The 3E Process Seed Bank will serve as the “creative process engine” for the 3 Ecologies Institute alter-university project. The aim is to develop a self-sustaining micro-economy of abundance, affective intensity, and emergent collectivity. The concept of the “anarchive” developed by the SenseLab’s “Immediations” project will lie at the heart of the Process Seed Bank.
Technically, the Process Seed Bank will take the form of a post-blockchain “distributed autonomous organization” (DAO) designed to operate in consonance with the SenseLab’s ethos of collaborative exploration fostering emergent collectivity. The 3E Process Seed Bank will combine a platform for creative collaboration at the intersection of art, philosophy, and activism with a non-transactional economy embodying a non-capitalist notion of value, while at the same time being capable of interfacing with the dominant economy via participation in a cooperative ecosystem of alternative cryptocurrency-based economic spaces currently under development by the Economic Space Agency (ECSA, http://ecsa.io).
A DAO, or “Distributed Autonomous Organisation,” is a next-generation outgrowth of the blockchain technology underlying Bitcoin. Simple transactions between two parties are replaced by “smart contracts” which can involve any kind of engagement and any number of parties. Customizable spaces of interaction can be built on top of the underlying architecture, enabling a diversity of self-defining projects to cohabit the same ecosystem and enter into mutually beneficial relation. With this ability, the Distributed Autonomous Organization evolves toward the Distributed Programmable Organization. Post-blockchain architectures are already emerging that have even more flexible, lower-cost, rhizomatic architectures operating on the peer-to-peer model. These make it possible to design alternative models embodying an ethos of sustainable economic and social cooperation that is integrally built into the systems architecture at all levels.
These developments open new possibilities for collective projects to invent their own self-sustaining creative economies, operating not in competition with each other but in a shared, open-source environment based on notions of the “common” (or, more radically, what Fred Moten and Stefano Harney call the “undercommons”). Collective initiatives can invent their own autonomous model, combining collaboratiive work tools, a decentralized, self-administering governance system, and an internal micro-economy that can be interlinked to the cryptocurrency markets or invent its own dedicated forms of value.
The 3E Process Seed Bank will be open source. It will be offered to other cooperatives as a template to be adapted to their needs. Toward this end, we are intensively engaged with exploring collaborations with innovators such as the Economic Space Agency (ECSA, http://ecsa.io) and Holochain (https://holochain.org).
Interview by Marc Todoroff with Erin Manning and Brian Massumi, reflecting the collective work and conceptual developments as of March 2018.
Cephalopod Dreams: Finance at the Limit, Erin Manning
A collective exploration of what an anarchive can be, produced as a book sprint during the Distributing the Insensible event, Montreal, 10-20 December 2016. Andrew Murphie, with the SenseLab.
Multidimensional collective exploration of the anarchival frontiers of finance, also produced during the the Distributing the Insensible event, Montreal, 10-20 December 2016 in the context of the SenseLab’s collaboration with ECSA. Érik Bordeleau, Skye Bougsty-Marshall, Laura Lotti, Joel Mason.
The following working papers represent stages in the 3E Process Seed Bank project. They were written to sum up developments and spark further discussion and experimentation. They do not reflect the final form of the project. The concepts and proposals they contain continue to evolve. For details on some of the changes, see “Notes on the Evolution” below.
This working paper served as a bridge between two events at which ECSA and the SenseLab worked intensively together on issues of creative altereconomies: the Immediations’ Adventure Capital Study Retreat, Oka, 24-27 July 2016 and the ECSA “Open Source the Economy: Blockchain, Abundance, Co-Creation & Beyond ”brainstorm and hackathon, Oakland, California, 11-15 November 2016, Oakland. It represents the first systematic imagining of the Adventure Capital DAO. (We have since abandoned the term “adventure capital” because of its potential to be misunderstood to carry neoliberal connotations.)
This working paper develops further ideas about the potential role of the anarchive as part of an alter-economy. It also begins to tackle the question of how the qualities of relation and affective intensities energizing collective creative process might become the basis for an actual economy.
