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Optical sensing solutions delivered by an open, decentralized, and self-organizing Value Network.



1. Josef Davies-Coates:

"Sensorica are an ‘Open Value Network’ focussed on two primary activities: creating open hardware products; and developing the Open Value Network (OVN) model. OVNs are variously described as “people creating value together, by contributing work, money and goods, and sharing the income” a “framework for many-to-many innovation” and a “model for commons-based peer production.” The basic concept is very similar to the Bettermeans “contribution-based-rewards” idea, but in OVNs contributions other than completed tasks are also accounted for. They are currently working with Bob Haugen and Lynn Foster at Mikorizal Software to develop a prototype open source value accounting platform called ValNet." (


"SENSORICA is an open, decentralized, self-organizing value network, a commons-based peer-production network, focused on designing sensing and sensemaking technology.

Mission: SENSORICA value network is committed to the design and deployment of intelligent, open sensors and sensemaking systems, which allow our communities to optimize interactions with our physical environment and realize our full human potential.

There are two tracks of innovation within SENSORICA: sensing technology and the Value Network model. The first is about sensor devices and "sense making" systems. The second is about designing and implementing a new organizational model.

As an organization, SENSORICA

  • is designed to facilitate the creation and the exchange of value.
    • facilitates cooperation and co-creation.
    • secures transactions and reduces transaction costs.
    • allows transactions of assets other than financial
  • is decentralized
    • the process of decision-making is distributed.
    • it is NOT based on power-relations, it is a value-based network.
    • resource allocation is bottom-up
  • has a very low barrier to entry; it is open in that sense.
  • allows free individual initiative.
  • has an adaptive structure, constantly changing with respect to internal and environmental conditions.

SENSORICA is partially a market economy and partially a gift economy. We find solutions to problems and exchange products and services on the market. But individuals and organizations are also allowed to initiate projects that are mostly passion-driven, without expecting a financial compensation. SENSORICA offers the right balance between passion and duty, between freedom and constraint.

  • An ethical and humane organization, by its nature.
  • A locus of practical knowledge about sensing.
  • An organization tuned for the know how economy
  • An organizations producing Commons.
  • We bet on speed to market and flexibility rather than protection.
  • We achieve speed by embracing open innovation through a network-to-teams structure.
  • We build capacity by network affiliation / association.
  • We are only limited by our ability to coordinate our global network.
  • We use a contribution-based compensation model."


Governance Systems

"Our open, decentralized and self-organizing value network requires a sound value accounting system, a fair reputation system and an accurate role assigning system.

  • The Value Accounting System records and evaluates every member's input. Revenues are calculated in terms of member's contributions. This system outputs a map of value sources and of the value flow distribution.
  • The reputation system incentivizes good behavior within our community and helps to focus attention. It plays an important role in the creation and the flow of value within the network by filtering participants to adequate tasks. It also informs the service system. See more on our Reputation System document.
  • The role system incites voluntary subordination; it plays an important role in self-organization. It also informs the service system. See more on our Role System document.

These three sub-systems (in conjunction with others) are necessary to induce tight self-organization within an open and decentralized value network like SENSORICA, and to render the network creative and productive.

The Value, Reputation and Role systems interact with each other." (

The current value accounting systems logs the following data [1]:

  1. Time contributions
  2. Financial contributions
  3. Material contributions
  4. Space contributions (not implemented yet)
  5. Contributions with social capital (not implemented yet)


Value Accounting in Sensorica

Tiberius Brastaviceanu:

"We need to make the distinction between co-creation of value and value exchange. These are two important processes but very distinct ones. Sensoricans are working hard to solve the value accounting problem, which is meant to support large scale co-creation of value. The value accounting is a way to capture individual contributions that blend into a unique product, to evaluate these contributions, and to compute equity in the end product, a % for every member.

NOTE the value accounting system is NOT a system that objectifies value and it is not a bean counting system! It is a contract, a method to which all contributors adhere to reassure every contributor about how the future revenue will be redistributed. That's it! It preserves the subjective nature of value, it can take, in theory, into consideration all types of value, tangible and intangible.

