Transparency - 2009
- 1 Introduction - Writings from 2009
- 2 Recruiting Investment and Skill
- 3 Core Mission of OSE and Organizational Form
- 4 1000 True Fans
- 5 Accountability
- 6 Conclusion
Introduction - Writings from 2009
(last updated 4.12.09 and preserved for historical purposes)
We have shown consistently that we spend just about 100% of donations directly on prototyping and product release work surrounding the 41 item-Global Village Construction Set. See the October Progress Report as an example.
We have not been effective in delivering product on schedule, however. Because of the experimental, high-risk nature of our entire development plan, and the constant strategic development updates - our development path is more serpentine than straight. Yet, we are still aiming at a clear goal - the 41 different technologies attaining product release status by Year End 2010.
This will not happen within a 2 year period until we reach a $10k/month funding level - sufficient for prototyping up to 4 technologies per month. Each technology costs about $2k to prototype on average - so 40 technologies at 3 prototype cycles each require a budget of $240k. This takes 2 years at the $10k/month funding level.
Our intent is to utilize 2009 as a year for building capacity. The steps to this are:
- Attaining a $10k/month funding level via the True Fans Campaign and product sales - CEB press being the first product.
- Demonstrating a scalable prototype deployment technique for pooling resources towards parallel prototyping. Parallel refers to several prototypes being done at once.
- Building necessary infrastructure on-site at Factor e Farm to make both prototyping and testing possible.
- The above infrastructure includes a core on-site team for performing necessary product development due diligence.
This entire process is novel, and if successful, marks a breakthrough for Open Business Model development for productive enterprise.
$10k/month Funding Level
Our main strategy is to utilize a combination of the True Fans campaign, product release of the CEB press, and resulting mainstream media publicity (already organized and to be spawned upon success) upon to capture a major increase in support, both financial and developer-wise.
Scalable Product Development Method
No one to date has yet come up with a scalable, open source product and Open Business Model development methodology. Achieving success in developing this process marks a major breakthrough in civilization's economic system evolution. Such a breakthrough would convert the present scarcity-based, paleoindustrial systems to one of post-scarcity, post-industrial, peer-to-peer production. This is major breakthrough way on its way in terms of global developments in open source economic theory and practice.
We are currently testing a process for the Open Source Product Development and Open Business Model development at Factor e Farm. Our process is as follows:
- Organize a local core team at Factor e Farm for leading development due diligence on the 41 GVCS projects
- Organize a large, supporting, global development pool for the above.
- Produce prototype designs
- Review designs, publish proposals, and submit them for crowd-based funding
- Outsource or insource prototype fabrication to qualified experts
- Test and integrate a product ecology at Factor e Farm
- Repeat cycle until all 41 technologies reach Product Release
To date, we have achieved minor success in scaling development from CEB press only to part-time parallel development of RepRap and Pyrolysis Oil. We have far to go in terms of achieving success on parallel development of a significant number of technologies.
The missing link to date has been the unavailability of expert and skilled investor/developers.
Recruiting Investment and Skill
Core Team Qualities
We have found to date that we tend to attract liberal arts college graduates to Factor e Farm. This poses a significant development challenge, since practical skills are not part of a liberal arts major. However, it is not the training, but rather the mindset - of the prospective volunteer that really counts in terms of their adaptability to the Factor e Farm development program. A person has to:
- be a focused problem solver
- have an open mind
- have an ability to learn hands-on skills
- be in good physical and mental health
- have a desire to eat their own dogfood in the business sense
- have a deep commitment to changing the status quo
- look beyond vanity production to the betterment of humankind
This is a strict set of requirements for which most people are not ready.
We are looking for people who have the above qualities.
Core Team Developer Duties
To become part of the Factor e Farm Core Team, each applicant must make a significant commitment to moving the GVCS towards completion.
1. To be considered for the Factor e Farm Core Team, an applicant must write a detailed one month proposal for their involvement as part of their application, and must write a more general program for the next 3 months. This proposal must in itself be written in a fashion that moves a particular project forward, by performing significant research or background due diligence that helps a particular project move forward. Applicants are expected to follow the general format of a business plan. See http://openfarmtech.org/business_plan_guide.pdf
2. Each applicant is expected to secure their own accommodations and comforts by investing into Factor e Farm infrastructure as needed to provide the necessary level of comfort. An applicant needs to evaluate existing amenities and propose an effective solution towards creating an effective working environment - while not disrupting the effectiveness of anyone else's environment.
3. All investment becomes a part of Factor e Farm's prototype community, to be developed further as needed to demonstrate a prosperous, modern-day, off-grid community.
4. The intent for Core Team Developers is that they, first, move the entire GVCS to completion, second, demonstrate an effective Open Enterprise Development process and facility, and third, that they either stay on-site to continue Open Enterprise Development, or go elsewhere to replicate modern, off-grid enterprise communities elsewhere. The basic intent is that of demonstrating a successful, productive, Enterprise Community, and, learning to replicate the same at other locations.
