Most of the time, we hear about the blockchain in the context of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. But that’s not the only kind of transaction the blockchain can handle. Any exchange of information is a transaction. The hash securely and anonymously verifies the existence of the exchange. So, what could platform co-ops do with this?
First, a platform co-op is made up of people who rarely have contact, and in some cases, never. We want to assume the best about our colleagues, but even so, it can be good to have a paper trail of our transactions. Or, more literally, a distributed and indelible ledger.
Second, building rules into transactions in the form of "smart contracts" can automate a lot of a platform co-op’s workflow. The technology to do this is still taking shape, but it offers a lot of potential. Start-ups are already offering services that simplify the process of writing smart contracts. It will take a while for things to shake out and for best practices to emerge, but in Internet time, "a while" likely means a year, two at the outside. An organization that writes its rules so as to operate in a P2P manner would do well to automate the enforcement of the rules. Not, I want to emphasize, to remove the human element from the organization and its internal culture, and turn the whole thing into some dispassionate, clinical machine. Rather, to do just the opposite–to offload the procedural stuff, and spend more time working and learning together as peers.
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