Once the product is made it is exchanged, and this is where you need currencies, or systems of value exchange.

Again, value accounting for co-creation of value and value exchange are two different things in my mind. These two systems must interact with each other, but we need to see them as separate. One is designed to manage the amalgamation of value from different agents into one product, the other one is designed to facilitate value exchange between different agents, with no value added in the process." (email November 2012)


"We are taking an iterative approach to solve the value accounting problem and to design and implement a sound value system, which allows individuals and small organizations to collaboratively create and distribute value. The main role of the value accounting system is to track different types of contributions, like time, financial, material..., and to compute a revenue share for all contributors, based on individual contribution. This is the core of the value accounting system. This is what it takes to transition from the social web to the collaborative/value producing web. This is what it takes to transition to a new economy, a p2p economy.

In order to make value networks self-organize into creative and productive entities we need more than a sound value system. We are in fact developing the entire infrastructure of value networks, which includes communication, coordination and collaboration tools, a reputation system, a role system, an incentive system, a feedback system, a service system, a materials management system, a project/tasks management system, and many other modules. All these components interact with each other and form an empowering environment for contributing member to express their passions, exchange and collaborate to create value.

We are not just dreaming about this. SENSORICA is sustaining a continuous growth in value and in potential since its inception. It is the living proof of viability for the value network model." (


"Our open, decentralized and self-organizing value network requires a sound value system (accounting and exchange), a fair reputation system, a role system, a feedback system, and an incentive system.

  • The value accounting system records and evaluates every member's contribution. Revenues are calculated in terms of member's contributions. This system outputs a map of value sources, points of consumption and transformation, as well as the value flow distribution.
  • The value exchange system insures exchange of value among SENSORICA members.
  • The reputation system incentivizes good behavior within our community and helps to focus attention. It plays an important role in the creation and the flow of value within the network by filtering participants for adequate tasks. It also informs the service system. Reputation can also affect revenue in a direct way, if taken into account in value equation.
  • The role system guides voluntary subordination; it plays an important role in self-organization. It also informs the service system.
  • The feedback system
  • The incentive system

All these systems are necessary to incentivize activity, to induce tight self-organization within SENSORICA value network, and to render the network creative and productive. These systems are also designed for network-to-network interface.

The architecture will be modified to fit with the diaspora paradigm, see Value Networks - moving forward.

Another important aspect of value networks is the commons." Open the Value Accounting Doc

3. Status Update, March 2013, Tiberius Brastaviceanu:

"Our (sensoricans) idea about how value, of different types, flows within value networks is getting a little more concrete, after two years of living the value network an observing these flows establishing themselves. The new infrastructure version for value networks that we're implementing now, as we speak, takes into consideration our new findings and understanding. It will also help us extract data and produce visuals for how value flows within SENSORICA. We're probably going to interface with metamaps.

Having said that, all this stuff is not simple. Once you decide to treat consider value in its most general form you find out that there is an entire forest of values and value-related things. We're now trying to do some botany in there, to put some order in all this diversity, and to identify leverages in this value ecosystem, which will become levers of "control" of the value network. In short, there are many different types of contributions individuals can make, and there are different types of value.

For the "commons" now. I only consider commons immaterial things. Information and knowledge form one type. A brand is an example of another type. All material things that are shared and are consumed or degraded during use form the "pool of shareables". The distinction between the commons and shareables is important because these things require different accounting tools, different management tools, different governance, etc.