Following up from the SenseLab’s brainstorming session with the Volatilies Group based at NYU and the New School (New York, March 5-7, 2017), this working paper starts to envision how the 3E Process Seed Bank platform might design “smart contracts” consonant with the SenseLab’s approach to creative process. Smart contracts are necessary to enable interoperability with a surrounding environment of cooperative economic spaces.
This working paper develops further ideas about how smart contracts might work on the planned 3E Process Seed Bank Platform. Smart contracts are renamed « self-organizing propositions » (SOPs) to avoid the narrow, transactional connotations of the word « contract. » The goal is to replace the formal, rule-based governance structure that is typically used to regulate distributed online platforms with a set of flexible, interlinkable SOPS that shepherd the creative interactions across thresholds of decision-making and taking-form. The goal is to provide lures and openings for self-organizing, rather than boxing the process into a normative regulatory framework.
This working paper follows up from Working Paper 4. It presents the thinking resulting from a hands-on workshop designed to further explore the potential of self-organizing propositions (SOPs) as an alternative to a traditional digital governance structure. In keeping with the 3 Ecologies approach, the SOPs are being designed starting from their processual qualities, as experimented with and experienced in live off-line interaction. The goal is for the digital platform to evolve as an analog of the analog process of emergent collectivity, rather than as a formal modeling of individual behavior according to a preestablished rule set. The code takes it place in the process, as a phase of it, participating in and analogically echoing its processual character, rather than standing on its own as a supposedly neutral framing of operational parameters.
“Processual Operator Thingies (POTs) are the second coding technique the 3E Process Seed Bank uses. Understood as bundles of code that bring qualitative more-than human tendencies to processes that will tend to be individualising (because online participation invariably passes through the individual user), POTs mine existing techniques for assistance (and deviation) in navigating the 3E Process Seed Bank. A variation on the figure of the BOT, POTs are quality intensifiers that detour processes too goal-oriented. Familiar as we are with our ways of navigating on the web, our proposition is that we POT our orientations, that we allow POT tonalities to activate relational shifts in the system. POTs build on our event-thresholding techniques, techniques we have invented over the years that facilitate new ways of coming into relation.“
“The affectometer, a high-level processual operator is the weathervane of the system: it catches the intensity in the system as it is performed. It does so not by first quantifying and then representating but by moving through alliances between the different seeds to pull out the differentials of their immanent relationality. These differentials are transduced into number by the affectometer. This affective transduction might be seen as the mapping of the sonic contours of the environment. Like the cephalopod who colours the world in a symphony of attunement, the sonic contour makes felt the qualitative shift in relation the affectometer maps.”
Unlearning the Value of Money: A Manifesto and A Modest Proposal. This working paper addresses issues around the dominant culture of money and how it can infect alter-economic projects in spite of their best efforts. It suggests guiding principles and possible procedures for making collective decisions about money in ways consonant with the processual, self-organizing ethos of the SenseLab and the 3Ecologies Institute. The procedures are meant to prototype, using means we currently have at our disposal, some of the « Self-Organizing Propositions » (SOPs) that will be coded into the 3E Process Seed Bank as it evolves into an online alter-economic platform.
Notes on the Evolution
Update following the New York Volatilities Group/SenseLab meetings in March 2017.
Name change: “Adventure Capital” was changed to the “3 Ecologies Process Seed Bank.”
The discussions and brainstorming of the meetings led to our first success in imagining how smart contracts might work with our process. Smart contracts are necessary for the 3E platform to interface and become interoperable with other ECSA economic spaces and the Agoric cryptocurrency providing the general economic environment they share (see ecsa.io for information). We had earlier shied away from smart contracts because they tend to reintroduce the kind of transactional, exchange-based organizational mode that we are trying to move past. ECSA has always maintained that they could be conceived of in much more open and relational ways than might be suggested by the word “contract,” and a part of our task that we hadn’t made much progress on until now was to find ways to implement them that worked for our project.
The proposed smart contracts coming out of New York assume the “magma” principle outlined in Working Paper 2. As suggested in that paper, they operate at the edge or “membrane” of the 3E space. There are three types, two kinds of “entryway” and one we were calling an “endtroduction” (but I think needs a more intuitively understandable name that is specific to it – perhaps “turnstile”?).
