We started this series of projects with a group of timber growers, loggers, sawyers and woodworkers in Wisconsin. The system worked exactly the way that timber processes work.
We thought the group had a good business plan, and we thought the software was excellent. In particular, the software did manufacturing cost accounting much better and simpler than most expensive packaged software. We were very proud of it, and the timber group loved it.
Unfortunately, the group fell apart (having nothing to do with the software, and everything to do with business disagreements). But if another timber group is interested, we would be happy to revive the software.
We got a request from a woman in Minnesota who was running a local food network. She was also a single parent, taking care of her parents, running a herd of dairy cows, and making cheese. Needless to say, she was going a little crazy...
She wanted administrative software. And she knew exactly how it should work. So we made it work that way.
Since then, four other food networks have used the software, which has continuously improved from their ideas. Two of the five are still using the software, two died (again nothing to do with the software), and another got an investor who did not like open source. This stuff is hard!
Anyway, here's some information about the software. We have not worked on it for awhile. Lots of new people are doing food network and food hub software now, vs nobody when we started. We prefer to solve unsolved problems. Two other groups are looking at the software now, though, so if any of them wants, we'll work on it again. Or rather we'll make our new Value Network software work for food networks. It's better.
We started this project with help from Ken Meter of the Crossroads Resource Center, the best local economic analyst we have ever met. But it really came alive when Jordan and Dave, who represented a cooperative of small fishing boats in Nova Scotia, got ahold of it. They wanted to plan a better distribution system for sustainably caught fish, networked throughout the province.
The term Value Network was coined by Verna Allee. The Open part was added by Sensorica. We've been working as partners with them on our latest (and we think greatest) software project for the past three years. You can see it in action here and get the software here. Here are some concept/tutorial slideshows.
The Sensorica open value network comes out of the global trend towards open source hardware and commons-based peer to peer (P2P) production. They offer anyone in the world a chance to start a project, contribute to an existing project, and be rewarded in proportion to their contributions. They have a lab in Montreal, but also have people contributing from all over using the magic of the internet.
Sensorica's unique contribution to the next economy is the "Value Equation", where instead of the boss taking a profit, the income is distributed to the contributors using a democratically decided equation. In the software, the value equation can follow the resource flow backwards to find out who has made contributions of any kind. And "overhead" contributions can be included too.
Another group who is currently using the software is the Driftless Herbal Exchange Network close to home in SW Wisconsin. They are a group of farmers, harvesters, drying sites, and sellers of locally grown herbs.
And there are a few more coming on board, including FairCoop's Freedom Coop refugee project.
Lately we've been connecting a lot with other people working on the ValueFlows open vocabulary. We're excited about this because what we really want is for any next economy group to be able to communicate and inter-operate with any other one. It shouldn't matter what software the group chooses to use.
So this project is more a network of developers at the moment. We're working on pieces of the vocabulary, and doing small experiments linking various applications designed for the next economy. This project also connects to this W3C Social Economy Community Group.