I don't see what we call commons as the milieu. The entire ecosystem is the milieu in my mind, and the structure of this ecosystem is driven by the network of all processes related to value, hence the name "value network". The commons, as we see it, is a generative entity, so I resonate with the idea of "field of emergence". It is a pool of potential, sourcing innovation. It also represents intrinsic value, because it has an influence on recruiting, i.e. people are attracted by it and decide to participate. BUT most people neglect know how. When you consider knowledge as commons you MUST consider know how, which cannot be part of the commons, because it cannot be put somewhere for other to consume. Proximity is IMPORTANT in transfer of know how. Know how lives ONLY within individuals. It can be transferred to other individuals by tutoring, mentoring... which are time consuming and intense activities, but it cannot be shared on an informational support. You can feel the difference between knowledge and know how next time you'll try to make (know how) a cake following a recipe (the knowledge) you find on the Internet. So, for the knowledge commons to be effective one needs to consider know how and to put in place mechanisms for its transfer. We created a few spaces to discuss about these issues, see the Value Network community on G+. You can also contribute to the Value Network wiki

Please contribute to these spaces so that together, we create enough content in one place to inspire others to join this movement." [2]

A Case Study of Freeloading and its solutions at the Sensorica Lab


"Sustaining the commons : the case for new norms and rules for the SENSORICA community


Put in place new norms, methods and tools to increase the probability for contributions to develop and maintain physical infrastructure.


There is no blueprint for commons-based peer production organizations, or open value networks. One way to go about designing such an organization is to take a minimalist and iterative approach, to let the structure emerge, based on problems that occur over time. In the recent past, the SENSORICA community has encountered a few serious issues and we responded with self-analysis and the design of new processes, methods and the implementation of new norms and rules. For example, the crisis of the 2014 spring resulted in the creation of the SENSORICA Montreal lab rules, and the establishment of ACES/CAKE Canada as a custodian.

Towards the end of August 2014, individuals who use the SENSORICA Montreal lab had a discussion about paying recurring bills to sustain the lab. This discussion was started by Tibi in an email thread called Paying rent. It evolved into a new crisis when some heavy users of the lab space, who also benefit from the community’s assets in a direct and tangible way, did not respond to this call. Other individuals who only use the lab sporadically and don’t have direct and tangible benefits from it responded positively to contribute to pay recurring bills, and did so before the first of September 2014.

The problem

The Paying rent crisis exposed a few real problems within our Montreal community.

Freeloaders - some people benefit from using the lab in a direct and tangible way but don’t want to contribute to pay recurring bills.

Double and triple dippers - some individuals get money from grants to work on SENSORICA projects, don’t perform their duty, instead they work on individual contracts using the space, generate more revenue for themselves and refuse to contribute to pay recurring bills.

Non-identification - some individuals do not identify with the SENSORICA community, are critical about the OVN model, but extract value from the SENSORICA Montreal lab by using it as working space and to receive their customers, using the SENSORICA brand to get more exposure for their services, using other individuals that gravitate around the lab for their own projects, converting potential customers for SENSORICA into customers for their individual venture, etc.

In order to ground this problem, to make it objective, we need to enumerate some facts and attach them to real individuals.

Jonathan’s case

Extracted 60,880$ in personal grants related to SENSORICA R&D projects.

Didn’t work the amount of time required from the grants on the SENSORICA projects associated with the grants, instead he spent a lot of time working on personal projects, some of them being commercial, generating extra revenue. He used the lab (part of the commons) to conduct personal business in a non-collaborative and non-transparent manner, without respecting the 5% proposed norm (giving back to sustain the community). Secretly collaborated with different companies/startups on technology that was developed by sensoricans. Refused to contribute 50$/month to pay rent for the SENSORICA Montreal lab at the end of August 2014.

Serge’s case

Used the SENSORICA lab space and equipment for free for 6 months (since he came to the lab) to work on his 3D printer project.

Was aware of SENSORICA’s revenue sharing model and accepted it

Never documented his work

Did not log contributions in the value accounting system for the 3D printer project

SENSORICA affiliates contributed time and money to the same 3D printer project.

In August 2014, when he thought that he had a 3D printer prototype almost ready to sell, Serge decided to move out from the SENSORICA Montreal lab, breaching the revenue sharing agreement.

In all, Serge benefited 1,020$ (free rent) and other members’ financial and time contributions to advance his project, which he never really treated as a SENSORICA project (no documentation and nothing logged in the VAS), even though the project was listed on SENSORICA’s website.

