new era for our conception of life, birth and death, and the loose couple between perception and its physiological implementation.

e.g You can make an addition, playing a puzzle. Gamification - here the puzzle - is silencing any semantics, no need to know numbers to count How I recognize that the two games - a normal written addition and the puzzle - are equivalent. And for the good concept of equivalent games, how to obtain identity of instances whatever their phenomenal ontology. How to recognize instances encapsulating numbers, when I play the colored puzzle.
That will occupy our century as the simulation will usurp experimentation as new sources of knowledge.

In an observer position, we think for observed reality, principles of equivalent observers for a given ontology for the world - space-time with Galileo relativity, Einstein relativity - and for equivalent observers, we think identity of laws. The so-called Laws of nature, of Universe. That's our sense of reality in a world where physics gives us the reference as true beliefs.

With universal principles of gamification, you don't need to know what we are talking about, which game we play to recognize the instances of the game, including the social body that can be reflected, for the first time from a symbolics of cooperative calculus, on our perceptive consciousness in various ways. Moreover, the symbolics of calculus for reflecting our social body is not a matter of expert in calculus, of stochastic models; any traced activity, dancing for instance, will contribute to the symbolics library, the calculus evolution. Common knowledge will be a matter of cognitive environment as we have IDE today for development. We are in a deep sense of an inclusive economy, integrating the full perception of our consciousness as a source of objectivation...Gamification becomes the smart meter of the health of our social body - meter is not a good word it will be much richer than a measure by number, we can reflect health quality by music for instance.

More in-depth, when you drop magnitudes like space, time, mass to consider material bodies as instances, i.e entities getting their existence from the service of the persistence of the instant shaped as a present, the material body can be conceptualized as mirrors of variances (contra & covariance) and can be located on the path of freedom and not anymore in a preexisting geometry - totally new knowledge here. Any nature gets instances as mirrors of variance when located in the ramification of the flow, paths of freedom, any nature is an openness to free relationship, to free exchanges; mirrors as it is a perceptive openness. A conjecture: there are no more laws in nature that the condition required to be a mirror of freedom, entangled as individual and collective. How can we play that in calculus, not as a theory for a discursive on the world but as an implementer of what we observe? Gamification with embodied real-time simulation in a connected world will do it, will usurp stochastic models. When consciousness will be matured enough by embodiment for implementing its nature, predicting will lose its sense.

(Freedom of experimenting is absent from any theory today - sciences went up to claim absurdity as determinism, You don't observe freedom you exercise it to observe That' why paradigms of knowledge from an observer position have missed the symbolization of freedom. Coding brings the implementer position with codified symbolics, an invaluable wealth, especially for calculus. Knowing is often defined since Plato as a justified true belief. A rational activity should equip itself to deconstruct its beliefs, before raising practices of justification over true beliefs, even hypothetically true. In this sense, humanity didn't practice yet rationality. I am a mathematician but I don't consider mathematics as rationality. Rationality is very exigent because you have to take care of common knowledge before being hungry for explanations as a contract with the world. It is here a spiritual problematic involving the orientation of your desire for life.)

To come back to lambda calculus it is a theoretical approach for call bindings and you obtain an operative - not co-operative - calculus with cartesian closed categories as models. Too short to address universal principles of gamification as epistemic paradigm for common knowledge. With coded principles for freedom of exchanging, rationality is not anymore a question a thinking subject with method acquired by education, rationality becomes a distributed process involving the full perceptive consciousness, individual and collective, to implement real-time objectivation as socio-communities bodies.

Usage of mathematics is temporary. Coded paradigm with new cooperative calculus will usurp what we use to practice as mathematics today and this for the benefits of an inclusive economy for our perceptive consciousness, individual and collective. Far to be the sense of economy we understand today with monetized values. Our first wealth is the quality of our embodiment in the instant, it reflects deeply the health of our capital of life...That's where economy and nature meet

It is out of scope of the imaginary of most people today, however, precursors are already there and observables.
Of course, I have no idea if China will declare war to US or reversely, but our present time is clearly sowed by this potential and a huge mutation as we go global by code is clearly incubated
It' s more than intuitive in my mind, as I handle the feasibility, I am involved at the forefront on a voluntary base, and I can write the specification sheet for the roadmap ..
(I work on new paradigm of knowledge linking freedom to its condition since I am a teenager, knowing 40years ago that we will have to break with our scientific paradigm if we want to sustain life. I was not considering economy as a fundamental field at this time, trapped in the symbolics of sciences for reality)
Most probably, first results affecting all our beliefs will come in the coming decades and it will take centuries to develop them, as from Newton it took centuries to develop Modern Sciences, reaching today a breaking point.
Moving to connectivity by code from connectivity by book is a complete change in our beliefs about reality... A French philosopher as Michel Serres, teaching at Stanford, recently dead, subtitled his book 'Petite poucette' by 'all must be re-invented'. Clearly obvious...He promoted the edification of a column in Paris to reflect the social body, a column, where the work of anybody would be translated into light. It would have been a symbolics without cooperative calculus... It is well anticipated anyway... Code has a so different potential than writing for edifying our consciousness - for the moment we have mainly copied the writing techniques to optimize them; we have just entered into the phase where we don't use code only to empower writing techniques but explore virgin domains for humanity. Tokenisation of finance is one of them. Tim Berners Lee anticipated this second phase early in 1998 in a short history of the web.

Co-operative calculus will be transparent for co-operators, wallets going with new economy should be transparent, we will go investing, jobbing and shopping in any exchange as we can identify the organizational value when activities are traced, we can identify the persistence as organic bodies generated by exchanging before bodies we contracted - not excluded of course - investment does not need anymore to be an immobilization and become a liquid value; merchant time and investment time merge in an inclusive economy for a perceptive consciousness.
How to reflect our wallets, with numbers? We have observed that they fail to account for our wealth and in a civilization where we generate geometry without relaying to distances, what means measuring?

Tell me your background: physics, mathematics, category theory, logician, computer sciences, philosophy, medicine... or others? I will align my explanations.

I gave you here other entry points.
If you want to participate you are welcome depending on your skills in this pioneered phase where all must be done!
That's why my priority goes to the calculus itself before giving explanations.
At the forefront of the domain, I have to carefully balance my time to develop and transmit what I receive...
Some problematics can only be transmitted with their solution and so, I will stay alone to solve them.
Research is going well, in continuous progress.
Delivery is a new paradigm for coding language moving software engineering to an epistemic level without precedence, nurturing a sense of reality from an implementer position to receive our observer position. Another economy, other sciences, other sense of life than a physiology. Perceptive consciousness is open reality, very different than an observed box of limited resources, a so reductionist image of our condition for sustainability...

Kind regards,

John Robert
Tokenomics Artisan
www.opentokenomics.io ( http://www.opentokenomics.io )

LinkedIn ( https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnfrobert ) | johnf.robert@opentokenomics.io | skype: johnf.robert | +32 (0)496 580 535


Steve Huckle Mon 20 Apr 2020 9:15AM

You haven't published? And yet you are not short of words! I have a sense from snippets you've posted above that you have a significant contribution to make; rather than individual Skype sessions, may I encourage you to publish your work? It will allow more people to get a grip on what it is, exactly, you're proposing.


RobertD Tue 7 Apr 2020 11:02PM

Can you clarify what you’re asking for here?


Hugh Barnard Sat 11 Apr 2020 9:12AM

Some of this is: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/social-ontology/ interesting but highly technical. There's a group in Cambridge that used to meet on Mondays, but I'd guess has disbanded at present, the leading light is Tony Lawson: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Lawson

However, I've taken a different direction and will maintain it for my own investigations, simply 'Utopia as Method' and prefigurative politics: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prefigurative_politics The prefigurative politics bit is probably where the coops, platforms etc. fit. Basically, trying to partially do things 'now' as part of a more-complete future that we wish for. The Utopia as Method bit is well covered by Ruth Levitas: https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9780230231962

So, long story short, I submitted this (pdf): http://hughbarnard.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/dissertation-final.pdf last year as part of that approach. I don't think it's terrific, but certainly the bibliography is useful. I've tried to support any claim made in in the text body.

I'm doing local stuff for the pandemic at the moment, including this: https://sourceforge.net/projects/smsmap/ which I'm currently adapting for a local UK SMS supplier. But I'll try and get back to comment in a few days, as long as I don't get sick.


Oli SB Thu 9 Apr 2020 3:05PM

sorry - my comment:

Yes - please do - and post any answers / advice back here :)

was in reply to @Simon Grant (Cetis LLP) 's question:

Is it worth someone getting in touch with Michel to ask how and where, if at all, such a video glossary (/pattern language) might plug into P2P wiki/his other work?

I think we should be trying to build on existing resources wherever possible, rather than re-inventing new ones


Danyl Strype Sun 12 Apr 2020 3:18AM

This is a particularly lyrical description of how jargon evolves:

"as soon as I saw 'the slow web movement,' I assigned my own meaning to it. Because it’s a great name, and great names are like knots—they’re woven from the same stringy material as other words, but in their particular arrangement, they catch, become junctions to which new threads arrive, from which other threads depart. For me, 'The Slow Web' neatly tied together a slew of dangling thoughts."



Steve Huckle Sun 12 Apr 2020 8:36AM

That's lovely


Steve Huckle Sun 12 Apr 2020 8:55AM

My daughter uses Slowly (https://www.getslowly.com/en/), a pen pal app' that she uses to connect to people from around the world. The clues in the name - the farther away those pen pals live, the longer her messages take to be delivered.


Simon Grant Sun 12 Apr 2020 11:20AM

I'm wanting to empathise with the sense that some people have that 'ontology' is effectively a jargon word, meaningful to an 'in' group (disclosure: I am 'in' in that way) and offputting to others. what I mean by ontology -- in the context of systems design -- is something pretty close to what a few decades ago was commonly called a model "Entity - Attribute - Relationship" map/diagram/whatever. And let's face it: all such things are in effect models. Entities are the 'things' in one's model -- the things that are counted as significant for the purposes of the model. That can't be everything! We all have to select a set of things so that a model is comprehensible. Then, the attributes are the relevant qualities of those entities -- which may be the same, or usually different between different entities. Finally, the relationships are the ways (in the model, of course) in which the entities are related.

Does this make sense to everyone here? Do you (roughly) agree, or is there some point of difference? And, lastly, would anyone like to provide an example?


Oli SB Thu 9 Apr 2020 3:11PM

@all - with thanks to @RobertD RE: Defining the outcomes we want to achieve - YES - ABSOLUTELY! To me, any 'working group' must have a 'shared purpose' which all group members have helped define / agree with.

Taking @Ollie Bream McIntosh 's words from the initial post in this thread as a starting point... how about something like...

"The purpose of the 'new economy ontology working group' is to define and explain the key vocabulary and concepts of the 'new economy' "

Or something like that???
Please put forward your suggestions and we can hone in on a final, co-created shared purpose :)


Ollie Bream McIntosh Tue 12 May 2020 12:05AM

@Simon Grant I missed this point earlier, but I like it!


RobertD Sat 18 Apr 2020 5:37PM

Sorry I’ve been away from this for a week or so with day job extended into week job. I appreciate what @olliebreammcintosh and @olisb have tried to define as a purpose for the working group, and I see where several others including @asimong, @nickmeyne and @hughbarnard have added their thoughts to this end with a focus on simplicity, evolving pattern languages and defining/moving towards some part of the world we want to live in. I see this crystallizing around an evolving tool to help people (and perhaps us as well) more rapidly and fully understand this world that we collectively want to live in as one that works for the benefit of all, and clearly distinguish it from other economic structures and systems. Another value I see this newly defined language will give us is an ability to more easily check proposed and emerging laws, structures and regulations to see if they are really aligned to the fundamental tenets of this community. So my sense is that we don’t need a formal ontology, at least not right away. I’m all in to help.


RobertD Thu 9 Apr 2020 3:29PM

@Ollie - Though I know that definition could set a goal for the working group, what I’m getting at is what outcomes we want to achieve with the ontology/dictionary, because this can frame our choice of content for both as well as tools used.

Robert Damashek
571-221-3914 Mobile


Chris Cook Sun 19 Apr 2020 12:27PM

Interesting discussion, where I see a lot of synergies between John Roberts Open Tokenomics & my own R & D as a Senior Research Fellow at UCL ISRS in respect of the complementary institutions and instruments necessary to create the 'smart' networked services economy of the future.

I think of financial technology as the combination of finance (law & accountancy) and ICT and envisage the institutions of the future not as artificial legal persons but as collaborative agreements to a common purpose.

The instrument, which seems to me to be how John Robert conceives tokens is what I define as the credit instrument or bare (unenforceable) promise. In my view such implicit and explicit promises represent the "Dark Energy" of economies existing everywhere & always when people trust each other. The key question of legal design (which is what I do) then is the complementary & consensually agreed risk/cost/surplus/production/power/data/knowledge yada yada sharing agreements (trust frameworks) within which such promises are issued, assigned/exchanged, redeemed and cancelled.

I have long seen this combination of such people-based agreements and credits as Fintech 2.0 and indeed authored the first globally valid shared market transaction repository in 1998 around the time that Todd Boyle was envisaging shared WebLedgers at the accounting level.

I think between us we have the necessary skills and experience to create the first instances of what I refer to as NewClear.ie simple generic infinitely scalable mobile-centric plumbing for a positive sum mobile/dynamic economy based upon the infinite resources of renewable energy, knowledge, care and creativity.


Steve Huckle Fri 10 Apr 2020 9:23AM

@Simon Grant (Cetis LLP)

a commons ontology

Nice 🙂


Bob Haugen Mon 20 Apr 2020 11:46AM

Are y'all aware that Lynn Foster (whom most of you know) has been working with several other people on at least a core part of this problem since 2014 at https://valueflo.ws/ ?

(Todd Boyle was part of some of initial conversations that led up to Value Flows...)


Guy James Tue 21 Apr 2020 7:32AM

Just to add my 2c - (Bob and Lynn already know about this), a recent iteration of the Value Flows idea, developed by a couple of ex-FairCoop devs, is here: www.commondb.net.

A bit of background on it from the Holochain forum.


Simon Grant Tue 21 Apr 2020 8:33AM

I would find it really useful if there was a clear place where these ontologies were laid out, clearly! Several graphical conventions could be used -- a common one would be good.

On reflection, one really useful thing we can do would be to have an index to useful existing ontologies.


mike_hales Tue 21 Apr 2020 8:55AM

I've opened a proposal for a webinar here - A working session on pattern language for transformative commons practice - A college


Guy James Wed 22 Apr 2020 8:58AM

btw the fediwiki seems to be down, I get the scary 'no certificate' message on Firefox, then this:

> Cannot GET /view/welcome-visitors/view/a-college---a-webinar-proposal-for-open2020


mike_hales Wed 22 Apr 2020 9:31AM

This is how fedwiki is - the sites are old-fashioned http, none of them have an https certificate. Maybe browser safety settings will need altering (for this site?) I have no problems, in Firefox or Safari, in loading fedreated wiki sites. The 2020college wiki is available as I write this.


Guy James Wed 22 Apr 2020 10:17AM

Ok, it was my https everywhere extension which was blocking it. You can usually get a Let's Encrypt certificate from your web host for free these days or install one manually.


Rory (FSA) Tue 21 Apr 2020 10:57AM

This is a good fit for a new book on “The Roads to Co-operativism” that I’m writing for Palgrave. Count me in and I’ll catch up the conversation to date as soon as I can. The ontology of the commons is not straightforward (in either theory or practice) so defining the ‘new economy’ will stimulate helpful definitional work.

I’ve 10 years experience teaching philosophy, so I hope this will be helpful at some point.


Lynn Foster Tue 21 Apr 2020 2:48PM

>if you would like to contribute to this 'working group' please add a comment to that effect

I'm interested in being part of a 'working group', thanks.


Simon Grant Sun 26 Apr 2020 7:49PM

Hello again everyone! I'm actually not surprised that this topic of ontology brings out all kinds of ideas, and I find (and imagine others finding) some approaches belong in different ball-parks -- or are incommensurable to use a nice if slightly inappropriate word. Faced with this -- well -- impasse I could call it, sure, it's fine for individuals to take their own initiatives, but to me this misses the greater point, that if we want to do something together, in common, for the commons, we need to establish not only actual common vocabularies (okay, yes, ontologies if you're happy with that as a non-public-directed term) but even a common approach to talking about whatever we are trying to talk about.

And at this stage, I can think of nothing better, nothing more effective, than to do as much as we can of one-to-one conversations, with the aim of finding and recording (where?) what they have in common, in terms of this very first step of coming together to share common purpose about what we are trying to do in this space -- "ontology" if you like -- as a necessary preparation for the real business of developing something along those lines, whatever we decide to call it for general consumption.

What I'm pointing out is that we don't yet have shared purpose here, and finding shared purpose is probably not a simple matter of someone proposing the purpose and others agreeing or not. I see it as more of an enquiry. The outcome of this enquiry does not have to be a single proposal or a single way forward. I suspect, much better not! Let me add what I hope is not seen as a brutal addition: I am not at all interested in any one person (including myself) trying to teach or persuade everyone else to adopt their world view, their assumptions, their values.

Not sure if this will resonate with folks, but what I am imagining here is that we take the time to have one-on-one conversations and, as a check on rampant individualist perspectives, post here only what we actually agree with someone else.

As we are nominally within the frame of Open 2020, one guiding question could be "If we were to lead a session together, what would be the purpose, and how would we present it?" If that works, great, but if not, make up your own. To me, this fits reasonably with the initial starting point of @Ollie Bream McIntosh at the top of this thread.

But having had a great conversation with the aforementioned @Ollie Bream McIntosh, I'd like to follow up and have more with others as well, even those with whom I've talked in the past, like @Bob Haugen ; @Danyl Strype @Chris Cook and @mike_hales . For those I don't recall talking with (apologies if my memory does not serve!) @Rory (FSA) I'd be happy to talk philosophy with you; @RobertD I'd like to talk about what kind of ontology if not formal; @Nick Meyne , what "early simple, goals and principles" can we agree on? @Johnny Firmin Robert -- what can I say? Can we find some point of contact? I'm very willing to try...


RobertD Sun 26 Apr 2020 9:09PM

Simon, I agree with where you’re going with this. One thing I do want to mention is that, as far as I understand, the idea of the Ontology Working Group started off with the desire to clearly articulate the new concepts surrounding the new economy, so that people could quickly grasp what distinguishes it from ingrained economic thinking. When I listened to the Open 2020 Webinar on DisCos and Guerrilla Translation, I noticed that @Oli SB asked Stacco Troncoso to start the session with a short introduction on terminology, and if we had a terminology commons to point people to for this initial grounding then it wouldn’t be needed for every such webinar. So I’m very glad to engage either in smaller group discussions or one-on-one sessions to get to the next stage.

If have a common terminology we could put somewhere, perhaps on a wiki, would help, then I think we could engage pretty rapidly in defining those basic terms and concepts underlying the new economy, and incrementally roll out this terminology. If we’re expecting to use this for computational linguistics, natural language search or automatic content tagging, then we would need to consider building that initial effort out into an ontology with defined semantic relationships including inheritance, etc. But I haven’t heard that articulated as a goal yet.


Johnny Firmin Robert Mon 27 Apr 2020 8:02AM

Hello RobertD, Simon and all members

A suggestion: defining some concepts straight forward in a commented programming language can help to use the potential of codification by code.
It will be in phase with the new means of codification for economy, exhausting the dictionary structure for terminology.
The purpose is not first to do software development but to taming the new potential.
The interface is very important here as it allows us to codify the exchange whatever we exchange.

