Programmed Decentralised Commons Production

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* Article: Programmed Decentralised Commons Production. ECSA Team. Economic Space Agency, 2017


Explains the need and the logic for Commons-Oriented Decentralised Programmed Organisations


Defining the Problem

ECSA Team:

"Designing a business model for a commercial service offer is fairly simple. One has to have a business plan that produces profit. There are tools like the business model canvas that help with designing a product-market fit as well as thousands existing businesses that can act as inspiration when pricing the value offer. In comparison, when designing a commons-oriented project, things can get muddy. What is the use value of the project and why would one participate in the production? Peer participation is a crucial element in a commons-oriented project, since many of the projects are run by non-commercial organisations and therefore donations, charity and voluntary work are essential to enable production. These altruistic inputs are great, but they do not create a self-sustainable ecosystem for individuals to participate in. As Michel Bauwens has noted already a decade ago, many commons-oriented projects are sustainable as projects, but not for the individuals participating in the projects. Basing organisations on charity is creating an environment with no autonomy. While commons projects are unlike commercial businesses they are still economic spaces with values, missions, goals, inputs, outputs, interaction models and so on. These organisational mechanics are present in commons organisations as well as in their commercial counterparts, even if they might not be equally well mapped.

One reason for the lacking articulation of economic structures in commons projects may be simply the small amount of financial flows in them, so that notions like “cost efficiency”, stakeholdership or other elements of economic logics have not been carved. Also the absence of private ownership can be a conceptual wall between received economic thinking and commons. Commons projects are also likely to emerge from the innovation or passion of individuals or small group’s and can be difficult to force into an given economic model from the get-go. Yet some of the business models utilised in the commercial side can certainly be rethought as economic interaction “protocols” for commons projects. For instance, businesses have abstracted value production into “jobs” that people can take on and produce value for a company that translates also into value (salary) to the workers. Yet this model offers precarious conditions for people taking this offer called wage labour. Commercial companies have also ways to offer shared stakes (stocks) to people or companies who believe in their mission or financial productivity so that the holders of these stakes share the risk and upside of businesses. Businesses have also financial tools such as loans, commitments to provide or buy commodities from each other at a certain price and certain date (futures), and so on. These and other financial and economic instruments are used as ecological/systemic relations through which organisations co-operate with other organisations and networks. With the emergence of new decentralised technologies these instruments and relations become design questions for cyber-organisations and can be leveraged in commons production." (

Defining the solution

See: Commons-Oriented Decentralised Programmed Organisations, aka "cDPOs as frameworks to bootstrap, develop & sustain commons projects", i.e, the commons-oriented version of DAO's

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