5. Core Team prospectives must include a clear metric of success for their work. An equivalent of, at the very least, $500 of value must be created per person per month - to attain the desired $10k/month with a minimum team of 10 people on-site. This value can be accounted easily as: (1), securing cash donations, and (2), securing materials donations. Physical resources must be created so that the entire Core Team succeeds in reaching the $10k/month cash or materials support level. All other due diligence does not count in the monetary value - just the result of that due diligence in terms of securing physical resorces for building a post-scarcity village.
Agricultural production is covered by Organic Farming Volunteers, unless the Core Team applicant focuses on gene bank development. In the case of gene bank development, the metric of success is the direct value of plant/animal stock collected.
6. In general, Core Team members have to bring some form of expertise to the project. Outside of business savvy, strategic abilities, communication, and organizational skills - agriculture and workshop skills are in high demand. This expertise must be connected clearly to developing resources towards the project or getting the project done directly. With respect to the latter, machine shop, torch, and welding skills are particularly useful.
Applicants for the core team are required to submit a business plan. The business plan must include how the appicant intends to create an Open Business Model based on their work. Prior to coming to Factor e Farm, applicants may be requested to prove some of their propositions by working remotely from Factor e Farm, until it becomes obvious that they are generating meaningful results according to their business plan. This is possible because a significant portion of our work relies on the information economy - such that organizational/information work can be carried out from anywhere.
Core Mission of OSE and Organizational Form
We are treading a pioneering path in terms of how Factor e Farm is supported. We are not a corporation, nonprofit organization, or charity in any standard, legal sense of the word. We have found that nonprofit, corporate, or governmental status does not fit the core mission of Open Source Ecology.
Nonprofit organizations have reporting and allocation requirements that injects a serious amount of overhead and wasteful spending into an operation - from the perspective of direct allocation to project goals. Nonprofits also focus on low-risk activity, while Factor e Farm work has significant enterprise risk. Other corporate and governmental forms are susceptible to compensation for alienation, maintenance of the status quo, political whim, regulation, and unsustainable growth. As such, these are unsuitable organizational forms for transformative economic development.
Because the above governmental and corporate entities are not suitable for the transformative nature of OSE work, our only option is to operate as a non-governmental organization (NGO) - defined as a private, voluntary organization. It is by definition unincorporated, since it is by legal definition non-commercial and non-governmental in nature. As such, it is removed from various compromises inherent to mainstream, geopolitical systems operation. We favor its private, voluntary nature as the best vehicle for carrying out our work.
The core mission of OSE is to develop peer production, peer-to-peer culture, and a peer-based, open source economic system predicated on open source business models. We are taking the definitions promoted by the P2P Foundation to their limits of application. We are simply proposing down-to-the-bone, radical transformation of the way the economic system works - to transcend a culture of scarcity and to help people obtain full empowerment via open access to learning and open access to the tools of production.
Community Supported Production
In particular, we favor Community Supported Production, a model whereby open source business models are used in developing open enterprise. This enterprise is funded by stakeholders interested in product, and the producers in this case capture the value of their labor. This model applies well to diversified, local, on-demand production of all types of products. As technology eveolves, this will also apply up to full local automomy via full local production. Silicon can be refined from local sand and aluminum can be refined from local clay - available everywhere. This is sufficient as a basis for an advanced, computer-using civilization.
We have to date funded a flexible production facility according to the Community Supported Production model above. We are working on going into production with the CEB press.
Factor e Farm Business Model
Our business model consists of:
- A high level of subsistence production
- Low overhead
- Rich information flows (information economy)
- Production for market
- 1000 True Fans and Donations
- Investment from Core Team members
1000 True Fans
(last updated 4.12.09)
The 1000 True Fans is our campaign to recruit 1000 supporters at $10 per month to achieve the above budget requirement. We have 39 subscribers at present.
We received some feedback that people are not signing up because we have insufficient transparency. The information above should dispel this notion.
We have spend the last 3 months with very limited success (about $400 in donations per month). We are now moving close to product release, and the subsequent surge in support.
As money is spent, it will be reported in our budget reports. Anyone who questions our accountability will be pointed to the Transparency page. If they still question our accounting practices, they are questioning our integrity, and they cannot be convinced readily to be our friends. They are probably not worth pursuing as supporters because they lack the intelligence required to understand the scope of this work.
We have received several critiques on accountability. People tell us that we should use the system to transcend the system, that we should conform to standard practices. Hoever, in the name of an important experiment, we are pursuing a different route - and thereby creating and operating in a peer-to-peer-based economic framework. In such a network, people are peers by definition, there is no coercion, there is no compensation for alienation, there is no unilateral contract, and no geopolitical compromise. These are ideals worth pursuing.
Our response to the above critique from now is to read Transparency, and appreciate our commitment to a peer-based economy, where scarcity-based accounting principles are replaced by NGO status and direct documentation of our work on-line. Those who do not see this model in operation, or who do not appreciate it, are stuck in a mindset of scarcity economics, and others who can understand the operational model should be sought instead. By removing ourselves from the privilege (and duty) of government protection, we are playing out our role in a peer-based economy, with its transformative features of direct governance, network economics, and open access.
This exposition should provide a clear explanation of our financial accountability