Kind Regards,


Simon Grant Tue 5 May 2020 8:10AM

Hi again @RobertD I like to think that we are slowly coming together on this. Are we ready to look at having a place where we can propose concepts to be defined in common? As elsewhere, I would suggest starting with the simpler, lower-level concepts. But yes, anyway.


DaveDarby Sun 3 May 2020 9:27PM

There have been lots of approaches suggested, and I don’t know how compatible they all are. Could I suggest a basic foundation, just to get us out of the starting gate?

It’s been said before, but the way ontology is used here is as a practical application – making sure we’re all on the same page. But as a branch of metaphysics – enquiry into the nature of being – it’s not so much about being on the same page as about working out what page we’re on.

If power is centralised, it will steer us towards the interests of centralised power, rather than towards a sustainable, democratic, equitable economy, or beyond that, towards evolution. Most people would prefer decentralised power imho – on both left and right. They just don’t believe it can be done. But we know that it can, and that it’s close.

So it’s a question of matching our institutions and our behaviour to decentralising principles; and extraction is the route to centralisation. For-profit corporations are necessarily extractive, and so we have to be vigilant, to exclude and expose ‘corporate social responsibility’, which facilitates extraction. So many conferences / events / discussions fail to reach that point, which renders them impotent. I get the feeling that this group is very different.

As John said, anything called ‘new’ sounds old quite quickly, so maybe cut to the chase, and say we want to help build a non-extractive economy, and to keep it non-extractive, so that even when it’s not new, it’s still not extractive. We can define non-extractive in precise ways that are impossible with ‘new’ (and commons doesn’t cover all non-extraction). Imprecise principles allow Unilever to get away with claiming to share them.

Simon talked about ‘a common language at some level’, and Nick talked about ‘early principles’. Could we agree that this level / early principle be non-extraction? From the P2P Foundation wiki: The architecture of wealth extraction is a cancer on this planet. Quite. We have the people to put together a different architecture.

I like Simon’s suggestion of one-on-ones and am happy to chat with anybody here. My interest, apart from non-extraction as foundation, is translating whatever comes out of this for an intelligent but non-technical, mainstream audience.


Simon Grant Mon 4 May 2020 9:35AM

@DaveDarby good to read your suggestion here. Yes of course you are welcome to a chat with me. Just to flag my 'agenda' for the benefit of others (literally 'agenda', not 'ideology'!) I will suggest that we consider proposing terms for which we might agree a definition. If a definition for a particular term can be widely ('commonly'?) agreed, then, sure, let it enter our lexicon. At a practical level, I will suggest that it is necessary to define 'extraction' (in this context) first, before 'non-extraction'. Where (question for anyone) can we hold documentation for these shared, and potentially shared, definitions? We could do worse than to start by defining a terminology life-cycle. (1) proposed by one person; (2) agreed by more than one (3) agreed by the whole working group (4) compared with external definitions and qualified to make unambiguous... or what? (5) called into question ... what would be the revision process? To my mind, that's where both good governance and good technology play vital roles. Who would be up for detailing this process itself?


Chris Cook Mon 4 May 2020 10:26AM

Hi Dave.

I'd approach this from the other end of the telescope by observing that sharing is by definition 'non-extractive' and therefore that sharing as an organising principle may be a useful foundation.

I like to say that "Shareholders Don't Share" (and neither do landlords and lenders) and that what we are up against here is the entire body of "Anglo" law, based ultimately on metaphysical concepts of absolute property rights. I'm with the late lamented Robert Pirsig in saying that Aristotle was pretty much where it all went wrong and was converted many years ago to his 'Metaphysics of Quality' (and relational logic) distinct from what he called Subject/Object Metaphysics.

So my action research at UCL ISRS into the institutions and instruments of what I have since 2002 called Market 3.0 entirely concerns the sharing of risk, cost, surplus, production, data, control and so on through a process of re-novation of what was there (and still remains wherever people trust each other) before our current institutions and instruments were created.

I read Pirsig's "Lila" & the "Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" way back in 2003 when beginning my recovery from an overdose of market capitalism & as a result riffed on a Metaphysics of Value in If not Global Capitalism Then What?


mike_hales Mon 4 May 2020 12:03PM

Something about Chris invoking Pirsig, metaphysics of quality etc make me wonder whether it’s a poetics of renovation (verb, process) that we should be weaving, as distinct from a glossary or lexicon or lego-kit of ‘what the economy might have in it'.

Or some hybrid. Anyone else here familiar with Raymond Williams’ wonderful Keywords? Looks like a dictionary, but in fact tells the biography/story/drama of how words got to stand where they do in our present day vocabulary of radical change, and what their inbuilt ‘dance’ and dynamics is. Know your enemies, and the foibles of your allies.

A *Keywords’ of radical renovated economy-making? Now, I’d sign up for that.

Tools-wise . . that’s not a (singular, authoritative, cumulative) wiki. Might be some kind of open-data ecosystem? Holding numerous versions, and with a posse of editors continually at work on a proto-canonical selective edition. Almost git-like. Thus, with some protocols ;-)


Ollie Bream McIntosh Mon 4 May 2020 3:19PM

Just a thought on the notion of 'sharing' as a potential label here - taking @DaveDarby's criterion that Unilever should not be able to steal the term as a point of departure - the 'sharing economy' has been wildly bent out of shape and is often used to describe extractive business, so while it is of course a crucial organising principle, I'm not sure it's the term we're looking for in this case?


mike_hales Mon 4 May 2020 4:04PM

Ollie - ‘mutuality’ is good? Has a long pedigree. Not polluted like (extractive, rent-gathering, AirBnB-style) ‘sharing’ is.


Ollie Bream McIntosh Mon 4 May 2020 4:09PM

Yes I like mutuality here. Could "the mutual economy" be the name we are looking for here, or does that sound too much like mutuals, which are just 1 constituent field?


mike_hales Mon 4 May 2020 4:28PM

Personally, over the past couple of years I've moved from 'social' economy, to 'civil' economy (as in 'civil society' - the mutual sector), to 'living economy'. This last has a lot of good resonances - including a Kate Raworth 'within the doughnut' aesthetic, and an XR kind of resistance to the 'dead labour' and dead weight of capitalist social and economic forms. Mutuality - in an ecosystemic sense as well as a cultural sense - is part of the recipe for what a 'living' economy must be baked from, a thread in the weave? Just as 'sharing' is only a thread of the sticky web of extractive, deadening, oligarchic economy?

I doubt that 'living economy' passes the Darby test. Unilever's marketing team could steal it, I'm sure, if they paid for enough media time. But this isn't basically a war of rhetoric, or memes (if it is, we're stuffed - the extractive guys own the media channels).

Something safe might be 'civil economy'. But that's not sexy enough for mass sign up. However, going for what's sexy is a risky strategy? Whatever the basic poetics are - we need cultural and economic forces that display it, dance it. Then it's not rhetoric any more. It's a movement.


Ollie Bream McIntosh Mon 4 May 2020 4:42PM

"But this isn't basically a war of rhetoric, or memes (if it is, we're stuffed - the extractive guys own the media channels)." RIGHT!

I guess Living Economy, if explicitly qualified with the 'non-extractive' label works? Maybe what we need is a separate post pooling and listing the options (new, living, non-extractive, post-extraction, mutual, common, etc) and have a vote on them?


Simon Grant Mon 4 May 2020 4:42PM

To be brief (arrange dialogue with me for more length!) I'm wondering if there's a better way than trying first to settle on particular words, phrases, or terms? It feels like we're looking for a magic formula, when that is likely to be the preserve of fairy tales 🙂 Might we try, first, to agree on the lower-level, smaller-scale, more down-to-earth terms and definitions? To revisit my own suggestion, definitions of components are more likely to be agreed that definitions of assemblages, even if only because they are (by definition?) less complex. And (of course) I am not a reductionist, and I don't believe that the whole of a concept can be analysed in terms of its component parts. Not at all! I suggest: start with the easiest things that we can define, to reach agreement on. Doing this well will build trust as well as muscle for addressing the larger, more complex concepts.


Simon Grant Mon 4 May 2020 4:48PM

@Ollie Bream McIntosh nice that we were simultaneous then! Just Say No to Wars of Rhetoric! I would exactly want to develop practices which do not in any way rely on votes, but on careful and caring listening to the needs of others, and working hard to be co-creative. Not by watering down to the common denominator, but by letting go of attachment to ego and holding enquiry for the common way forward, holding space for ways forward to emerge from the middle. Maybe needless to say, but this does require everyone to be letting go of their ego-identity positions...


Ollie Bream McIntosh Mon 4 May 2020 4:53PM

Agree here Simon - let's chat again next week at some point!


mike_hales Mon 4 May 2020 5:03PM

I basically don't see 'the economy' as what needs describing. Or definitions/lexicons as the basic form of approach. I would say that what needs describing is the practices and practical alignments that will make the economy come right, if pursued with sufficient scope and weight. And what's needed for this task - language wise (only part of what's needed) - is well-founded working descriptions rather than atoms of language. Solid bits of investigative journalism, you might say, from the coalface, where the rubber is hitting the road.

Seeing things atomistically as memes, or terms, is to let go of a grip on the systemic, practical nature of what we're trying to mobilise and infelct? Of course, I'm taking an ontological position here. I'm proposing that practices (organised activist practices) in working relationships (including protocols) are what the future world is (literally) made from, rather than abstractly tagged forms of 'economy'. Dave's 'extractive' is a relationship word. It describes systematic relationships between some systematic practices (like global-Unilever's) and some others that sadly are less systematic and organised (the people who live here, and whose grandchildren will want to live here too).


Simon Grant Mon 4 May 2020 5:40PM

@mike_hales Maybe an issue here is what different folks are referring to by "the economy". To know that it is or isn't what needs describing, we have to know what it is we are referring to... But I do agree that relationships are key (maybe, taken in various senses) and also practices. On the other hand, relationships that are only potential are rather, well, theoretical? It's the relationships that relate real things (including people) together that matter. And maybe practices are structured assemblages of intentions and actions within relationship? That's not an intended definition, it's an invitation to deepening awareness through dialogue. When you write "abstractly tagged forms of 'economy'" are you aware that some people have different meanings for 'the economy', and different relationships with it? There is a complex dance to be danced here. Let's suggest some choreography?


mike_hales Mon 4 May 2020 6:40PM

This is getting complicated (surprise!) . .

relationships that are only potential

Many of the relationships that are needed in practice are relationships of opposition, resstance, subversion, defiance, maybe even destruction - towards some practices and institutions - as well as affiliation, mutuality, collaboration, expansiveness, parity, non-duality, contribution, recognition etc, towards others. We could say that the former relationships are ‘only potential’ because they point, counter-factually (sorry, philosopher’s word), to a future that plainly isn’t the present. But at the point of action, they are fully concrete and material relationships - can even be expressed in logic as 'NOT that'. And the second group can be expresed as 'AND this’. If the mind is clear.

maybe practices are structured assemblages of intentions and actions

I would say practices are (self-)structured assemblages of people, and other people, and material stuff of diverse kinds. That’s a materialist perspective. And indeed, intentions are material forces too, but on another, pretty tricky, level of accesibility and changeability. Maybe, a person is an assemblage of intentions. And a life is an assemblage of actions? Sorry, this gets pretty . . ontological. It’s an ontology of ‘practices’ though, not of ‘economy’.

different meanings for 'the economy’

Part of the move that’s being made with ‘living economy’ as an image, is to introduce life (eg ecology) and actual persons’ lives and the actual practice of living a life as equal-weight triggers, alongside ‘economy’ . . implying that it's actual lives, and the actual possibility of liveliness for species and environments, and the actual life-affiliations that people make, which are under attention, rather than any of the deadly institutions and metrics that typically get tagged ‘economy'.

I do happen have a sense of how ‘the economy’ might be constituted and what it might comprise, but it’s how lives and life-on-earth are constructed (in practice, by activist practices of transformation) that is the central concern of ‘living economy'. Very much a re-novation of ‘economy’, rather than any kind of in-novation within what ‘economy’ has come to mean. I would like to see attention shift away from ‘economy’ towards the organising of activism, in plural and mutual and do-able ways, rather than be invested in defining ‘it’ so that people might buy into ‘it’.

I would like people to buy into the practices (which need to be well described, and have names that folks can affiliate with - and be systemically rich, with many valences - ‘alive') because they can see the difference that they can make to the life we leave for the grandchildren of the planet. They don’t have to call it ‘economy’. They can call it ‘love’ if they like. Or ‘kindness’ or ‘deep wisdom'. Or ‘mutuality’. And if anybody sets up shop against love, kindness, wisdom or mutuality . . it helps to know who the bastards are. These are not ‘values’ or even intentions. These are practical relationships. A dance . . arm-in-arm with some people . . and stepping hard on the toes of some others, and abandoning them as wallflowers nobody would been seen dancing with.

Choreography? As complex as the web of practices is. Choreographing pools of requisite variety on two legs . . and with no legs or ‘life’ at all? OMG. Too complex to take a punt on right now . . my brain hurts and there’s a meal to cook.


DaveDarby Tue 5 May 2020 9:50PM

Sharing is long gone - to Uber and Airbnb - because it’s too vague. If you keep digging down into sharing or mutualism or democracy or commons, you eventually get to non-extraction, which underpins all of them, and I don’t think can be wriggled out of or misinterpreted – especially if we describe what it is.

Michael Sandel asked ‘do you have a problem with a wealthy person paying a poor person to stand in a queue in the rain for them for several hours?’ His heart is in the right place - he wants to criticise the market economy - but he hasn’t got to the foundation. Without extraction, no-one will be so poor that they have to stand in queues for a living (unless they’re lazy). Without extraction, the market is just a way of exchanging things, which is what it was always supposed to be.

@mike_hales I know non-extraction is a negative term, but it’s specific (and as you said, logical: ‘NOT that’). I think terms like civil / social / living / loving economy etc. would be a gift to Unilever et al., because they’re so vague. They won’t set up shop against love or anything else, they’ll claim it – and without precision, we won’t be able to stop them. But I think you’re right about working descriptions rather than atoms of language, to be clear about where we want to go, and which activities will help get us there and which won’t.

For example, do we want to nurture businesses like Green & Blacks, the Body Shop, Innocent Drinks or Ben & Jerrys, who build reputations as businesses that are funky, ‘new economy’ or any other label we come up with, who then hand those reputations to the corporate sector for a huge wad? I don’t. They never subscribed to non-extractive principles in the first place.

At the extremes, we have people who own vast areas of land (due to atrocities carried out by their ancestors), who continue to reap fortunes from the work of people who grow our food. We have people who reap fortunes from the interest on loans of money that didn’t exist before the loan was made. And we have people whose families have hoarded the exchange medium and purchased the ability to be rewarded for other people’s work. And the political influence and media control that these enormous extractive activities deliver will make our job really hard, because extraction has been normalised, and even glorified (and because if we’re successful, they’ll come after us).

My school motto was ‘As ye sow, so shall ye reap’, and that’s the task, ultimately – to remove the ability to reap what others sowed. Or as Benjamin Tucker put it: ‘The natural wage of labour is its product’. That can be expressed in simple ways that most people, left and right, will support I think (and it needs to be both left and right, because we won’t succeed if half the population is against us). For example, we could ask: ‘Do you think it’s ok to claim credit for somebody else’s work?’, and I think the answer will almost always be ‘no’.

I don’t know about the decision-making process or a wider lexicon – happy to leave that to the experts, but also happy to help (if it’s doable, and doesn’t end up causing more trouble than it’s worth – but I’m definitely liking what @John Waters is saying). But I am interested in a) a foundational principle / direction that can’t be co-opted / hijacked, so we end up inadvertently helping the corporate sector, and b) communicating in a way that’s accessible to ordinary people.

@Chris Cook I think you’re on to something that just needs a tweak to make it understandable by more people – but I’m interviewing you on Thursday, so I’ll give it a go!


Bob Haugen Tue 5 May 2020 10:31PM

Dave, thanks. I sorta finally get it, that at least some of y'all here are doing something that makes sense to me but is not the same as what we have been doing for an economic ontology.

I'll try to state it as I understand it and you can tell me if I misunderstood.

You are trying to define what is inescapably different and better about a "new economy" in such a way that it cannot be co-opted by the old economy.

We ( @Lynn Foster and I) have been trying to define the primitive concepts that allow any kind of an economy to operate and internetwork. So you could create a bad old economy as well as a good new economy with those same primitives.

Does that seem accurate?

Anyway, if you want the good new economy to work, you will need a lot of the same primitive concepts. They will just work differently.


mike_hales Wed 6 May 2020 8:28AM

I’m with the orientation here Dave, as you know - and especially the sense of resistance and defence. It used to be called class struggle and that’s definitely where I live. But it has to be a mistake, to reduce something ultimately complex and plural to a single term/construct/principle. Commoning or mutuality are more than non-extraction, for example. There are no safe words - that’s the nature of language.

So . . descriptions of plural forms of practice, in plural kinds of situations, with plural threads of meaning and orientation, which when woven together will make the world work differently, as an enormously complex system of practices that - as lived relationships - have umpteen dimensions.

I don’t mind that the bad actors can coopt terms that I want to use. If they have a content in them that can be used to evoke what humans and the planet need - aesthetic forms, cultural forms, material forms - I’ll work with them and seek to embody them in practices, as actual relationships. It’s the weight and presence and participation and satisfactoriness of the practices that will matter, rather than the citation count of words. Non-extractiveness is one. And not an easy one to nail. I get what you mean, and am with it. But that’s a story many people won’t stay with and ‘inhabit', there is so much extractivness and territoriality in people (woven alongside the nice stuff). A word won’t banish that. A word won’t end atrocities or greed or addiction or acquisitiveness. It really is a never ending struggle. No magic bullets.

I vote for non-extractive. And a bunch of other language. And a whole lot of labour, moving actual things around and hooking them up differently.


DaveDarby Wed 6 May 2020 10:51AM

@Bob Haugen

‘You are trying to define what is inescapably different and better about a "new economy" in such a way that it cannot be co-opted by the old economy.’


‘We ( @Lynn Foster and I) have been trying to define the primitive concepts that allow any kind of an economy to operate and internetwork. So you could create a bad old economy as well as a good new economy with those same primitives.’

Not sure I quite understand that. How would the non-extraction principle allow a bad old economy to operate? Extraction is the business model of the old economy (M-C-M').


I’m definitely not trying to ‘reduce something ultimately complex and plural to a single term/construct/principle’. I’m just trying to claim that non-extraction is a sine qua non.

Here’s an analogy. Imagine we’re the group of guys sitting in that pub in Birmingham in 1870 (or whenever it was), talking about building the world’s first football league, rather than building a new economy. We can discuss the number of teams in the league, number of players per team, the offside rule, the size of the goalposts, how long a game lasts etc. But having a ball is the sine qua non. The goalposts can be any size, the teams can have 20 players, whatever – but no ball, no football league.

And what I’m arguing is that without the non-extraction principle, there’s no new economy. Yes, commoning and mutuality are more than non-extraction – and so are sustainability, democracy, etc. But none of those things are possible with extraction, because extraction concentrates wealth. And concentrated wealth buys influence, and then commoning, co-operation, democracy, autonomy etc. will only be allowed at the margins.

‘I vote for non-extractive.’ - yay!

‘And a bunch of other language.’ - sure – I said: ‘I don’t know about the decision-making process or a wider lexicon – happy to leave that to the experts, but also happy to help (if it’s doable, and doesn’t end up causing more trouble than it’s worth)’

I was at CTRLShift last year. First person I talked with was working in corporate social responsibility. ‘Large corporations have to be part of the solution’ he said. Now CTRLShift was nice – good people there, interesting conversations, some good things will come out of it. They want to start a movement, but it’s going to have huge holes in it, and be ultimately impotent if they have people in it who think corporations, and therefore extraction, are part of the solution.

