commons / complementary currency / lessig / lietaer

Consensus and the Commons

In the Future of Ideas and Money and Lessig and Lietaer posts, a community currency is compared to the Internet. Both of them form an innovation commons.

Associated with community currency design is protocol. Contrast this with national money where laws generally regulate use.

Protocols on the Internet are generally established by the IETF. Jeanette Hofmann describes this process:

The IETF is open to anyone who is interested, provided they have the necessary technical competence and practical engineering skills. The exclusionary effect of this prerequisite should not be underestimated. The IETF has traditionally understood itself as an elite in the technical development of communication networks. Gestures of superiority and a dim view of other standardisation committees are matched by unmistakable impatience with incompetence in their own ranks.

As in the early days, when the Internet community was still a small and mainly academic grouping, the rule is still “one man, one vote”. Everyone speaks only for himself and not for the organisation he represents in the IETF: “all participants in the IETF are there as INDIVIDUALS, not as companies or representatives thereof. (Whether this is a quaint fiction is an interesting discussion given enough beer, but it is certainly the historical basis of the organization (…).” (O´Dell, 18. 12. 97, POISED)

Majority decisions and contentious votes are frowned upon. The members continue discussing an issue until broad consensus (“rough consensus”) emerges.

Rich is a board member for the Austin Time Exchange. The consensus process used for the ATX is based on the Consensus Decision Making Flowchart.


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