The paper explores the rationale and potential for practitoners in both complementary currencies and platform cooperatives, and their associated researchers, to consider the role of open protocols to grow the digital commons and avoid a digital dystopia of platform monopolies. The authors contend that there have been two parallel worlds of practice that have hitherto had little interaction. One the one hand, the largely capitalist - backed fields of cryptographic currency innovation and blockchain development, and on the hand the more community - oriented initiatives with older, less technological complementary currencies. Through a literature review, the same rift is shown to extend to academic literature. The authors suggest this division reflects a more philosophical divide between capitalist interests and those seeking to generate and maintain shared wealth. Based on that analysis the relevance of the concept of “the commons” is discussed, as well as the “ digital commons ” as a way of framing different approaches.
The importance of developing open protocols in order to create conditions for new entrants to thrive , including “protocol cooperatives” is explained. T he argument that a free market in privately - issued currencies would naturally avoid monopoly, without conscious effort to do so from innovators and regulators is rejected . Instead, the concept of the commons is applied to currencies and credit, with implications for the development of open protocols for complementary currencies. The vision, strategy and roadmap of the new Credit Commons Collective is presented. The methodology for the research is an adaptation of “ reflective practice ” through a structured use of “ thinking partners hip ” over the years of engagement with the subject matter, complemented with periods of academic literature revi ew, including for this paper.
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