My local Transition group got funding from Tesco, via those little green tokens customers put into transparent plastic boxes at the tills. So in their newsletter, they put a handy list, with maps, of all the Tesco stores in south-west London, and encouraged people to shop there.

I don’t think this group will have any of that. The corporate sector will co-opt and neutralise everything we throw at them – they’ve co-opted all the easy ones already, but they’ll co-opt commoning too (‘we fund Wikipedia, we’ve provided some common land for these communities etc.’). The only thing they really can’t co-opt is extraction – because it’s their business model.

Commoning is inherently non-extractive, as are the other entities that will be explored in the lexicon / wiki / pattern language / whatever we decide. But I’m still agreeing with you that it doesn’t have to be (and maybe shouldn’t be) a word, or a phrase, or a slogan, just a description of a kind of behaviour that excludes extractive entities of all kinds.


Simon Grant Wed 6 May 2020 11:03AM

(Simon) maybe practices are structured assemblages of intentions and actions

(Mike) I would say practices are (self-)structured assemblages of people, and other people, and material stuff of diverse kinds. That’s a materialist perspective. And indeed, intentions are material forces too, but on another, pretty tricky, level of accessibility and changeability.

I hope it is helpful to clarify this a little more. A practice seems to me to involve a pattern of behaviour. A particular instance of a practice will indeed involve a particular set of people; but surely the point of calling something a practice is that it can be practiced by different people? Even a personal practice is something that usually has a heritage of similar practice in other people. On the other hand, a practice isn't just observable actions -- because someone can mimic a practice without actually participating in it. That's why I include the intentions.

I do think it is worth doing more than simply saying "I think this..." "You think that..." -- to me, it's part of the overarching 'commoning' practice that we work towards doing and holding things in common. This is where I would invite actual dialogue -- in this case with you, so we can find common ground through mutual respect and understanding -- not without laying our preconceptions open to change.

Maybe, a person is an assemblage of intentions. And a life is an assemblage of actions? Sorry, this gets pretty . . ontological. It’s an ontology of ‘practices’ though, not of ‘economy’.

At a philosophical level, is there anything more to an 'economy' than a set of practices? So I wouldn't make an exclusive distinction here. @mike_hales ?


Bob Haugen Wed 6 May 2020 11:39AM

‘We ( @Lynn Foster and I) have been trying to define the primitive concepts that allow any kind of an economy to operate and internetwork. So you could create a bad old economy as well as a good new economy with those same primitives.’

Not sure I quite understand that. How would the non-extraction principle allow a bad old economy to operate? Extraction is the business model of the old economy (M-C-M').

For example, one of the primitive concepts is Economic Resources (material goods, work, energy, soil, etc etc). You can use them badly (extractively) or well (non-extractively), but if you want to have any kind of economy, you will need some of those same economic resources.

[Clarification: in those primitive concepts, humans are not economic resources. Humans are agents: they have agency. Human work is a resource, provided by human agents.]

Another primitive is an economic Process, where economic resources can be inputs (consumed or used) and outputs (created). If you consume too many natural resources, more than your ecosystem can support, you will degrade your ecosystem. If you (for example) improve your soil instead of deplete it, you can improve your ecosystem.

We're defining some primitives so we can create an economic operating system. An economy has to actually work.

You're thinking on a higher level, of the ethical principles of how the economy should operate. We're thinking of that level, too, but it wasn't clear to me at first what level you were thinking about in this ontology conversation. I've been working on the primitives since 1997 or so because it didn't seem like anybody had done that very well. Lynn has composed them into a vocabulary. We have not tried to define an ontology for ethics or non-extraction because it seemed like a lot of other people were working on that.

We may or may not fit into this conversation.

Am I making sense yet?


Johnny Firmin Robert Wed 6 May 2020 11:45AM

Hello Dave and all co-operators,

About the ethics of the economy,
could we think about the economy of freedom of ethics?

We are not embodied in the boundary of ethics for the life economy. Fortunately! It allows life to win the freedom to love.

Moreover, the grid of reading with monetary wealth indicators as reference values to rule borrows to money idolatry.
Are we allow to be a billionaire? Did we have to pay our tax? They are empty questions if we don't consider what is pricing, our beliefs in numbers for symbolizing values, and how these beliefs govern our life up to formulate the ethical rules usually for others first.

Let's point here that our beliefs in numbers govern economic values as well as epistemic values.
For instance, we can claim the world has limited resources! If you identify in the world what is measurable by numbers, we can believe it is 'true'! Believed true if we forget that we put on our noses glasses filtering magnitudes to watch the world - is it ethical? An then, we come to believe we own with our numbers the objectivity of the tangible world, and in a so 'good move', we come to think that the human being is a resource - human resources becoming a dedicated terminology. We come to think about how can we be ethical with our numbers.

Personally, I don't believe in numbers as a sense of reality, a sense of objectivity in the rational realm and I am a mathematician. I don't believe in human beings as resources. And I won't be happy to see a group of people imposing me its ethical rules at the name of numbers! My consciousness will dictate me to organize resistance!

Investing with rationality our beliefs in numbers is not any more an academic question as, with tokenization, we are leaving numbers as symbolics of our valuation, nurturing beliefs sustained by coded symbolics - it didn't start with tokenization.

It is the opportunity to ask what about the freedom to give and receive? How to symbolize it and support it with a symbolic calculus - required for operativity - before thinking we have to rule ethically our behaviors with monetized rules, staying trapped in the symbolics of numbers.

We need to educate our fears of neighbors. Ethics could help on the way, but it is to drop it on the way. Easing trust is a determining factor.

Consciousness makes the rule, if you think that consciousness is distributed with your neighbors. I didn't say share but distributed.
If we rule, it is because we fear to receive this distribution as the intrinsic share of our condition. We want to secure us by being linked by a rule first.
Needed on the way, but a dystopia when it becomes a close frame for life, a target!

I know ethics is trendy today - in quality of philosopher, I have worked on ethics of NBIC for a Belgium university - and we rule for anything up to non-sense, stimulated by a high fear level as our civilization is facing huge transformations under the pressure of coding techniques, collapsing for some thinkers. Some will argue it comes from decadence and corruption. A recurrent narrative across history.

I hope it will pass for better considerations for life, fewer fears, and investment in the opportunity of new means of codification for our civilization.

An important consideration: economic realities, whatever they are, required formal codifications. Writing techniques since cuneiforms received as incentives accounting needs. The codification must be equipped with operations needed to put values - whatever they are - in circulation. And coding techniques bring here a completely new universe! About what can be identified and codified, operated & co-operated, nurturing a new sense of reality, opening a large field for instantiating values with various ethics. At the root of this, there is a principle problematic before an ethical problematic, principles concerning transversely our beliefs.

Usually, we come to talk about economic crises when events do math our numbers. It's time to open the question doesn't numbers fail to match human wealth?
And invest our life to produce alternative symbolics. I have started in my garage for a while ;-)

Kind Regards


John Waters Mon 4 May 2020 10:24AM

Any attempt to create a lexicon, taxonomy or "ontology" in sense being discussed here can (I believe) at best be snapshot in time and context, recording only whatever can be agreed by those who choose, or can find time, to participate in its construction. Many (and I believe most) will not have time to do, and some (perhaps many) might be alienated to some extent by conclusions agreed if these should turn out to be too narrow or decisive. On the other hand, an evolving lexicon, perhaps in the form of a wiki, in which the ramified interpretations can each be placed in time and context, might be very helpful indeed; much writing from past decades has been obfuscated by catachresis, and it might help to reference real examples. A wiki would provide a useful way to allow users to drill downwards gradually towards greater detail where useful while obscuring such detail at the entry point.

Even words in widespread use in the general population are problematic. For example, there's nothing I can do to prevent anyone from using "refute" as if it were a synonym for "deny" (even some politicians can be heard misusing this), or "viable" as if it were a synonym for "feasible" or "practicable". Catachresis ramifies, and "ramification" itself is often misunderstood to mean "consequence". There's nothing we can do in this Heraclitean river of language other than to wade through it carefully, keeping a note of where dangers have been spotted and, where it seems likely to be helpful, alerting others to the risk.

For example, I realized decades ago that I could only use terms such as "cybernetics" or "anarchism" in some company if qualified by something extra to anchor it in time and context; "cybernetics" as understood by Ashby, for example, or "cybernetics" as defined by Wiener, or "anarchism" as understood by Kropotkin. It is becoming increasingly difficult to use such terms as "compexity", "redundancy", "viability" or "energy" without defining them, even if tersely.


Simon Grant Mon 4 May 2020 5:43PM

Interesting reflections, @John Waters -- so what's the next fruitful step forward in your view? Can we move from what we can't do, and what is dangerous to do, towards what is "good enough for now and safe enough to try"?


John Waters Mon 4 May 2020 6:22PM

@Simon Grant How we do things and what we do depends on the who and and whom. The synergy will be different in each case, as will the approach to communication, differing not just between combinations of individuals and organizations, but also over time as the relationships, conversations and boundedly-shared understanding evolve. Such relationships are a process, and any attempt to impose a common structure, no matter how benignly intended, upon them constrains variety ... and we should all know by now that the Law of Requisite Variety will assert itself, often in surprising and uncomfortable ways.

However, I do believe that what we need are pools of "adaptive variety" on which individuals and organizations can draw upon in different (subjective) ways - not least pools of shareable knowledge and expertise - and "metasystemic mirrors" (including extensive and increasingly complete models and simulations) to enable each synergic coupling - whether brief or long-lasting - to minimize its negative impact on the planet. This is, whether or not obvious or recognizable at any particular scale, all part of an undertaking to build a Conant-Ashby compliant bridge between what humans (and the ecosystems in which they're embedded) need to thrive and what the planet can afford. That can't be done in an entirely bottom-up way; we need to find other ways to complete the global feedback loops without constraining autonomy more than absolutely necessary. If that seems like a dauntingly ambitious undertaking, I can't argue with that; but I don't see any way to proceed without that.

However, this is a very different conversation from the one where this thread began, and the conversations are ramifying in very interesting and useful ways (from my perspective).


Lynn Foster Mon 4 May 2020 12:50PM

I think it might be useful to define together what we mean by "ontology", as it is used in different ways out there in the world, and I sense that is happening here too. A while back in a different context, @Bob Haugen pulled together some definitions of some terms used for different kinds of classification, which I'm linking here in case it helps us tease out what we all actually want to work on. See especially "taxonomy" vs "ontology". And maybe even what some are talking about here is more like a "dictionary", not included in this write-up, but also a possibility. https://board.net/p/r.79f0270fd42114bb50422896612ce8ef


Johnny Firmin Robert Mon 4 May 2020 2:40PM

Hello dear co-operators of an 'ontology' for 'new' economy

I see a lot of requests about the word 'ontology' in the proposal thread of Oli.
If I analyze the Oli's proposal with basic methods of analysis used in the enterprise environment, we get:
1. What is the problem domain? (The first question to ask for defining the boundary of the domain and see if splits are needed)
The problem domain is economy, if I refer to Oli's proposal, inviting to a 'new' economy
2. What is the solution?
Research for an ontology is proposed. ( An open-protocol in another Oli's thread)

Giving solutions to address the problem domain is a typical mistake in analysis - not a personal thought but a well-established guideline - and everybody can observe that most of the co-operators are now focusing on ontology, forgetting to frame the problem domain: the economy. Catastrophe! What a loss of energy!

First, to address the problem domain, we need to define the boundary of our domain; if too huge, split it.
What is the reality we want to cover with the word 'economy' before thinking 'new'?
It's less a question of definition than what we want to challenge. Moreover, our intent of challenge can't make the definition, we have to receive economy as practiced, with its financial instruments, its codification requirements, its history and creative evolution, its natural embodiment in a tangible world for sustaining life, its current context, its poesis. We need here to silent our intent for the efficiency of analysis.

When this job is done - a collective contribution is welcome for that, even intrinsic to the nature of the domain - we can move to the question of what are the solutions for enhancement - if we want a better world - and organize synergic roadmaps for implementing them.

Clearly, we can anticipate that the problem domain, namely economy, will be split. Maybe not in terms of ontology or open-protocol, categories that we can already observe as imported concepts, with high risks of biasing the reception of the problem domain.

Sorry to be professorial. But a forum thread, even with valuable proposals, can't replace ABC of well-established methods, perfectible of course.

Hope this can help.

Kind Regards,


Simon Grant Mon 4 May 2020 5:00PM

Thanks for the link to @Bob Haugen 's work there, @Lynn Foster . Sure that we need to take care, be clear, and be aware of how other people are using the terms (and ideally be sensitive to why they might be using them). Purely personally, I like working with ontologies (agreeing with the sense flagged by Bob) for these reasons. For me, a taxonomy lends itself to top-down authority. With an ontology, focus on the relationships of the (classes or) types of thing tends to give a mutable nature to the type definitions. I mean, the more clearly you can see how one kind of thing relates to another kind of thing; the more you can bring into view the different ways that different people need to represent the relationships, I often get more insight into how we need to shift the definitions to fit better with those relationships. In fact, to me, it is defining and agreeing the relationships themselves that is the key first step in getting to a useful ontology.

When the relationships include such terms as "part of" or "is a" then you naturally get a tree-structure, without the tree-likeness being the be-all and end-all of the structure. Which, to me, is good. Trees are good, but they are not everything. Grass is also good.

(edited to reflect my mistaken memory that 'part-of' is a SKOS relation. It isn't.)

Loomio doesn't seem to allow me to reply to myself, so I'm continuing (later) here... SKOS deals with concepts and concept schemes, not individual particulars. To the extent that we are dealing with concept schemes, to my mind SKOS would be a fair starting point for relationships between concepts. (Though there is the annoying confusability of which way 'broader' and 'narrower' are meant.) If we are dealing with specific things, then let's consider what relationships we can agree on as significant (in our framing) as existing between things.


Simon Grant Mon 4 May 2020 5:48PM

@Johnny Firmin Robert -- I'm curious, where do shifts of paradigm (or even of consciousness) live in your world view? Do you have a clear definition in your own mind of 'the new economy' that we need to use as a frame? And do other people agree with you, in your experience? What is your approach to dialogue with people with whom you do not agree? Thanks!


Johnny Firmin Robert Tue 5 May 2020 5:52PM

Hello Simon,

Some answers to an irrelevant post from Simon.

@Johnny Firmin Robert -- I'm curious, where do shifts of paradigm (or even of consciousness) live in your world view?
Curious? Are you? Usually, people use a different formulation to manifest their curiosity. If you read my post, you will be informed that coded symbolics for an implemented world are symbolics to produce a visibility during a flow of exchanges - not a world view
And that gives us the wealth of a new paradigm. Not a word view as frame. A world view as frame seems closer to your mind pattern. Don't project.

Do you have a clear definition in your own mind of 'the new economy' that you say we need to use as a frame?

What do you suggest that I don't know what I am exposing, and for that, you create a false assertion: the new economy' that you say we need to use as a frame?
Never I say that. Clear definition is your target, not mine. Don't project. You should clear your mind. Ontology for 'the new economy' is a title I receive from Oli -Thank you for that and the frame, the view, the common language are out of scope my kind proposal of contribution, especially when we come to experience that an observed world must be first implemented to be visible.

My mind is clear, not with definitions: I develop algebra - category theory - an intermediate step to move towards new paradigms of the programming language of co-operative calculus for playing how freedom of exchanging instantiate natures. Certainly, and I know it, it requires explanations for you. It's out of the scope of what you have met today, even if you believe being a specialist in innovation. It points to a new unified symbolics, with co-operativity - we have never seen that - for economy and nature matching common sense, the economic reality in use today.

The fact that additional explanations are, of course, required does not authorize you to be rude with me and twist what I post to support irrelevant insinuations. You are probably self-satisfied of what you do, but try to keep respect for what you don't know and others do.

According to my involvement, if you read my posts, I propose to invest the symbolics of an implemented world incubated by software engineering,
the embodiment of our connectivity, as the economy is being first an implemented reality.

And for picking the actors of the domain, I have proposed, with respect, to focus on the problem domain first: economy, dropping the word 'new', also inviting to use a programming language to express the concepts, much richer for our thought. than written techniques. Difficult for a lot of people, at this early stage, to project themselves in the new potential, transversal skills are needed. (And usually, code is classified as technical and people forgot that they needed more or less 10 years of education to writing techniques, for their mother tongue, to master the expression of their thought with the techniques. )

In my last post, I drop a few alpha definitions for the non-specialist and a sample example shaped as an exercise of the epistemic value in software engineering with the Unknown interface.
I could write books on that I don't do it because principles come with the calculus, to which I give priority as I sustain financially my research. Without the co-operativity calculus, we are at the level of a world view. What could be Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica without infinitesimal calculus? A world view among philosophies! What makes the experimental philosophy a spread philosophy, renamed science, the calculus attached to the measure, despite all the disenchantment narratives.

Helped by decades of coded symbolics, I am developing an algebra of the free exchange for economy, not using firstly measure of magnitudes, but identifying our position in the instant, including investment, service provider, service provider positions, how freedom of exchanging borrows to persistence and secretes persistence.
It allows introducing liquid associativity - unexisting today, observation has its limits for thinking economy - on free-markets

More, it requires learning, exploring & researching - what I pursue.

And do other people agree with you, in your experience? What is your approach to dialogue with people with whom you do not agree?

The question is more for you.
Why such twistings of my posts to support irrelevant insinuations?
I can just suggest you here to stay open and keep respect for what you don't know. You will improve your approach instead of thinking agreement or disagreement.
Or can you just repeat what you believe to know with a consensus of peers? Of course, in the case you get adoption as you secure what everybody believes.
Strange behavior for a person claiming to be a specialist in innovation.
Across all I have read from cooperators, my proposal is more a prospective exploration for embodying the ontology in the coded symbolics of a connected world - to distinguish from a software solution derived from paper or e-paper work.

I don't see any disagreement with all the approaches, except sometimes missing this embodiment, but is that a disagreement? It is much more a missed opportunity, a refused invitation to open mind on what means a codification by code for our civilization, closing the boundary of the world to what we understand.

I don't blame you, but apologizes are welcome!

Kind Regards,


Simon Grant Tue 5 May 2020 8:35AM

So, if I may go back to @Oli SB and the start of the thread -- if we are going to work towards agreeing definitions for concepts related to the 'new economy', what spaces and tools are we able and willing to use to do that? I ask as I know several people have sensitivities and/or technical restrictions.


mike_hales Tue 5 May 2020 9:22AM

Following their pitch last week in the webinar, I feel willing to adopt Digital Life as a platform framework.

Cloudron stack of apps, all running in the browser, includes
- Etherpad shared writing space (file management is minimal, a flat list; export isn’t wonderful either),
- CodiMD markdown editor for private and published pages (file management isn’t great but private or public web publishing is pretty neat).
- Mattermost for discussion threads (Loomio, without the decision tools or nested threads, and poorer searching - so why leave Loomio? there will be lots of polls in due course?). Also has desktop and phone apps. And
- a Trello/kanban-type tool if anybody gets serious about task management.

I’m not madly excited by this patchwork combination as a work environment in the browser (as pinned tabs). But the two shared-writing apps work, are FLOSS and not Google, and are fairly plain-vanilla. Dig Life membership is $10 annually. There’s also the possibility of networking/collaborating with others in diglife, which might not be a bad thing. The main thing would be, to take our own collaboration there with us, if we feel it will support us enough?

What other platform possibilities does anyone have? For example, is there a Nextcloud contender? Which is as cheap?

