Peer Trust Network Project

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I (Stan Rhodes) created this project after nearly a year of researching issues affecting people all over the world. This model is built from the work of countless others, reassembled into the principles and structures of a new model, and built from within the current model. This model was created with the United States in mind, both because of its role in affecting the world, and my experience as an American. I think--and hope--it can be adapted elsewhere with few changes.

For the full background narrative, please visit the Narrative on Discovering the Peer Trust Network System. At this time, reading the full background narrative is probably a better way to be introduced to the concepts than the outline on this page. Also, please visit the discussion on the discussion page: Talk:Peer Trust Network Project. These three sources should provide a general understanding of the system I'm proposing. Would you like to be involved? Please, by all means, join in.


Rival and Nonrival Goods

Rival goods = goods of physical substance. The term "rival" means that use of the good by a person limits the use of the good by another. For example, if I eat a slice of apple pie, someone else cannot cannot. If I use a bike, no one else can use it during that time.

Nonrival goods = information, data, design. The term "nonrival" means that no rivalry occurs when used. Someone using it--reading, watching, listening, copying, and so on--does not limit someone else's use.

The transmission of nonrival goods may use rival goods, such a telephone line, a book, a TV, a computer, a CD, and so on. In those cases use may be limited because of the rival good that is the expression of the nonrival good.

Explanation of rivalry in economics at Wikipedia.

Further discussion of rivalry.


Nonprofit organization that exists for a specific purpose. For example, a banktrust's purpose is enabling trustees (members of the trust) to transfer credits to each other with as little cost for the transaction as possible. In fulfilling this purpose, the trust must honor the principles shared by all the trusts, and the individuals maintaining the trust must honor the code of conduct.

Overall Purpose

Create a framework on which to build and maintain Vested Commons and Utilicontributist economies that are beneficial, fair, and honest. All nonrival goods (digital media) are in a service model, and all rival goods (property such as land, material resources, water, air, spectrum) are in a resource trust model, known as a property commons. This model is bootstrapped into being voluntarily by the public because of demand for the benefits of the components (trusts) and network (vested commons composed of trusts); it comes into being with the full consent and effort of those who agree with its merits.

The system accomplishes the following:

  1. Peers share control of the monetary transaction system through a network of trusts.
  2. Peers control their own private information, and release only that which is needed as a credential.
  3. All information released to the public is free to use, and remains free to use.
  4. Creators of works in science and useful arts are fairly compensated for the service they provide.
  5. All material resources are recognized as scarce, and wasteful use is higher cost.
  6. Wealth is redistributed through charging for use of material resources; those who waste most pay most.
  7. Wealth feedback loop ensures continual push toward base equity; additional wealth determined by effort and lifestyle of individual.
  8. Overall system is democratic, through direct participation, transparency, and shared accountability.
  9. Overall system composed of networks, decentralizing power and ensuring resiliency.

Framing the Problem

Root problem of global issues: inequity of knowledge and material wealth.

Unequal distribution of information. Information = nonrival goods.

Unequal distribution of material resources. Material resources = rival goods.

Solving Nonrival Inequity: Principles for Information Equity

  1. All released information must be available to all. Distribution of information must not be restricted; information must not be treated as a rival good. The system must enable and favor full and free distribution of information.
  2. Creation of information must be treated as a service. The system must enable compensation for creation.
  3. Information is not property.

Principle 1 creates optimizes economic efficiency, because it removes artificial scarcity. Principle 2 and 3 remove the dead-end view of information as property, which has been, and will continue to be, a losing battle against the reality of near-zero distribution cost for nonrival goods. These principles are interdependent.

Analysis of the Socioeconomic Argument for Restriction: Invalidating the Incentive Argument

The restriction of information is at best inefficient, and at worst, a form of coercive power. In all cases such restriction negatively impacts the public good. The only good reason to create a restriction, legally, would be because of some other factor affecting the public good. In this case, the concern of creator incentive. The origin of copyright and patent, Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the Constitution, addresses this economic concern, attempting to maximize public good by balancing the benefit of creator incentive and the resulting higher output (quantity and/or quality) of works with the detriment of restricting distribution among the public.

Today we can question, and I believe invalidate, the very basis of the incentive argument, for three main reasons:

  1. Distribution of information--nonrival goods--is continually approaching zero cost. Attempting to raise the cost of distribution (artificially, particularly through the fallacy of "property") fights against this technological reality, requiring restriction of technology through stifling technological innovation and restricting individual freedom. This is the "losing battle" reason.
  2. The benefit of the the works created by the incentive must be greater than the societal detriment the restrictions cause. As distribution costs become trivial, the amount of detriment caused by reducing cumulative knowledge production increases rapidly. The benefit cannot outweigh the stunting of growth. This is the "stifles progress (of science and the useful arts)" reason.
  3. Technology currently provides, and will continue to provide and improve upon, methods of direct compensation, means of creation, decentralized risk-sharing. Technology enables direct exchange of value between parties. Technology increases availability of means of production (from digital media to fabrication using design information). Technology enables a near-zero middlemen cost (distribution and risk cost) between users and creators, enabling risk to be efficiently spread widely and in small amounts. This is the "service model" reason.


