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an open, decentralized, and self-organizing Value Network.



"Sensorica is not a corporation, it is not a coop, it is not an non profit, it is not an LLP. It is an open value network. From a legal perspective, it is a non-registered association. It is an open network of freelancers that coordinate and co-manage their work using some IT tools (the NRP-CAS) and some special governance." ([1])??


1. Josef Davies-Coates:

"Sensorica are an ‘Open Value Network’ focussed on two primary activities: creating open hardware products; and developing the Open Value Network (OVN) model. OVNs are variously described as “people creating value together, by contributing work, money and goods, and sharing the income” a “framework for many-to-many innovation” and a “model for commons-based peer production.” The basic concept is very similar to the Bettermeans “contribution-based-rewards” idea, but in OVNs contributions other than completed tasks are also accounted for. They are currently working with Bob Haugen and Lynn Foster at Mikorizal Software to develop a prototype open source value accounting platform called ValNet." (


"Sensorica is an open, decentralized, self-organizing value network, a commons-based peer-production network, focused on designing sensing and sensemaking technology.

Mission: Sensorica value network is committed to the design and deployment of intelligent, open sensors and sensemaking systems, which allow our communities to optimize interactions with our physical environment and realize our full human potential.

There are two tracks of innovation within Sensorica: sensing technology and the Value Network model. The first is about sensor devices and "sense making" systems. The second is about designing and implementing a new organizational model.

As an organization, Sensorica

  • is designed to facilitate the creation and the exchange of value.
    • facilitates cooperation and co-creation.
    • secures transactions and reduces transaction costs.
    • allows transactions of assets other than financial
  • is decentralized
    • the process of decision-making is distributed.
    • it is NOT based on power-relations, it is a value-based network.
    • resource allocation is bottom-up
  • has a very low barrier to entry; it is open in that sense.
  • allows free individual initiative.
  • has an adaptive structure, constantly changing with respect to internal and environmental conditions.

Sensorica is partially a market economy and partially a gift economy. We find solutions to problems and exchange products and services on the market. But individuals and organizations are also allowed to initiate projects that are mostly passion-driven, without expecting a financial compensation. Sensorica offers the right balance between passion and duty, between freedom and constraint.

  • An ethical and humane organization, by its nature.
  • A locus of practical knowledge about sensing.
  • An organization tuned for the know how economy
  • An organizations producing Commons.
  • We bet on speed to market and flexibility rather than protection.
  • We achieve speed by embracing open innovation through a network-to-teams structure.
  • We build capacity by network affiliation / association.
  • We are only limited by our ability to coordinate our global network.
  • We use a contribution-based compensation model."



"Sensorica is not a corporation, it is not a coop, it is not an non profit, it is not an LLP. It is an open value network. From a legal perspective, it is a non-registered association. It is an open network of freelancers that coordinate and co-manage their work using some IT tools (the NRP-CAS) and some special governance. If you still don’t understand what Sensorica is and how it operates please don’t panic. It is something new and it takes a bit of time to get accustomed. It is new, but at the same time it is very similar to other new things that have emerged recently, like Bitcoin for example. We can say that Sensorica is for production what a blockchain-based cryptocurrency is for exchange. So the million dollar question is how do we interface these new creatures with the ones from the classical world?" ([2])

4. Alex Pazaitis

"Sensorica is a collaborative network, established in 2011 in Montreal, Canada, dedicated to the design and deployment of sensors and sense-making systems. Inspired by free and open-source projects, the vision of Sensorica has been to devise an appropriate business model and support infrastructure to make such forms of production economically sustainable. Sensorica is arguably more complex than a traditional enterprise. It is a productive network that is simultaneously a commons-based community, as well as a market-oriented entity. On one hand, individuals and organizations pool resources to initiate projects, driven primarily by intrinsic motivations, rather than financial rewards. On the other hand, the innovative solutions developed in Sensorica are introduced to the market to generate income by “exchange firms”. The latter refers to independent internal or external entities which undertake marketing and logistics operations while being liable for maintaining ethical and quality standards of the solutions."

Full paper available here:


Tiberius Brastaviceanu, co-founder of the Sensorica project, is interviewed by Sebastian Klemm:

  • How does Sensorica showcase impact through collaboration?

Tiberius Brastaviceanu: Sensorica belongs to a new category of organisations, it operates with the Open Value Network model. The notion of value networks was first introduced to the business world by Verna Allee. She pointed that much of a firm’s success was in fact due to relations that were not part of the role structure of the organisation, relations that extended beyond the organizational boundaries. She also showed that the success of a company depended on assets that were not accounted for by firms, some of these assets being non-measurable. We call these non-measurable assets intangible assets.

In short, Verna Allee said that firms look more like networks than fortresses. Much of the value is generated through social relations that employees maintain informally outside of the firm. A lot goes through these relations, generating new opportunities for the firm.

Sebastian Klemm: Could you elaborate on Sensorica as an Open Value Network? What potential does that bring to the Open Climate Collabathon?

Tiberius Brastaviceanu: Sensorica was created in 2010, not too long ago after the publication of the Bitcoin white paper, during this period of emergence of the new p2p paradigm. If Bitcoin represents financial services without a bank, Sensorica represents production of material goods without a company. Sensorica pushes the p2p paradigm to innovation and material production and distribution.

Can cars be made by open and decentralized networks in the near future? For the past 10 years, Sensorica has been building an answer to this question. Its innovation model inherits a lot from the open source movement. Its production system inherits a lot from online commons-based peer production systems such as Wikipedia.