No wiki in this bundle. Or other content management tool. No graph representation tool (Kumu is not FLOSS). Recommendations anyone? Some kind of hypertext and some kind of graph/network visualisation are probably essential?


Oli SB Tue 5 May 2020 12:52PM

Hi All,
There's some great conversation here - thanks everyone for such insightful contributions!
In order to move things forward, I spoke to Simon and we propose a zoom call for anyone who would like to work towards agreeing a 'problem statement' / 'calling question' / 'shared purpose' for this group - and a place and method of working.

If you can't make it to the call please add suggestions / questions here and we will aim to feedback to the group...

When: May 12, 2020 12:00 PM London

Please register in advance for this meeting:




Johnny Firmin Robert Tue 5 May 2020 1:03PM

Hello Oli, Simon and all co-operators,

Some suggestions for the problem domain of economy as I saw a lot of
semantic searches to wrap properly the diversity, and encompass

the human and natural dimensions of the implemented and
observed realities of the economy, resulting from immersion.

Some elementary considerations for picking
actors in the problem domain.

We are concerned with economy when exchanges happen and, more
precisely, the freedom of exchanging.

Exchanging does not concern only living organisms,
molecules exchanges their parts for instance.

Moreover, freedom does not come from complex living organisms, we wouldn't
be able to practice software engineering and doing flow control

if we were not exposed in our economic embodiment for life to the ramification
of the flow. And this ramification of the flow stands for our computer running
without us, as well as particles too, even entangled particles, responding with
a ramified spectrum of responses when experimentally querried.

Moreover, It is from an embodiment in the instant that the ramification of
the flow takes place - not specific to human - and our economic
condition is reflected.

Software engineering has developed a huge symbolics for that
because it is concerned with the symbolization of an
implemented reality for automation to make it visible, and not producing a
view for an observed world - that a huge wealth for thinking economy as economy
first refers to an implemented reality, today challenged to make visible
its condition, 'human' and 'natural'.

So with freedom of exchanging, we can conceptually project an economy with
or without humankind, it is important if we want to revisit economy and ecology

A few alpha definitions inherited from the symbolic material in software

Taking place in the instant, exchanging is crossing the
instant - no need to view for that. In practice, a function call does not
require to view but it will make a world visible.

Freedom is captured in the programming symbolization
by the flow control and so, formally a tree.

A free exchange is asking and receiving - i.e. processing to a call.
a request and an answer

A world is publishing freedom to ask and receive - nothing to do
with capitalism - which is codified and symbolized by an interface, codeless
& stateless: all phenomenal ontology is dropped here. No need of an
ontology to get the freedom of asking and receiving, to be in free-market - not
systemically a competitive market.

A world hold by unicity the plurality of alterities in connaturality. For
concept amator.

(Capitalism ideologies sometimes justified themselves as being a natural
order to promote a competition on free-markets. not completely false,in the
sense that freedom is not confined to a political question, it appears at any
level of reality. Einstein said that God doesn't play dice when physicists had
to relay on probability in front of the spectrum of freedom in the matter
answer to quantic experiments He wanted Law. In fact, it appears that
freedom is the required condition for a consciousness reflected by its

Conceptually, software engineering plays a monist approach of reality, no dualism
as Plato and Aristotle had introduced it and we developed later Software
engineering is developing the Panta Rhei from Heraticlus: all is flowing.
Software engineering must conceive how realities stand within a flow, a flow of
call, a flow of exchanges, a flow of free exchanges, a flow of free interfaces.
We chose how we want to see the world, more precisely how we want to be interfaced
into a world. Implementing does not promote beliefs in causal laws.

All the categories of economy, the economy of life are in fact already
symbolized in the software techniques.

The question here is not to say life is code, the question is how can we
use the wealth of this symbolics to implement better hospitality for life

Some explanations.

A point has never been a material body, despite Galileo had to promote
that Mother Earth speaks mathematics. In fact, geometric symbolics gave
us the opportunity to play our natural condition in beliefs in
magnitudes, mass included along with history. Today,
you don't put an implemented reality on a balance...What is the
weight of a 'Hello World' instance? In which terms instances, implemented and
observed, can be conceived as the same reality. What does an 'hello Word!'
instance share with an apple falling from the tree under gravity?

That the epistemic question of the economy : how does freedom of exchanging
implement an observable world?

Simon asked : I'm curious, where do shifts of paradigm (or even of
consciousness) live in your world view? I am not nurtured by a world view? Programming teaches us, make us assimilate
that world must be implemented to be visible. When you implement software you
don't proceed by a global image of the project. You identify events and
implement use cases. Views are everywhere but they don't close a world. I
posted about that Your world view? Must be another person ;-) I
don't have any view of what I will be tomorrow so you guess a world view I let
that for God.

In other words, what would be Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica
without infinitesimal calculus? A world view, only known by specialists of
philosophy, with weak success for measuring magnitudes as operativity attached
to measuring would be missing. It is empowerment by the symbolics of
calculus which leads to the adoption of the principles. And so Newton's work is
received as a symbolization, unifying Celest and Earth worlds by an
effective operative symbolics of calculus for motion with principles and
operative laws. (And unfortunately, the enthusiasm generates a reduction to the
world to mechanics with disenchantment narratives, not present in Newton

I work on principles of freedom and their symbolics of co-operative
calculus for economy of life. Not a world view.

Moreover, inside, in such symbolics, for generating positional identity,
you don't need to nurture beliefs in geometry, in view.

You get this from the exchange concept as asking and receiving: any answer
to a call locates the request whatever the phenomenal ontology of the request.
In fact, software engineering is conditioned to use this identity when we need
to synchronize, i.e. handle reality in the same instant, in the same world. We
have here a stronger universal than geometry and beliefs in extent for
positional identity.

The codified concepts in software techniques are much richer and fitting a
much better life economy than magnitudes of physics as primitives.

Moreover, let's note that handling the economy by observation, only, will
lead to complexity. See how Mike_hales is suffering ;-) Hope your dinner was
well cooked. To reduce complexity, history answers with principles.
Earth's world was thought too complex to be handled by mathematics as cyclic
Celest World was observed. Principles broke the complexity. The problematic is
recurrent, we will break the complexity of implemented reality - the
foundational reality of economy - by new principles. Is that a view, no, an
opportunity of implementing an inclusive economy for life as entangled
singularity and universality of bodies, whatever their ontology, angels
included ;-)

Freedom of exchanging connects into a world, deliver a nature with its
magnitudes. How can we play - not theorize - the economy of the exchange
delivering a living nature, with individual and collective consciousness?

What is our position of investor, how exchanging borrow to persistence, how
exchanging generate persistence, the persistent reality we call world.

For concept lovers : we use the name world when we want to handle reality
under unicity. And as individual, we hold our existence as a singular unicity

How the world inherits its unicity from our singularity. We can write this
question in C# for instance for people wanting clarity.

The formulation is so clearly codified that it compiled. However, clarity
as a required explanation is most often a blinding process.

The symbolic of number and magnitudes, intensive(mass, money) or extensive
(space-time), are unable to handle the above questions.

We need to leave the symbolics of measured magnitudes to play the reality,
which code and category theory have done for a while.

Inheriting from decades of software engineering, I am first developing
algebra - not a world view. Propaedeutics are needed to understand
what is played in the algebra. Moreover, algebra is a preliminary towards
new paradigms of programming language supporting co-operative calculus -
no dictionary can support that, no mathematics. Calculus moving from operative
to co-operative symbolics leave mathematics as designed today. So algebra, more
precisely category theory is a gateway to a new form of calculus, a
co-operative calculus supporting principles of freedom for playing an
implemented realities, life economy with generated collective views for our
rationalities. (We are mainly trapped in the observer position at
this moment.)

World views they will be multiple and live. I don't want to impose mine, even
not make the co-operative calculus a specific education and learn InfoMath 2.0
to practice it.

At the calculus level co-operative means being involved in a roadmap to
avoid having to relay on expertise for 'co-operating' - not being educated to
1+1=2, increasing the freedom of a fully inclusive economy for our perceptive

From an observer position, you can't open this possibility. This is a
crucial question as power of computation is increasing with a desire of power
having nurtured, up to now, rationalities for controlling.

If investment hold by monetary techniques is today an immobilization, it is
because we are unable to objectify and collectively play in our

how exchanging create persistence and so we can't account the organizational
value from organic connectivity preceding any formulated consensus in a common

We allocate and identify investment in the explicit formulation of an
association and immobilize the investment.

But words are organically built before being dedicated to naming, and seeing
results from an organic consensus.

In an observed world as a sense of reality, associative value can't be

As we used geometry for the epistemic value of infinitesimal calculus and
symbolized bodies as a point, leading to the disenchantment narrative of
mechanics for life, we can use software engineering to open the roadmap
identifying the persistence generated by freedom of exchanging, the intrinsic
organizational value to be organized in a body, individual and collective.
That's where economics meets ecological considerations in the sense that
freedom has nature.

When epistemic values are based on freedom principles, economic values and
epistemic values reach the same register.

Not difficult to conceptualize this register when you go into code.
Exploring the algebra for further development, that's, of course, a high
skills problem in a first step.

Then new programming language paradigm gives the potential of an inclusive
economy dropping required needs for algebra. If not, I wouldn't be involved.

I paste here how software answers with codification to the
metaphysical question of the Unknown,

how software engineering has imagined and codified - one step more
you go to epistemic calculus - how to operate our relationship with an unknown
world, a world we don't see?

interface IUnknown {

virtual HRESULT QueryInterface (REFIID riid, void **ppvObject) =

virtual ULONG AddRef () = 0;

virtual ULONG Release () = 0;


You see an interface and in the interface a QueryInterface method?
What does it teach us for economy, for connecting an open diversity?

Thank you for your answers. For amateurs of exploration of the implemented
world ;-)

Kind Regards,


PS. Keep cool Simon!


Bob Haugen Tue 5 May 2020 1:11PM

We focus more on provisioning than exchange. Which also means, focus more on production and distribution than exchange.


Johnny Firmin Robert Tue 5 May 2020 1:13PM

I am provisioning

John Robert
Tokenomics Artisan
www.opentokenomics.io ( http://www.opentokenomics.io )

LinkedIn ( https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnfrobert ) | johnf.robert@opentokenomics.io | skype: johnf.robert | +32 (0)496 580 535


Johnny Firmin Robert Sat 9 May 2020 4:32PM

Hello Oli & Simon
Hello all co-operators

What a story your private email Oli! I don't understand either!

There is nothing directed to Simon, I connected to him on linkedin as he watched my profile few weeks ago, and kindly asked later, as I saw he was involved in innovation and ICT, how he can help for communicating on symbolics of calculus. I don't know him, there is no stake. I don't see why I would have directed comments against him when I connect on Linkedin and kindly ask for help based on his expertise. You say it is an important contributor to open-coop. Good! Great Value!

My language is very different as we are concerned with the symbolics of calculus, co-operative calculus, an epistemic novelty in our pregnant time - I am not involved in a world-view, a frame, politics, ethics, or theories of economy, but in the epistemic level of the economy in exercise in a connected world. (It came to my mind to exemplify with Google economics for an answer to last Bob & David responses, and all co-operators of course - under construction)

My posts are constructive and invite people to think out of the box, dropping beliefs in numbers for economics. Not easy to communicate, to knock to the good door to open mind to this reality, so important to ease socio-communities to chose their values, cooperative values and/or others, to put co-operative initiatives at the forefront of this emerging epistemic domain. ( That' why I propose to Oli a code school this summer when I met him, as a strategic initiative for Open-Coop to extend among co-operators assimilation by the practice of the new potential of coded symbolics in software, fertile soil for a new economic language, not borrowing the path of Modernity thinking an Esperanto for the economy ). Moreover, my posts have received
encouragements and even OpenTokenomics endorsement for Chris Cook - I renamed it OrganicTokenomics in 2019.

I am not certainly an expert in communication - that's why I ask help to Simon - and I have tried various options, projecting ourselves, methodologies, and practice considerations, I even delivered an exercise for the Unknown interface to immerse the mind in the question, out of the practice of written concepts. ( I know code is typically ranged in techniques, as writings are in fact, and ask us ten years of education, but we forget it)
I don't think I am negative. I use a tone bringing disruptive considerations.
As mentioned above, I was writing a new post to answer Bob& David responses, and all coops, one more time to open the door to move out of the number box for our symbolics of values and use the augmented coded operativity, this time with an example: the economics of Google. A very well intent and positive initiative to drive the mind to the door - without coded symbolics to avoid to be 'technical' - of the very fertile reality on our pregnant time. (But at one moment you need to use code to speak, not to do software, for clarity of operativity & co-operativity.) At the epistemic level, we are concerned with principles first, not values. Dissonant certainly in the open-coop community. I apologize for this dissonance, but these epistemic considerations and developments will bring you a very strategic advantage for your success. Not only yours; I am not minded new economy against old economy, even if I share with you that a lot of things call for corrections in our current economy.

Now, if disturbing considerations are assimilated to negative comments that's another question.
I wrote to Bob&David for all coops: I don't believe in number, I don't believe in human resources, more generally I don't believe in what I understand. The beginning of rationality.
Symbolics of calculus at the epistemic level itself are not explanations for understanding, their operators allow playing co-operatively chosen values, to instantiate a world - of course, we can play intelligibility. But understanding is not the entry point. A child learns a game by immersion, he is not usually interested to read the game rules, if any, and we enter in the economy by playing, by gaming, as children to get our first intelligibility of economy with given registers. That the entry point of the operativity of the symbolics of calculus, playing as we play theater or music, to give the means to play new games for the economy with diversities of values.

About the specific answer to this Simon's post :

@Johnny Firmin Robert -- I'm curious, where do shifts of paradigm (or even of consciousness) live in your world view? Do you have a clear definition in your own mind of 'the new economy' that you say we need to use as a frame? And do other people agree with you, in your experience? What is your approach to dialogue with people with whom you do not agree? Thanks!

All the assertions under the question format are clearly twisting my posts and insinuating I have no clear idea in my mind! See my precise answer.

I am targeting operativity for economics, not definitions - useless considerations if somebody 'asks' you with veiled words "Do you have a clear definition in your own mind?"

What is your approach to dialogue with people with whom you do not agree?

They are ad hominem insinuations and not constructive questions. Indeed, irrelevant, it must be said!

Any X person with such ad hominem assertion needs to be notified for the irrelevance of these question formats.

Somebody can ask for instance: what you mean by symbolics of calculus, what you mean by operativity of co-operativity in a coded symbolics, or how they concerned economics and ease co-operation? (Do you have a clear definition in your own mind...? is a very different question )

If I am disturbing with dissonant considerations, I certainly apologize for that. But epistemic considerations for co-operative coded symbolics, I think it concerned at the highest level the intent of open coop for its success.

I don't blame Simon as I wrote it, apologies are welcome but not required. I don't practice censorship. Any questions are welcome if in dialog. Ad Hominem considerations will be notified.
Maybe my notification was direct, not veiled. And it didn't stop me to produce search enhancement for communication, interlaced with my research time, and I was preparing an answer to the last Bob & David response.

No, if you organize an ex-communication, based on a political position and not intellectual honesty, hide it behind a provocation request that the victim person of irrelevance must apologize for his notification, what can I do? You don't need to find reasons, it's better.

My volunteer positive answer to your invitation is maintained with joy, the post to last Bob&David responses has been under construction and will be posted later when finished if authorized.
I don't want to impose it. If you want to condition my contribution to find a way to close it, it's your choice.

I don' t play in a game of censorship. I want to keep the freedom of my expression.
and all my best for the community if I am sadly ex-communicate.

Kind Regards,

John Robert
Tokenomics Artisan
www.opentokenomics.io ( http://www.opentokenomics.io )

LinkedIn ( https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnfrobert ) | johnf.robert@opentokenomics.io | skype: johnf.robert | +32 (0)496 580 535 | +44(0)7501644724


Simon Grant Sat 9 May 2020 7:30PM

Dear John @Johnny Firmin Robert

To me seems not a good idea to reply to private e-mails on the list. But as you have, may I reply here to what you have said publicly on the list, some of which to me is not acceptable list behaviour. I will explain why I have that view. You are welcome to ask others about their opinion on whether your behaviour is acceptable, and I would be interested in that.

You say "There is nothing directed to Simon", but you have written:

"Some answers to an irrelevant post from Simon."

Here you are calling a post of mine irrelevant. Irrelevant to what, or to whom? I understand that you may see it as irrelevant. I guess it is irrelevant to your purposes. But please don't call my post irrelevant.

"Don't project."

Here you are claiming that I am "projecting", and in the following passage you imply that I have been "rude" and "probably self-satisfied", and that I am not trying to "keep respect".

"The fact that additional explanations are, of course, required does not authorize you to be rude with me and twist what I post to support irrelevant insinuations. You are probably self-satisfied of what you do, but try to keep respect for what you don't know and others do."

You quote me (I repeat here for clarity) and go on to say:

@Johnny Firmin Robert -- I'm curious, where do shifts of paradigm (or even of consciousness) live in your world view? Do you have a clear definition in your own mind of 'the new economy' that you say we need to use as a frame? And do other people agree with you, in your experience? What is your approach to dialogue with people with whom you do not agree? Thanks!

All the assertions under the question format are clearly twisting my posts and insinuating I have no clear idea in my mind! See my precise answer.

I was curious, because I didn't understand how you think of paradigm shifts. You may think that irrelevant, and that is your privilege, but to me it is relevant and I would appreciate not stating your opinion as if it were a fact. I was, just, asking a question. Maybe I can guess an answer: that you do not think that paradigm shifts are relevant, or maybe that they don't fit in with your way of thinking. That would be a fair answer.

I was unclear about what definition you had in your mind about "new economy", and it seemed to me at one point that you were not interested in definitions. To me (and others who have talked about definitions) how anyone defines or conceives of the concept of a "new economy" seems highly relevant. And I am still very curious about how you treat people who disagree with you, because civilized and respectful disagreement is, I believe, of vital importance on a list such as this, and I would like to see it exercised between us all.

My original intention in all of this was to try to build more bridges, and to start to understand you and translate some of your ideas into a form that I and maybe others could understand. It is true that I don't find the length of your posts helpful here, but maybe if someone (probably not me) were to be able to understand what you are trying to say and put it in terms that most of the rest of us can grasp, I would be delighted if something of real value were to be revealed.

There is a principle on many web forums of something like "assume good intent", and I would like to point out that your words appear not to assume good intent on my part. That, to me, is unacceptable. If something strikes you as of bad intent, could you perhaps check with a few other people first before writing it off?

For the rest of the general discussion, I do assume that your intention is good, in your own terms. You appear to have done a lot of deep mathematical thinking about these questions, and you are keen on sharing your discoveries with the rest of us. However, I strongly believe there are better ways of explaining your deep discoveries than by posting these long posts in a language which few people seem to understand. I don't see that as respectful to the whole group here.

I hope that we all will engage in a genuine dialogue. At present, I can't see how your posts contribute to this dialogue. That is just my opinion, and I would be interested in the opinion of others. And I am interested in offering communication help from my end.


Steve Huckle Thu 14 May 2020 7:53AM

You appear to have done a lot of deep mathematical thinking about these questions, and you are keen on sharing your discoveries with the rest of us. However, I strongly believe there are better ways of explaining your deep discoveries

Indeed - in my opinion, the op' should publish in academia and subject their ideas to peer review.


Bob Haugen Tue 5 May 2020 4:15PM

We wrote a short definition of an economy awhile ago. Does this match what y'all have in mind?