Each component is a trust node, composed of members that voluntarily joined with full knowledge of the intents and purposes of the trust and the Vested Commons.

Principles of Organization

The following are derived, in whole or in part, from Dee Hock's principles for chaordic organizations, as outlined in One from Many. I think these are a good starting point, but I would like to distill them further into something simple like the Code of Conduct.

  • Membership is the irrevocable right of participation acquired through application for, and acceptance of, membership.
  • The network is self-organizing: participants can self-organize at any time, for any reason, at any scale, with irrevocable rights of participation in governance at any greater scale.
  • Power and function are distributive and decentralized. No power is vested in, or function performed by, any part that could not be reasonably exercised by any more peripheral part.
  • Governance is distributive, with no individual, institution, or combination of either or both (such as management), able to dominate deliberations or control decisions at any scale.
  • Competition is between the fitness of ideas, not individuals or groups. Ideas are evaluated within cooperative and collaborative deliberations of groups and individuals, for the good of the whole--the sum of self-interests.
  • Essential purposes and principles guide form and function. Form and function are infinitely malleable, and as durable as needed. All parts are capable of constant, self-generated, modification of form or function without sacrificing their essential purpose, or embodied principle.

Code of Conduct

Must be as simple and decent as possible. Inspired by simple guidelines of decency, from the BSA Scout Oath to the Ubuntu Code of Conduct.

Be fair,

be reasonable,

be honest,

be peaceable,

be considerate,

and be helpful.

Banktrust - Node of Money Commons


I can exchange money with someone instantly and without fees.

Real world examples:

  • Paypal.
  • QQ and QQ coins.
  • Currency transfer in most MMOs.

Benefits of trust over corporate / private model:

  • Lowest price: not seeking profit, only best service possible. For-profit competition impossible.
  • Peer-to-peer value transfer is optimal, at near-zero distribution cost.
  • Value transfer established as a public right enabled by members, system is accountable and transparent.
  • Members retain control, cannot be coerced or manipulated through institutional constraints.

Additional details:

  • Credits can be saved, but no protected "banks" that charge or pay interest.

Major issues

  • Exchange will happen with other currencies, like it or not. What problems will this cause? What design considerations are necessary?
  • Through what means can people acquire credits? Exchange, projects for the public good, joining the propertytrust?

Credentialtrust - component of Banktrust?


Anyone or anyplace I interact with only knows the bare minimum needed to identify me for my purpose of use.

Real world examples:

  • ??? These examples are particularly weak.
  • Sxip
  • Steam

Benefits of trust over corporate / private model:

  • Lowest price: not seeking profit, only best service possible. For-profit competition impossible.
  • Privacy established as public right enabled by members, system is accountable and transparent.
  • Members control their private information.
  • Methods are open for criticism and improvement, no hiding of weaknesses that are ripe for exploitation.
  • Peer-to-peer credential exchange is near-zero distribution cost.

Culturetrust - Node of Culture Commons


Cultural agora providing models of exchange between creators and users and improving availability and findability of digital media. I can see what my friends are listening to and try anything I'm interested in, I can join a game with friends or a trusted group. I can contribute to projects and people that created media I enjoy, build reputations for supporting and collaborating, and participate in communities.

Real world examples:

  • Audioscrobbler
  • Steam
  • Youtube
  • Facebook
  • Planets and news / media aggregators
  • Torrent sites

Benefits of trust over corporate / private model:

  • Has credentialtrust aspect with voluntary use and contribution tracking
  • Lowest price: not seeking profit, only best service possible. For-profit competition impossible.
  • Privacy established as public right enabled by members, system is accountable and transparent.
  • Members control their private information.
  • Methods are open for criticism and improvement, no hiding of weaknesses that are ripe for exploitation.
  • Peer-to-peer media exchange and use is near-zero distribution cost.
  • Long-tail fully accessible.
  • Information wants to be free, and it is.

Additional details:

  • Media in the trust is either public domain, or is GPL-ish.
  • Many models possible for creators to receive compensation if not working on project others have requested:

Pledge, loans/microloans, digital auction, barter, donation, free as in beer.

  • Reputation can be tracked as contribution / use, similar to a share ratio on bittorrent. This allows communities to have opt-in tracking so they can boot those don't contribute enough or at all. Game clans already do this in some aspects, for example, CS:S or DoD servers with reserved slots for community members.

Propertytrust - Node of Property Commons


Trust protects interests of all members, who each have equal stake in the property. The trust acquires resources, valuates resources, sets use fees dependent on sustainability of use, and distributes collected use fees equally to all members.

Real world examples:

Benefits of trust over corporate / private model:

  • Corruption harder, system is accountable and transparent.
  • Resources not sold to highest bidder.
  • Provides real incentive for efficient use: waste most, pay most; waste least, pay least.
  • Begins to restore land, reclaim farmland, generally improve human damage to environment.
  • Methods used are open for criticism and improvement.
  • Increases value of sustainable habitation and use.

Additional details:

The trust can be seen as a human-created mind of gaia that charges those who waste resources the most, selects for most efficient and ecologically-sound use, and redistributes wealth in the process. Considering we are all on the earth, and should all be considered joint owners of earth, those who are most wasteful should be charged most, and those that are least wasteful should be charged least.