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“Then it was that there came into my head the first of the mad notions that contributed so much to saving our lives.”
Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island
Open Source Software Has An Economic Problem
Libraries, compilers, kernels, databases, operating systems; the most fundamental building blocks, the base, the essential tools of the digital revolution. The development of virtually all software, open or private, relies on the convenient accessibility of work done by others. In an email sent by Steve Jobs to none other than himself but months before his passing, he wrote:
“I did not invent the transistor, the microprocessor, object oriented programming, or most of the technology I work with.”
The value of Open Source is undeniable. The value of Open Source is immeasurable. All because the value of Open Source is derived from it being free and a free exchange of laborious innovation among those brilliant minds that make of the world the future.
It is precisely the nature of these derivations from this essential and ephemeral import that leads us to the following conclusions:
Because it is free, Open Source Software does not offer its contributors one self-evident avenue for extracting its value. The only approximation of such an avenue is to create a business product from Open Source code; this neither benefits everyone fairly, nor does it necessarily equal (for in business nothing ever is) a direct path to success. After all, those same libraries, compilers, kernels, databases, and operating systems, more often than not, do not lend themselves to be made into only one product with a clear market fit, despite being indispensable to others.
Because it is a free exchange, Open Source Software is prime prey for picking by corporate falcons. Despite being fundamental to products of wide-use and tech-ubiquity, present in bedrooms and coffee shops across all lands of this our beloved orb of emerald and salt, Open Source repositories and their contributors get little recognition, let alone reward, for their labor.
Because it is laborious, Open Source repositories often operate barely on maintenance and, if lucky, some upkeep. We believe that innovating a project one can barely keep alive is a predicament no brilliant mind should face.
Because their minds are brilliant, the most common monetization tool Open Source developers can employ is to monetize themselves. We never disparage the way someone earns a living, we just hope more will be able to earn a living from working in Open Source Software.
One of the founding assumptions behind the GOSH blockchain is that we extract the value locked in Open Source Software. And so it is here that we finally mention GEX, four-hundred-and-thirteen words into its own manifesto.
Why We Are Launching GEX (In Other Words)
GEX is a decentralized limit order book exchange. It is built as an alternative to centralized exchanges all of whom trade the same coins, forming conditions where the all coins are both volatile, and follow essentially the same market trajectory.
In other words: when, say, a CPI report comes out showing higher than expected inflation figures, Bitcoin drops in price and most of the cryptocurrency market follows. We understand this to be an absurd reality which eschews the principles behind this market’s very creation.
No, GEX is something altogether different.
Through the practice of blockchain tokenization, GEX offers Open Source repositories built on GOSH a way to extract their value.
In other words: all repositories on GOSH are managed as a DAO, and Open Source repositories on GOSH can trade their DAO tokens on GEX so that Open Source contributors can profit without sacrificing any freedoms, free services, or the principle of free exchange.
The value of these DAO tokens originates in their use supporting the development process itself, which, considering the significance of Open Source, is no small matter. GEX is a decentralized space where investors will be able to financially support the wide breadth of Open Source innovation found in the GOSH ecosystem.
In essence, what will be traded on GEX is the repository decision-making at the heart of all Open Source innovation. Imagine a large company uses an Open Source library, today that company needs to hire someone to maintain it. This can be inefficient, and if the company isn’t all that large, hard to provide. On GEX, however, that problem no longer exists; entities can simply buy that library’s tokens to influence decisions while supporting those same developers.
Likewise, we claim that like-minded developers want to hold tokens of a repository to which they contribute. And offer developers who believe in a particular library, compiler, kernel, database, or operating system a way to participate in its success.
Indeed we know many Open Source repositories whose tokens we would gladly hodl. That’s why we built GOSH, and now GEX.
One of the achievements we hope will come out of an exchange distinct from the rest of the crypto market is a less volatile token value trajectory. All (and the only) tokens listed on GEX will be DAO tokens of Open Source repositories on GOSH.
How GEX Will Start: A Story
You are on an island. The beaches are awash in pearls and ditches where many men dug for treasure and found nothing but more pearls. You drink from a coconut, as the palm trees gently rustle in the serotinal breeze.
Soon, the sun will give way to rain. Drops of water will trickle down and hit the Earth. And within the Earth are seeds planted by you, and your neighbor, and even Jonah, whose mother was cursed by a witch.
The seeds will absorb the water. Hydrolytic enzymes will activate, helping young embryos grow. And a few will grow so much that they break out of their protective shells, and a small radicle will emerge. This is how the weird and wonderful life of a plant begins.
Before you know it, it’s spring. Farmers glean potatoes. Some others pick mangoes from trees. And Jonah was hit on the head with a coconut. In short, everyone has something to sell. What could possibly be the problem? Oh, right, there’s no money.
So the Central Bank issues a currency. For the first time.