Simon Grant Wed 6 May 2020 12:44PM

I like the generality and inclusivity of this, @Bob Haugen My follow-on question would be, shall we distinguish an "economy" from a "society", which could be described in similar terms? I'd be happy if we agreed either way. Either we take them as not usefully distinguishable; or we make some distinction. If we take this second option of seeing the economy as being a subset of society, that would mean we need to say what is excluded from the realm of 'economy' which is still within the realm of 'society'.

Personally I see your definition leaning towards the first option, where we assume there is no really useful and stable line to be drawn between economy and the potentially broader concept of society.


Bob Haugen Wed 6 May 2020 1:01PM

I don't see any clear line between economy and society. But I think it's possible to distinguish activities that are economic from those that might belong to other activities in a society.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy

An economy (from Greek οίκος – "household" and νέμoμαι – "manage") is an area of the productiondistribution and trade, as well as consumption of goods and services by different agents. Understood in its broadest sense, 'The economy is defined as a social domain that emphasize the practices, discourses, and material expressions associated with the production, use, and management of resources'.[1] A given economy is the result of a set of processes that involves its culture, values, education, technological evolution, history, social organization, political structure and legal systems, as well as its geography, natural resource endowment, and ecology, as main factors. These factors give context, content, and set the conditions and parameters in which an economy functions. In other words, the economic domain is a social domain of human practices and transactions. It does not stand alone.

In order to manage the societal household, the agents involved need to coordinate all of the factors mentioned in the first sentence of that paragraph. Such coordination is the area where we have focused.


Simon Grant Wed 6 May 2020 5:15PM

I would agree that we would probably mostly agree on what counted more as an 'economic' activity, and what less. The challenge, as I see it, is that if you don't have a clear line, you end up having to develop an ontology that covers it all. Not only is that a challenge in itself, but the larger the domain is, the more effort it is likely to take to reach (genuine) agreement. Am I correct in the assumption that most traditional economics draws the line of interest along with what can, or can't be bought, sold or exchanged (not necessarily with money)? It seems clear enough that we (as a group here) aren't going to simply accept that.

I still think that going with Wikipedia poses challenges as well. What is a 'resource'? Is love a resource? Parental care? Conversation?

My intention is not to be difficult for the sake of difficulty, or to be negative in any way, but just to 'size up' the challenge involved. If we can decompose the whole into meaningful parts (and worth saying again that this will always lose something vital, so to be done with awareness) then groups of people could focus on the parts.


Bob Haugen Wed 6 May 2020 6:00PM

Am I correct in the assumption that most traditional economics draws the line of interest along with what can, or can't be bought, sold or exchanged (not necessarily with money)? 

We use an ontology that was developed first as an accounting model by Bill McCarthy around 1980 and has developed since into the ISO Accounting and Economic Ontology: https://msu.edu/user/mccarth4/15944-4.doc . It's very minimal but has handled every economic interaction we've thrown at it for more than 20 years.

That assumption leaves out production, as we see constantly in such discussions.

Whatcha gonna eat if all you got is buying and selling and exchanging?

What is a 'resource'? Is love a resource? Parental care? Conversation?

In practice, agents in any kind of economic relationships need to agree on what they consider to be an economic resource. They usually don't have much trouble doing so. I helped organize http://www.fifthseasoncoop.com/ , a multi-stakeholder cooperative composed of farmers, food processors, and institutions like hospitals and schools. All of the multiple stakeholders met in a big room and decided what resources they would deal with and what they would call them and some rough ground rules for what were fair prices for both farmers and institutions. It was surprisingly easy.


DaveDarby Fri 8 May 2020 1:33PM

@Bob Haugen – so I think there are 2 different conversations going on – the ‘why’ and the ‘what’.

1. why are we doing this? - what’s our shared agenda? (the foundational principles) Are we a movement? What are we building an ontology of?

2. what sort of things support that agenda? (the bigger ‘lexicon’ / pattern language / whatever)

I think you’re talking about the what and I’m talking about the why. I don’t think it’s ‘higher’, but we sort of need to nail the why before we can talk about the what.

I’ve focused on non-extraction as the why, but actually, after talking with @Simon Grant this morning, it could just as well be decentralisation, or democracy, or non-enclosure. I guess I just want to be part of something that the corporate sector can’t co-opt, however we describe it. And the corporate sector will try to co-opt anything we come up with, if it’s successful, but they can’t realistically claim to be non-extractive, democratic or decentralised.

I like @Graham's slogan - ‘replicate and federate’. Build non-extractive, democratic, decentralised institutions and federate them together. I’d like to be part of a movement like that.

I’ve heard:

‘we can’t succeed without bringing large corporations on board’

That’s the exact thing that guarantees failure. But we can’t confront them – they’re too strong. We have to build an alternative. But what does ‘alternative’ mean? or ‘new’. We have to be precise about what we all agree on – a starting point.

How about small for-profits for example? Some want to stay small, family, community-oriented businesses, but some don’t, and it’s impossible to know at the beginning. Green and Blacks sold out to Mondelez International. Tesco was a corner shop once. It’s crazy to help nurture businesses like that. Maybe the line is crossed when a business gets external shareholders? I don’t know.

Marx identified the C-M-C vs the M-C-M' economies (don’t have to take a Marxist approach – this was just an analysis).

C-M-C means I produce something useful (commodity), sell it for some exchange medium (usually money, but in future, it could be mutual credit), and use that exchange medium to buy something useful that someone else has produced (commodity). It’s non-extractive, decentralised, and doesn't have a growth imperative.

M-C-M' means I have money, use it to invest in the production of commodities, in order to make money (but the ' on the second M means ‘more’ - so the point is always to make more money – the commodities don’t matter, as long as they deliver more money). It's extractive, centralises wealth and power, and has a growth imperative.

These are 2 completely different ways to view the economy, commodities, the exchange medium – everything. I’m guessing no-one here favours the M-C-M' approach – so let’s say it. It’s just exactly how we say it that’s difficult.

In the 20th century, a centralised approach to replacing the M-C-M' was a fucking disaster, so maybe a decentralised approach would fare better.

So that’s all prior to the main event - the wider ‘lexicon’ - the 'what' - which could get very complex quite quickly. If we don’t break it down so that it’s understandable for a general audience, we could all end up speaking our own private languages that no-one will understand if they don’t have interpreters.

@Johnny Firmin Robert – I don’t get what point you’re making - unless you can bring it down a notch or two.


Lynn Foster Sat 9 May 2020 2:52PM

>I think you’re talking about the what and I’m talking about the why. I don’t think it’s ‘higher’, but we sort of need to nail the why before we can talk about the what.

That is helpful in trying to bring the wide-ranging set of views expressed here into some sort of mental organization. I think the ordering is not so simple though.

The why is not only complex, but culturally and historically dependent, and changing as it goes through different transitional stages in different threads of history and geography. And then there is "theory" vs "ideology". I've seen more than one committed group, that speaks the same carefully crafted anti-capitalist language, break into irreconcilable factions because the theory and agreed language didn't fix the subconscious thought processes we all have from living in capitalism - things like competition and personal power, class/cultural/racial superiority, etc. Really disheartening but incredibly enlightening to watch this sort of thing.

I agree there has to be some piece of why to define and engage in the what together. But I see that happening in fairly small cycles of why and what (or theory and practice, the scientific method, both stages essential). And that tactical alliances are sometimes necessary where there are different but overlapping understandings of why. And the ever-present danger of co-optation, mentioned a lot here. Etc. Complex. Might be useful to understand the scope of who this group is defining the why ontology for, and the what it will be used for, and what stage it is part of.


mike_hales Sat 9 May 2020 3:22PM

Might be useful to understand the scope of who this group is defining the why ontology for, and the what it will be used for . .

Excellent pointer Lynn thanks. There are at least two versions running here in this group:
- Wide populations of ‘consumers’ who might be persuaded to participate in offerings with good ‘new economy’ credentials, if they could recognise the signals.
- dedicated crews of activists, in it for the long haul, who will open up a work programme on something that in a sense is ‘infrastructural’, but needs to evolve and be threaded (as a production network, not as ‘a language’) into many diverse economic fields and practical traditions.

. . and what stage it is part of

Lynn, can you say more about ‘stages’? I accept the principle, but in the present context it would be helpful to have some typology to bounce off. D’you have one that could apply here? It’s a siuation where the community doesn’t have a shared real-world practice, but is a potentially-forming community of thinkers who might develop a real-world practice.

Unless - some folks here feel there is a de facto real-world shared practice, which is something to do with digital tools and platforms. In my view, tools (and languages for that matter) is meta-world. Real world would be . . post-Covid actions, climate-change actions, urban poverty actions, community housing actions. Etcetera. See my drift?

If we’re on a ‘protocols’ kick (polular theme here) what does protocol mean in these kinds of context? Not git, or murmurations or ActivityPub, I think, but something else. SOmething ‘cutlural’ rather than code-oriented? Dunno. Or maybe, something oriented to means of trade and exchange (currencies, credit systems, barter conventions, whatever). Or forms of ownership, stewardship and control (coops, commons, land trusts, mutual societies, etc).


Simon Grant Sun 10 May 2020 12:54PM

That's a good sign -- to me the ease with which people can identify what matters to them in terms of a model (ontology) is a very good indicator of the value of that model (ontology). To me, that's what we're aiming at: an ontological model which (when presented in suitable language to real stakeholders / participants / commoners) is clear enough for people to identify with -- "take on board" perhaps -- as the common ground for whatever the social / economic practices they want to engage in together. And, of course, we are also talking technology here -- when an IT system is firmly grounded in a commonly accepted and meaningful ontology, it is much more likely that the IT system itself will be seen as helpful to commoners (not just to IT folks or accountants!). I guess many of us will be able to think of IT systems that have not been good in this way, and in some way have failed to fit in with the way that the users / participants see their world. So, when reading a little more around this recently, I was heartened to read on Wikipedia that "REA treats the accounting system as a virtual representation of the actual business. In other words, it creates computer objects that directly represent real-world-business objects. In computer science terms, REA is an ontology."

I suspect that agreeing an ontology is all the easier when we are dealing with practices that are more or less socially universal. We're mostly all familiar with buying and selling. Maybe we are not so familiar with commons governance processes, and I can imagine there could be other aspects of the "new economy" also with which we are not so familiar. In these cases, I would expect not only that more work would be needed to establish a really useful common ontology, but also that in some ways, for some people, the process of their getting to agree on and adopt a common ontology would involve some kind of learning process. I do think the more intellectually-biased among us will need to make allowances for this, and in particular to ensure that we are laying out tried, tested and valued learning pathways away from conceptions that resist being integrated, towards whatever ontology can genuinely be agreed by commoners. (I hope I make some sense here -- if not I would be delighted to have more conversation, perhaps in another context.)


DaveDarby Sun 10 May 2020 10:06PM

Thanks Lynne, Mike, Simon. Looking forward to the conversation on Tuesday. ‘And the ever-present danger of co-optation’ - yes, that has been mentioned a lot – mainly by me. I’ll have one last go, with a real-world example: the ‘Circular Economy’.

Imagine an ordinary person in the street. They see something about the Circular Economy on social media. They read the article and they like it. It makes sense, after all - using the waste from one industrial process to feed another, and so on. They search online for Circular Economy. They find the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy – PACE - https://pacecircular.org/. They see ‘community’ in the menu. They click to see who’s in the PACE community – and find Shell, Unilever, Rio Tinto, Coca-Cola and so on. They’re persuaded that they can buy from the corporate sector with a clear conscience. They decide to get an electric car, charged by Shell, go on eco holidays with a ‘sustainable airline’, offset their carbon emissions, recycle all their waste, get their food, clothes, electrical goods and everything else they can from the Circular Economy, and celebrate with a Coke, who are definitely in the circular economy because they recycle their plastic bottles now. Job done – world saved.

This is a real-world example of how a co-opted phrase can increase the market share of the corporate sector - not in theory, but in practice. I’m pretty sure there’s nobody in this group, or attending open 2020, who would be happy with that. In which case it’s just logic. The phrase ‘Circular Economy’ helps the corporate sector. And all its perceived environmental benefits are wiped out by economic growth (pushed by the corporate sector) anyway. That’s just the Jevons Paradox – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jevons_paradox. I don’t know if it’s happened to the Doughnut Economy yet – if it hasn’t, I guess it won’t be long.

During a conversation with Mike recently, he casually used the world mutualism to describe this new economy – and I guess that’s what it is, isn’t it? A system that’s non-extractive, decentralising and democratic is actually a mutualist system, which includes commoning, co-ops, FOSS, community energy, having an allotment, etc.

So, the ‘asset lock’ descriptions of a mutualist system are decentralisation, democracy and non-extraction. If the corporate sector want to support / try to co-opt mutualism, they’ll be helping to destroy their business model. I’m not suggesting we use the word mutualism (although I like it) – just that we have a description of our movement that can’t be co-opted by the corporate sector unless they want to reduce their market share, which is fine by me.


mike_hales Sun 10 May 2020 7:51PM

For discussion, here is a brief sketch of a dual approach to the issues of this thread, through

  • Keywords (keywording) and through

  • Pattern language(ing)

The two appraches are shown in this schema


Bob Haugen Sun 10 May 2020 11:10PM

You can't avoid being co-opted in a capitalist economy. Capitalist entrepreneurs (and also large corporations) are searching for every possible opportunity to make a profit. If whatever you are doing can be warped into a profit-making opportunity, it will be.

But capital has a particular form of motion, as several people have posted here, M-C-M'.

If we can create what @mike_hales calls a Living Economy that uses a commonist-mutualist form of motion and that can defend itself from encroachment, we might be able to do something.

That is not as impossible as it seems. Open-source software, especially the copy-left variety, has been able to defend itself from some kinds of encroachment. Yes big and medium-sized corps make money off it, and the workers really do need to unite, and it's very imperfect in many dimensions, but commons-oriented software runs the Internet, and Microsoft, the arch-enemy of open source for several decades, has been forced to retreat.

Next, what? Food? Energy? Community economic systems?


DaveDarby Mon 11 May 2020 5:03PM

Simon: ‘how anyone defines or conceives of the concept of a "new economy" seems highly relevant.’

Absolutely. The definition is the essential precursor to a wider ontology.

Bob: ‘You can't avoid being co-opted in a capitalist economy.’

I think we could have a really good try. In fact you also say, ‘Open-source software, especially the copy-left variety, has been able to defend itself from some kinds of encroachment.’

After deregulation in the 80s, most building societies in the UK (and I believe savings & loans institutions in the US) were sold off to corporate financial institutions. But not all of them – the 49 of them with asset locks are still mutually-owned, full-reserve building societies. I guess I’m canvassing for a linguistic ‘asset lock’, and I think it’s possible.

‘Circular Economy’ was a gift to them, and others, like ‘Living Economy’ may also be; but ‘mutualist’ (not campaigning for this – just a suggestion), with a strapline / elevator pitch emphasising its intrinsically decentralised, democratic, non-extractive nature, seems like something they can’t co-opt. All they could do is try to slander it in their press (which might be the litmus test as to whether we’re being successful).


DaveDarby Tue 12 May 2020 12:56PM

It occurs to me that a 12noon (UK) zoom may have been a bit too early for our American comrades!


John Waters Tue 12 May 2020 3:28PM

I found the Zoom meeting earlier today very useful, but it also highlighted (for me) the difficulty of drilling down to detail when working in groups of more than five (six at a stretch) people. However, I don't think we were there to attempt more than (the start of) a framing exercise.

I don't believe we actually need to do much to achieve what (from my perspective) we appear to be aiming for. It is (I repeat) largely about managing variety (in Ashby's sense) ... i.e. keeping the level of complexity (yet another term the meaning of which mutates between domains (as does "domains" (etc. ...))).

What I took away at the end was a clear (to me) sense that we'll converge upon acceptable points of agreement , each within its own context, and that context in term dependent upon those involved in that particular "slice" of the expandingly intractable global conversation, negotiating shared language as and when necessary.

Although the shared understanding of any vocabulary will differ to varying extent between domains, that's not a problem. We can have as many entry points as we like, each acting as a "variety attenuator" (* "variety" meaning, here, a rather fuzzy measure of whatever we need to cope with), emphasizing a set of pointers or links to definitions (or, more realistically) sets of definitions, with disambiguation where necessary, and appropriate commentary to make as clear as possible why there particular terms matter within a particular domain.

This echoes conversations we've been having within TSI (albeit within more specific domains), and shortly after our meeting this morning I contacted one of my TSI colleagues to summarize what I took away (enthusiastically) from this morning's meeting. It's clear that there's a lot of potential synergy even in that one connection, and I can imagine an almost explosive convergence on agreement (where achieveable at all) and "amiable clarification" where not. Therefore I would like to take up a position in the conjunction between the group taking this forward and the group(s) within TSI (and perhaps others such as Metaphorum).

[* @Oli SB You asked me to define a few of the cybernetic terms I tend to use, but that's not easy because the definitions are rarely simple and some really require a book (or even several). However, terse definitions of many can be found in Wikipedia, and most probably range in quality from acceptable to very good. I haven't checked them all, and to do so would (as with most things) be relevant only in the here and now. However, a few terms I find particularly useful in simplifying conversation with people who use them too include: "variety", "requisite variety" (not the same thing), "metasystem", "eudemony", "algedonics", "entelechy", "recursion", "system in focus", "information" (in Shannon's sense - c.f. "variety"), "operational environment", "transducer"|"transduction", "homeostasis", "emergence", "autopoiesis", "signal", "noise", "channel" and "entropy". There are many, many more, of course, and even with the domain of cybernetics (itself a problematic term given that some influential writers conflate the term with something more like robotics or control theory, in both cases much ground being shared) there are domains, and domains within domains, ... That's why, on the rare occasions that I actually write something, I tend to add a terse definition to anchor it in context - and that's not practicable in most conversations, and become increasing challenging as the number of participants increases.

Therefore I'd be very happy to to have a one-to-one conversation anyone on these matters, but tend to collapse into resigned futility in large groups. (; ]


Steve Huckle Wed 13 May 2020 10:34AM

Just to say that I'm really enjoying the conversation! Here's a real-life example of why it's important.

I've been doing some open-source tech' work for a great project. During one or two conversations there, I've been called a 'volunteer'. Even though the intentions were positive and lovely, the term rankled me. To me, 'volunteer' implies some form of hierarchy, and I'm working on that project precisely for the reason that I think it has the potential to overcome hierarchy!

'Contributor'? Hmmmm.

Or maybe I should just get over myself :)


DaveDarby Sun 24 May 2020 1:31PM

Hmmm. Dunno. Volunteer says to me that it's being done because someone actively wants to be doing it - without pay. I've been a volunteer on mutual credit for the last 2 years, anyone else who joins us is also a volunteer (until and unless we generate any money to pay ourselves). So there's no hierarchy implied if we're all volunteers. Slaves were 'contributors' to the output of slave plantations, but they certainly weren't volunteers. Contributor could also be paid or unpaid - it doesn't make it clear, whereas volunteer does.


Bob Haugen Wed 13 May 2020 12:46PM

Is that "volunteer" compared to the people who get paid? And do the people who get paid consider themselves to be the "important" people? Or do they honor and esteem the people who work without pay?

I don't know if a different word would help the attitudes. But Sensorica calls everybody an "affiliate" and I've seen "contributor" in other situations, applied to everybody.


mike_hales Wed 13 May 2020 1:01PM

Contribution is an important nexus for thought and language, I think. There’s an important ‘multistakeholder’ quality to the exploring and naming that can be done around that term.

For example, an important part of DisCO, as a pattern of coop organising, is the active interworking and valuing that it undertakes, of various kinds of contribution: livelihood/fee-earning work, administrative and organisational work, personal care and cultivation of relationships, the ‘love work’ of contribution in an external commons.

