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A role is a cluster of activities an agent performs within an OVN. Roles are fundamental elements of organizational structure.

See page on Role system.


  • The role of facilitator can be seen as a cluster of the following activities: communication, planning, documentation, social media outreach, ...
  • The role of administrator can be composed of activities like: office work, documenting (reading, writing, etc...), accounting, etc.

Roles can be fixed or emergent. The experience accumulated by affiliates in Sensorica shows that OVNs or open communities require a set of essential roles in order to function properly. This set might vary according to context. Essential roles must be visible (surface, identify) to the entire community, they must be explicit and affiliates must be continuously encouraged (incentives) to take them.

  • animator (give soul to the community, motivate, energize),
  • guide (help new affiliates integrate the community),
  • technical support (assist new affiliates with their problems using the tools and equipment needed for value creation),
  • administrator (perform tasks that support the community and its infrastructure)
  • ambassador (perform outreach activities in order to maintain an adequate influx or resources)
  • add others...

As opposed to traditional organizations, individuals are not appointed to roles in OVNs and other types of open communities. Moreover, one individual cannot monopolize a role for any period of time. Experience shows that in absence of formal/instituted power relations (no formal authority) there is no guarantee that the appointee will maintain his/her role (it is difficult to establish accountability) as promised or agreed upon. In some cases, one can experiment with appointing a given individual to essential roles, if these role explicitly bring with them some sort of rewards (money, reputation/influence, etc.), and if there is a mechanism to record the individual's commitment to the role and to make it public, and if there is a mechanism to punish failure to keep the commitment by affecting reputation or the ability to benefit from the system (through a benefits redistribution algorithm for example), or by other punitive mechanisms. The flow of agents to roles is part of the Role System.

Distinction between role and craft

We associate with roles: requirement, access to roles (credentials, authorization), incentives for adoption of roles (role allocation, i.e. skills allocation to processes), commitment/accountability/responsibility, authority (temporary and contextual in the case of OVN)

We associate with and crafts: skills (like engineer, designer…), experience, etc., which are somewhat independent of context.