Holochain Forum

How do you model land, forests, water sources (like wells) in hREA?

  1. How do you manage the health of a forest and make sure it’s not over-exploited? Or any other scarce living material natural resource?
  2. How do we steward shared ownership in a sort of transparent helicopter view (since agents might have agency over resources)? If yes, how?

I would think you’re still figuring this out slowly since it’s all new, so I mean to cause no pressure. I’m only interested to hear current arguments for any choices you’ve made thus far; to try to more clearly understand the way you’re currently approaching/developing it.

edit: side question - has the project officially been renamed from Holo-REA to hREA? (i like it!)

edit2: my answer would be some sort of reputation measurement.

One that both:

  1. measures the stewardship quality/ability of various agents of a natural resource (in the land weaving society @artbrock has the example of someone’s qualifications - do they hold a permaculture certificate (and thus don’t e.g. poison the land))

  2. gives a measure of the natural resource’s sustainable productive capacity (basically: how often can I harvest X resource while keeping ecological balance) (which itself could be in relation to the health of other forests in the region (and even the world)) - e.g. Billy and Fiona’s land produces X amount of trees per annum - which would itself be a part of a larger equation of the production plans of a local community

cc @pospi @lynnfoster @bhaugen @TiberiusB

edit3: if the current proposed strategy is a reputation management system, have you already been playing around with something, and if yes, what is it’s breadth and what does the core underlying logic look like (if it doesn’t exist yet - could you share what you currently have in mind)? is it based off of anything that exists today?

@lynnfoster @bhaugen how is it done in ERP systems today?

@TiberiusB how have you done this with Sensorica? have you seen network effects? besides today’s capitalist use of corporate branding to establish trust and maintain quality, have you found any other methods for leaving behind reputational measurements (tracks for others to see), which model/represent the informal trust that exists between established peers?

i am especially interested in systems that make these corporate branding functions less needed. systems that allow complex webs of trust and witnessing: a fully mutually-sovereign + fractal peer-to-peer system.

I’ve been working on something similar for over half a month now (just contemplating the gravity of the problem in the head, and coming up with little solutions on pen/paper)… Would love @pospi’s opinions on the subject.

Thanks for the questions and starting a new thread for them. I’ll take a stab at them but as you wrote, “figuring this out slowly”.

I’ll start very generally. A commons (which I think we are talking about here) needs some governance. See Elinor Ostrom on governing the commons.

@lynnfoster and I were members for a few years in the Kickapoo Woods Cooperative, which unfortunately died in 2019 following the death of one founder and previous departure of another. https://thomaswyseforestry.com/about/ continues to carry the torch as a small business.

The purpose of the cooperative was to educate owners of forested land how to steward their forests. When you joined, one of the professional foresters would walk your land and make a plan for its continued health and use. They thought the forest could be used - trees could be cut - but carefully, to help the forest accomplish its natural progression. This is the opposite of the usual practice of clear-cutting whole fields of trees.

In our case, we were members of a small cooperative that owned some forested land together.

The forester advised that we should cut some aspens to allow some oak seedlings to grow, because that was the next stage of progression of that part of the forest.

The forester marked the trees that should be cut, and wrote up an overall plan for the remainder of the forest.

So we harvested some aspens and sold some and built a timber-framed house with some and the branches were left for the forest critters to nest in.

My point in this story is that a natural resource needs some analysis from somebody who knows how to do it, and then a plan for its management, which could be to leave it alone. (I wouldn’t say “wild state” because there is no such thing in North America or Europe.)

Holo-REA or hREA or whatever could be able to take measurements of different properties of resources and then continue to create a history of such measurements which could help in determining the health of a natural resource.

(The measurements were discussed between @pospi and @lynnfoster in relation to an experiment for a project called https://beefledger.io/ that was kicking tires in Holochain but I think ended up going blockchain, so I don’t know if they ever got implemented, but they are doable.)

I’ll continue with another semi-related topic, externalities. But in general, I think all of these questions require analysis and ongoing observation and measurement and some commons-governance group agent.


In REA, ValueFlows, and Holo-REA or hREA, any process can have multiple inputs and outputs. Where the output of one process becomes the input to another, the processes are linked in an input-process-output graph.

In a shared ledger (as in the Holochain DHT for a network) the whole history of the resource flows in a subgraph of interest can be traced, depending on the access controls for the various parts of the graph.

It will be possible to record the outputs of a process that become waste (one type of externality), and to record what happened to them. That would require honest participation by the agents involved in creating the waste.

But it is also possible to compute the yield of a process if it has a published recipe, as in, for these inputs, expect these outputs. Lower-than-expected yield indicates some waste. If not accounted for, would be suspicious.

Likewise some inputs commonly become outputs, like water in many processes, or flash or trim in some processes like molding or furniture making. So if those are not accounted for, it’s suspicious.

So if you want to analyze the flows in a network, honesty, transparency, and also some analysis will be required. The analysis could be performed by expert humans or maybe eventually AI.

Will be possible to cheat, but also possible to look for cheating. Not quite as definitive as tracking each coin in a crypto-currency blockchain, but natural resources are not digital.

Did that all make sense?


Hi all,

Thanks for your question @zeemarx

Just a note: for better collaboration I’d suggest people who ask these type of questions share some info about their project, links, perhaps invite others to help in that particular context. It builds context, it builds trust, it expands the network, it increases stigmatize in our network.

Per that note, @zeemarx I’d like to know more about your work and see if you can go much further together than just an answer to your question, or see if I can learn something from your past work and apply it to mine :slight_smile: Thanks.

Back to the question, @bhaugen already covered a lot of ground.

  • frame this question around commons, which is a special type of Resource that requires
  • Governance (I consider it part of the infrastructure), which requires
  • knowledge (about it), experience (using it), which refer to Agents and are dimensions of Reputation, and all that enables
  • analysis and planning, which are Processes

Bob also covered externalities pretty well.

These things are Resources in the sense that they are used as inputs in socioeconomic Processes. As resources, they may have multiple uses, for example a forest can have a role in a neighborhood to refresh the air, to cut noise, to serve as a recreation park, to host some whiled life that has other roles somewhere else, to provide wood for fire, … So perhaps this particular Resource, this forest, appears in multiple accounting contexts, not just one. This makes us understand why an NRP (network resource planning) should not be a silo, but should properties that allows it to exist in a network. The municipality might have an interest to account for this resource and make sure that it provides something in a sustainable way (clean the air and cut noise from a nearby highway for example). A local community organization might have an interest to account for it and make sure that they can utilize this resource in a sustainable way, not only sustainable for them but for all stakeholders. For example they use it as a recreation park where they plan social activities, which may require building some installations, cutting some trees, etc.

So we’re realizing that these resources under the regime of commons naturally have multistakeholders, which utilize the resource in multiple ways, extract different benefits from it, in the process they need to transform it in multiple ways and as they extra ct they need to make sure that the whole thing is maintained and no stakeholder suffers. These stakeholders cannot be forced to use the same tool, to conduct their business using the same software, but their tools that they use to manage their operations need to talk to each others.

This network-of-networks NRP allows all stakeholders to keep track of actions that affect the resource: use / extraction on one side and replenishment / restoration, cleaning, … on the other.
The planning in the NRP also allows you synchronize all activities in time.

In the end, the network-of-networks NRP adds transparency to the entire activity around this resource, aggregated from all stakeholders. Moreover, this system allows a decentralization of use and management, a rules-based premissinless system, which is the most important feature of a resource in the regime of commons. Public assets are under the control of some level of government. If you want to use it you need to ask permission. Gatekeepers can do favors, which affects the proper allocation of the resource. Moreover, in the public regime + corruption there is no incentive for transparency, because corrupt officials prefer to hide details of their actions. You don’t need permission to access a commons, as long as you respect the governance. Part of that engagement should be mandatory to use a compatible management tool (plug into a network-of-networks NRP) in order to make transparent your use, to coordinate with others, and also to coordinate with pothers activities that replenish that commons.

Then we can talk about Roles. The entire system can generate incentives (access to benefits) for those who do positive work (replenish, maintain, police, govern, …). Agents (individuals and organizations) can elect to take these Support Roles, which are Commitments against planned Processes, log their Contributions (time, materials, money, …) and become eligible for Benefits, through Benefit Redistribution Algorithms. From my experience, the best way to manage commons is to strongly link extracted benefits to Support Roles activities. In other words, those who add have first choice to extract. If someone doesn’t need to extract, after adding, he/she/it can transfer that to someone else. This can also be done with token economics, but it’s better to do it with accounting, in my opinion, since in general tokens are transferable but have no memory.

We have experience with managing commons in the context of a tightly focused network, Sensorica. Multistakeholding is realized in Sensorica through multiplicity of projects, In other words, Projects are seen as independent / autonomous open and collaborative ventures. Projects access Resources and make various use of these resources. For example the Sensorica lab is a shared space, it can be used by a project as a meeting place (tables, chairs, projector), by pother as a techshop (3D printer and other mechanical tools, …), another as an event space (requires rearrangement of objects in the space to make room for more people), … So we do have a context where these concepts have been applied. But this is a more simple context, since all projects use the same instance of the NRP, hence no need fore network-of-networks NRP. Natural commons are natural use cases for network-of-networks NRP.

That’s it for now… I can come later to contribute to this discussion if it continues to develop further of if I have some other ideas…


Yes! It was super clear. Thank you very much Bob! Gave much clarity. I’m gonna let it sink in and get back to you if i have further questions. Is that ok with you?

Thanks for your response Tiberius! :slight_smile:

I understand what you mean about your request for more info about my project or more clarity from my side, when asking questions. I have had similar experiences, and agree that it helps both sides learn more. At the moment i’m mostly trying to understand REA/NRP things technically, and am not yet part of a larger project, so not much else to share.

Sure. Those were good questions. Feel free to ask more like that.

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After contemplating a lot on what you said, I still can’t understand why one might prefer one over the other… Can you shed a bit more light on it, please… It would be well appreciated.

Sure. I wrote something about this some time ago. I better give you the link, more context…

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Thanks :slight_smile: Yes, it is mostly about reciprocity, creating some symmetry in this exchange.

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Looks like the core of your questions have been answered very well already, but I’d like to add a little technical context.

Since REA / ValueFlows is fundamentally a system for quantification, the only real means it provides to assess the health of a forest is to put some numbers down. For many this is already uncomfortable to begin with, but it’s worth noting that putting numbers down is the only way we have in modern computer systems to act on data at scale. If you don’t need scale or for the information to be comprehensible by distant parties, there may be better (more human) ways of managing the health of a forest by being present within it.

But if you’re comfortable with the measuring, then the first step in managing the health of the forest is measuring the health of the forest so that you start to get some broader visibility of what’s going on there. So the question becomes what to measure. Any measurements you make are always going to be a reductionism compared to the real thing, but you can have more accurate reductionisms if you measure more things.

The number of hectares? Number of trees? Counts of different kinds of flora and fauna species? Carbon captured? Soil health indicators? Rainfall? You get the idea… ValueFlows can record measurements in whatever SI or imperial units it wants, so I’d coarsely advocate for simply attempting to measure as much as is practical. You could also employ experts to create computer models to interpret and analyse all this data in clever ways, but of course then you’re making bets on the skill and incorruptability of those experts. Good examples are things like SEEA and other natural capital accounting frameworks.

Where reputation systems might come into play is figuring out the trustworthiness of those doing the measuring, but that’s a very complex social problem far outside of the scope of this quick reply.

I don’t think the “honest participation” is a necessary requirement with a ValueFlows-compatible system that is able to speak to other ValueFlows-compatible systems. If the producer is not honest and does not accurately account for their waste flows, another organisation such as an environmental watchdog can spin up their own value accounting system and track the hidden resources themselves.

Of course there are some hurdles to overcome here in terms of a) feet on the ground to do the verification work; and b) appropriate mechanisms to make the watchdog’s data visible to the public eye. Holochain-based implementations of ValueFlows might offer easy solutions to both due to their ability to be easily deployed- you could have a distributed network of certifiers operating independently of any organisation and responding to requests for verification; and you could also leverage the social capital of larger organisations such as WWF or Friends of the Earth to start setting up global infrastructure to publish and view the data.

Others have covered the social aspects of these scenarios in some detail above, so I’ll leave those wicked concerns at a simple mention.

If you’ve an interest in going deeper on this topic, I’d suggest checking out https://basisproject.net/ who are focusing on this specific piece of input/output accounting verification logic.

