Home‎ > ‎

Discovery Network

To PRINT go to the bottom of this page

Creative Commons License
Discovery Network, first proposed by Tiberius Brastaviceanu (in 2008), is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at Multitude Project.

NOTE: this project is the precursor of open value networks. To our knowledge, there is no activity around the discovery network model.

A new kind of economic entity. 
An alternative to classic corporations and to cooperatives. 
We need to transcend the socialism/capitalism dichotomy!

See SENSORICA, a value network, which evolved from Discovery Network.
Get a comprehensive document on the Discovery Network HERE .
See also BetterMeans, a step in the same direction.

The Discovery Network concept is under revision. We are learning a lot from our experience with SENSORICA. Nevertheless, you can always learn something from reading further. SENSORICA was inspired by this work. 


A Discovery Network (DN) is an open, decentralized and self-organizing value network, a collaborative organization that can include commercial, academic, governmental and independent entities, coordinating their efforts to enrich society with new material goods and services, and extracting some value from doing so. The DN is mainly a knowledge and a logistical organization. It processes information and knowledge, plans and coordinates, in order to innovate, produce, and distribute new products, on the world market. 

In a few words

A DN is an organizations that YOU build, starting with to the blueprint and guides given here. The main function of the DN is to provide solutions to problems, which also includes bringing new products to the market. There are profound differences between a DN and a corporation. The DN is an alternative to a corporation. Is is built on very different values and it is governed by entirely different principles. We claim that the DN is far better adapted to the new reality, an environment provided with efficient means of communication and coordination, operating down to the individual level. The corporation is an outdated form of organization. It is actually a medieval concept. It proved to be the most efficient form of organization, economically speaking, in modern times, among other forms of organizations with the same purpose, notably the cooperative, which stemmed from the socialist/communist ideology. But the economical viability of corporations in the pre-Internet world came at the expense of local communities, the civil society and the environment. Nowadays, in the Internet era, in parallel with a tremendous loss in popularity among the younger generations, the corporation also seams to be totally out of pace with the new reality. This is precisely why we need to consider other alternatives to innovation, production and distribution. 

A corporation is a hierarchical organization, with a centralized decision making process. The same is true in practice for the cooperative, which tends to be more democratic. The DN is a network-type organization, with a distributed decision making process. The corporation is closed, the DN is open, with diffuse boundaries. The corporation conceals knowledge, justified by a logic of control and competition. The DN thrives on sharing and uses open standards in a logic of collaboration. The DN is also very different from a cooperative, rewards are distributed in proportion with valued individual input. The corporation is a "box", held together in great part by negative incentives, the DN is an attractive system, held together ONLY by positive incentives. The creative and productive force of the corporation come in great part from within, and almost all related activities take place inside. In the DN case, innovation and production take place within the active core of the DN, where active members do stuff, while the passive community swirling around the DN acts as a medium through which the DN's active core exchanges with the entire society.      

The relational structure of the DN is a graph. Every entity part of it is connected to the DN core, which acts as a minimal government. Individuals or small organizations with good product ideas get together to form the DN core. The DN starts as a project, the DN core is created first around an initial product-idea, which can be at different stages of development, and which acts as seed value around which the ND will coalesce. The initial creators don’t possess all the means necessary to materialize their ideas. They begin a matchmaking work; they become community builders, bringing together other individuals and organizations that possess the resources necessary for the completion of projects. 

To illustrate our ideas lets take as an example a new laser application in the medical domain that our newly formed DN core had imagined. They need to form a group of medical doctors to validate their ideas and to guide the design process, a company that can supply a laser source customized for this particular application, a manufacturer to put the final product together, a software group, a marketing group, an accounting partner, a few lawyers, perhaps a university professor with key knowledge in the field, with access to expensive instruments needed for proof of concept experiments, and with a few students eager to work on the project, and, why not, a consumers advocate group to contribute in matters of safety, ethical issues, environmental concerns, etc. These entities become collaborators in this venture. At this point, a DN general assembly is formed, which is an organization that includes the DN-core and key representatives of each entity adhering to the network. An Animator is named to coordinate the DN, to act as a facilitator, to give soul (anima) to the community. If the project is complex, sub-networks can be formed. There is a DN sub-assembly for each sub-network. The entire project is decomposed in different tasks, which are then offered for grab to every member. Various resources are put in common. The risk is also shared. Participants manage their own share of the work. The rewords are distributed proportionally through a value exchange structure that takes into consideration different incentives: profits, market share, image and recognition, authorship, etc.

The DN is an organic structure, and although relationships are cemented legally, common interest and the belief in the success of the joint venture are responsible for holding everything together. The DN is also a highly dynamic structure, allowing fast regeneration and growth, partially because the DN does not pay for all the capital brought into the venture. It remains permeable, allowing entities that can increase the value of the product to participate. It is certainly more creative than any classical organization because of its openness, inclusiveness, and its diversity. Sharing resources means a reduction of redundancy, which means saving costs. All these features translate into economical advantages. Network effects emerge, and members benefit from what I call “collateral advantages”.

A DN is more effective than a classical vertical and centralized organization because it is only limited by coordination. It doesn't need to acquire the resources needed to put a product on the market, it can take advantage of the redundancy and under-capacity already existing within our economy.      

A DN is an independent entity and anyone in the world can set one up. But DNs also possess the property to interface with each others (through the Value Exchange Mechanism) and to polymerize into super-networks, or super-DNs. So the DN organization will create its own ecosystem, which no one will be able to control because the super-DN inherits the properties of the DN, it will be a value-based structure, as opposed to a power-based structure.

When it comes to perceived complexity and novelty, the DN comes very naturally. In the end it's just a bunch of entities (individuals and independent organizations) bound by a collaboration agreement. It is very simple, in the sense that every member continues to do exactly what they were doing before joining a DN. Everyone takes care of its own task assigned within the DN, including its financing aspect. There is nothing out of the ordinary here. Individuals and independent entities are already part of collaboration networks, and being par of a DN doesn't interfere at all with their internal processes or their other external relations. Every entity part of the
group will carry out a given task, which is within its field of specialization, and the DN will coordinate the output with other members' output. That's IT. The DN doesn't care how the task is carried out, how it was financed, etc.

Another important aspect of the DN is its interaction with the economical system in place, and its place within the emergent economy. The DN is perfectly compatible with the old, pre-Internet economy: members can be classical organizations operating within the old system. Simultaneously, a DN is perfectly suited for the new emerging economy: members can be other networks, can make use of alternative sources of financing like crowdfunding of peer-to-peer lending, can employ alternative marketing and distribution tactics, notably making use of social media, etc.. This is a very important feature! As we transition from the old economy to the new one, the DN must be able to operate and pull in resources from both economies! This is crucial! The DN operates ONLY between member entities, it doesn't penetrate inside them, therefore it is agnostic to the type of entity playing an active role within itself. This is what makes the DN the perfect organization in a transition period.

Another way to put it

A DN is a non-based collaborative network, in principle, capable of putting an idea on the market in the form of a material product or a service. The key word here is "non-based", which means that activities happen on an independent platform, something like a wiki. A DN has the interesting property to interface/link to other DNs, to "polymerize" into a super-DN. Wikis also can interlink. A "non-based network" stands in opposition to a "based network", which is like Ning for example, a unique platform hosting many communities/social networks.

To understand the DN's structure think of a tornado. We can distinguish two structures. The active core and a large surrounding, circling/spiraling mass. The active core is formed of members, which are individuals that put value into the venture, make things happen, make the project go forward. The surrounding mass, which can represent over 90% of the DN, is a very essential part of the organization. It is made of passive members or observers. These are individuals that are just gravitating around the project for various reasons, mostly extracting information. But they represent the interface between the core and the rest of the world, and from time to time they can contribute by spreading the word, by proposing ideas, by participating in discussions, or by adding tangible value to the project and becoming members in doing so. This mass around the core also provides energy, determination, motivation, stabilizes, injects accountability, etc.

Aha! Becoming a member... A member is anything that adds value to the enterprise, an individual or any kind of organization, including another DN. Value is bought in by members. If the DN uses one bit of something you provide, that's value in, you are getting a % of the pie worth that bit, and you become a full rights member. That's it. There are no other categories. As a member, you are part of the decision making process. Passive members or observers are not included in the decision making process and get no % from the revenue, but they can get some other value from sticking around. A share of the pie is offered to a new member in exchange of something real (someone offers his lab for testing, or a piece of software already written), or a potential (someone offers to take on a given task, promising to deliver in a fixed amount of time). The value is decided through negotiation. See the Value Sharing Mechanism document. 