1. The first kind of entryway responds to the need to have a way of inviting people to cross the threshold into our space that conveys something of the ethos of the project, and familiarizes them with some of the activities under way. The usual method of crossing the threshold into a dedicated online space is individualizing and transactional: the person identifies themselves, often accepts formal conditions, and sometimes provides a fee or service in return for gaining entry. Our entryway smart contract, on the other hand, is designed to be relational, and to be part of a gift economy. The presence of the person entering would not immediately be registered in a way that is visible on the platform. They are invited basically to lurk: to look around and see what is going on, and then to “shadow” a part of the process that interests them. Whenever they are ready and feel they have a sense of the process and might have something to contribute, they give a gift to the process. This could be anything: a comment, a proposition, a concept, a poem, an image, a link, a file upload, etc. Once they have made the gift, their passage across the threshold is complete, and their presence is made visible. It would probably be good to have some form of welcoming practice that would kick in at this point.
2. The second kind of entryway is the same as the first, but with a gift of funds. A person could donate funds, but like their own presence, the donation would not register until they also make a gift of process as outlined above. This rules out uninterested donations (gifts of cash by people who are not in any way involved). Once the gift of process is made, the financial gift is registered and enters the collective pool. At that point, the person donating the funds no longer has any individual ties to it or any power over it. It is a pure gift to the collective.
There are many questions that this proposal raises that bear on how we design the properly economic aspect of our project. Would the funds be donatable in fiat currency? If so, where would they be held, how would they be administered (would 3E have to incorporate to be able to have a bank account), and how would decisions over use of the funds be made? If the 3E space really does interface with the dominant economy, these are problems we will have to resolve one way or the other.
An alternative that avoids the mainstream banking system might be for the funds to be converted into Agoric, and from Agoric into Bitcoin, and then spent as much as possible in Bitcoin. This would have the advantage of supporting the Agoric currency. It would require the 3E project to have an Agoric wallet and a Bitcoin wallet, both of which once again raise governance and decisionmaking issues, for which further smart contracts would have to be invented. A third alternative might for the funds to be converted into Agoric, and then (or perhaps just a portion of them) from Agoric into our cryptocurrency, Occurrency. This would support our currency. It would also open the possibility of having the gift not be a pure gift – the person donating could receive some of the Occurrency for themselves, so that the donation also has an investment side to it. This would move toward making making Occurrency function not only as our resource, but as a money market (giving it the character of “commodity money,” or currency that is itself traded and speculated upon).
3. The third smart contract will probably have to be a bundle of smart contracts. It would set the operating parameters for Occurrency, under a different aspect than the commodity money aspect just describe. As outlined in “Adventure Capital and the Anarchive, ” the intensities of our creative process would be registered as the process passes thresholds of form-taking. The qualitative intensities of the process would be registered immanently to the process, but also be quantified in a way that spins off value externally, into the surrounding ECSA and mainstream economies. The registering of the processual intensities would periodically “mint” a certain quantity of Occurrency. This would be Occurrency under the aspect of “equity money”: basically, more like a stock than a currency in the familiar sense of a medium of exchange. The creative success of our process would be the equity “backing” the currency and giving it value. Further thinking and consulting with economists will be necessary to ascertain whether Occurrency could function solely as equity money, or whether it needs to have a commodity aspect as well. The issue is convertibility: Occurrency has to be convertible to the ECSA and Agoric currencies in order to participate in the ecology of economic spaces. How is the conversion rate set if there are no market forces at work, given that our “equity” (the surplus-value of life produced by our collective creative practice) is so abstract and fleeting? The “turnstile” smart contract would constitute the protocols of Occurrency’s convertibility and circulation (creating mechanisms for it to be converted into ECSA and Agoric, and perhaps owned and sold by individual investors/speculators in addition to the collective pool owned by 3E project as a whole). It would also have to manage how decisions about spending the collective pool were made and executed.
NOTE: the ECSA currency has been renamed to “Space” and Agoric has been renamed “Gravity”.