Since there are no currently active contests, we have switched Climate CoLab to read-only mode.
Learn more at
Skip navigation
Share via:


An Information Age Economy based on open source culture, innovation and information systems. Open source adds value to the global commons.


Please click 'support' on the top right of this page and then use the share icon to the right to ask your friends to visit the CoLab - thanks! The short link to this page is:

Executive summary

We are going through one of the greatest social transformations in history — the shift from the Industrial Age to the Information Age. The global brain has come into existence - the Internet and associated technologies are truly a new evolutionary neural system for humanity. For the first time in history we have the capabilities and tools to collaborate globally using a scientific systems approach to addressing human needs.

An Information Age Economy will be based on open source culture, innovation and information systems.

(1) Open source creates real value for the global commons. Across a wide range of business sectors open source initiatives and innovation have already created the foundation for this rapidly developing movement. Open source innovation combined with a scientifically applied systems approach will enable the shift from a debt based economy into networks of abundant shared value.
(2) Open systems based on open data standards can be developed to replace the current market based indexes of social progress, e.g.: the Gross National Product (GNP, GDP), and casino like market indexes with real world statistics, indexes, and measurements more directly related to human needs, resource management, and social and environmental progress.

A reflection of technological change across social, economic, industrial and environmental sectors open source culture is developing into a critical grassroots movement and is an essential component of a sustainable future. Open source is a peoples movement offering unprecedented opportunities for local community development, enhanced innovation and the expansion of a ecologically sound virtual job sector.

This new world view has organically developed from the understanding that we can collaborate like never before and together we can make great things happen. Open source culture is about sharing our collective knowledge and creating shared value from shared knowledge. Our common knowledge has the potential to be more valuable than material resources we are now exploiting. The more we put into this global knowledge commons - the greater the return.

During the shift from the industrial age to the information age, in an era of environmental crisis, it is critical that we are able to understand and envision the scope of this global paradigm shift and develop a vision for the potential of these new shared tools to create a sustainable future.


Ted Schulman, founder of and Managing Partner, Transformative Communities ( Ted Schulman is recognized as a pioneer in web and interactive development. He has worked in interactive media, technology and communications for more than three decades. Ted's broad perspective and collaborative approach is based on engagements as an entrepreneur, corporate manager, consultant and producer/director. He has the credibility that only comes from deep experience with major engagements.

Before founding Transformative Communities Ted Schulman managed the Solutions Group at TBWA\Chiat\Day a global adverting agency best known for its campaigns for Apple Computer (also; Absolut, Nissan, Pepsi, Visa). The Solutions Group at TBWA consisted of geography diverse teams of software developers who customized and integrated open source software for the agency's digital infrastructure. It was at TBWA that Ted began to fully appreciate the value of open source technology, innovation and social networks.


A Sustainable Economy will be open sourced...

The Open Source Imperative:
As open culture continues to build real value for global society and the current debt based hyper-consumerist market economy meets its structural limitations open source communities of practice and innovation can and will organically create the foundation for the transition into a sustainable information age economy.

At a time when many of our current institutions and systems are faltering and reaching their natural limits — open source culture and innovation combined with open data initiatives, methodologies, and existing open source tools offer the potential for a fundamental shift in the creation of shared value for the global commons. Open source collaboration and development create real value for the global commons.

Why: Rationale for the proposal

The current Market Economy is a relic of the industrial age:
The need for new measures of social and economic health: The current market based economic system has proven effective in many areas of human progress there are a number of key fundamental principles and values that are contrary to the creation of a sustainable economy. Structural impediments of the current economy include:

  • Current market system defines global and national ‘economic’ health on measures that are detached from factors that take human welfare and social progress into account.
  • The current market economy is too simple, in a complex world it primarily focuses on the creation of material goods - the economy addresses and promotes human wants and is not linked to true human needs and values.
  • Current market system is based on infinite growth and debt creation. Unlimited growth can not continue - we are using over 125% more resources than the planet can support.
  • Current market system creates high volatility based on emotion, daily business trends and speculation creating a casino like debt based system.