Frankly, you wonder what they’ve been up to before this, but they’re giving everyone money now, so all is forgiven.
It’s officially called the ‘Insert Generic But Exotic Sounding Name For A Tropical Island Peso,’ but everyone just calls it the Peso.
Now all the fruits of the harvest have a price.
Though, of course, the prices are only relative to those of all the goods on the island market.
People begin trading like madmen. In fact, the madmen are the best off because homeopathy is good business.
The Peso is a medium of exchange and a unit of account.
Lo and behold! An economy is born.
Everyone is happy.
One day, a ship appears on the horizon. “Pirates again?” you think, irritated at the prospect of hearing their drunk stories for the thousandth time.
Alas, it is not so. It is something much scarier. These, my son, are merchants. “Pesos, eh,” they say in guttural voices, “well I ain’t got no Pesos. Give me Pesos!”
“Well what do we,” says your Central Bank Chief, who is also the President, and a bartender at the cafe on the beach, “get in return?” The merchants theatrically open a large crate and inside you see a bag of white grain.
You are amazed. You’ve never seen anything like it.
The deal is made. A price is worked out, and all your neighbors buy some.
Now the merchants have those Pesos they so impetuously demanded.
As time passes, however, the shiny Peso banknotes in the merchants’ silky hands become tainted with a problem: what do they do with them when they leave? They ate all the mangoes they could wish for after having sold their salt, but when they come home they’ll have to pay their workers. In Reals. And all they have is Pesos.
“Umm, we were wondering how we could exchange Pesos for Reals?” ask the merchants. But none of the islanders have ever heard of Reals. So they are faced with a choice: either don’t trade with the island, or…
The merchants now talk to the government of the island and say: “We will trade with you. Your potatoes will have flavor. And your fish, too. All we ask is that you give us Reals for Pesos”
To this the government says: “Well ok then. What is the price of salt where you come from?”
“It’s two Reals.”
“Ok, so two Reals will be two Pesos.”
Now the government just needs to figure out a way to get some Reals.
After many ideas are thrown about, Jonah speaks. Finally, he is free of his mother’s curse. It must be because of homeopathy, there’s no other way.
“I will set sail for new shores!” he says, “and I will take with me mangoes, potatoes, and coconuts. When I arrive I shall sell them for Reals, bring them home, and we will have a reserve.”
A ship is built. It is called Huckleberry.
A farewell party is held. He leaves the next day.
Over the years, Huckleberry returns with more Reals and leaves with more fruit. Like this over and over again.
Jonah makes over fifty thousand trips and sells millions of coconuts. Farewell parties become less common. There’s something else to celebrate:
Lo and Behold! The island is now part of the international trade of currencies.
It took many years.
You are still on an island. The beaches are awash in tourists and bars where ditches used to be. Now you have money. And though the coconuts are no longer free, you don’t mind. It’s one of the perks of being older in age.
This story is here to entertain, and to illustrate a vital point:
Cryptocurrencies face exactly this dilemma.
In its nascent state a cryptocurrency is a closed economy. It has no ties to international trade. And it shouldn’t. Until, that is, it grows proverbial mangoes, potatoes, and coconuts.
In the beginning, the GEX ecosystem will not trade with currencies outside GEX.
The first mistake that founders of any new cryptocurrency can make is get it traded on exchanges before it has any intrinsic value. Bitcoin and Ethereum didn’t make that mistake.
And who said trading your token should be easy? Blockchains and Web3 projects should start from focusing on providing tangible value that will withstand the natural trials of market speculation before submitting it to that speculation. Just like a beautiful island.
What We Hope GEX Will Achieve
Software engineers, blockchain enthusiasts, investors, or anyone at all who believes in an open source technology (be it x, y, or z); who believes that it will be used for many years by many people will be able to support it in a very real way. A number of real ways in fact, and with different motivations: developers will be able to reap the financial rewards of the value they provide; we hope blockchain enthusiasts find a space where they can trade tokens without being inundated with speculative nonsense; investors might well prove Warren Buffet wrong in his assessment that Tokens never have intrinsic value, because Open Source projects are used by virtually everyone, and that’s what is traded on GEX; and no matter the nature or motivation, the result we hope to achieve with GEX is for Open Source to have its immense value unlocked.
Open Source repositories will no longer need to be maintained by Google, Red Hat, or IBM. OSS today lives thanks to corporations, largely because they want control over the code tied closely to their products. On GEX engineers will receive financial compensation as well as credit for their work, without having to pledge exclusivity to any particular organization, whose influence will be felt in a more dynamic social way through the purchase of tokens which provide DAO voting influence over repository decisions.
And finally, we hope GEX will facilitate a growing ecosystem where young developers and engineers will be able to build profitable innovations of great value to the general progress of humankind and make of the world the future.
Thank you for reading. For more from GOSH: