It is in this light that we must recognize that only a restoration of open-source culture, and all that enables across the full spectrum of open-source possibilities, can allow humanity to harness the distributed intelligence of the collective and create the equivalent of heaven on Earth — in other words, a world that works for all. The Open-Source Everything Manifesto
Over the last few decades, with the emergence of open-source software, we've experienced an unprecedented acceleration in the development of our digital infrastructure, one that has become a new commons — a public good we are now collectively responsible for. But we are all familiar with cases like Heartbleed,1 with developer burn-out,2 with projects acquired by ill-incentivized or incompetent parties.34 Today, many valuable OSS projects are unable to define themselves in traditional market terms,5 while others find it incompatible with their ethics and struggle without financial support.
But what if we had the means to improve upon this? What if we could create a decentralized network run by the community and contributors, with a sustainable economy to back it — one in which profits would be redistributed back to those who created value in the first place?
By combining distributed version-control, content-addressable decentralized storage and distributed ledger systems such as blockchain, we can fulfill this vision today.
We live in a time when the original promise of the internet has failed us. Our online activity is owned by a few large corporations, and a large part of open-source collaboration is locked in for-profit products. What used to be an open and decentralized process6 is now controlled by a few major players.7 The reason is that OSS is no longer just about the code — it’s about much more today, including distribution, hosting, collaboration and financing, and these requirements were only able to be met by centralized for-profit organizations.
By moving the open-source ecosystem onto the blockchain, backed by its own cryptocurrency, we enable all of this activity to happen in the open, in a network that cannot be censored or controlled by any one party. But most importantly we enable fair and transparent redistribution of proceeds generated by the network; through a system of self-governance and smart-contracts operated and maintained by the community.
The key components of such a system include:
- A new token called open source coin or oscoin.
- A blockchain of contribution metadata, such as commits.
- A permissionless network initially running on proof-of-work8.
- A treasury system as seen in Dash,9 to fund open-source work on the network, including oscoin’s own roadmap.
- An on-chain governance system based on proposals, allowing atomic changes to smart-contract or regular code, including the oscoin protocol itself.
Fundamentally, we are proposing a crypto-economy10 based on the idea of 'inflation funding'.11 By design, token supply increases at a predefined rate through minting. These newly minted tokens are used to reward open-source projects. Furthermore, an open marketplace is introduced in which participants can coordinate and cooperate by exchanging tokens for work within the network.
We believe that with this infrastructure in place we’ll be able to solve many of the core problems in open-source today, while also introducing more developers to the new token economy.
Currently, we’re working on a prototype of the main protocol and a technical whitepaper which will introduce all of these concepts in depth, and present our solution more thoroughly.
We are talking to many members of the community and taking your feedback to help make this a reality. If you’re interested in hearing more about the project or would like to reach out, we can be found at: hello at oscoin dot io — we'd love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading,
@cloudhead and @lftherios
Roads and Bridges. The Unseen labor behind our digital infrastructure https://www.fordfoundation.org/library/reports-and-studies/roads-and-bridges-the-unseen-labor-behind-our-digital-infrastructure/ ↩
The Node.js vs io.js: Why the fork?!? http://anandmanisankar.com/posts/nodejs-iojs-why-the-fork/ ↩
The Sudden Death and Eternal Life of Solaris http://dtrace.org/blogs/bmc/2017/09/04/the-sudden-death-and-eternal-life-of-solaris/ ↩
Open-Source Won. So, Now What? https://www.wired.com/2016/08/open-source-won-now/ ↩
Before GitHub, the majority of open-source contributions were sent as patches to maintainers on mailing lists. This is still how the Linux kernel project operates. ↩
The Problem with putting all the world’s code on github. https://www.wired.com/2015/06/problem-putting-worlds-code-github/ ↩
Proof-of-work. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proof-of-work_system ↩
Dash's "treasury system." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dash_(cryptocurrency)#Governance_and_funding ↩
Blockchains will replace networks with markets. https://twitter.com/naval/status/877467629308395521?lang=en ↩
Funding the Evolution of Blockchains https://medium.com/@FEhrsam/funding-the-evolution-of-blockchains-87d160988481 ↩