Sensorica is one of the best organisations I know that harnesses well stigmergy and social intelligence. I think that the Collabathon should start from what Sensorica has already built, its Open Value Network model, as a good solid base, to avoid reinventing the wheel, and adapt this model to its own context." (


By Kurt Laitner:

  • Sensorica IS NOT a 'non-profit' or 'for-profit'; it has no retained earnings and no assets; it is a flow through entity which is as formless as possible, for greater clarity,
  • Sensorica uses (HAS) a non-profit org and a custodian (legal form as convenient, LLC, LLP etc) to manage liability and interface to the old economy, but Sensorica itself is formless (practically for now a quebec non-registered association)
  • Sensorica has corporations and non profits, but it IS NOT one, and corporations or non profits cannot be 'members', only people can, [corporations are not people in this world]
  • Assets are held in trust by a suitable old economy legal form (the Custodian), merely as a legal convenience;
  • The holding of assets by this legal form does not say anything about ownership or governance rights, (these are determined algorithmically using value equations and governance equations, the exact form of which is specified in the Nondominium agreement (itself housed in a suitable legal form, such as an LLP))
  • There are no shares issued to members, the board of such an entity will be required to enforce the terms of the Nondominium (notwithstanding Tiberius's current example of old school ownership of the 3d printer, which was a pragmatic decision, muddling through)
  • Chris Cook, the person who coined the Nondominium concept, which we have extended, has consulted with another one of my OVNs on how the custodian interacts with the stakeholders via the Nondominium agreement, but work remains to be done here; he has suggested using a UK LLP for the Nondominium as it accommodates the desired formlessness and revenue flow through - [Chris's work was motivated by his clients' desire to develop resources that could not be owned (natural commons) or where ownership was disputed, (north sea oil is his canonical example), but it could apply equally to common heritage of mankind type resources) whereas Sensorica is voluntarily declaring something that has the legal support to be owned as 'not owned' (members are voluntarily surrendering ownership rights) then selectively returning a subset of ownership rights to participants based on their behaviors - we have abandoned Chris's use of veto consensus, which was a core concept for him]
  • membership is not an attribute of a person, or a status that confers any rights, it is merely a convenient description of someone who has participated in some meaningful way (I've dabbled with the notion of a 'membership equation' that resolves to yes/no, but it would be redundant to governance equations and value equations and introduce an undesirable materiality of boundaries)
  • there are no categories of membership that confer special privileges (rights to benefits are determined by value equations, and rights to decisions are determined by the decision model (multiple governance equations per decision type mapped to decision roles (may/must be informed, consulted, vote, etc.)))
  • governance is not necessarily democratic, 'democratic' is just one option of many, to be applied to decision types as appropriate
  • rights to revenue and to decision making are granted based on behavior,
  • generally speaking, cash should only enter the system (transitionally until we can eliminate cash entirely) as gifts or exchange value of goods produced, though fixed coupon debentures are under consideration (there will be no such thing as shareholder loans in the final form, Tibi's description about the 3D printer is a pragmatic transitional approach)
  • assets may be registered with a non-dominium (a surrender of ownership rights, effectively), and a subset of rights returned based on the value equation associated with that asset (which will grant ownership rights to the donator, but as the asset is used will grant ownership rights to the users of the asset who mix their labour with the asset to produce value, or maintain it, provide inputs etc.)

[to initiate the OVN balances, a detailed understanding of the value dimension balances based on what is required to makes such an asset could provide a 'cost' basis for evaluation of an asset, or a use based valuation may be used (how much time does the asset save on a task for example, for each use - it adds value through ongoing leverage if you will)]

(email July 2015)

Governance Systems

"Our open, decentralized and self-organizing value network requires a sound value accounting system, a fair reputation system and an accurate role assigning system.

  • The Value Accounting System records and evaluates every member's input. Revenues are calculated in terms of member's contributions. This system outputs a map of value sources and of the value flow distribution.
  • The reputation system incentivizes good behavior within our community and helps to focus attention. It plays an important role in the creation and the flow of value within the network by filtering participants to adequate tasks. It also informs the service system. See more on our Reputation System document.
  • The role system incites voluntary subordination; it plays an important role in self-organization. It also informs the service system. See more on our Role System document.

These three sub-systems (in conjunction with others) are necessary to induce tight self-organization within an open and decentralized value network like Sensorica, and to render the network creative and productive.

The Value, Reputation and Role systems interact with each other." (

The current value accounting systems logs the following data [3]:

  1. Time contributions
  2. Financial contributions
  3. Material contributions
  4. Space contributions (not implemented yet)
  5. Contributions with social capital (not implemented yet)

Further Details on Sensorica's Governance

Tiberius Brastaviceanu:

"The OVN has 3 main legal structures: A non-registered association, Custodians, and Exchange Firms.

The non-registered association has legal code in all the common wealth countries and you can find equivalents in other legislatures. This is the legal form that represents the network. No need for contractual relationships, which makes it very dynamic and fluid. The Custodian takes on the legal liability for assets. This is the Trust you are talking about. It holds the Commons and the Poll of Shareables. The Exchange Firm is the interface with the market, and I am glad that the vision you're projecting preserves the market. The exchange firm can be embodied by a corporation, if you want. But this entity doesn't own the means for innovation, for production, and does NOT monopolize access to market. All that is in the non-registered association. Sensorica's Custodian is CAKE. If you apply the OVN model to local food systems, the Custodian would legally own the water, some land, some equipment for agriculture, etc. Some of that would be privately owned by individuals.