If you deliver value, your member status can never be taken away from you, unless you become inactive in the decision making process, in which case you become a phantom member, and you can regain the member status as soon as you get active again.

Shares can be inherited, without the access to the decision making process.

Decision making is democratic, one member, one vote.

There is no financial system inside the DN. Every member entity delivers through its own means. Collaboration, borrowing, exchanges or sharing of resources within the DN are encouraged, but are not formally managed by the DN. Members arrange these exchanges among themselves, as they could do the same with external entities. The DN is NOT formally concerned with how something is delivered. It ONLY coordinates outputs from members, keeps records for everyone's contribution, and insures a fair redistributed of revenues, based on everyone's contribution. But because members are in proximity, they will also exchange informally. The DN's infrastructure provides all the tools necessary to facilitate these exchanges. This measure reduces bureaucracy and makes the DN compatible with the old economy, while offering a promising path into the new era.

We believe that those who will use the DN framework of collaboration will soon realize that open knowledge is much more profitable, especially as the super-DN is spreading larger. Open collaborative networks are attractive in nature and are disarming those who want to run alone. Dumping innovation into the commons means that no one can patent it anymore. The close, secretive, protective and defense-oriented corporation looses its potential to extract value from that particular technology, once it becomes public. If it wants a piece of the market the most rational choice is to join the DN. Moreover, why would that corporation working on a similar product, with no patent on it, compete with the DN, when it can join the DN and make profits. After all, the DN is open... IP makes absolutely no sense in this new context. 

Relations between members are cemented by THIS agreement. 

Important properties of the DN  (must be revised)

  • The DN core is an independent entity, in the sense that it is not controlled by any entity part of the DN. This requirement is necessary in order for the DN core to fulfill its organizing and governing role in an unbiased manner, following only the goals and principles on which it is founded.
  • The DN is highly scalable, capable to encompass all industrial domains
  • Geographically, the ultimate scope of the DN is global
  • Ethnically, the DN is universal
  • The DN is apolitical but not unethical (The DN always stays on the side of good ethics). The basic principles and values of the DN are:
    • OPEN sharing, participation and collaboration; 
    • empowerment (individuals and small entities are reworded according to their contribution);
    • openness within the organization is encouraged (to free knowledge capital);
    • guarantee of all transactions (transactions of resources, data, information and knowledge, and other types of values are guaranteed by formal agreements);
    • openness of the DN to the world is a requirement (anyone from the outside can join the DN; anyone from the inside can decide to leave the DN, members are free to choose the nature of their involvement within the DN).
  • The DN-core is the organizing and normative body, as well as the keeper of the culture.
  • The DN is, above all, a knowledge organization. All the other aspects part of the process of bringing a product-idea to the market (design and R&D, manufacturing, marketing, sales, etc.) are dealt with by member entities.

Organization (must be revised)

  • The DN can be represented structurally as a network. There is a special node within the DN network called the DN-core. The DN-core is connected to every entity part of the DN. Sub-networks are dynamically formed within the DN (they are complete graphs) and the DN-core is part of every one of them.
  • The DN-core is composed of an Dirigo (the person putting the DN together), and his stuff. The DN-core maintains the infrastructure (IT) of the DN, and manages all tools (IT, legal, etc.) necessary for its functioning. The DN-core is also in charge of the cultural and normative aspects of the DN.
  • The DN general assembly is an organization formed by the DN-core and key representatives of each entity adhering to the network. The role of the Dirigo is to manage the DN-core and to preside on the DN general assembly. There is a DN sub-assembly for each sub-network. The role of the DN-core in a DN sub-assembly is to monitor and mediate activities, more in the background. By comparison, the role of the DN-core in the DN general assembly is more important: administration, finances (management of funds allocated to DN projects, the DN-core’s own finances are managed separately by the DN core, as a separate entity), and public relations.
The role of each representative within the DN-core assembly is to
  • Manage activities defined within the DN which are incumbent to his own organization
  • Take administrative charges within the DN
  • Be part of the decision making process within the DN as well as within his own organization

Other properties of the structure 

DN is an organic entity. The flexible DN structure allows it to expand through overlapping domains. Different DN-s can also easily connect to each other to form a super-network.