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If we talk about commons in a multi stakeholder context, where different stakeholders have different needs and incentives interacting with the resource, in some situations conflicting interests can act as a check and balance system. That’s when the over extraction of some aspect by one agent affects the use that another agent makes of the same resource.
Back to the little forest / park example, suppose that an agent’s role is to clen the forest and the incentive comes from selling the dead wood. This agent would be enticed to cut healthy trees to sell more wood, thus destroying the forest. But another agent that uses the forest as a recreation park would not want to see too many trees disappear. Therefore this system can self-regulate. That’s possible because the property regime as commons allows it, the little forest is everybody’s forest. If it was a public good its management and use would not be more hidden, people would be removed from the resource and feel less concerned. Even if some people would protest some extractive processes the authorities can always provide a rationale for it.
Every stakeholder has its own metric to account for the resource. Based on these metrics every stakeholder can assess the state of the resource based on its own context of use.
@pospi how can we use valueflows/hREA to coordinate activities for a regenerative use of the resource in a multi stakeholder context, assuming that the system can self-regulate, that is contains conflicting interests?
Can that be done through a benefit redistribution algorithm?
This would probably require cross-validation, meaning that cleaning the forest (extracting dead wood and spacing trees) is a contribution (adds value to the resource) as long as it doesn’t affect other stakeholder’s activities. So the validation must not only come from the cleaner agent but also from the park stakeholders. At some point the next tree that is cut becomes a negative act, not a contribution, which doesn’t result in a benefit but perhaps in a penalty. That signal can come from the park stakeholder’s NRP instance.
Can this lead to a competitive dynamic or “economic war”? - the park stakeholder prematurely flagging the cleaner’s contributions?
If the system does a good job surfacing the synergy between stakeholders perhaps an equilibrium can be achieved. The park / recreation stakeholder benefits from the cleaner’s work.
I suppose all that can be parametrized in the system and cemented as embedded governance (algorithmicaly enforced rules).

Wow, these are really great questions. A fantastic example of how complex the social dimensions are, and how quickly complexity and concerns grow as we approach these discussions.

There is certainly something about a homeostasis in conflicting interests, though I think there’s an easy trap into market-based solutionist logics there that is to be avoided (ie. “self-interested individual” theory), as well as a potential accelerationism toward ever-greater monitoring authorities that has every possibility of being a zero-sum game. Perhaps it is a “both, and” scenario- probably a lot of competing interests can be good in some cases but tighter areas of coordination and concern around particular interests are necessary; but the same in other areas could be damaging.

Because of all that my theory is that the best thing we can do to safeguard outcomes is make these systems of economic governance as flexible and adaptable as possible.

But there are also some best-practise recommendations we can (and will) make, which are things like “what should and should not be measured?” (accounting); “what things should we value?” (culture, certifications and other reductionisms); and “who should be informed, and how often?”

The “how often” comes up for me in things like

Therefore this system can self-regulate

having realised in conversations with Jean Russell that realtime feedback is not always a good thing, and that overly-tightened feedback loops can lead to erratic corrections and unpredictable behaviours-

At some point the next tree that is cut becomes a negative act, not a contribution, which doesn’t result in a benefit but perhaps in a penalty.

You also asked

how can we use valueflows/hREA to coordinate activities for a regenerative use of the resource in a multi stakeholder context, assuming that the system can self-regulate, that is contains conflicting interests?
Can that be done through a benefit redistribution algorithm?

I think it’s probably many different benefit distribution algorithms in many different network contexts, all directing resource flows according to the “what things should we value?” question. I see benefit distribution algorithms as being one possible application of “culture, certifications and other reductionisms”, hence why the tooling that Sacred Capital is building has become an interest for me in this area.

Can this lead to a competitive dynamic or “economic war”? - the park stakeholder prematurely flagging the cleaner’s contributions?

Sure. Isn’t that what happened within FreedomCoop when they introduced vouching into NRP?

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@TiberiusB i realized I had unintentionally shared a statement that could be interpreted as an unfounded assumption or judgement. that was not at all my intention, and i have edited that out now.

a further question also came up while editing, and i’d be excited to hear your experience/perspective if you feel called to share.

Basis is also using Valueflows, so they might eventually be able to communicate with hREA apps, and even before that, their solutions will make sense here. They are also using Rust. See https://basisproject.net/posts/2020/04/valueflows-blockchain-holochain/

Soil testing is a pretty well established discipline and soil testing labs can provide useful measurements. If you have a history of such measurements, you can detect some signs of improvement or degradation. One useful measurement is percentage of organic matter. Less organic matter means deader soil.

Do-it-yourself soil test kits are also available but often less useful than what you can get from a lab with more sophisticated tests.