Example of how Sensorica deals with equipment [extrapolate this to other things]: This year we co-purchased a $4,000 3D printer. 11 individuals put money for it. We all signed an agreement for the use of this printer. According to the agreement, the printer will be privately co-owned by these 11 individuals until it is paid back + 20% (to cover risk) from commercial activities. After that, the 3D printer's property status will change from co-owned to nondominium. The nondominium form of property is implemented through the Custodian, who legally owns it and guarantees access to it to ALL Sensorica affiliates, following a set of rules that govern its use, which also includes provisions for maintenance.

The Sensorica Montreal lab space is managed by the Custodian, as nondominium. The Custodian pays rent and insurance.

The Sensorica logo is managed by the Custodian. So this is our reality now, at the local and network level.

But, we've designed the infrastructure of open value networks so that Sensorica can interface with other networks, communities, or any other organization, forming an ecosystem, at the level of the value system, through a protocol. This is a bit though to implement by using our current infrastructure. If we implement the network resource planning system and the contribution (value) accounting system NRP-CAS on the block chain, or some other technology derived from it, we can really make the network of networks idea a reality. I underline network of networks. In fact, the open value network is a fractal structure. Think of it as the Internet, a network of networks that process data. OVNs process economic contributions - you can say "value flows". So the entire global economy can one day become an OVN, i.e. inherit this structure. How you do it? Simple... There is no high threshold to achieve that. You create a bunch of small OVNs, Sensorica and others that are already in formation, network them together into a larger OVN, and as they become more and more efficient, economically speaking, they will displace corporate structure and grow. It's a continuous process, replacing the old system with a new one. No revolution (of replacement like the Bolshevik type) needed! As the economy shifts, local, regional and global governance and politics follow.

So, you get more and more of our economy morphing into a giant OVN. More and more assets get transferred into nondominium, governed by the people, through Custodians, which are your Trust.

Since you have a global OVN, you have global coordination.

Here's another IMPORTANT thing. The OVN model sits on top of the NRP-CAS infrastructure (that we would transfer on Ethereum or something similar). The NRP-CAS is a leger of economic contributions, resources, their relations to processes, agents... In other words, your economic activity is recorded as it happens, in real time, with high granularity, in a transparent way, the same way you can have access to Bitcoin transactions. That tells EVERYONE (its public data) how resources are used and for what. So I am asking, how can any group screw up the environment and exploit people in this system?

In the OVN model, the rewards mechanisms are also built into the NRP-CAS. This is how Sensorica functions today. This is not science fiction. We have all that, we are accumulating experience with it every day, and we make it available to the world. So, the rewards are tied to the recorded economic activity, and here you can add other layers on top, of ethics, sustainability and whatever you want to keep the planet clean and the people happy. I didn't mentioned reputation systems, because I think that's an obvious part of any open system." (email, July 2015)


of the workings of the Open Value Network in Sensorica.

Bog Haugen, July 2015:

"There are at least two parts of open value accounting:

1. Tracking peoples' contributions in such a way that when some products or services result in income, the contributions that went into those products and services can be found and rewarded.

That part has been working for a long time. All economic events of any type may be recorded and if so, are publicly available.

The new nucleus is starting to use the system, and the software feedback loop is starting to work again.

Around 3000 contributions have been logged.

What has been missing is the income.

Part of the use vs non-use is that use of the software is not mandated by Sensorica in any way. And if there is no income, there is also not so much incentive to log your contributions.

2. Distributing income according to value equations. That part of the software is now ready for use, but has not been used yet other than in test scenarios. Some income has been pledged for a new project, and the contributors are logging their work. So that should be the first actual use of the value equation and distribution features of the software." (via email)


of Sensorica and its projects:

"Sensorica was officially launched in February 2011, as a for-benefit open collaborative network, focused on open source development of sensors and smart systems. Initial efforts went into the development of the Mosquito sensor, the ambition being to demonstrate that peer production can be applied to material things. Until 2015, the Sensorica OVN was deploying most of its energy into developing its own products and services, while building infrastructure to sustain its operations.

In February 2015, Sensoricans took on the first service contract with a local architecture firm, to design a high tech observation tower, the Barda periscope project. In May 2015, Sensorica affiliates arranged a deal with Queen’s University to design an open source scientific instrument for characterizing photovoltaic materials, the PV characterization project. The end of the year 2015 brought an even larger challenge, the development of an open source sensor network, an IoT application for the heavy industry, the Sensor Network project, with a well-established industry leader." ([4])


"Here's a document I am working on, still early stage, about the general problem of redistribution of resources in society.

My main argument is that the solution is radical, part of a new paradigm (we all know that already), and it takes off on its own because it offers better options for producers and investors, as well as consumers, and other types of stakeholders. But these options aren't like the old ones. Old options will simply disappear, because the new system will be overall superior. So it will not be a matter of choice.

All the categories are changing: prosumers, investors as contributors (Sensorica doesn't have a clear distinction between those who invest time, i.e. work, or money), different relations of production, new property regimes (communs, pool of shareables, nondominium, objects that own themselves), current-sees for exchange processes (instead of monetary currencies).

These new organizations that are emerging are operating differently and simply can't offer the same to "investors" as classical companies. Because they outinnovate the classical organizations, they will take over and put the old system simply out of business. So the old options disappear." (email, March 2018)

Value Accounting in Sensorica

Tiberius Brastaviceanu:

"We need to make the distinction between co-creation of value and value exchange. These are two important processes but very distinct ones. Sensoricans are working hard to solve the value accounting problem, which is meant to support large scale co-creation of value. The value accounting is a way to capture individual contributions that blend into a unique product, to evaluate these contributions, and to compute equity in the end product, a % for every member.

