Considerations in distributed work models

So I've been considering what can make a distributed work model effective. Thinking about these systems for me at least brings into consideration a handful of successful distributed work systems, such as the blockchain for cryptocurrencies, the grid for projects such as BOINC/SETI/FAH I'll just collectively call Grid, and of course the logistics system for Coca Cola in Africa that I'll just call Soda. So we have our data set scope, let's ask it some questions and postulate answers. I'm going to abstract down to things as basic as I can easily get them.

What drives participation in a distributed work model?


  • Grid = A sense of helping a larger goal
  • Blockchain = A currency like thing
  • Soda = Actual money

So we kind of get a range between the altruistic group collective goal and actual cash micro-rewards with maybe speculative value in between. I think this provides a good basis for a scale of reward. While it may seem obvious describing it clearly can allow for the direct correlation of credit in accordance with distributed model. This could be use to ambiguate a reward and use the scale to measure the reward in accordance with desired participation models. Maybe.

So there is also a scale here between centrally organized and truly distributed work. Where the closer we get to central management the more concrete the reward is. To some degree this correlates with the difficulty of the work, but I don't see that as a hard correlation.

So assume we are dealing with a single network of reward and work to be done and a finite pool of credits with which to distribute for doing the work of the network. How would we use the scale to assign credit to best encourage the work to be done?

To postulate on what may work. So a given distributed economy may be considered a distinct network and may form with an arbitrary pool of credits. If we assume the motivations listed are sufficiently accurate the reward system would then scale the reward based speculation or difficulty. So that the smallest rewards are given towards the largest goals, relying on the sense of community effort as the primary reward and the credit number as just a confirmation of personal contribution. Moderate awards would be given towards work that may produce a larger return but at uncertain or unascertainable risk. Large rewards could be tied to complex work with less or no communal affirmation.

I think key to the idea of distributed work systems, well you know actually working, is that there needs to be constant alignment with the idea of minimal investment and minimal infrastructure requirements. I think setting as a basis some monetary investment minimum moves away from this idea of minimal viability.

So how would that work? Just arbitrary assignment of value? That might work for altruistic reward only, but without a way to exchange to more general accepted and exchangeable credit it seems lacking. To postulate without first closing previous postulates, maybe its a bit like you could issue credit similarly to stock but with contractually set exchanges. Balance exchange through a scale of tasks from speculative to concrete. Might work. Seems there would need to be clarity in the lack of fundamental value, speculation or existence of actual concrete backing. Though, to be deeply honest, this does not really exist in current real world fiat systems so why should it exist in virtual systems?

This brings the concept of bootstrapped economies to mind. That something of large value can rise out of something of minimal value, a phenomena of emergence. This is possible. This brings up some more questions worth pursuing. Does a plethora of micro economies increase the chance of value emergence? Do centralized features increase the chance of value emergence? What are the measurable features of value in a virtual economy? Given inputs and controls what increases value emergence and what stifles it? Lot's of interesting questions, I think I'll explore these.

To be continued...