A critique of Sensorica’s open value accounting

Update statement by author Lars Zimmermann: ” I wrote this article a while back (in very bad english) and i want to add something to it today. I am still in for all the points i made in general. But i am not so sure if they really fit to what Sensorica is actually building in reality. In past, present and the future. And i don’t want the article to harm the project. But i leave it here as “a warning” for everything Sensorica or similar projects could develop in.”

A critique by open source circular economy pioneer Lars Zimmermann from Berlin.

I disagree with the critique, which focuses on two points:

* that Sensorica commodifies contributions and thereby risks deterring intrinsic motivation; but that is precisely not what Sensorica does. It allows all contributions, does not guarantee payment, and allows you to record them. In the eventually of generated income, it will be divided according to the contributions. This insures a fair social contract so that the work of all cannot be captured by some. But it does not commodify contributions by paying for each of them and conditioning contributions on income.

* that an open value network is a surveillance machine. Tiberius of Sensorica answers this charge adequately in the comments section of that article.

This being said, in the approach that I recommend at the P2P Foundation, we do prefer a separation between the commons field of contributions, and a separate fair distribution between those that create livelihoods in the marketplace, but Sensorica’s experiment may well turn out to be a vital and viable alternative.

Here is an excerpt from Lars Zimmmmermann, followed by a comment from Tibi.

Lars Zimmermann writes:

“At the OuiShare Fest in Paris i saw a talk by Tiberius Brastaviceanu that really scared me. The talk was about a project called the Sensorica Open Value Network.

There is still a little chance, that i understood everything wrong – hopefully. In that case this blogpost marks down what a network like this in my opinion never should become.

What is Sensorica? The builders have a background in Open Source Hardware. And the new goal of sensorica is to create an open network, that measures and counts all sorts of contributions people make to a project and put them into an account. Your little contributions will bring you a share of the revenue made in the end. In short: You find a project online and tweet about it. Now your little tweet about it is a little marketing job for it, gets counted and is worth something in the end.

They say, they do it, to make Open Soure Hardware work better and grow. But i think they are also likely to do it a lot of harm. Because what i see here is, someone presenting in the name of Open Source Hardware a big and scary surveillance machine, something really fit for undermining intrinsic motivation..

Surveillance because they have to save, measure, evaluate and store all the things you do.

And undermining intrinsic motivation because they take and extend the logic/idea of money (which is creating something abstract to represent different concrete things and make them comparable). Money and its logic is an interesting thing but it has a lot of downsides too.

One of this downsides is, that it is very good in destroying intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is a therm that tries to describe, that there are things, we are doing just for fun, because they interest or fascinate us or bring us joy. Nobody has to give us something for it, we just do it for the task itself. This kind of motivation does not work very well together with money all the time. A little story to illustrate this i found in some book:

Money and especially small sums of it are very good in destroying intrinsic motivation.

But intrinsic motivation is a huge driver in the whole open source world! The beauty you can find everywhere in Open Source Hardware is a result of massive amounts of intrinsic motivation.

And when i think about sensorica is see someone trying to create this high surveillance machine that tracks down your every little move, transforms it and makes you think about its possible economic worth! It is 5 cents or less.

They measure your every little move.

This system is even more dangerous than money, because money ends, there are things that money can not reach. So there is still room for free thinking and acting. But this system creeps in a lot more niches, into every little corner of your day and actions bringing in the logic of money. Numbs you with counting and calculating.

The reason i am scared of this, is that so many people will probably think of it as a good idea. Because they are used to money and its logic. Yeah, when money is not really working, let’s create SUPER MONEY! And than they will start using it.”

Here’s the response from Tiberius from Sensorica, focusing on surveillance:

“Thank you for paying attention to our work. We need critics like you.

For now, I am only going to address your point on surveillance. Think about Bitcoin. Every transaction is recorded. No p2p system can be built without keeping traces. But the identity of those who exchanged is not known.

We are committed to p2p, to free the individual.

We are building a p2p economy to replace centralized platforms, which centralize all the information about our economic activity and use it against us. In a p2p economy everyone has access to all the information, and individuals have the choice how much information to release to the public.

Think about facebook. Your have in there what they call private data and communication and public ones. But really, the private is only private for your friends, not for Facebook employees, and certainly not for NSA, or for companies who buy data from Facebook. A p2p social network runs in a very different way, your private information is only for you. Now you can transpose that to a p2p economy.”

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.