As always the verb form - contributing - rather than the reifyng noun (contributor) is always more helpful, in revealing dynamics, active making and multiplicity.


Steve Huckle Thu 14 May 2020 8:10AM

Contribution is an important nexus 

There's the crux of it. The ontology of the new economy must radiate from there.

I don't know if a different word would help attitudes.

A quick scan of Wikipedia tells me there is a long history of thinking there. But the experience of mine that I describe above tells me that language is crucial, so teams working on building the new economy must use carefully thought out terms.


Ollie Bream McIntosh Fri 15 May 2020 12:49PM

Hi all,

Following an initial Zoom meeting earlier this week, @Simon Grant and I have created a spreadsheet to begin pooling ideas for the possible entries into our pattern language / vocabulary.

Reflecting the lack of consensus on the name (or the point of naming) for the 'thing' we are hoping to describe, we have used the term "new economy" only as a placeholder. So fret not ye who prefer other terms and none.

Please check it out and make your "contributions" -- @Steve Huckle ;) -- but please note:

To propose a new entry, just put it into the first column, ideally keeping it alphabetical so we can easily spot duplicates. We have also suggested that each proposal is accompanied with links to any already-existing resources, so we can avoid wheel-reinvention and better understand the value of this working group in relation to similar initiatives. At this stage let's be as inclusive as possible - anything goes as far as proposed entries!

If you have any thoughts on other entries, or would like to qualify your own, create a column with your name to the right of the table, as a few people have done already. Let's try to keep these comments brief, so the sheet isn't overwhelmed with text. These comments will hopefully serve as prompts for subsequent discussions, so they don't need to be exhaustive.

Establishing the web of ‘ramified’ relationships between entries, clustering ideas into 'colleges', parsing them into the nouns and verbs they constitute, or indeed any other markups we decide on will come later, once we’ve all had a fair crack at suggesting entries, but of course any initial thoughts on these and other elements of style and structure can be added in your column.

Any proposals for changes to the spreadsheet are of course welcome, we just thought it would be good to get the ball rolling, but this is by no means a set-in-stone exercise.

At the end of the group meeting I floated a proposal for a follow-up session for the w/c 25th May, this is a link to a Dudle poll so we can settle on a mutually convenient time and date, please add your name and availability if you would like to take part!

Thanks all :)


Simon Grant Fri 15 May 2020 12:54PM

Many thanks @Ollie Bream McIntosh ! What I would like to stress, if I may, is the balance between expression and readability/overwhelm. If you want to write an essay about any particular entry, why not write it somewhere of your choosing and link to it? Failing that, you can use the Google Sheets facility of creating a "note" (under "insert"), where you comments will be visible to anyone who mouses over that cell, without making the whole table more difficult to read. Many thanks if you can stick to this!


mike_hales Mon 18 May 2020 3:16PM

Listen up folks 🤔 After such a prologed exchange here, and a Zoom meeting, folks need to be getting into the spreadsheet that @Ollie Bream McIntosh created above. Only three contributors to date - but >90 terms in the list.

Ollie, @Simon Grant d'you have proposals for next steps on this vocabulary, when the spreadsheet is populated? Could be good to graph the terms (a network/hierarchy diagram) - anyone have a good tool for this? Diagrams.net will do the job - although its just a drawing tool, not list-driven. If terms are put into a fedwiki as linked pages, Graphviz plugins will draw graphs of the linkages.

I started to look for wiki hosting, assuming a wiki comes next. But not much headway. Requested a (Media)wiki at Miraheze, no response yet. Have had Docuwiki recommended as opposed to Mediawiki - posted a comment/query in the parallel 'tools' thread. Advice and information anyone?


Lynn Foster Mon 18 May 2020 5:20PM

I (briefly) contributed, just didn't create a column, that's 4; perhaps others also? :) Were goals and audience for this effort discussed more at the zoom meeting?


Ollie Bream McIntosh Tue 19 May 2020 10:28AM

Yes indeed @mike_hales graphing sounds like a good next step. Would you be happy to prepare even a mini presentation on the options you've come across in the next meeting?


mike_hales Tue 19 May 2020 1:30PM

I think @Bob Haugen knows more about practicalities of graphing/mapping than I do. Maybe @Lynn Foster also?


RobertD Mon 25 May 2020 5:52PM

I have added wikipedia links for all of the terms I could find and a few thoughts from me on some terms


Simon Grant Mon 25 May 2020 7:24PM

Thank you so much Robert, very helpful!


JDN Mon 18 May 2020 7:13PM

Hi everyone,

I am new here. Just fallen from skies. :) Read through the posts. And yes, extremely refreshing. :)

Though, (take this as a Devils Advocate role) wouldn’t it be prudent to first get to at least “working concept of a definition” of what might “new economy” term mean? Before we jump into ontology? We need to create some "borders"...

(For I have quite some problems with the term “economy” and its derivatives. For me (I think I can prove it) economy(ics) is a game, that has risen to religious proportions - sold over to gullible public as “science”. — > Hey, we even have “Nobel price for economic science”. Not really. Follow the link and scroll all the way down. What does it say?)

@DaveDarby wrote:

Simon: ‘how anyone defines or conceives of the concept of a "new economy" seems highly relevant.’

Absolutely. The definition is the essential precursor to a wider ontology.

Maybe we should attempt to write something, somewhere? It should work in parallel. Don’t you think?

Maybe here?


I have seen in other groups that there is discussion going on whether NextCloud is ok or not. Let’s test it. (it runs on my friend's server)


mike_hales Tue 19 May 2020 10:00AM

I note Luxim/PMIsuite, which looks interesting. A project management tools suite, commercially oriented, hosted in Slovenia. But built on the NextCloud stack (?) and useable in a variety of ways? Not obvious how to get an account here (<Shop> seems not to be configured in English). But the shared document-creation app looks fine - easily as good as Gdocs - and is FOSS? And unsurveilled. Does anyone else have a view on this as a tool? And other ('free beer'?) NextCloud instances. Cross-posting this in the Digital/infrastructure thread


Simon Grant Mon 18 May 2020 8:56PM

Hi Everyone who has contributed to the sheet -- thank you!

Just one or two little things: Please, if you have entered a line, go to the trouble of looking it up in Wikipedia at least and putting in a link if it's there. I've started to fill in but it's a big job. This is really important so we can all easily see what is already recorded. If you know anyone else who has contributed, please encourage them as well.

Second -- please take care when adjusting the formatting. Someone had made all of column B and C blue underlined -- they are columns for links, but should only appear as links if the links are actually there! If there is no link, it should be clear to see that without having to hover over the text.

Third -- please keep all the cells so that long entries are cut -- not wrapped or extending over neighbouring cells. If you want to make a point, please either link to it from your cell, or write a Note. It's of vital importance to me that the whole table stays as easily readable as possible.


Simon Grant Mon 18 May 2020 9:01PM

Another comment, on reading some of the suggested entries.

As I see it, we are building the basis of a collection of terms related to the new economy. Terms like 'accounting' 'cities', 'contribution', 'skill' are indeed pointers to aspects of the new economy that need to be considered when writing articles etc., but they are not clearly terms that have a specific meaning for the new economy. Please leave them out! I will remove them after a while.


Lynn Foster Mon 18 May 2020 9:56PM

>not clearly terms that have a specific meaning for the new economy

@Simon Grant please feel free to take my 3 ValueFlows entries out if you like, as they will work for new or old economy, and were just there to possibly trigger useful discussion. None of the many VF terms are truly exclusive to the new economy, although we have taken pains to not include clearly capitalist terms. And the ontology in its entirety works better for the new (networked, P2P, collaborative, etc.) economy than anything else we've seen. This is why I keep asking about goals, purpose, audience. If we are defining terms so people can use the language consistently, that is a different than an ontology, which in my view includes a cohesive model with relationships between the things represented by the terms. And has purposes beyond speech, including software and software ecosystems.

Some people use the word ontology to mean what I tend to call a taxonomy, usually a set of terms and definitions structured into a hierarchy from general to particular. This is fine, we just have to agree on our definition. Some of the terms in the spreadsheet could be part of a taxonomy. Taxonomies of new economy terms like "cooperative", "local currency", etc. could be classification systems referenced by something like the VF model, they are definitely related, and in specific ways. Although the VF model needs to reference "regular" taxonomy terms too, like various types of resources (kinds of food, clothing, shelter, services, aspects of knowledge, types of work, etc.)

And just a note that no matter what we mean by ontology: I suspect that there is lots of prior art, much of it curated in places like the P2PF, and it might be most useful to research that, once there is some agreement about what we mean by ontology and how this one will be used. (Sorry for missing the meeting (6am), I realize I might be speaking out of turn, and that you all possibly discussed this kind of option when you decided on a spreadsheet.)


Simon Grant Tue 19 May 2020 7:11AM

Hi @Lynn Foster and thank you for your contributions! And I'm sorry I wasn't more specific about what I sense is helpful and unhelpful. My guess is that most of the ValueFlows terms will indeed be most useful. Lynn -- you have done exactly what I find really helpful -- that is, given one or more links to places that define/describe the term in ways that clarify how it links up with other New Economy terms. Those three entries are great -- for some other ones, what I would find helpful would be (a bit like Wikipedia does) to put a marker by the term to indicate the context in which it belongs, if it looks too general by itself to be helpful.


mike_hales Tue 19 May 2020 7:33AM

Perhaps you’re missing the point Simon. There are quite new forms of accounting, quite new considerations of contribution (and contribution accounting), quite new expansions of skill (and forms of labour), quite new constitutive relationships with and within cities and municipalities. All of these have new specific meanings and tendencies, that are in flux, and in tension with the old ones.

I imagine that, as a moderator/editor in the P2PF wiki, you’re aware at least of the major shifts occurring in contribution accounting, both principles and practice.

Rather than being only concerned with ‘new ideas’ and listing new words, it’s the radical shifts in some old words describing basic relationships, which will be markers of whether the new economy really is new at all, or whether it’s just “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss”.

Surely something to handle thro discussion, rather than editorial fiat? The vocabulary that’s needed to do the job, may not have just one kind of word in it. A vocabulary might need to be partitioned, with different kinds of words doing different kinds of work. Language isn’t a simple thing.


Simon Grant Tue 19 May 2020 8:06AM

You have a good point here Mike! I suddenly realised that even in this very small way we are creating a knowledge commons, and like every commons it needs commoner governance, not dictatorship! I was just getting frustrated by the disorder which felt like chaos. I would say we definitely need to address how to manage this spreadsheet in a way that works for most of us most of the time. Free for all doesn't do the trick here -- as in any unregulated commons?


Chris Cook Tue 19 May 2020 8:28AM

Only just had the chance to catch up on this thread after a busy spell wrestling alligators.

Way back in 2003, when in recovery from a complete breakdown in my life (after I blew the whistle on what the investment banks were doing in the oil market and lost everything I had) I came across Robert Pirsig's 'Metaphysics of Quality' (MOQ). This was conceived in his epic "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" and developed further in "Lila" as a better approximation to reality than what he called the Subject/Object Metaphysics, which has been dominant in the West from Aristotle onwards.

The concept that reality is indefinable, or rather is definable only in relative terms rather blew me away and having (then) recently been exposed to what I called an "Open" Corporate entity - the UK Limited Liability Partnership I realised that Value is just a different aspect of reality to Quality and delivered an epic brain-dump "If Not Global Capitalism,then What" at a seminar at Lancaster University which was posted on the Pirsig fan club site and elsewhere.

This was not long after I realised that there is an unstoppable evolution in market paradigm from an intermediated Market 2.0 commodity market paradigm - where market presence is via intermediaries - to a networked 'smart' Market 3.0 where market presence is presence on the network

That, and a great deal of other stuff is preserved on the Open Capital site.

Since then, I have carried out a great deal of R & D into economic history, the legal design of institutions and instruments for a smart market in (resource lite & capital lite) services , and much else, wearing my strategy, resilience and security hat as a Senior Research Fellow at UCL ISRS . Some people collect exotic butterflies: I collect exotic legal forms.

So over the years I have gradually gained knowledge and experience (learning by doing) in Scotland in relation to 'what works', learning along the way that while LLPs are very useful for assigning & allocating value flows, it is also necessary to 'packetise' value flows through the use of promises/credit instruments, to enable value exchange in all its forms, and that company forms are useful asset holding vehicles.

So along the way I occasionally riffed around a Metaphysics of Value, in 2009 on my briefly flowering Nordic Enterprise Trust blog on Towards an Economics of Common Sense and in 2012, after being exposed to Modern Monetary Theory (and realising its incompleteness), at FT Alphaville on Post Modern Fiscal Theory

In a nutshell, in my analysis, the (objective) general acceptability as 'currency' of credits/promises requires them to be based on utility (use value over time/value flow) while the exchange value of packetised/unitised value flows is determined by subjective value judgements based on scarcity, amenity, and other aspects of value, by reference to a conceptual (like a metre for length) standard unit of measure for value aka Unit of Account.

When Fintech emerged (which I had been doing since 1998) in the shape of machine generated Blockchain & Coin protocols completely divorced from reality, I realised that these binary/digital collective machine protocols and token/receipt instruments essentially sit like digital oil on analogue real world water, which took me to Fintech 2.0 in 2016.

And now here we are post-Covid, having gone from a financial "Peak Debt" market crisis in 2008 to an epic and epochal physical "Peak Rent" market crisis. The bad news is it's game over for the current system, and of course that's the good news too.

My Strathclyde University presentation last year Promises, Protocols & Power is pretty much where I've reached and I offer it up as grist to our ontology/taxonomy mill. For my part I'm busy on implementations and my 'NewClear' holy grail of a transaction engine of maybe six lines of code hard wired in mobile devices - the rest being networks, protocols and agreements.

I hope the above semi-autobiographical brain dump adds to the discussion.


Simon Grant Tue 19 May 2020 8:43AM

Fascinating Chris, thank you! It definitely adds to the discussion in my view. And I will try to follow up with the links when I can.


Ollie Bream McIntosh Tue 19 May 2020 10:58AM

Hi @Lynn Foster this is great, thank you. Would be amazing to have you join us next meeting, not least to get some feminine energy in the mix, which we are sorely sorely lacking as it stands. I'm wondering if your observations here could lead us to the idea that what we need is both a set of patterns for the 'new economy' (coop, local currency, etc) and an accompanying model which includes references to VF and resources (clothing, knowledge, etc). All this because yes I think we should be looking at "defining terms so people can use the language consistently, [...with...] purposes beyond speech, including software and software ecosystems".

We just created a telegram group if you use that? Join here at this link :)


Ollie Bream McIntosh Tue 19 May 2020 10:59AM

As in... real alligators?


Chris Cook Tue 19 May 2020 11:02AM

Human, in some cases 🙂


Lynn Foster Tue 19 May 2020 2:35PM

@Simon Grant I appreciate your efforts to bring order from chaos. And even more the way you are moving with the discussion to adjust. This stuff is not easy!

@mike_hales agree with that nuanced view. And also like the idea of some kinds of partitioning as we get things more organized. This stuff is not easy!

Oh, and did I say that this stuff is not easy? 🙂


Lynn Foster Tue 19 May 2020 2:41PM

Thank you for your kind words @Ollie Bream McIntosh . :) I tried to join the telegram group, apparently unsuccessfully, hmmm.


Simon Grant Mon 18 May 2020 9:08PM

I can see this is learning-as-we-go-along! How about this condition: if you add a row, you must either put a link to wikipedia or somewhere else, or say as briefly as possible what you mean. It should be clear to most people that the concept (or particular thing / organisation/ etc) is relevant to the New Economy. If it isn't clear, add a note to the entry in your own column. The more extraneous unnecessary concepts we have in here, the less easy it is to read and the less useful it will be.


mike_hales Tue 19 May 2020 7:41AM

These are good principles Simon, thanks. But as you’re well aware from other comments you’ve posted, there are only so many hours of labour available to ‘perfect’ the listing. 100% self-contained clarity at every point is unlikely to be achievable under real constraints of time. So at this stage, maybe the list should be treated as indicative, for ongoing exploration, rather than authoritative. So much depends on how many people put the time in, and maybe we’re more constrained on that front than we would like to be.


Simon Grant Tue 19 May 2020 8:08AM

Take it as a plea, not an attempt at a rule -- though we can of course agree rules! I will do what I can to fill in the Wikipedia links. I'm just asking that others please try -- to me there is a point of helpful collaboration that is really needed to co-create a valuable resource, even a small one like this.


Bob Haugen Tue 19 May 2020 1:59PM

@Lynn Foster asked me to write this up because I was handwaving an idea off of some of her work.

Bill McCarthy says that the most widely accepted definition of ontology is the one given by Tom Gruber in http://www-ksl.stanford.edu/kst/what-is-an-ontology.html : “an explicit specification of conceptualization.” Gruber refines the term conceptualization as “the objects, concepts, and other entities that are assumed to exist in some area of interest and the relationships that hold among them.”

So an ontology is not the same as a dictionary of terms or a taxonomy. Has to include the relationships among the concepts.

Guido Geerts and McCarthy's REA Ontology is the core of the ISO Accounting and Economic Ontology.

Lynn and others used the REA ontology as the base for ValueFlows as a model and vocabulary for new-economy internetworked software.

So consider using ValueFlows as a core model, and attaching other concepts to that core model where they fit. They should all fit somewhere in the sense that they refer directly or indirectly to something that already exists in the core model, assuming they have something to do with economics. If not, the core model will need be altered or extended itself.

Here's a slide deck showing the core model along with explanations of how the concepts are connected: https://speakerdeck.com/mikorizal/everything-in-valueflows-is-connected

If anybody has any questions about where some concept fits, please ask here.

Or if you got another core model to offer, please do offer. Some kind of core seems to be needed to get things to hang together.


Simon Grant Tue 19 May 2020 2:31PM

Thank you Bob! No doubt in my mind that REA and ValueFlows are useful -- the question to me is how, exactly, to use them in our tasks (as I imagine them) of (a) explaining New Economy concepts to newcomers and (b) enabling clearer and more fruitful communication and conversation between people thinking or working in this field, which I would hope would lead to creative collaborations of many sorts, as well as -- very importantly -- making it easier to find other people who are working on related areas, and who (if they have a cooperative spirit) may want to collaborate and build things (note the plural there!) ultimately of more use to more people.

I'm just refreshing my mind about ValueFlows just now. Very impressive, and very nicely tied in to well-established web technologies (including e.g. OWL) As I write this (reserving the right to change my mind later! 😉 ) I imagine setting these out in some way, along with other related terms that other people see as relevant to the "New Economy", and having space for informed inquiry/enquiry into the extent to which they do, or do not, meet our communication needs. Seems to me that vanilla MediaWiki would do a reasonable job at this, allowing articles along with discussion/talk pages about them, and links. Maybe a semantic wiki would be cleverer, but in principle I don't see why we can't just put the relationships (which as you so rightly point out also have their own pages) alongside the links.

Sure, this is a large project. Can we make useful progress by choosing a clear and not too difficult subset to start with? And, to deconstruct "we", what I personally see working is a number of small groups working in their own areas to which they are most attached, and therefore motivated to work on voluntarily. One of these could indeed be doing exactly what you suggest, starting with ValueFlows and adding different perspectives to have a basic ontology that fits the New Economy as well as the old.

Any resonance; or any better ideas?


mike_hales Tue 19 May 2020 2:44PM

vanilla MediaWiki
It’s been suggested to me that even more vanilla Docuwiki might be a good move. Anybody have experience of both? And know a host for the latter?