Information Age Economy - based on measures of satisfying Human Needs and Values:
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - these are simple principles that the vast majority of people in the world would agree are fundamental human needs An Information Age Economy will focus on delivering a happy and abundant life in the most economical way to the worlds people.

How: Feasibility of proposal

The tools, the capabilities and open source culture are all there to make an Information Age Economy a reality - the final thing now needed is a shared comprehensive vision that society can evolve and that we can now help that evolution in a meaningful way. Starting with open source frameworks for governance, methodology, and agile production - the development process begins:

Goal: Create standard data interchange techniques; identify key data-sets and aggregate data to define a systems based comprehensive measure of human progress.
  • Discovery - communities of practice collaborate globally to create visions for an Information Age Economy. Identify existing systems as best practices references for sustainable resource management, economy and human needs.Through the use of consensus systems many of the better ideas and concepts are identified.
  • Requirements gathering - identify relevant information, technology systems, data sets, technology standards and other factors necessary to create the new systems.
  • Standards definitions - what data sharing standards already exist, what additional standards will need to be established? XML, data transformation, etc.
  • Implementation - systems created by cross speciality communities of practice and innovation.
  • Ongoing - cycle of review, improvement and enhancement of the systems.
Open Source Innovation
A key sector in the open source arena and one that effects all the others is Open Source Innovation. As an emerging academic discipline and collaborative working methodology open source innovation creates the underpinnings for ongoing improvement in all aspects of open source development. Open source culture and innovation create the foundation on which we can now begin to fulfill the potential of global information age systems.

Communities of Practice
Much more than just software, open source concepts and initiatives are already underway in the following Communities of Practice:
  • Open Access Journals
  • Creative Commons
  • Open Activism
  • Open Architecture
  • Open Data
  • Open Farm Tech
  • Open Fashion
  • Open Government
  • Open Health Care
  • Open Innovation
  • Open Fabrication
  • Open Hardware
  • Open Smart Grid
  • Open Source Culture
  • Open Source Economics
  • Open Source Education
  • Open Source Food
  • Open Source Journalism
  • Open Source Genomics
  • Open Source Law
  • Open Source Music
  • Open Source Software
  • Open Source Unionism
  • Open Wisdom & Spirituality

Open Source Examples of Value Creation:

The following examples clearly demonstrate the innovation and value creating potential of open source in various business sectors.

Health Commons:
Imagine a virtual marketplace or ecosystem where participants share data, knowledge, materials and services to accelerate research. The components might include databases on the results of chemical assays, toxicity screens, and clinical trials; libraries of drugs and chemical compounds; repositories of biological materials (tissue samples, cell lines, molecules), computational models predicting drug efficacies or side effects, and contract services for high-throughput genomics and proteomics, combinatorial drug screening, animal testing, biostatistics, and more. The resources offered through the Commons might not necessarily be free, though many could be. However, all would be available under standard pre-negotiated terms and conditions and with standardized data formats that eliminate the debilitating delays, legal wrangling and technical incompatibilities that frustrate scientific collaboration today. The Health Commons estimates that by using open collaboration techniques pharmaceutical research cycles can be reduced from 17 years to as a little as 2 years.

The Global Village Construction Set:
GVCS is an open technological platform that allows for the easy fabrication of the 50 different Industrial Machines that it takes to build a small civilization with modern comforts. A modern, comfortable lifestyle relies on a variety of efficient Industrial Machines. If you eat bread, you rely on an Agricultural Combine. If you live in a wood house, you rely on a Sawmill. Each of these machines relies on other machines in order for it to exist. If you distill this complex web of interdependent machines into a reproducible, simple, closed-loop system you have a high value self-reliant community construction set. This open source based solution demonstrates real value over existing commercial alternatives.