In an email sent to Tibi and Francois (search for Fwd: ouverture de compte - NEQ), Serge says that he is ready to contribute to SENSORICA monthly.

Sources of revenue

That is to support the development and maintenance of SENSORICA’s infrastructure.

NOTE: ACES/CAKE Canada is the custodian of the SENSORICA Montreal lab, i.e. it is the legal entity that rents the lab space and pays other bills.

There are 3 sources of revenue for the infrastructure:

  • 5% from commercial activities using SENSORICA infrastructure
  • contributions/investment
  • donations using the support us button.

The first source comes from a 5% fee that we apply to all revenue generated by SENSORICA affiliates using the community’s resources. We call these Revenues from projects. See for example the 3D course project VAS.

The second source comes in the form of a contribution to SENSORICA’s infrastructure, which promises back the sum plus a %. It is treated as investment. You need to be, or become a SENSORICA affiliate, to have an account in the NRP-VAS, in order to contribute in this manner. We have put in place a mechanism for contributions to SENSORICA’s infrastructure HERE.

The third source is “external”. Anyone can donate to support the development of SENSORICA, which produces a lot of social value in addition to the value it produces for its affiliates. We have put in place a mechanism for donations HERE.

Lab expenses for the Montreal Lab are HERE.

Some simple calculations

In order to pay the bills for the SENSORICA Montreal lab we need 10 affiliates to generate 2K/month in revenue from SENSORICA projects, which is very realistic. The 5% extracted only from that activity would suffice to maintain the lab open. Extra revenue goes to pay past contributions to SENSORICA’s infrastructure.

The solution

Since the Paying rent discussion (email and live) didn’t have a positive effect on freeloaders, double dippers and on those who don’t identify with SENSORICA, it seems that we are at a point where we need to introduce more structure to our community, to introduce new norms and new processes. This structure will also gives two explicit alternatives to those who don’t believe in the OVN model to operate within the SENSORICA physical environment (the Montreal lab and others to come).

The SENSORICA Montreal lab rules evolved with 3 main levels of interaction within the community.

  • the SENSORICA way - generates 5% fees
  • the fablab way - generates membership fees
  • the techshop way - generates fees from services

It is not very difficult to sort people’s interactions within the SENSORICA community into these 3 categories.

Interacting the SENSORICA way means to participate in SENSORICA projects, which are open, transparent, participative. Open means that others can join.

Transparent means that there is enough documentation to know what to do and how, or to build on someone else’s work. Participative means that contributions to these projects are logged into the value accounting system (VAS) and everyone expects to get fluid equity.

Contributing to SENSORICA projects means contributing to the economic success of SENSORICA, to generate revenue for other affiliates and 5% for infrastructure development and maintenance. A project might have a page on SENSORICA’s website, but if there is no up to date documentation and if contributions are not logged into the VAS the project is de facto not a SENSORICA project, and activities related to it fall into the other 2 levels of interaction (see below). Therefore, it is very easy to verify if someone that uses SENSORICA’s physical infrastructure contributes to SENSORICA projects, we look at the activity on our database (documentation) and at the contribution log in VAS. In order to encourage participation in SENSORICA projects, access to the SENSORICA Montreal lab is free.

OVNi NOTE: we need reporting for every member. It would be nice to have emails sent automatically to all members with a summary of their participation.

Interacting the fablab way means that the individual might work on something of personal or general interest, but doesn’t document very well and especially doesn’t log contributions in the VAS. The individual is willing to share designs, knowledge, and know how with others, to engages in community activities/work, etc. Normally this type of interaction is long-term with a certain stability in frequency. If the individual doesn’t want to share his/her design, knowledge, know how, and doesn’t contribute to community activities there is a good chance he/she is working on a commercial project, and the interaction falls into the techshop level.

Access to the lab is not free in this case, the individual needs to pay a “membership” fee.

Interacting the techshop way means that the individual only uses the infrastructure for a precise purpose, in a non-transparent and non-collaborative way. Normally this type of interaction is short-term, purpose-driven, and can repeat in the future.