Back to the question of the commons…

The most important lesson that we can get from the forest / park scenario is, in my opinion, that with network resource planning systems it actually becomes possible to steward commons. I’d go even further than that to say that for the first time in history we can have a global economy based on commons, a commons-centric global economy, moving away from an economy dominated by private and public property. That is because it becomes possible to coordinate multiple stakeholders in a shared asset and allow them to engage in commons-based peer production.
Until today commons could only exist in simple forms. The classical example is the pasture shared among a number of animal growers. One type of use of a shared resource for all these stakeholders, simple metrics, one shared reality, a simple governance solution to make sure that the pasture is not grazed to exhaustion (avoid the tragedy of the commons).
More complex systems do not have simple governance solutions and the tragedy of the commons cannot be avoided. These systems essentially become open access systems that can be abused with high probability because the insight into their use and degradation is too complex to grasp. The forest / park scenario is a simple example of that more complex and unmanageable commons that is effectively an open access system. As mentioned before, we have multiple uses of the same shared resource and every stakeholder has its own reality. We’re already far from the pasture used by a bunch of herders in the same way, making sure they don’t exhaust it.
Ask yourself why parks only exist today as public or private property? Because otherwise they become unmanageable and they get abused or generate conflicts among users. The only way we can have that resource shared among peer entities in a decentralized manner is by using network resource planning systems that are able to absorb that complexity and hide or behind a user interface.

What do we value?
In the case of the pasture (traditional manageble commons case) everyone values the same thing, the capacity of the pasture to feed the animals.
In the case of more complex commons every stakeholder values a different thing. From my forest / park scenario the cleaner values the dead wood that he can sell. The park animator values the aesteatics of the surroundings, the shadow of the trees, some installations, the local neighbors value the capacity of the forest to absorb sound and refresh the air in the region.

What do we measure?
In the case of the pasture is the quantity of nutritious grass produced per year.
In the other case everyone measures different things, you can imagine them…

How do we steward the commons?
In the case of the pasture the herders agree in a time sharing scheme based on the type and number of animals that everyone owns.
In the case of the forest / park it’s not so simple and I argue that it is impossible to come to a consensus without the use of sophisticated tools such as NRPs. The easy solution is to put that under the public property regime, have the municipality make the ultimate decision and use the city hall as the negotiation place and to settle grievances of local users. So if the park animator is not happy about the cleaner he will report it to the municipality and a solution, good or bad, will be implemented. The municipality can come up with some rules to reduce the probability of conflicts, based on past experience. But what if we take the municipality out of the equation?
I suppose that stakeholders can, by trial and error, reach a consensus if they base their reasoning on what everyone values and on some metrics. The consensus is a compromise that brings more satisfaction than harm. That type of equilibrium can be maintained if metrics are used to keep what everyone values within the levels of acceptance. The system can signal to stakeholders how to conduct their activities. I believe carrots and sticks can be used, but other types of current-sees can also be instrumental. The good thing is that once you have this network-of-network NRP in place you can add all sorts of symbolic systems on top of it to nudge behaviour and increase synergy. A new space of possibilities is opened. But the good news is that complex commons become manageble and more and more assets can move out of the private and public property regime, into the commons regime. Is that a desirable thing? I do think so, because that will lead to a better allocation of resources in society, more sharing, do more with less, less externalities…

Whoa! Here’s a do-it-self test for microbial biomass.

As they say,

  • The higher the microbial biomass, the more nutrients available to your plant naturally, decreasing or eliminating the need for chemical fertilizers.
  • Microbes, especially fungi, are building soil structure which prevents erosion.
  • If microbial biomass decreases after applying chemical fertilizer, you have used too much.
  • Fungal:Bacteria ratio of rhizosome soil will tell you if arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) have colonized your plant making it more resistant to drought and pests.
  • An increase in the F:B ratio indicates the green manure you used is optimal.
  • Soil organic carbon is mainly the bodies of dead microbes, so if you are not increasing your microbes you are not building soil health or sequestering carbon.

Don’t know how accurate it is, but https://forum.openhardware.science/t/hackathon-project-developing-an-automated-workflow-for-colorimetric-testing-using-digital-microfluidics/1887 have been using some similar techniques.

Hi all,
I wrote a post about commons and commons-based peer production.

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I updated this post and also provided a link to this discussion, which has been the source of inspiration.

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