Simon Grant Tue 19 May 2020 2:55PM

@mike_hales I've also been thinking about DocuWiki, but just now I can't see whether it includes talk pages like MediaWiki does? Do you, or does anyone, know whether it is standard or addable? Seems to me that it would be highly useful for talking over where we should be going, on each point. Much much better than having one channel to talk through all differences of opinion, or having to set up a new place to talk about any particular page.

(edit) just checked, looks like there is a plugin. Anyone know of any public instances that use it?


Bob Haugen Tue 19 May 2020 3:10PM

@Simon Grant

 the question to me is how, exactly, to use them in our tasks (as I imagine them) of (a) explaining New Economy concepts to newcomers and (b) enabling clearer and more fruitful communication and conversation between people thinking or working in this field, which I would hope would lead to creative collaborations of many sorts, as well as -- very importantly -- making it easier to find other people who are working on related areas, and who (if they have a cooperative spirit) may want to (c) collaborate and build things (note the plural there!) ultimately of more use to more people.

An ontology (as a necessarily complex specification) might get in the way of task (a) which might want something simpler and more story-like.

Might or might not be useful for (b). Might be necessary for (c) (I added the (c) to your last task).


Lynn Foster Tue 19 May 2020 3:21PM

Thanks @Simon Grant and @Bob Haugen - I don't see a way to start a proposal in this thread, but I'd like to suggest we see if we agree on the goals Simon articulated, with Bob's suggestion to divide up the second one. Does that cover what everyone here is interested in doing? Do we want to reformulate them in any way or clarify the wording? Or is there a complete alternative proposal?


Simon Grant Tue 19 May 2020 6:35PM

I agree that we wouldn't want to present an ontology as such to a general audience. I see more that agreeing an ontology (b) between writers of (a) will help not to confuse readers with inconsistencies. Oh, and thanks for the (c)!


John Waters Tue 19 May 2020 4:50PM

Although there are some useful definitions to be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Economy_Coalition#New_Economy_movement there are also some reasons to avoid the term "new economy", e.g.

  • "The New Economy referred to the on-going development evolved from the notions of the classical economy as a result not only from the transition from a manufacturing-based economy to a service-based economy, but also meant the new horizons resulted from the constant emerging of new parameters of new technology and innovations. This popular use of the term started from the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s, where high growth, low inflation and high employment of this period led to overly optimistic predictions and many flawed business plans." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_economy)


Simon Grant Tue 19 May 2020 5:50PM

Sympathies @John Waters . I've been circling round this for months without finding any term that doesn't have problems in one way or another. Back in 2011 some were suggesting moving from "Sharing" to "Solidarity" -- e.g. https://wiki.p2pfoundation.net/Moving_from_a_Sharing_Economy_to_a_Solidarity_Economy

On a rethink just now, I would go for "Commons Economy". Resonance? Drawbacks? Is it too specific?


John Waters Tue 19 May 2020 6:23PM

@Simon Grant I don't think there's a problem in using any word as long as it can be (and is) defined. That's why a wiki is so useful, providing a multi-dimensional network of (co-)footnotes.

When attempting to define a term such new economy, it's fine to use terms such as mutual, non-extractive, decentralizing, democratic, commons, commoning, sharing, solidarity, co-operation, and so on as long as these are defined clearly and precisely for the context.

Any term can be re-defined in another context, and often this amounts to a de facto misappropriation with the intention of obfuscating, obscuring or even discrediting. Often, however, it's simply a consequence of the limited number of existing words and the reluctance of most people to create new ones. Even when a new word is created, it often becomes unusable without clarification. This was the case with meme, for example; once a useful word with a precise meaning, now captured by social media to refer to a particular, restricted class of meme.


JDN Wed 20 May 2020 7:47AM

I agree with all the words mentioned. I think though, that we might be missing a point or two.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” And thinking in “economic” terms is just that.

Words are way more powerful that we are led to believe. Words and concepts create our perception of reality. So if you see “new economy” your brain immediately narrows context of the “available” concepts we have at our disposal thinking about i. It is done subconsciously.

Here is a full quote attributed to Einstein(?) that I have found and helped me a bit some time ago:

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift. We will not solve the problems of the world from the same level of thinking we were at when we created them. More than anything else, this new century demands new thinking: We must change our materially based analyses of the world around us to include broader, more multidimensional perspectives.”

Meme is nice example to show that we are dealing with quite “unpredictable” responses from people. It is funny to realise that final destiny of new words, fashions, fads in human culture is subject to the same laws as evolution. Meme had nice defined meaning just to be later mutilated by the system. In physics such systems are called CAS - Complex adaptive systems. And human culture/civilisation is definitely such a system.

Besides being notoriously complex there is a property of CAS, that complicates things even more. The reaction of CAS to any stimuli depends on history of the system in question. Let me - hopefully - demonstrate what I mean about "history".

In a great “brain dump” @Chris Cook (great stuff btw!) mentioned definition of value by EC Riegel.

EC Riegel defined “Value” as “ the Relativity of Desire”. I disagree quite profoundly. Desire is just one of the “dimensions” in Value. One can’t desire things needed for survival. One needs them.

But I think I can see where this is coming from. It is the “Zeitgeist” way of thinking in the last century. Desire was of course always present. But it was in the last century that it has risen to epic proportions. To overshadow almost anything else. Here is a bit of historical perspective.

In the early 20th century American industrialists found themselves in a strange place and time. They invented some nice things like assembly lines and mass production facilities. They could mass produce and pump out gazillions of products at reasonable costs yet - there was no one out there to buy these products. The products were either too expensive for the lower income classes or people just somehow did not really need them.

To make a short story shorter they have found a “perfect” solution. No one has put solution to a problem so succinctly as Paul Mazur at that time (1927) a banker in Lehman Brothers:

‘We must shift America from a needs, to a desires culture, people must be trained to desire, to want new things even before the old had been entirely consumed. We must shape a new mentality in America. Man’s desires must overshadow his needs.’

And voila “Greatest idea that America has to give to the world was born:

“Consumptionism is the name given to the new doctrine; and it is admitted today to be the greatest idea that America has to give to the world; the idea that workmen and masses be looked upon not simply as workers and producers, but as consumers. . . . Pay them more, sell them more, prosper more is the equation.”

— MRS. CHRISTINE FREDERICK, Selling Mrs. Consumer (1929)

And we are living the consequences of this history.

I think that humans have become such a power in nature that we need to start practicing self control and stop envisioning ourselves as “above” nature. We are part of Nature and we need to take the environment (ecosystems) into consideration. All the time!

In evolutionary biology term fitness describes a representation of reproductive success of individual and hence survivability of its genes over time. It encompasses everything that helps individual to be successful in natural selection.

What would happen with “new economy” if we would define “value” in this way:

“Value” is “something that enhances the fitness of an ecosystem”.

Ecosystem could mean planetary ecosystem all the way down to smallest ecosystem imaginable. Term “ecosystem” would, of course also be applicable to individual, being human or animal, as well as to certain organ or group of organs inside that individual. But as we are thinking in the terms of ecosystem - it will force thinking to broader terms. Not just individual. (Wishful thinking?)

I can easily envision Value Flows to encompass such broader thinking.

Wrong approach?


Bob Haugen Wed 20 May 2020 1:31PM


In evolutionary biology term fitness describes a representation of reproductive success of individual and hence survivability of its genes over time. It encompasses everything that helps individual to be successful in natural selection.

What would happen with “new economy” if we would define “value” in this way:

“Value” is “something that enhances the fitness of an ecosystem”.

Ecosystem could mean planetary ecosystem all the way down to smallest ecosystem imaginable. Term “ecosystem” would, of course also be applicable to individual, being human or animal, as well as to certain organ or group of organs inside that individual. But as we are thinking in the terms of ecosystem - it will force thinking to broader terms. Not just individual. (Wishful thinking?)

I can easily envision Value Flows to encompass such broader thinking.

Us too. The Basis project tracks all inputs back to their ecosystemic sources. Daniel Saros proposes something similar with science councils to set ecosystemic limits on natural resource extraction. James Quilligan has been thinking along the same lines of setting biophysical limits for bioregional economies.

The Basis project is explicitly using Value Flows now. Saros does not do implementations, and Quilligan has not looked at VF, as far as I know. But both of their ideas could be implemented that way.

Somebody (whose info I've lost) once proposed a unit of value very similar to what @JDN proposed. I'll look again for that info and report back here.

[edit] This is not that proposed unit, but it is a survey of biophysical economics proposals:


mike_hales Wed 20 May 2020 1:59PM

This thread continues to be really interesting. And complex. I suggest it’s time to do some forking. Or rather, paralleling some of the implicit strands.

@Bob Haugen @JDN would you consider opening a new thread, for what you seem to be focusing here? Seems (valuably) to be about some mechanics or protocols or tools, as distinct from ontology and terms? Not an easy distinction, I know. But this thread is becoming untrackable, and we risk losing focus, or retrievability (?!) of content?

Likewise @John Waters @Simon Grant the history/inheritance of terms of the form 'the xxx economy' is a distinct direction to take. Important I think, bcos if we were to focus on this emergent/evolviong string of descriptions over the past, I would say 15 years, there might be an 'envelope' that becomes apparent, which perhaps could have a name put on it. Would you consider a parallel thread?

Both of these are distinct from the question of which terms might be in the (shortlist? longlist?) list of keywords, in a vocabulary of making an 'xxx economy'.

I suggest we also now need a method thread, since we now are embarked on some kind of cultural commons project (spreadsheet? wiki?) which needs contributing (and contributions handling and storing in some form of media), reviewing, stewarding.

The question of who we would want to speak to/with, using the vocabulary, also might benefit from a thread? I have a hunch @DaveDarby @Ollie Bream McIntosh @Lynn Foster have been asking versions of this question. Maybe we need to start thinking about partitioning the language - different sets of terms to do different work? @Simon Grant has also commented on these lines, somewhere (!). Do we need a tabloid version? for whom, for what media channels? A committed economy-hacker's version (tools version?)? etc.


Bob Haugen Wed 20 May 2020 2:30PM

@Bob Haugen @JDN would you consider opening a new thread, for what you seem to be focusing here? Seems (valuably) to be about some mechanics or protocols or tools, as distinct from ontology and terms? Not an easy distinction, I know. But this thread is becoming untrackable, and we risk losing focus, or retrievability (?!) of content?

I guess I would participate in a new thread but am not highly motivated to open one. I understand that this thread is untrackable and never had much focus, but I think the ecological aspect is inseparable from the topic of a better economic system, so I'm not personally motivated to separate it out. I'm glad that @JDN brought it in.

I am also more interested in mechanics and protocols and tools than general discussion, but in order to work productively on those, in our experience, we need to be collaborating with some people on the ground who want to do it (I mean, develop a real economy for some network of people and groups.)


Lynn Foster Wed 20 May 2020 2:58PM

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, yes it is unmanageable now; on the other hand, I don't think there is anything near consensus about how it makes sense to split the ontology work or even just the discussion. At least, it's an interesting use case for broad discussion among peers moving towards one or more tracks to do something together. :)

If we do fork: Is there a way to tie the split out topics together under this thread in some way? Sub-group or something? If not, maybe create our own method by starting each new topic name with "Ontology - " or similar?

I'd also be interested in hearing from @Oli SB and anyone else who was part of starting this effort, what they think is the best way to corral this into something that can be moved towards something useful, when it is ready to do so? And what were the original expectations or goals?


Steve Huckle Thu 21 May 2020 9:49AM

Please don't fork.


Ollie Bream McIntosh Thu 21 May 2020 1:02PM

Agree that we should fork, but not into 5...

- mechanics/protocols - fine, a new fork (if someone is up for it) would seem to make sense. I fear it may not be the sort of consensus-oriented, output-producing deliberation that this event space was (to my mind) conceived for, more of a very interesting dialogue, but prone to line-tangling... Could we sum up the purpose of this new potential thread in a sentence or two?

- naming the economics - OK for a new thread, but for clarity, could we scaffold it so that before a certain deadline, everyone makes the case for their preference (solidarity, mutual, etc...) , and then we take a binding vote, provided a certain number of votes are cast and a certain degree of majority is established, with subsequent rounds of the same until we settle it? Otherwise I can see this one too going round in circles indefinitely...

- list of keywords - again, don't know if we need a thread, can we not just collaboratively edit the spreadsheet and schedule periodic calls to iron out unresolved issues? Combined with the subsequent definitions we offer for each keyword, this would seem to represent the bulk of the 'work' involved, so perhaps it's a comms tool we need, not a thread. Telegram? I know there are alternatives, to which I'm all open...

- methods - yes this would seem to warrant a new discussion unto itself, but someone might want to pour through the thread and the minutes from the first meeting to collect and distil previous contributions on this topic, there have been lots...

- output - I think this is sort of intertwined with the methods. But yes, would seem distinct enough to fork.


Ollie Bream McIntosh Thu 21 May 2020 1:16PM

I agree it would be nice to have a sort of collegiate system, where each fork pertains to a single whole. Is this doable? I think @mike_hales would advocate for fedwiki here, but I wonder if there are alternatives?

Also @Lynn Foster, Simon has pointed out that I need to add you first before I can add you to the Telegram group - feel free to send me a message and I can then do so! +44 (0) 7453 203 655 :) - same goes for anyone keen on contributing to organising efforts.


Lynn Foster Thu 21 May 2020 1:32PM

I don't think I can message that, but my telegram name is fosterlynn.


mike_hales Thu 21 May 2020 1:37PM

For me fedwiki is an environment of choice, capable of things other environments are not. But I acknowledge there’s quite a learning curve, and for some, it’s never going to be comfortable to write or read. So traditional wiki is a viable option perhaps? First as a workspace for accumulating outcomes of ‘collegiate’ work in progress? Eventually, for publication?


Simon Grant Thu 21 May 2020 2:14PM

@Lynn Foster I've added you, thanks for spotting that way! so you don't have to do it @Ollie Bream McIntosh


JDN Thu 21 May 2020 4:33PM

There is a forum that can visibly group threads. And have one thing that makes such thread as this one manageable. They call it "Nuggets". If you see in any post "something" worth remembering or useful - you just drag that part to right column. And it is there as part of a summary. And keeps connection with the context, where it was written. Gold mine. Also - you can connect one idea (within a post) to another idea, in another post. In different thread. And more. Have no idea, why it is not used way more. It might be a conspiracy of some kind, as it was developed by French. :)

It explains itself: https://demo.idealoom.org/about_idealoom


Steve Huckle Fri 22 May 2020 8:39AM

...because this has been a wonderfully insightful thread - forking risks throwing away its momentum.


RobertD Mon 25 May 2020 2:04PM

I really like Idealoom. The one thing missing is the ability to search the content. Though this is moderated to some degree by the simplicity of navigating with topics, it still seems that finding content in threads is not that easy. Though if participants do take the time to summarize and pull out the nuggets, then if might not be so much of an issue. It also seems like the platform is based on semantic web constructs including Sparql, which may make it easier to build our vocabulary into a reusable ontology.


JDN Thu 21 May 2020 7:16AM

I do not think it would be wise to fork now. The reason for me to mention this was to broaden perspective on what "new economy" might be. IMHO we need to have in mind planetary homeostatis in order to survive as species. We need to think in terms of broad "bio"- "eco" - "homo" - relationships and networks when describing/defining things in ontology. It is not anymore enough to think solely in "homo-economic" terms.

I used the word "homeonomics" to help me think in terms broader than "economics". I do not think it is appropriate word anymore, though. But it served the purpose down the road.

Thanks for links @Bob Haugen. Need to digest them.


mike_hales Thu 21 May 2020 8:24AM

yep. this is why in the terms spreadsheet I included ‘bioregion’ and a cluster of ‘doughnut’ constructs. Some related to indigeneity and wild commons and waste also. Dave Darby’s ‘non-extractive’ kicks in here as well as in markets and trade. @DaveDarby you must have some environment terms to bring to this? This is one reason why I think in terms of ‘living economy’. For a note on this, see Living economy


DaveDarby Sun 24 May 2020 3:33PM

Super-interesting thread.

Mike – thinking in terms of defining what we’d like to see built (which I was going to call xxxx economy – but now the word economy might be problematic, so maybe just xxxxxx xxxxxx?), from an ecological perspective, apart from non-extractive, democratic etc., maybe it should include ‘stable’ - as in not perpetually growing? But then we get into another minefield, with terms such as ‘degrowth’, ‘post-growth’, ‘steady-state’ vying with each other (which is why I used ‘stable’, which sounds sensible and soothing, but not nature-eating).

I’m more interested in the history / inheritance of terms for the xxxx xxxxx, but share others’ reservations on forking (can someone remind me why we have a Telegram group as well as this group?)

I don’t think it really matters what it’s called (although John Waters showed how ‘new economy’ is already taken), as long as we can explain what it is, in a way that can’t be separated from it or hijacked. But how can we start to include ‘xxxx xxxx’ terms in a spreadsheet before we’ve defined what it means?

So I’m agreeing with:

JDN: “wouldn’t it be prudent to first get to at least “working concept of a definition” of what might “new economy” term mean? Before we jump into ontology? We need to create some "borders"...”

and John Waters: “I don't think there's a problem in using any word as long as it can be (and is) defined.”

For example, if I said that in the ‘xxxx xxxx’ (or whatever) wealth and power is decentralised rather than concentrated, would anybody disagree with that? Could that be a starting point for a discussion?

If so, ‘Distributism’ and ‘Mutualism’ are interesting terms. Both are anti-corporate and non-extractive, but mutualism takes non-extraction a step further.

Distributists want to prevent extraction from communities, and so support small businesses over corporates. They want to distribute wealth and power thinly throughout society. (Capitalism is the opposite of distributism – it concentrates wealth and power; and socialism is re-distributism not distributism - the state takes the concentrated wealth and power and redistributes it to communities. But in distributism, the wealth is never extracted from communities in the first place (although ironically, quite a strong state is required, as the idea is that businesses are prevented from becoming too big via taxation).

Mutualism is also against extraction from communities, but also against extraction from workers in small businesses by their owners. Mutualist businesses are co-ops, partnerships and sole traders only. Both distributists and mutualists support commoning, and both support a (truly) free market.

Some parts of the new economy will be inevitably distributist, rather than mutualist (CSA, local veg box schemes, farmers’ markets etc.). But I think most of it will be mutualist (community energy, credit unions, mutual credit, all kinds of co-ops, sole traders).

Given (although it might not be a given) that none of us are state socialists or capitalists, I think what we’re building is roughly 80:20 mutualism:distributism, although most small farms involved in CSA schemes have no desire to become giant corporations I don’t think, and so won’t require tax disincentives not to do so. However, this still falls within a remit of decentralisation of wealth and power.

I’m thinking that ‘mutualism’ (but with some grey areas involving aspiring mutualist entitites) nails it better than anything else.

This covers both ecological and democratic aspects, because it doesn’t have the growth imperative inherent in capitalism (interest on loans of previously non-existent money, and maximising returns to shareholders); plus it doesn’t concentrate wealth (which overflows into the political system).

It’s a question of property in the end. There are three distinct (serious) theories of property:

1. Locke’s (forms the basis of property law in capitalist / liberal democracies) allows extraction and so ends up concentrating wealth and power.

2. Bakunin’s (decentralised, non-state communist) is too unrealistic imho – utopian views on what people want or will put up with

3. Proudhon (mutualist) – people own their own ‘stuff’, including their house and their job – but not the means of production – i.e. other people’s houses and jobs. You don’t own the means of production, you use it, you borrow it from perpetuity. And you don’t pass it on to kids who don’t use it, but just collect rent on it.