Access to the lab in this case is pay-per-use.


If an individual contributes to SENSORICA projects and generates over XXX$ in 5% fees, he/she should not feel morally obliged to contribute to pay the bills for the lab. The individual can always chose to engage more in the form of contributions/investments or donations.

If an individual doesn’t log contributions in the VAS he/she is either in the fablab regime or the techfab regime and should pay membership fees or service fees.

If someone claims a space in the SENSORICA Montreal lab and uses physical resources on a regular bases, but doesn’t log contributions into VAS and doesn’t document work, doesn't work on SENSORICA projects, this individuals is charged at the end of the month regular price for the space used.

If someone claims a space in the lab, works on SENSORICA projects (logs contributions into VAS and documents work) and also on other personal projects, commercial or not, if the SENSORICA part of the commercial activities generate less than XXX$ in 5% fees this individual is charged with the balance at the end of the month.

Individuals who don’t claim a space in SENSORICA lab, who come to use the physical resources sporadically, to work on SENSORICA projects, and might also contribute to SENSORICA projects remotely, don’t have a moral obligation to contribute to pay the bills.

Openness and the needs for integration

If Sensorica is expecting to grow 2 issues seems to be relevant. First, to attract contributors that while help to boost the organisation. Second, to engaged people to contribute in a new way of doing open “business”. In other words: selection and integration. As an “open business” with what seem to be a “reputation value focus”, it appears that a tension between selection and inclusiveness is inevitable. If Sensorica lab rules offers a good solution for a soft and inclusive selection on the basis of lab use, it doesn’t necessarily involves that those participants from technolab way will engage themselves to reach Sensorica way. If I’m right, for now tools are mostly computed through the VAS. Although, a big part of the integration, if not by the side selection, should happens during informal relation within the lab as a shared space. How things goes in there between members is important and how information is relayed even more. The nature of Sensorica, as a “work in progress - open structure” is challenging. It actually need a good capacity the manage ambiguity for users expecting value creation. In that sense, another solution added could be to implement a “integration procedure”. So when a new comer is in, he can receive both a sumarized written info and progressively receives a concrete information until he get fully involvement with Sensorica, if asked. The formalization of this kind of process in a more contractual form will be a great help to reduce “ambiguity” on the structural aspect of Sensorica.

Ambiguity and the needs for mediation

In organisation involving human, conflict is inevitable. In fact, it’s probably one of the most efficient manner to create value, depending on the way conflict are perceived and managed. Coming from a heavily formalized society, probabilities are in fact high that conflictual situation will happens in “open organisation” which starts with few formalized rules. Formalized or not, at a time, rules get fixed in texts or if not in the context. Although, the big challenge in those organisation is about knowledge-context transfer between participant as a big part of conflicts are expected to come from misunderstandings. Knowing how to manage ambiguous situation and address internal and external issue for an organisation is crucial for keeping members contribution high and feel related to each others in a positive way inside an organisation or a network.

Other propositions

We might want to have higher prices for companies with more than 5-10 employees that want to establish a presence in the lab.


This solution requires some tools. The NRP-VAS can produce monthly reports with individual involvement in SENSORICA projects, 5% fees generated and if the individual is a heavy user of the infrastructure, a balance to pay.

Moreover, some individuals need proof of payments or transfers for accounting purposes. ACES/CAKE Canada will issue them, based on the reports generated from NRP-VAS.

Integrative tool

(in progress)

Mediation competencies

see (ecosystemic complexity theory of conflict) … in progress


Updated the Participate page to reflect the 3 ways of interacting within SENSORICA. Updated the Contact us form to include other forms of interests: Join SENSORICA, participate in FabLab mode, participate in TechShop mode.

Need to updated the Montreal lab rules.

add detail on the case of working on SENSORICA projects - generate monthly VAS report to users, if work is done in the Montreal la AND if contributions from economic activities (5%) are lower than 50$/month AND if not enough revenue to pay recurring bills, contribute to pay the bills." (

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