This page describes in more detail the PlaNET software we are developing.

There are two prototypes, “PlaNET on Holo” and “Planetmakers PlaNET” (a proof of concept prototype) and a user interface design, each of which illustrates different aspects. None are complete, but the combination of all three, and especially the use of the proof of concept prototype by our partners shows its potential for social good.

The Holochain-based prototype

This prototype is in two parts, the underlying decentralised hardware and software layer from our partners Holo, and the PlaNET prototype our partner EYSS is building on top of it.

From our partner, Holo:

The new distributed internet being built by Holo, starts from the server up. They have developed self-contained servers, HoloPorts, designed to be run with virtually no attention from its owner. Simply plug it in and it runs as part of the Holochain network. These have been developed with the support of a highly successful crowdfunding campaign. At the time of writing, they have all been manufactured, with a purpose built operating system installed, and have been shipped to distribution points. They have not yet been shipped to their crowdfunding sponsors, awaiting sufficient development of the Holochain software that will enable them to link with each other and serve Holochain apps.

The Holochain software is in effect a new decentralised layer of the internet. They say:

Each of us wants to have control over how and with whom we interact. In order to evolve and thrive, our communities must support everyone’s uniqueness. Yet today, our online relationships are dominated by centralized corporate web sites.
Holochain enables a distributed web with user autonomy built directly into its architecture and protocols. Data is about remembering our lived and shared experiences. Distributing the storage and processing of that data can change how we coordinate and interact. With digital integration under user control, Holochain liberates our online lives from corporate control over our choices and information.

Holochain has gone through several internal alpha releases and is expected to be on public alpha release very soon, (but at the time of writing is not available yet for us to use at scale). Holochain uses DHTs, as does blockchain, but is ‘agent-centric’ not ‘data centric’. It has no overall consensus requirement or mining and thus overcomes many of the energy use and scalability problems of blockchains, as explained in this short video Holochain Explained by one of Holocahins’s core developers, or this short video, How does Holochain work?, from the founder of Holochain, Art Brock.

It will not be necessary to buy a HoloPort to have a node on the Holochain network. Holo is planning to release versions of the HoloPort software that will run on a range of other machines, from standalone servers, to laptops, tablets and even mobile phones, where it can use spare computing capacity to contribute to the Holochain network.

An explanation and demonstration of the way Holochain ‘gives you back the ability to manage your own data, and look after your own identity’ is given in a short video “Developer Demo of Identity Manager and Chat”.Holochain has public repositories of their code on GitHub.

From our partner EYSS:

EYSS have developed a partial prototype with the key features of the PlaNET software. The challenge was adapting to the distributed, agent-centric nature of Holochain. The two central types of entities in the PlaNET app – are people and groups. The point is to build in a constructive relationship between people into every part of it.

The starting point for a user is their Dashboard. It includes an editable copy of their personal profile, showing how they can control their own data: what parts of it are visible to different categories of people and groups.

The profile shown for each user includes personal identification, their values and a personal description. The key difference to conventional social network profiles is a field indicating whether they are trusted by the viewer and whether the viewer trusts them. This is the basis of the network of trustworthiness.

Finally, there is the messaging screen. Message headers includes an avatar and name of the user with an indication as to whether they trust and are trusted by the viewer. Thus the relationship of trust is displayed throughout PlaNET, keeping it at the forefront of users’ attention. The types of message in the prototype include ‘offers’ and ‘wants’ providing the beginnings of the social marketplace, where the trust relationship is also displayed.

A major part of the development of this prototype was the backend, where it needed to be designed to run on the distributed Holochain network. The prototype as shown is running on a small, private network of Holochain nodes and can be seen HERE (ensure you set your browser to allow insecure scripts).

Planetmakers PlaNET (The proof-of-concept prototype)

The purpose of the proof-of-concept PlaNET prototype is to enable our community partners and supporting partners to start working together as a Commons before the full decentralised Holo-based version is ready.  It enables our partners to try out the processes and practices of PlaNET to see how they would benefit their organisations. After that, their main activity is to come up with a set of practical PlaNET-enabled projects within and between each community partner that will be supported by the Blockchains for Social Good prize.

It is built on the Discourse discussion system, but customised and set up to display many features of our design. Discourse is popular and well-developed open source software that includes many of the features we are building into our decentralised platform.

They say: “Our trust system means that the community builds a natural immune system to defend itself from trolls, bad actors, and spammers — and the most engaged forum members can assist in the governance of their community.” and “We gently, constantly educate members in a just-in-time manner on the universal rules of civilized discourse.”

We have extended Discourse by: building the metasystem component into Discourse as discussion categories, and using the wiki-like feature for shared documents. We have several types of polls for voting. We have extended Discourse’s badge system to reward volunteering and community contributions. We have built a somewhat primitive trustworthiness system, and are using a plugin to create a rating system for people and planet.

Using these tools, the Core Team and other supporting partners are curating a series of discussions and activities among the community partners, as follows:

  • 1 Working with each community partner separately to explore how they can use all of the parts of the platform to their own internal benefit (which should help them function as an effective Commons), and also looking at where there are potential synergies with other partners. Participants will create personal profiles and indicate which other participants they trust, so learning the usefulness of our network of trustworthiness vision. They will build sets of common resources in the commons section, and try out the voting systems for making decisions.
  • 2 Working with other community partners in small groups where we have identified potential synergies, with the specific task of coming up with collaborative projects which will be supported by the EU Prize, if we win it. Areas include local food, energy, transport and social support. They will use the Direction section, including a democratic decision making process, for deciding which of the  set of potential projects will use the prize funds.
  • 3 Working with all the partners to come up with an overall shared vision of sustainable, collaborative communities, building upon their separate visions.
  • 4 Specifically looking at visions of the collaborative economy and how it could be strengthened by a social marketplace that highlights trust and reputation. How could a self-governing collaborative economy use its decision-making tools to set its rules, fees, policies, etc.? One core topic is the use of gift economy approaches to reward and motivate volunteering and provide social support of various kinds. How can a gift economy reduce a community’s dependence upon conventional money? How can a local collaborative economy, running on its own local servers, use transaction fees to provide a solid business model that funds itself and many other local community projects and services?
  • 5 Building on the approach to Peacemaking we are developing to create highly effective local approaches to handling conflicts when they arise, and procedures that make conflicts less likely to occur in the first place. They will explore the patterns of building conflict handling systems and will set up a group of embedded Peacemakers to help resolve any conflicts that arise.
  • 6. ‘Open Space’ discussions initiated by the participants in view of their own needs.
    The PoC prototype and the activity on it from our partners is linked from the project website at planet.coop.

This prototype is currently live and being used by our partners at Planetmakers PlaNET. However, it is not open to the public as its use is all about building supporting relationships between our partners, and this couldn’t happen if anyone could casually look in on them. It is a small group of invited participants. However, if you are part of a group that would like to take part you can write to us at [link] explaining your background and reasons why you would like to take part.

The user interface design

The user interface design shows a set of linked screens illustrating all the components of the PlaNET software, as we envisage it when more developed. This is to clarify the functionality and also to display its clarity and ease of use. It highlights two key features:

1 to show how users control their own data: how different profiles can be shown to different groups, and how they have fine-grained control of what they receive.
2 to show an app that brings the relationship between people to the forefront, including trust and reputation, and that makes it easy for groups to work effectively on a ‘commons’ basis.

Download the current version here. We expect that this design will continue to evolve, and will be evaluated and discussed by our other partners as part of the Proof-of-concept prototype, described above.