NOTE the value accounting system is NOT a system that objectifies value and it is not a bean counting system! It is a contract, a method to which all contributors adhere to reassure every contributor about how the future revenue will be redistributed. That's it! It preserves the subjective nature of value, it can take, in theory, into consideration all types of value, tangible and intangible.

Once the product is made it is exchanged, and this is where you need currencies, or systems of value exchange.

Again, value accounting for co-creation of value and value exchange are two different things in my mind. These two systems must interact with each other, but we need to see them as separate. One is designed to manage the amalgamation of value from different agents into one product, the other one is designed to facilitate value exchange between different agents, with no value added in the process." (email November 2012)


"We are taking an iterative approach to solve the value accounting problem and to design and implement a sound value system, which allows individuals and small organizations to collaboratively create and distribute value. The main role of the value accounting system is to track different types of contributions, like time, financial, material..., and to compute a revenue share for all contributors, based on individual contribution. This is the core of the value accounting system. This is what it takes to transition from the social web to the collaborative/value producing web. This is what it takes to transition to a new economy, a p2p economy.

In order to make value networks self-organize into creative and productive entities we need more than a sound value system. We are in fact developing the entire infrastructure of value networks, which includes communication, coordination and collaboration tools, a reputation system, a role system, an incentive system, a feedback system, a service system, a materials management system, a project/tasks management system, and many other modules. All these components interact with each other and form an empowering environment for contributing member to express their passions, exchange and collaborate to create value.

We are not just dreaming about this. Sensorica is sustaining a continuous growth in value and in potential since its inception. It is the living proof of viability for the value network model." (


"Our open, decentralized and self-organizing value network requires a sound value system (accounting and exchange), a fair reputation system, a role system, a feedback system, and an incentive system.

  • The value accounting system records and evaluates every member's contribution. Revenues are calculated in terms of member's contributions. This system outputs a map of value sources, points of consumption and transformation, as well as the value flow distribution.
  • The value exchange system insures exchange of value among Sensorica members.
  • The reputation system incentivizes good behavior within our community and helps to focus attention. It plays an important role in the creation and the flow of value within the network by filtering participants for adequate tasks. It also informs the service system. Reputation can also affect revenue in a direct way, if taken into account in value equation.
  • The role system guides voluntary subordination; it plays an important role in self-organization. It also informs the service system.
  • The feedback system
  • The incentive system

All these systems are necessary to incentivize activity, to induce tight self-organization within Sensorica value network, and to render the network creative and productive. These systems are also designed for network-to-network interface.

The architecture will be modified to fit with the diaspora paradigm, see Value Networks - moving forward.

Another important aspect of value networks is the commons." Open the Value Accounting Doc

3. Status Update, March 2013, Tiberius Brastaviceanu:

"Our (sensoricans) idea about how value, of different types, flows within value networks is getting a little more concrete, after two years of living the value network an observing these flows establishing themselves. The new infrastructure version for value networks that we're implementing now, as we speak, takes into consideration our new findings and understanding. It will also help us extract data and produce visuals for how value flows within Sensorica. We're probably going to interface with metamaps.

Having said that, all this stuff is not simple. Once you decide to treat consider value in its most general form you find out that there is an entire forest of values and value-related things. We're now trying to do some botany in there, to put some order in all this diversity, and to identify leverages in this value ecosystem, which will become levers of "control" of the value network. In short, there are many different types of contributions individuals can make, and there are different types of value.

For the "commons" now. I only consider commons immaterial things. Information and knowledge form one type. A brand is an example of another type. All material things that are shared and are consumed or degraded during use form the "pool of shareables". The distinction between the commons and shareables is important because these things require different accounting tools, different management tools, different governance, etc.

I don't see what we call commons as the milieu. The entire ecosystem is the milieu in my mind, and the structure of this ecosystem is driven by the network of all processes related to value, hence the name "value network". The commons, as we see it, is a generative entity, so I resonate with the idea of "field of emergence". It is a pool of potential, sourcing innovation. It also represents intrinsic value, because it has an influence on recruiting, i.e. people are attracted by it and decide to participate. BUT most people neglect know how. When you consider knowledge as commons you MUST consider know how, which cannot be part of the commons, because it cannot be put somewhere for other to consume. Proximity is IMPORTANT in transfer of know how. Know how lives ONLY within individuals. It can be transferred to other individuals by tutoring, mentoring... which are time consuming and intense activities, but it cannot be shared on an informational support. You can feel the difference between knowledge and know how next time you'll try to make (know how) a cake following a recipe (the knowledge) you find on the Internet. So, for the knowledge commons to be effective one needs to consider know how and to put in place mechanisms for its transfer. We created a few spaces to discuss about these issues, see the Value Network community on G+. You can also contribute to the Value Network wiki

Please contribute to these spaces so that together, we create enough content in one place to inspire others to join this movement." [5]

Interfacting Sensorica's Peer Production with classical institutions

Tiberius Brastaviceanu, Scott Laughlin, Jim Anastassiou

"Sensorica is not a corporation, it is not a coop, it is not an non profit, it is not an LLP. It is an open value network. From a legal perspective, it is a non-registered association. It is an open network of freelancers that coordinate and co-manage their work using some IT tools (the NRP-CAS) and some special governance. If you still don’t understand what Sensorica is and how it operates please don’t panic. It is something new and it takes a bit of time to get accustomed. It is new, but at the same time it is very similar to other new things that have emerged recently, like Bitcoin for example. We can say that Sensorica is for production what a blockchain-based cryptocurrency is for exchange. So the million dollar question is how do we interface these new creatures with the ones from the classical world? How do you sign a contract with a loose network of individuals? Who is going to show up to do the work? How can we guarantee that a swarm of people converging on tasks from all four corners of the planet via the Internet will deliver on time, and with the required specifications? Who is responsible and accountable?

In our opinion, Sensorica is the most advanced commons-based peer production network applied to hardware production, using infrastructure and methodologies that have been specifically tailored for open networks. We claim that the OVN model is able to sustain deterministic economic processes and accountability, while preserving the open and fluid nature of networks, while maximizing individual autonomy. This new ability of open innovation and peer production networks to generate predictable outputs, demonstrated by Sensorica, was the main topic of the meeting with Jenn Gustetic from the White House, in June of 2015.

The role of Sensorica in the service cases enumerated earlier shaped as the interface between the crowd and the classical institution. In other words, input from the crowd can be structured and channeled towards solving someone’s problem, through Sensorica’s infrastructure, methodologies and governance. But let’s not get confused, we are not talking about a crowdsourcing platform. So what is the difference? A crowdsourcing platform like Upwork is an intermediary between companies and the crowd: the company posts a problem with a prize for someone who can provide the solution; the platform takes a cut. Taskrabbit is the Uber of cheap labor, connecting people who need chores done with people who can do them, while taking a cut from their transactions. In both cases, the intermediary platform is owned by a company and those who supply the work aren’t organized, they respond individually to demands. In the Sensorica model, no one in particular really owns the platform. Affiliates of the network organize, they form groups to tackle complex problems for long periods of time. In the cases discussed here, the size of a project is comparable to a startup, reaching up to 10 individuals. The longest duration of steady work is 6 months and ticking. These are the first pilot projects, but the potential is for thousands of individuals per project, which amounts to a large size enterprise, for long-term projects that can take years. Sensorica is really showing the signs of a new system of production that can operate at large scale. But as an R&D service provider, it can be already be seen by classical institutions as R&D on demand, as an adjacent, very cohesive R&D operation open to the crowd, funneling in low cost and rapidly evolving open innovation. Practically the entire revenue generated is split among participants, with only 5% going to maintain and to develop the infrastructure, which is under the total control of participants.

At the third iteration, the service beneficiary gets a fast paced innovation at a quarter of the normal cost. Even more interestingly, the cost cuts aren’t transferred to those who provide the service. They are actual cost savings that result from a heavy use and rapid remix of open source, from the mutualization of resources within the network, from the collaborative nature of activities, from the elimination of bureaucracy, and other inefficiencies that come from lack of motivation. On the contrary, everyone is paid with the same measure, according to the Canadian labor market, no matter where the contributor lives. More precisely, within Sensorica those who live in Pakistan aren’t paid less. And if that wasn't enough, on top of providing rapid innovation at a fraction of the cost to classical institutions, so that they can maintain jobs, at the same time sensoricans increase the value of the global commons, because everything they do is open source. All the data about the economic activity within Sensorica is open to the public, we can’t make this up!

This mutually beneficial economic relationship between classical institutions and Sensorica, as an open innovation and peer production network, can be seen as a bridge between the classical capitalist economy and the p2p economy, as a channel for transfer of resources from the old economy to the new."

Example 1: The Barda case

The Barda periscope project was the first implementation of a new open project development methodology designed by Fernando, Tiberius and Lynn, in the context of a service provided to a client. This methodology was formalized in Sensorica’s network resource planning (NRP-CAS) software through a concept named Workflow recipes, which are time-dependent and deliverables-dependent bundles of Processes associated with a Project (a context of work). This methodology consists of the following steps: Project initiation, Design considerations, Design, Prototyping, and Product. All the contributions to the Project were logged within this structure.

In order to reduce the perceived risk for the client, the Project was divided into milestones. A cost estimation was produced for the client for every milestone. The agreement was to get paid at the end of every milestone. Every milestone was to be delivered with complete documentation, open source style. The client could stop the process at the end of any milestone and decide to switch to another organization to complete the Project. The documentation provided a guarantee for rapid continuation. The burden was on Sensorica to provide a good service, at the level of satisfaction of the client, in order to complete all the milestones.

Moreover, the activity logs in the NRP-CAS and the associated documentation provided the client with full and real time access to the process. Coordination on different issues and tasks took place in context, directly in the working documents, and the client was invited to provide feedback.

A problem emerged during this project: very rapidly, the work documents became long and the client’s ability to follow the process was hindered. We spent time formatting the documents to make their content more transparent, but these measures didn’t diminish the time spent by the client to effectively follow the process. The situation was more complex, because this was a three parties relation, between the Sensorica team, Barda and Parcs Canada, Barda’s client. Information produced by sensoricans had to be reformatted to match Barda’s project management structure and the language used between Barda and Parc Canada. In the end, Barda provided sensoricans with a template for 3-way communication, based on their own open issues and tasks.

The Barda periscope project was a small project, involving only a few contributors (see project in Sensorica’s NRP-CAS). Coordination was fairly easy at this small scale.

Example 2: The Queen’s University case

Joshua Pearce is a professor at Queen’s University and Michigan Tech University. He is dedicated to open science and sustainable technologies, and had been following Sensorica since 2013. He is the author of the Quantifying the Value of Open Source Hardware Development paper. For years, Joshua’s team has designed multiple scientific instruments by building on various open source projects. These instruments have been released under open licenses. In 2015, he decided to take a risk and transfer to the Sensorica network the task of designing an instrument used in the characterization of photovoltaic materials. This was an important shift in Joshua team’s approach, from in house development with inspiration from open source projects to crowdsourcing development through the Sensorica distributed network. The main goal was to create an instrument with a community around it, which would increase the speed of innovation, insure continuity of the product, and increase its diffusion rate to universities around the world. At the same time, the PV characterization project was also seen as a pilot project to build an interface between the crowd and a classical institution, Queen’s University, through Sensorica’s p2p infrastructure, open project methodologies, and governance.

The open science movement is building momentum. It started with open publications, increasing access to scientific knowledge. This initiative became more nuanced, proposing early stage sharing of data and information (prior to the publication), sharing of unpublished past results and even sharing of lessons learned from failed experiments. In parallel with the development on the distribution side, the movement also built infrastructure for data sharing in resource-intensive domains of inquiry, like genomics for example, as well as social networking platforms designed for scientists and scientific projects (like Research Gate). Recently, we have seen initiatives for redesigning scientific instruments that are in tune with the open science philosophy. New instruments are acquiring new characteristics: they become shareable, they facilitate socialization of scientific activities, they become modular and interoperable, as well as easily serviceable and upgradable. Efforts also go into redesigning scientific labs, making them more collaborative, interconnected, accessible through teleproxmity, etc. Sensorica leads the way to open science, as one can see in this presentation. The PV characterization project incorporates many of these new aspects.

This project was started by incorporating all the lessons learned in the Barda periscope project. There was a difference in scale: more individuals contributed to the design and the prototyping of the PV characterization device (11 affiliates and over 200 logged contributions). The requirements for accountability and responsibility were also higher, since we were now dealing with a University. All this put more pressure on our support processes. We created a Project responsible role, to be the interface between the University and the SENSORICA OVN. Financial incentives were attached to it. Moreover, the roles of outreach (find skills), orientation (help new affiliates get accustomed), coordination (make sure that all affiliates are on the same page) and facilitation (make sure that all affiliates get the help they need) became very important. We experimented with new tools for orientation that proved to be more effective. A specific forum was created for the project, in order to focus discussions. The PV project was also more complex, its documentation proliferated faster, which lead to the need of content maps in order to ease the navigation.

During the course of the project we noticed that the outreach function was very important and not so easy to finetune. The answers to our signals propagated on social media were slow to come and the conversion to an active contributor was low. We attributed part of that to a poor general understanding of Sensorica’s OVN model, including its system of incentives. At the beginning of the project, we grossly underestimated the efforts required for outreach, for generating the content to be broadcasted, for establishing a constant social media presence, for mapping the open source ecosystem, targeting specific pools of talent, and establishing trust relations. The project was run below the critical mass of open projects and therefore required a more centralized form of governance.

Example 3: The IoT for heavy industry case

NOTE: We cannot publicly disclose the name of our sponsor in the IoT for heavy industry applications case.

In December 2015, sensoricans were contacted by a Montreal-based company to help develop an IoT solution for applications in heavy industry. They wanted to make their product “smart” and able to predict its life expectancy. The requirements consisted of a mesh network of sensors that send data to a cloud for analysis, in order to predict failure. The race to be first to market set the pace for fast innovation and low cost. The company crafted a business model based on services, not on selling the hardware, which is fully compatible with the open source development that Sensorica can offer. The agreement was that everything that Sensorica develops can be released under an open source licence, with no restrictions for Sensoricans to remix this technology in other projects, including commercial ones.

Thus, the company became the sponsor of an open source IoT applications development project. CAKE, the custodian of the Sensorica OVN takes in financial contributions from the company and distributes them to network affiliates, as a reward for their involvement to the project, as fiscal sponsorship. The company is not a client of CAKE, since this a three party relationship, between the company, CAKE and the world, the later benefiting from the open source IoT applications design, and not simply a one-to-one service exchange between two organizations, even if the company can draw a direct benefit from this relationship.

The Sensor Network project started almost in free form. The first tacit agreement was that the sponsor informs development based on their knowledge about these applications. Decisions on development were to be made during scrum meetings between Sensoricans and employees of the sponsor, Sensoricans would work on tasks, log their time contributions and get some financial compensation every two weeks, relative to their efforts. As the project unfolded, we felt the need for better planning and cost estimation. The first improvement was to manually create a map of content generated by Sensorica’s R&D activities. This brought the idea of being able to generate dynamic content maps, either from the NRP-CAS (every development process has R&D documents as deliverables) or from our CRM (content management system), which is not yet implemented. In order to allow the sponsor of the project to follow almost in real time metrics about the project, we created an experimental dashboard. In the end, we realized that we needed to synchronize the sponsor’s ERP with Sensorica’s NRP-CAS. We crafted a shared language and project development structure, and the agreement was to keep track of work in both places. This brings the need to create interfaces between the two management systems, which hasn't yet been implemented. Moreover, we also decided to produce cost estimates for future tasks, to allow the sponsor to better plan its budget. All these measures had a positive impact on our relationship by making our activities much more predictable and auditable, and by increasing the level of reliability of the network.

As the value created during this project increased, the project sponsor realized its first-to-market advantage was in potential danger if the technical work was put in the context of their direct business interest in a public way. This sparked an interesting debate on openness (access to participation) and transparency (access to information). We drew on Sensorica’s past experience with a project that was sensitive to transparency, and implemented an open and semi-transparent project model. In more concrete terms, anyone can join the project, which preserves the openness aspect. Most of the technical information generated is public from the start, but some documents that contain information about how different components can be used in an application similar to the business case of our sponsor were made non-public. Project affiliates need to sign a non-publication agreement for these documents clustered into a separate folder, but there is no restriction related to the use of this information in any other project. All these non-public documents have a date for publication, which is related to the sponsor’s market deployment strategy and pace. We believe that in through this arrangement we preserved the nature of the Sensorica OVN, while mitigating the risks perceived by the sponsor, which led a stronger synergy between the two entities." ([6])

A Case Study of Freeloading and its solutions at the Sensorica Lab

Tiberius Brastaviceanu:

"Sustaining the commons : the case for new norms and rules for the Sensorica community


Put in place new norms, methods and tools to increase the probability for contributions to develop and maintain physical infrastructure.