PS when’s the next zoom? has to be late-ish afternoon, so we don’t drag the americans out of bed at an unearthly hour.


mike_hales Sun 24 May 2020 4:14PM

if I said that in the ‘xxxx xxxx’ (or whatever) wealth and power is decentralised rather than concentrated

The slippery slope to beware of then, I think, is that folks are likely to say “Oh, it’s a matter of ‘values’. Yes let’s sign up for those ‘shared values’.” Nope it’s not a matter of values, it’s a matter of organising actual practices at scale, so that as a matter of fact, wealth is distributed (in the network sense) and power(s, plural) are in fact distributed. Producing actual altered social relations of actual practice-in-the-flesh is the trick - not ‘values’?

Introducing distributivism, mutualism and versions of property is nice Dave, I think. Pivotal, even if they seem abstract - and involve ‘old’ rather than ‘new’ words. After all, this question of ‘new economy’ has been on the table now for more than 200 years?


Bob Haugen Sun 24 May 2020 5:08PM

Yes to organizing actual practices at scale.


RobertD Mon 25 May 2020 1:23PM

@Bob Haugen @mike_hales @DaveDarby @JDN I’m sorry to have been absent for a few weeks - have been pretty much heads-down on projects for my day job. But I was very excited to read through the threads that have occurred since I last participated and to see the group’s progress towards coalescing to what I believe is an extremely useful goal of sharing practices found to work based on shared values. It seems to me that this is an eminently achievable goal and could be done leveraging a wiki. The vocabulary being co-developed could readily be hosted and extended in the wiki, and if a full ontology begins to emerge (with relationships and inheritance constructs), then it could be placed within a suitable platform for visualization and navigation, linked into the wiki, and put into use to help further the practice sharing, perhaps via integration into software.

I also believe that the conversation as it is emerging is coalescing into a very useful discussion that benefits greatly by the diversity of minds, hearts and experience, and shouldn’t be forked if at all possible. As suggested by @JDN, if there is a way that makes it easier to continue to manage it more holistically, such as via idealoom, that would be great. For now, I’ll look at and contribute to the evolving spreadsheet.

In terms of tools for sharing practices, I’ve used media wiki in various forms over the years for clients, including its semantic elements and know it can be used for coalescing and documenting practices. I also know it’s very widely used and extended as FOSS, though there are also commercial versions. Hosting it seems like the core issue. DocuWiki seems similar in terms of functionality, usage and open nature, so it’s likely to work well. I looked a bit a FedWiki and like a number of its constructs and focus on building the commons. It does seem to be a little harder to use, but since I haven’t used it In practice, would reserve judgement.

What I am really excited about is the interest that seems to be building for extending the shared practices of a non-extractive economy with a grounding in similar principles and ways of thinking applied to ecosystems. I’m part of an emerging effort for cooperative knowledge sharing and we’re starting to express our thoughts on this by coalescing on a common statement of the world we want to live in. This builds upon the concepts of Holistic Management originally established for use in regenerative agriculture by Allan Savory and the Savory Institute. Here’s an example of a simple, generic statement that Savory uses, and we hope to have our site up shortly discussing our initiative and containing our own emerging statement that embraces how we holistically care for the world ecosystem.

“We want stable families living peaceful lives in prosperity and physical security, while free to pursue our own spiritual or religious beliefs. Adequate nutritious food and clean water. Enjoying good education and health in balanced lives with time for family, friends and community and leisure for cultural and other pursuits. All to be ensured, for many years to come, on a foundation of regenerating soils and biologically diverse communities on Earth’s land, and in her rivers, lakes and oceans.”


DaveDarby Tue 26 May 2020 7:39AM

Mike - ‘so that as a matter of fact, wealth is distributed (in the network sense) and power(s, plural) are in fact distributed’

Great – but wouldn’t that mean that distributing wealth and power are shared values? If so, I’m with you!

Mike, Bob – which practices? Violence? Corporate social responsibility? Canvassing for the LibDems? How do we decide? What do we believe in? It’s a ‘cart before the horse’ thing.

RobertD – that Savory quote takes us right back to the beginning of this discussion. I think that exact statement was used before. The problem is that if you read it carefully, it could be used by the Republicans, the Conservatives, Unilever, Nestle – anybody – because it’s so vague and generic.

But you also said: ‘extending the shared practices of a non-extractive economy’ - which I think is brilliant, and something they certainly couldn’t use. I’d vote for that as a strapline.


DaveDarby Tue 26 May 2020 8:13AM

On this thread, ‘non-extraction’ and ‘decentralisaton / distributing wealth and power’ have been used regularly, by several people, in a way that assumes everyone here is on board with those principles. And I think that’s probably true. But it’s not universally true amongst people who are not happy with this system.

I was at a ‘Breaking the Frame’ event – several people I met there were hard-line communists – centralisers.

And at ‘CtrlShift’ I met several ‘corporate social responsibility’ types – also centralisers.

They were all really nice folks actually, but I’m a decentraliser, so it’s not so much that I don’t want to be on the same team as centralisers – I can’t be on the same team, because we’d be pulling in opposite directions.

Both those groups might have supported things like co-ops, commoning, CLTs, CSAs, community energy, mutual credit, FOSS etc. - but they wouldn’t have been enthusiastic – the CSR people because they think the corporate sector is where the action really is, and so we should focus our efforts on reforming that.

And the commies because it’s a bit of a middle-class distraction, when we should be focusing on seizing state power.

But I’m pretty sure that this group already does have shared values / shared purpose. I could be wrong, but I’m guessing no-one here is into overthrowing capitalism or reforming corporations.

Dil Green wrote a piece called the ‘Transcender Manifesto’ - not about reforming or overthrowing capitalism, but transcending it. I think it’s beautiful.


Simon Grant Tue 26 May 2020 8:28AM

I think it's worth considering the position of Michel Bauwens and others - he considers all three, state, market, commons, as having their role to play


Lynn Foster Tue 26 May 2020 11:33AM

I don't know that I would formulate it exactly like Michel, but I very much agree that it isn't as simple as decentralizer vs centralizer. For one thing, I think that centralization (or global agreement, or agreement to let scientists decide from a global perspective, or whatever) is necessary in some realms, the climate crisis being the most obvious. Food on the other hand, I think should be decided and coordinated locally and regionally, with a few exceptions, and within constraints of the ecosystem. I suspect there is a different sweet spot for the most fair and most useful and most sustainable coordination of different economic domains and sub-domains. And I don't much believe that individualism in general has advanced our society, I want to be part of communities. So I don't call myself an anarchist, and often disagree with people who call themselves anarchists, but also I often notice that their words and the way they behave don't match, and that they haven't deeply thought about that. Another example, there was this guy in FairCoop who called himself an activist and a decentralist, and he was both of those; but he railed against socialism. His thing was selling FairCoin to Silicon Valley investors, in the name of activist decentralization. A number of people left FairCoop over him being welcomed into the FairCoop ecosystem. There are of course books worth of discussion in these areas, but these are just examples to say that first of all, I don't think that everyone here agrees, except on some very broad concepts.

And more importantly, I don't think that to create an ontology, everyone has to agree. And in general, I think this is a period of experimentation, and that people need to try different things in the current context, to test out the centuries of theory that we have available to us. Of course, people will need more unity to work with each other closely on specific projects, or at least tactical areas of overlap. But we don't need very much agreement on if we want socialism vs communism vs anarchism vs centralization vs decentralization to talk to each other with clarity of meaning. Think 99%.


RobertD Tue 26 May 2020 11:53AM

Dave, I really should have explicitly stated that I didn’t intend we adopt Savory’s generic holistic context as our own, which he wrote for a general audience. Rather we can adapt some of the ecological concepts and frame them with inside a non-extractive world that works for all.

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Gary Alexander Wed 27 May 2020 10:00AM

I think that the centralised versus decentralised distinction is actually somewhat misleading. The real issues are control, information flow and matching the diversity of needs at local levels. For some issues, like the climate crisis or handling the COVID epidemic, large scale coordination is necessary, and for most, like sharing best practice in all fields, is hugely desirable. But while there is no bottom-up, coops of coops of coops, viable system style multi-level coordination available, then a command economy might seem a good alternative in an emergency. I think we are groping towards that bottom-up, large scale coordination but with local autonomy at all levels type of organisation, and that it will emerge more clearly over the next few years.


mike_hales Wed 27 May 2020 9:10PM

I agree with @Simon Grant above and Michel Bauwens - state, market and commons are all in the frame. In some form (but not as we know 'em, Jim). Here's a bit of work in progress - some system description in pictorial-schematic form, that's evolved from a very relevant, powerful piece of radical-economy analysis, ten years old - which has all of the following playing a part in it . . state (or its replacement, maybe bioregion, or city or both), market (but not Unilever's), household (though not the AirBnB rentier version or the Walmart consumerist version), mutual sector (though not the world of charitable foundations and mega NGOs?), 'new economy' (as it was understood 10 years back, when the term became current) and commoning ('new commons', in every field).

Don't see this as a bid to corral all the core terms! Or to replace words with pictures. But I am wanting to suggest that what's at the core is practical relationships between systemic constellations of practices, as distinct from discrete nameable entities. So glossary has limitations? All the terms in the previous paragraph crop up in the system map, because those systems of practice are part of the ongoing weave - in radically transformed historical versions.

@DaveDarby this is not the concrete description that you would like - sorry, a lot of big-frame thinking to be done too. But the response to your (proper) insistence that 'the man from Unilever' can't take over any oppositional framing, lies in actual Altered relations of production (NOT-enclosure and NOT-extractive, etc etc etc - lots of 'not') guaranteeing a Really new economy; and in the 'dance' or struggle of Dual Power, without which the economy (and our grandchildren's hope) is on the way to hell in a handcart? In both aspects, commoning is pivotal? Commoning is not-capital, not-State, not-consumerist household. And of course, the concept automatically engages the atmosphere, oceans and fossil fuels too: the 'green' stuff. All in the one semantic wrapper - I don't think there is a stronger core commitment than commoning in every sphere. This is why it's in the blob in the middle of the schema, as the core that might make 'new economy' really new.


Bob Haugen Tue 26 May 2020 11:33AM


Mike, Bob – which practices? Violence? Corporate social responsibility? Canvassing for the LibDems? How do we decide? What do we believe in? It’s a ‘cart before the horse’ thing.

I'm helping people who experiment with mostly local or at most regional transformative economic systems of one scope or another. Sometimes cooperatives, but prefer networks of co-ops rather than single co-ops, or other experiments like Sensorica's very-partial contribution economy. Or the mutual aid networks that use mutual credit and work on other forms of local economic coordination. Figuring out what works and what doesn't. For example, I don't think relying on crypto-currencies whose value is set by speculators works, which I think FairCoop has learned by now...

But I don't "believe" in much of anything yet, except some general principles:

  • the economy must fulfill both human and ecological needs (in other words, to-each-according-to-need, as much as possible, cross-species, including soil microbiota);

  • it will need to be networked (can't be one monolithic center, but also won't work as uncoordinated individual efforts);

  • it will need to be bootstrapped: that is, start from fairly small efforts without taking over governmental power (at first): in political strategy terms, dual-power;

  • another angle on bootstrapping: it will evolve from correcting its own mistakes, which it will make, and if it doesn't self-criticize and self-correct, it will go wrong.

I surveyed a bunch of proposals for better economic systems in this essay that I have shared with a very few people: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1NwEcKf-AlD3WlvHFNCmGmDKp9NerPeAaHeTHTrdF628/edit?usp=sharing

I don't "believe" in any of those, either, but I think it's worth looking at a few.


DaveDarby Tue 26 May 2020 9:40PM

Bob, Lynn (Hi Lynn) – I agree with this completely: “it will need to be networked (can't be one monolithic center, but also won't work as uncoordinated individual efforts)” (plus the dual-power approach).

But I think we’ll be missing a big opportunity if we don’t say what ‘it’ is.

Had a conversation with a couple a few nights ago, and it’s a very, very familiar conversation.

Friends: We’re going to shit. It’s getting worse. Voting won’t change it because power is economic not political. Violent revolution won’t change it because we’d end up with an even worse system, and it’s not going to happen anyway. etc. etc.

So there’s no way to change things.

Me: Yes there is.

Friends: How?

Me: Well, there are great people out there building a new economy.

Friends: What’s it called / who are they?

Me: It hasn’t got a name.

Friends: How can we find it then?

Me: It’s difficult. I can give you some ideas – like co-ops, mutual credit, community land trusts, community energy, free software, community-supported agriculture etc. etc. Let me give you a few websites….

Friends then get bored and change the subject.

Even if they gave it a go, they’d end up down a corporate dead-end, because of co-option.

They’d like to be part of something, with lots of other people, not alone, doing research, getting confused.

Lynn – I agree that we don’t have to agree on everything, but some key things, surely, that can’t be co-opted?

Plus - I’m only talking about economic centralisation, not the scientific community. But even then, it’s more of a federated thing – there’s no global science HQ, like there’s an Amazon HQ or a Wall St.

Plus – anarchism (in my analysis) isn’t so much about individualism – quite the opposite. It’s about organising at the community level; but it is about protecting individuals from the centralised state.

(but I’m not suggesting we get behind anarchism – way too far from the overton window!)

A ‘movement’? I think some people are distinctly unthrilled by that term, so I don’t know what to call it, but without naming, defining and getting behind ‘it’, Amazon will continue its march to world domination, along with its (rentier? capitalist? corporate? words are so slippery) friends.

Amazon have employed 200k+ people since the lockdown started. Wal-mart is booming. It’s a power grab / market-share grab, which is the same thing.

If there’s no appetite for it, I’ll let it drop, but the lockdown means that there’s going to be very little money around, very soon, and so it’s an incredible opportunity to build a non-extractive economy around a mutual credit exchange system (that doesn’t require money). It’s once-in-a-century-or-two opportunity, but if we don’t name and define it, it will definitely be co-opted, diluted and neutered.

I’m not banging the drum for any particular idea (and it could encompass a range of ideas) – just a movement (or an alliance, federation, whatever) to build the alternative to what we’ve got now, and to bring the public into it. Something we can point to and say ‘that’.

Bob – I’ll read your essay. (it’s long though! I’ve read Parecon – it’s bloody complicated, with too many meetings. And it’s been a while now, with no traction).

RobertD – OK, thanks. Loving the ‘non-extractive’.


Bob Haugen Tue 26 May 2020 11:11PM

Bob – I’ll read your essay. (it’s long though! I’ve read Parecon – it’s bloody complicated, with too many meetings. And it’s been a while now, with no traction).

Parecon is not the point of the essay. I just surveyed several fairly concrete proposals for a better economic system. So you could pick one of those, or combine a few of them, or invent something new, and it could be something you could point your friends to.

But I won't believe it until it is live, in practice, and I can see a little about how it works.

Usually, if somebody has a concrete good idea in the direction of a better economy and they are organizing to try it out, I would help, if I could.

In terms of your list

co-ops, mutual credit, community land trusts, community energy, free software, community-supported agriculture 

...maybe let's encourage them to interconnect into some larger networks? Many of them won't - not their mission - but the first network like that would be an attractor (I think).


DaveDarby Wed 27 May 2020 8:21AM


"Parecon is not the point of the essay...... "

Sure - just spotted Parecon in there (no market, either).

"...maybe let's encourage them to interconnect into some larger networks? Many of them won't - not their mission - but the first network like that would be an attractor (I think)."

That sort of thing, yes, rather than something someone invents, like Parecon. Just wanted to take advantage of this group to name and define the larger network(s).


Gary Alexander Wed 27 May 2020 9:50AM

Excellent short comment Bob! I've also skimmed your long article linked above, which looks like a great start to a comprehensive look at the new economy. Very much what this discussion is about! My own take (which I think is totally in line with yours) is that humanity is in an early explorative stage of learning how to do "the new economy". There are many people who are coming to a common rough sense of what that means, which will be refined by experience, as you say above. I think the Madison Mutual Aid people have a great approach, and I was very pleased when I learned a few months ago that you and Lynn were involved with them.

Core ideas for me are that we are coming to the end of what Charles Eisenstein calls the 'story of separation', and are working out diverse ways to work together harmoniously. I especially like viable systems approaches to multi-level, bottom up collaboration. Spreading good practical communication skills and effective means of handling conflict are at least as important as working out the details of mutual credit and its software support.


Chris Cook Wed 27 May 2020 11:49AM

Simple, Gary. We must transcend the incorporation of individuals into fictional collective legal persons (public, private or 3rd sector) , and return "Company" (common enterprise), "Society" (common interest), College (common knowledge/wisdom) to their original form as agreements between real persons to a common purpose.

Collectives suffer from the tyranny of the majority, loss of identity causing alienation and management capture via the principal/agent problem.

We may then overlay risk sharing (mutual assurance via guarantee society/protection & indemnity clubs); surplus sharing (capital partnership) and cost sharing (eg machinery rings) 'smart contract' consensual/mutual agreements between people.

NB For geeks, there is no such thing as a 'smart contract' between machines: smart instruments (eg settlement bots seeking out chain settlements) , maybe.


Gary Alexander Fri 29 May 2020 3:53PM

Very important comments. Thanks, Chris Cook. We need a new sense of collective caring for each other and the environment, which is on a personal basis, building on trust and a relationship of mutual support. In this discussion we are teasing out some of the social constructs needed for that, and in other threads, we are looking at the tools that will provide support for them.


Ollie Bream McIntosh Tue 26 May 2020 12:49PM

A similar effort to map the vocabulary of a related field, scroll down to find their list of entries, definitely some we could borrow! https://degrowth.org/2018/04/14/new-book-pluriverse-a-post-development-dictionary/


Simon Grant Fri 27 Nov 2020 7:04PM

Hello! 6 months later -- would anyone like to revisit this?


mike_hales Fri 27 Nov 2020 9:38PM

Good prompt Simon. I’m head down in stuff but FWIW here’s a recent draft contribution on ‘new economy’ that has a whole bunch of ontologising in it.

It’s a long piece (my authorship) and is primarily about a pattern language of organising rather than about ideas and definitions of ‘economy’. But that’s my perspective I think - that appropriate organisation and community-of-practice comes before appropriate language can be produced. And maybe, that organising doesn’t start with manifestos and sales pitches to ‘the public’ but with invitations to known people, thro networks, to join well designed (but fluid, evolving) strategically located projects, in quite small collaborations? But federated, from the outset: a commons of commons. Scope coming before scale? Scale coming from participation in federating projects, rather than from the broadcasting of documents or glossaries? Of course, one project might be a glossary/ontology project, for the federation!

The piece isn’t meant to be an everyday-language pitch to ‘the public’or the person-in-the-pub. It’s an attempt at a systemic starting design for a long-term, bootstrapping collaboration - ‘an invisible college’ - and necessarily a bit hard on the brain.

Sorry the piece is long but there’s an idea here (no, actually, a valued principle of activist practice) in a community I work in, that I needed to chase until I caught up with it. The piece is, in a way, a review or reworking of 50 years ‘new economy’ activism, of a particular kind, going back beyond the Greater London Council in the 80s, to ‘labour process’ radical economics in the 70s. It’s first draft, so not finely honed. Comments welcome from all in this thread - possibly as Loomio DMs rather than in the thread, so as not to clog Loomio too much? We know how tangled it can get!


Lynn Foster Fri 27 Nov 2020 10:17PM

@Simon Grant glad someone is keeping up with lost threads. 👍 Seemed like there were still a handful of directions we could take, based on different definitions of ontology, and perhaps different perceptions of what would be most useful for various purposes. Maybe there is some kind of loose consensus on doing a dictionary of new economy terms, but not so much something with relationships between concepts / some kind of model. If so, that's totally cool, but I don't see the dictionary as something where I'd be able to make much of a real contribution, so I'll just keep trucking on ValueFlows. 🙂