Open Energy Grid:
Lots of work is currently being done by the government and key industry players to standardize protocols and enterprise models, however, little focus is being placed on open source from these organizations. Reference implementations and high-quality open source help drive the adoption of open standards. They lower the barrier to entry by providing smaller companies with the common 'plumbing' and ultimately, via collaboration, increases the quality of this common base of code. Low barrier to entry drives innovation by allowing new players to enter the space without huge up front investments. One couldn't imagine every organization having to implement TCP + HTTP to be a player in online sales? Why shouldn't the same be true of the Smart Grid?

Open source catalyst -

The open source movement has no real leaders and no hierarchical order, it has evolved organically alongside the technology revolution. While there are hundreds of thousands of open source projects and teams around the world there is no marketing or advertising campaign to introduce the scope and potential of open source to the general population.

A key goal at this stage is to introduce, and educate more people to the scope and potential of open source. In this effort we have developed as a catalyst designed to help publicize and build the open source sustainability imperative as an evolutionary movement:

The floEarth Public Launch in early January 2012 will kick off a 5 month public awareness campaign leading up to Earth Summit 2012 on June 4-6.

floEarth Key Principles Include:
  • Promote open source culture, innovation and technology as an integral element of a sustainable future - and build scale for effective global development.
  • The current environmental crisis in the world is fundamentally a crisis in consciousness.
  • We are going through a great evolutionary shift.
  • Access to technology is a human right.
  • Open source culture, innovation and technologies are integral components in the development of a sustainable future.
  • An information age economy can be created through open source innovation.
  • Collective and evolutionary activism can be enhanced through social networking.
  • Supporting the underlying goals of the Bolivian government's Harmony With Nature Earth Summit proposal.
  • Supporting the United Nations Culture of Peace Campaign and Millennium Development Goals.

Vision of the future under this proposal

Our gross national product (GNP) measures everything except that which makes life worthwhile. – Robert Kennedy, 1968

An Information Age Economy (IAE) – Open World Index / Dashboard

Through open innovation, create the tools and system to display meaningful measures of human needs and progress. How do we measure the progress of nations? The goal of nations: How successful is the nation at creating a healthy and happy population?

An IAE aggregates global and local data - to create a meaningful window onto the world.

Based on advanced systems using a wide range of open global data to create a meaningful index - a measure of progress that takes into account social justice, resource and environmental sustainability, and people’s well being.

Examples of Data sets:

The following examples show alternative ways to measure social progress. With the development of open data exchange standards a wide array of data-sets could be aggregated to create increasingly deeper, more complex and meaningful measures of social progress. (additional data-sets and indexes are listed in the appendix.)

Happy Planet Index:
The index combines environmental impact with human well-being to measure the environmental efficiency with which, country by country, people live long and happy lives.

Planet Health Boundaries:
Johan Rockstrom reminds us, our advances also give us the science to recognize this and change behavior. His research has found nine "planetary boundaries" that can guide us in protecting our planet's many overlapping ecosystems.

Global Peace Index:
The Global Peace Index is a project of the Institute for Economics and Peace.  It represents a ground-breaking milestone in the study of peace. It is the first time that an Index has been created that ranks the nations of the world by their peacefulness and identifies some of the drivers of peace.

Global Resource Management:
A global natural resource management system will maximise our ability to use limited resources in a managed way.
Jason Clay, associated with the World Wildlife Foundation – has identified 35 global locations and 15 priority commodities that are key to global sustainability. He has also identified that the 100 top global corporations use 25% of worlds key resources. (Top 300-500 corporations account for 75% of key resources.) Many of these corporations have already started working on resource management programs and can potentially provide important data.

The United Nations embraces and endorses the open source imperative as a fundamental tool in the creation of a sustainable future.


1) Additional Reference Indexes:

Better World Flux:!/
a beautiful interactive visualization of information on what really matters in life. It visually communicates the world state in terms of standards of living and quality of life for many countries and how this has changed, and mostly improved, over a period of up to 50 years. This site is a tool for building a consensus, telling a story and sharing it, all whilst raising awareness for the UN Millennium Development Goals.