There is no blueprint for commons-based peer production organizations, or open value networks. One way to go about designing such an organization is to take a minimalist and iterative approach, to let the structure emerge, based on problems that occur over time. In the recent past, the Sensorica community has encountered a few serious issues and we responded with self-analysis and the design of new processes, methods and the implementation of new norms and rules. For example, the crisis of the 2014 spring resulted in the creation of the Sensorica Montreal lab rules, and the establishment of ACES/CAKE Canada as a custodian.

Towards the end of August 2014, individuals who use the Sensorica Montreal lab had a discussion about paying recurring bills to sustain the lab. This discussion was started by Tibi in an email thread called Paying rent. It evolved into a new crisis when some heavy users of the lab space, who also benefit from the community’s assets in a direct and tangible way, did not respond to this call. Other individuals who only use the lab sporadically and don’t have direct and tangible benefits from it responded positively to contribute to pay recurring bills, and did so before the first of September 2014.

The problem

The Paying rent crisis exposed a few real problems within our Montreal community.

Freeloaders - some people benefit from using the lab in a direct and tangible way but don’t want to contribute to pay recurring bills.

Double and triple dippers - some individuals get money from grants to work on Sensorica projects, don’t perform their duty, instead they work on individual contracts using the space, generate more revenue for themselves and refuse to contribute to pay recurring bills.

Non-identification - some individuals do not identify with the Sensorica community, are critical about the OVN model, but extract value from the Sensorica Montreal lab by using it as working space and to receive their customers, using the Sensorica brand to get more exposure for their services, using other individuals that gravitate around the lab for their own projects, converting potential customers for Sensorica into customers for their individual venture, etc.

In order to ground this problem, to make it objective, we need to enumerate some facts and attach them to real individuals.

Jonathan’s case

Extracted 60,880$ in personal grants related to Sensorica R&D projects.

Didn’t work the amount of time required from the grants on the Sensorica projects associated with the grants, instead he spent a lot of time working on personal projects, some of them being commercial, generating extra revenue. He used the lab (part of the commons) to conduct personal business in a non-collaborative and non-transparent manner, without respecting the 5% proposed norm (giving back to sustain the community). Secretly collaborated with different companies/startups on technology that was developed by sensoricans. Refused to contribute 50$/month to pay rent for the Sensorica Montreal lab at the end of August 2014.

Serge’s case

Used the Sensorica lab space and equipment for free for 6 months (since he came to the lab) to work on his 3D printer project.

Was aware of Sensorica’s revenue sharing model and accepted it

Never documented his work

Did not log contributions in the value accounting system for the 3D printer project

Sensorica affiliates contributed time and money to the same 3D printer project.

In August 2014, when he thought that he had a 3D printer prototype almost ready to sell, Serge decided to move out from the Sensorica Montreal lab, breaching the revenue sharing agreement.

In all, Serge benefited 1,020$ (free rent) and other members’ financial and time contributions to advance his project, which he never really treated as a Sensorica project (no documentation and nothing logged in the VAS), even though the project was listed on Sensorica’s website.

In an email sent to Tibi and Francois (search for Fwd: ouverture de compte - NEQ), Serge says that he is ready to contribute to Sensorica monthly.

Sources of revenue

That is to support the development and maintenance of Sensorica’s infrastructure.

NOTE: ACES/CAKE Canada is the custodian of the SENSORICA Montreal lab, i.e. it is the legal entity that rents the lab space and pays other bills.

There are 3 sources of revenue for the infrastructure:

  • 5% from commercial activities using Sensorica infrastructure
  • contributions/investment
  • donations using the support us button.

The first source comes from a 5% fee that we apply to all revenue generated by Sensorica affiliates using the community’s resources. We call these Revenues from projects. See for example the 3D course project VAS.

The second source comes in the form of a contribution to Sensorica’s infrastructure, which promises back the sum plus a %. It is treated as investment. You need to be, or become a Sensorica affiliate, to have an account in the NRP-CAS, in order to contribute in this manner. We have put in place a mechanism for contributions to Sensorica’s infrastructure HERE.

The third source is “external”. Anyone can donate to support the development of Sensorica, which produces a lot of social value in addition to the value it produces for its affiliates. We have put in place a mechanism for donations HERE.

Lab expenses for the Montreal Lab are HERE.

Some simple calculations

In order to pay the bills for the Sensorica Montreal lab we need 10 affiliates to generate 2K/month in revenue from Sensorica projects, which is very realistic. The 5% extracted only from that activity would suffice to maintain the lab open. Extra revenue goes to pay past contributions to Sensorica’s infrastructure.

The solution

Since the Paying rent discussion (email and live) didn’t have a positive effect on freeloaders, double dippers and on those who don’t identify with Sensorica, it seems that we are at a point where we need to introduce more structure to our community, to introduce new norms and new processes. This structure will also gives two explicit alternatives to those who don’t believe in the OVN model to operate within the Sensorica physical environment (the Montreal lab and others to come).

The Sensorica Montreal lab rules evolved with 3 main levels of interaction within the community.

  • the Sensorica way - generates 5% fees
  • the fablab way - generates membership fees
  • the techshop way - generates fees from services

It is not very difficult to sort people’s interactions within the Sensorica community into these 3 categories.

