A pool of shareables is a set of shared material assets (physical space, equipment and tools, consumable materials, limited resources, ...) that can be depleted, consumed, or degraded.
These assets have costs of use and maintenance. Moreover, some of these resources, like specialized lab equipment, require a minimal level of technical skills to use/operate. The pool of shareables requires governance in order to maintain, to insure safe and efficient use.
Materials resources play an important role in innovation and production and they don't have value is they sit idle. In other words, down time of an equipment can constitute is lost opportunities for an open value network. It is important to insure that down time is minimized. One proposition is to maintain a budget for maintenance.
Allocation of material resources requires work. In order to insure efficient and effective allocation of resources it is strongly advised to associate immediate tangible rewards (example is revenue/hours of service) with the allocation service provided.
Free: some resources can be used by all agents of the network, even by the public (use time/quantity may be restricted)
Permission: For some resources, like high tech equipment for example, access to use may require credentials. The user may be forced to follow a training session (defined by the community closer to the resource) and perhaps to pass a test. Moreover, some resources are scarce and can be in high demand. In this case, allocation may follow a system of prioritization (defined by the community closer to the resource).
Scope is related to the domain a resource can affect. They respond to the question "Who benefits?"
Project specific: some resources are intended for a specific project and benefit mostly those involved in that particular project. Examples: a chemical solution that can only be used to produce a specific product.
Network specific: some resources are intended for a wider domain, for a group of projects or for an entire network constituted around a broader mission like SENSORICA. Examples: a website used by the entire network, like [www.sensorica.co SENSORICA's website], or a microscope that can be used for many projects by members of a network.
Public: some resources can benefit the entire world. This is the case of commons: designs, documented methods, etc.
Responds to the question "Who owns it?" The pool of shareables can be a mix of material assets owned by
- Custodian serving the open value network.
- Affiliates or partners of the network, in which case they are governed by rules imposed by the owner. The community might also impose some generic rules on them (to be determined).
The custodian has no rights to exploit the pool of resources, i.e. to use it in a way to extract benefits, in the form of revenue or others. Separation between management and exploitation is important in order to avoid conflict of interest and to make sure that all agents of an OVN have access to resources. The goal is to avoid problems like: Makerbot, Occupy Thingiverse, and the reality of selling Open Hardware
- If a custodian-based governance structure is adopted, one possibility is to have the custodian offer the maintenance and allocation service to the community.
- Agents from the value network can take roles of resource allocation.
In order to insure efficient and effective maintenance and allocation of material resources it is strongly advised to immediately rewarded related activities.
Different mechanisms of replenishment are available.
- donations: anyone donates equipment.
- investment: agents of the open value network purchase material assets and make them available to the network. Cost (+ interest) is returned to the investor according to the use of the asset. The agent runs the risk not to be reimbursed (+ interest), if the asset is underused. Ownership is maintained by the agent until the asset is reimbursed (+ interest), after which ownership is transferred to the custodian. See section on property. This replenishment process is being prototypes within SENSORICA - see the case of the 3D printer.
- sharing: some agents decide to share material assets (ex. lab space, equipment, etc.) in the context of a project Scope can be limited and access might be restricted. There is no transfer of ownership during the sharing period. This replenishment process is prototypes within SENSORICA - see the case with professor Philippe Comtois from Montreal Heart Institute.
Investment and sharing make the open value network very elastic in terms of access to resources. In other words, capacity can grow dynamically according to needs. At the same time, it makes the pool of resources volatile, because some investors and sharing agents can retract their assets from the pool. Volatility can be modulated from governance.
In order to insure a more effective and efficient management of material resources a Network Resource Processing system must be put in place - see more on NRP for value networks.