How to play the open game in the present and future economy
More and more value comes in the form of open products. We have grown accustomed with open communities creating open soft-and hardware. Most of these communities are based on gift economies, i.e. the creators of these open products are not rewarded in a tangible way for their contributions. The most popular examples are GNU-Linux and Wikipedia.
Recently, we have witnessed the emergence of new models that brake away from the gift economy, directly rewarding those who invest (time, financial capital, social capital, …) in open projects. The open product is gradually becoming sustainable. The first step in this direction can be illustrated by Open Source Ecology, which design open hardware for farming, construction and manufacturing. The designs are are entirely open and free, but the Open Source Ecology community is not interested in the market economy, their designs target DIY communities. Their revenue model is based on donations.
Open crowdsourcing is a model in which designers, part of an (open) community, are rewarded but not in proportion to their contributions. The organizations who capture the value of the products don’t share the profits with the individuals who help design them in a fair way. They give away some symbolic gifts, reputation tokens, sometimes can higher prominent members of their open communities, which don’t reflect the entire value added to the product. Arduino is one example of such model, a hybrid between the open (value) network OVN and classical business.
There are also closed and non-transparent crowdsourcing initiatives in which only a very few participants are rewarded. Contributors are placed in competition against each other. The resultant products are closed and remain under the control of the initiator. We are definitely against this new form of human exploitation, as you can see in this post.
SENSORICA is based on a more radical model (referred to as an open value network) of commons-based peer design production. It is in fact a mix between a gift economy and a transaction-based, or market economy. SENSORICA produces products to be exchange on the market. All the revenue generated is redistributed to all contributors in proportion to their contributions, based on a value equation, which is at the heart of the value accounting system.
This shift in the way we create solutions to our problems and distribute them is known as the transition from the present-old economy to the new economy, to a p2p economy. This is in fact the economic side of the multitude constructive revolution.
In today’s world, the costs of innovation has dropped dramatically because more and more people are able to exchange ideas online and use computer-aided design and simulation. Moreover, open source communities allow a wider distribution of costs and wider sharing of the risk. This is why open innovation is booming.
The open product emerges because the new digital technology makes possible large scale collaboration and makes peer production effective and efficient. The open product makes economic sense because it costs less to design, to produce, and to use/consume. It offers more value than the closed product. But can it really be produced and distributed in a sustainable way? How can we capture value from open innovation to make it sustainable?