Interacting the Sensorica way means to participate in Sensorica projects, which are open, transparent, participative. Open means that others can join.

Transparent means that there is enough documentation to know what to do and how, or to build on someone else’s work. Participative means that contributions to these projects are logged into the value accounting system (VAS) and everyone expects to get fluid equity.

Contributing to Sensorica projects means contributing to the economic success of Sensorica, to generate revenue for other affiliates and 5% for infrastructure development and maintenance. A project might have a page on Sensorica’s website, but if there is no up to date documentation and if contributions are not logged into the VAS the project is de facto not a Sensorica project, and activities related to it fall into the other 2 levels of interaction (see below). Therefore, it is very easy to verify if someone that uses Sensorica’s physical infrastructure contributes to Sensorica projects, we look at the activity on our database (documentation) and at the contribution log in VAS. In order to encourage participation in Sensorica projects, access to the Sensorica Montreal lab is free.

OVNi NOTE: we need reporting for every member. It would be nice to have emails sent automatically to all members with a summary of their participation.

Interacting the fablab way means that the individual might work on something of personal or general interest, but doesn’t document very well and especially doesn’t log contributions in the VAS. The individual is willing to share designs, knowledge, and know how with others, to engages in community activities/work, etc. Normally this type of interaction is long-term with a certain stability in frequency. If the individual doesn’t want to share his/her design, knowledge, know how, and doesn’t contribute to community activities there is a good chance he/she is working on a commercial project, and the interaction falls into the techshop level.

Access to the lab is not free in this case, the individual needs to pay a “membership” fee.

Interacting the techshop way means that the individual only uses the infrastructure for a precise purpose, in a non-transparent and non-collaborative way. Normally this type of interaction is short-term, purpose-driven, and can repeat in the future.

Access to the lab in this case is pay-per-use.


If an individual contributes to Sensorica projects and generates over XXX$ in 5% fees, he/she should not feel morally obliged to contribute to pay the bills for the lab. The individual can always chose to engage more in the form of contributions/investments or donations.

If an individual doesn’t log contributions in the VAS he/she is either in the fablab regime or the techfab regime and should pay membership fees or service fees.

If someone claims a space in the Sensorica Montreal lab and uses physical resources on a regular bases, but doesn’t log contributions into VAS and doesn’t document work, doesn't work on SENSORICA projects, this individuals is charged at the end of the month regular price for the space used.

If someone claims a space in the lab, works on Sensorica projects (logs contributions into VAS and documents work) and also on other personal projects, commercial or not, if the Sensorica part of the commercial activities generate less than XXX$ in 5% fees this individual is charged with the balance at the end of the month.

Individuals who don’t claim a space in Sensorica lab, who come to use the physical resources sporadically, to work on Sensorica projects, and might also contribute to Sensorica projects remotely, don’t have a moral obligation to contribute to pay the bills.

Openness and the needs for integration

If Sensorica is expecting to grow 2 issues seems to be relevant. First, to attract contributors that while help to boost the organisation. Second, to engaged people to contribute in a new way of doing open “business”. In other words: selection and integration. As an “open business” with what seem to be a “reputation value focus”, it appears that a tension between selection and inclusiveness is inevitable. If Sensorica lab rules offers a good solution for a soft and inclusive selection on the basis of lab use, it doesn’t necessarily involves that those participants from technolab way will engage themselves to reach Sensorica way. If I’m right, for now tools are mostly computed through the VAS. Although, a big part of the integration, if not by the side selection, should happens during informal relation within the lab as a shared space. How things goes in there between members is important and how information is relayed even more. The nature of Sensorica, as a “work in progress - open structure” is challenging. It actually need a good capacity the manage ambiguity for users expecting value creation. In that sense, another solution added could be to implement a “integration procedure”. So when a new comer is in, he can receive both a sumarized written info and progressively receives a concrete information until he get fully involvement with Sensorica, if asked. The formalization of this kind of process in a more contractual form will be a great help to reduce “ambiguity” on the structural aspect of Sensorica.

Ambiguity and the needs for mediation

In organisation involving human, conflict is inevitable. In fact, it’s probably one of the most efficient manner to create value, depending on the way conflict are perceived and managed. Coming from a heavily formalized society, probabilities are in fact high that conflictual situation will happens in “open organisation” which starts with few formalized rules. Formalized or not, at a time, rules get fixed in texts or if not in the context. Although, the big challenge in those organisation is about knowledge-context transfer between participant as a big part of conflicts are expected to come from misunderstandings. Knowing how to manage ambiguous situation and address internal and external issue for an organisation is crucial for keeping members contribution high and feel related to each others in a positive way inside an organisation or a network.

Other propositions

We might want to have higher prices for companies with more than 5-10 employees that want to establish a presence in the lab.


This solution requires some tools. The NRP-CAS can produce monthly reports with individual involvement in Sensorica projects, 5% fees generated and if the individual is a heavy user of the infrastructure, a balance to pay.

Moreover, some individuals need proof of payments or transfers for accounting purposes. ACES/CAKE Canada will issue them, based on the reports generated from NRP-CAS.

Integrative tool

(in progress)

Mediation competencies

see (ecosystemic complexity theory of conflict) … in progress


Updated the Participate page to reflect the 3 ways of interacting within Sensorica. Updated the Contact us form to include other forms of interests: Join Sensorica, participate in FabLab mode, participate in TechShop mode.

Need to updated the Montreal lab rules.

add detail on the case of working on Sensorica projects - generate monthly VAS report to users, if work is done in the Montreal la AND if contributions from economic activities (5%) are lower than 50$/month AND if not enough revenue to pay recurring bills, contribute to pay the bills." (

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