Value Network Operational Software

This software is operational software for peer-to-peer networks that are creating or producing something and experimenting with different economic relationships. So this could be open value networks, food networks, worker cooperatives, and others. Could even be small business ecosystems.

This version of the software came from the open hardware arena, but is becoming more generalized for other types of networks. It has had several names, but most people have been calling it NRP, for Network Resource Planning, or OCP for Open Collaborative Platform.

You could compare it to an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system except that it is not for enterprises nor is it focused on planning. Or you could compare it to an SCM (supply chain management system) except that it is not really focused on management, either.

It includes:

You can find more information here:

Local/Regional Economic Development Software

This software works on basically the same resource flow model as the operational software, except at a higher analytical level. It can be used for local and regional economic planning, identification of problems in the resource flows, and gaps that are opportunities to be filled. Communities can define different clusters of resource flows within and in and out of the community, and analyze these.

This is the one that connects to the whole ecosystem if you want it to.

It includes:

This software could also be a higher level view of one or more Value Networks. That idea was proposed by a group in Nova Scotia that, unfortunately, fell apart. They did use it to analyze the fisheries situation, but had plans for much more.

The Mutual Aid Network is working on an implementation to figure out how to move all kinds of resources from well-endowed parts of town to parts of town more in need, by networking existing organizations and people.

ValueFlows: Network interoperability

This is a project involving a number of people and software organizations who want to create open vocabulary and protocols so that next economy networks can inter-operate with each other. We want to create a way for networks on different servers, and/or different software packages, to talk the same language.

With some other people, we've created a repository for working on this. We think this ongoing work has a lot of promise for creating ever-increasing networks of networks.

REA: the model behind all our software

The basic model for a networked economic system was invented by Bill McCarthy of Michigan State University in 1982. He was a young accounting student who wondered, now that we have computers, how would we do it differently than these paper debits and credits? He researched the whole history of accounting and boiled the subject matter down into the smallest number of concepts that would do the job. He called it REA, for Resources, Events, and Agents. You can read about it on Wikipedia or learn more than you want to know on Bill's website.

In the 1990's, Bob of Mikorizal helped extend it to become a generalized economic model. This moved it outside of just the enterprise, so it can handle economic relationships and networks of any kind, including ecological requirements.

You could implement lots of different kinds of economic systems using REA. It does not force you to be good, it just allows all economic activity to internetwork.

REA has become the International Standards Organization's economic and accounting model.

Why traditional ERP and accounting software won't work for networks

The problems we've seen include:

Solutions to the administrative and coordination problems are necessary for an economic group to work at all. Solutions to the transparency and trust problems are necessary for the group to survive and prosper, or often to get organized in the first place. Solutions to the income distribution and resource sharing problems are necessary to avoid losing contributors. And if you are focused only on yourself, you are not even a network.

We wrote a much longer article about these problems in the context of food networks in 2009: Problems of group accounting.

And the big dogs have figured this out, too: GT Nexus Network of Networks. (Might want to mute your sound before you click that link, but you should peek: they'll tell you how far we got to go with this stuff.)

Open source software

Our software is open-source from top to bottom, and we are committed to maintaining that. We would like to expand our open source community, and welcome people to work with us.

For potential collaborators

We are working with a team of collaborators towards a common vocabulary to support inter-operability between next-economy software called ValueFlows. The more the merrier.

And we are also interested in working with other programmers, designers, writers, etc., on the more decentralized and distributed software of the future.

Please send us an email if you want to contact us directly.