The idea: Construct a measure of social progress world-wide based on your preferences for development. Participate in a global effort to improve tracing of humanity's progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.

Millennium Development Goals Dashboard:
The MDG Dashboard displays the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Indicators in a user-friendly format, with colour-coded country profiles and maps. We provide over 60 MDG indicators for ca. 200 countries and 19 years (1990-2009) based on original data from the UN MDG database, updated in May 2011.

Global Footprint Network:
Even with modest UN projections for population growth, consumption and climate change, by 2030 humanity will need the capacity of two Earths to absorb carbon dioxide waste and keep up with natural resource consumption. The figures released in the report illustrate the scope of the challenges humanity faces not only for preserving biodiversity, but also for halting climate change and meeting human development aspirations, such as reducing worldwide hunger and poverty.

  • Acts as a central point of reference and support for people interested in open data (and code) in economics.
  • Identifies relevant projects and practices. Promote best practices as well as legal and technical standards for making material open (such as
  • Acts as a hub for the development and maintenance of low cost, community driven projects related to open material in economics.

Bank of International Settlements:
This ‘stealth’ organization is at the very top of the world’s financial structure - publishing PDF documents of world financial stats – these stats should be brought into an open-data format for more transparent use. - other financial institutions such as World Bank, IMF, the national Central Banks also should move to open data formats.

America’s Infrastructure:
American Society of Civil Engineers - Report Card for America's Infrastructure (note: similar data can be collected globally) seeks to inform the public and policymakers about the condition of the nation's infrastructure and how best to improve it. Americans owe their economic prosperity, public safety, and high quality of life to the infrastructure that serves them everyday.

Various Open Government Initiatives (local, regional, national):
Open-source governance is a political philosophy which advocates the application of the philosophies of the open-source and open-content movements to democratic principles in order to enable any interested citizen to add to the creation of policy, as with a wiki document. Legislation is democratically opened to the general citizenry. The concept behind democracy, that the collective wisdom of the people as a whole is a benefit to the decision-making process, is applied to policy development directly.

Global Consciousness Project:
Unusual but very interesting data set - The Global Consciousness Project (GCP) is an international effort involving researchers from several institutions and countries, designed to explore whether the construct of interconnected consciousness can be scientifically validated through objective measurement. The project builds on excellent experiments conducted over the past 35 years at a number of laboratories, demonstrating that human consciousness interacts with random event generators, apparently "causing" them to produce non-random patterns.

2) Display Technology:

Advanced data visualization systems offer deeper insight into open data sets.

Open Street Maps:
Google Environment Maps:
Google Earth:

3) Discovery Reference

Gross National Happiness:
International Institute of Management: Executive Journal > Strategy > Gross National Happiness (GNH) - A Policy White Paper

The video Collation of the Willing: recommends development of interconnected systems containing:
1) Green Knowledge Trust (Wikipedia style) – “information central for the war on global warming.” References:
Open Sustainability Wiki:
2) Innovation Center (experts contribute their unique skills to the project, tap into our collective genius)
3) Catalyst System (social networks) A global social networking system designed to put people in touch with projects working for change)

Integral Economics:

Integral Life – An Integral Economy Emerging:

Inverted Alchemy – An Integral Econmony: The Role of the Commons:

Dashboard of Sustainability:

Infrastructure Mapping - A key aspect of resilience is robust infrastructure. Simple Critical Infrastructure Maps (SCIM) are a tool that we developed to make the complex interdependencies between infrastructure systems and mission clearly visible to every single member of an enterprise. Dealing in Security presents a simple overview of SCIM for cases ranging from a single individual to a failing nation state.

4) Development  tools & references

An Open World Index/Dashboard will be created by broadly based collaborative Communities of Practice using Open Innovation techniques: