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From Apache Wiki <>
Subject [Incubator Wiki] Update of "InfoEngProposal" by JPatrickBedell
Date Thu, 24 Aug 2006 16:32:41 GMT
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The following page has been changed by JPatrickBedell:

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Initial edit.

New page:

= Abstract =

The InfoEng project will create software for the issuance, servicing,
and exchange of digital financial instruments representing information
("information currency").

= Proposal =

This is a proposal to create a project within the Apache Software
Foundation to develop software to enable the application of economic
mechanisms to the management of information.  The InfoEng project,
founded in July 2004, has released software enabling users to create
digital financial instruments (called "information currency")
representing information.  The concept of representing information, as
opposed to physical assets, by tradeable financial instruments is
believed to be new, and has been made available without patent
restrictions.  The concept has been implemented in an information
currency server, ICWS, and an information currency client, icsvn, both
released under Apache-compatible licenses.  Standardization of
information currency documents and operations has been pursued by the
publishing of an Internet-draft through the IETF.

The adoption of the InfoEng project into the Apache Software
Foundation will enable the InfoEng project to draw upon the resources
of the ASF community, which is a primary target group for which
information currency systems are being developed.

= Background =

Open-source software can create significant economic benefits for
individuals and organizations.  In the market for physical goods,
creators of useful products delivering economic benefits for users are
incentivized by the high prices and profits that they are able to
obtain from selling their goods.  Unlike physical goods, digital
information may be duplicated and delivered with near-zero cost,
making the rationing effected by prices for physical goods less
relevant for digital information.  However, the prices for physical
goods also signal to producers the relative importance of various
commodities, and enable distributed coordination among participants in
a global economy toward the satisfaction of the most-urgent needs of
market participants.  "Economic calculation" is the process by which
participants in an economy use profit and loss to evaluate their prior
actions and judge their future course.

Methods for assessing the importance and value of information are
widely used and highly useful.  These methods include moderation
systems (e.g. Slashdot), ranking of information by activity (ranking
of downloadable files by number of downloads), and various
recommendation systems, among many others.  However, the mechanisms of
economic calculation are not routinely applied to the valuation and
management of information (although information, freely
redistributable or otherwise, can significantly influence economic
valuations of physical goods).  There are a variety of reasons for
this, but the most important is the fact that digital information may
be reproduced for an infinitesimal cost relative to the cost of
duplicating physical goods, making it impractical, generally, to
charge for the scarce resources used to duplicate and distribute the
digital information.

The software released by the InfoEng project enables the operator of
an information currency server to generate from a client request
digital financial instruments representing information ("information
currency"), and to perform the network operations necessary to service
the issued information currency.  As a specific example, the icsvn
information currency client released by the InfoEng project is a
client for the Subversion version control system which can be used to
generate information currency units with each commit to a Subversion
repository.  The developer who has received information currency
representing their contribution(s) may, if they choose, sell the
information currency units if there are willing buyers.  The wide
dissemination of the underlying information, if it is useful
information, should increase the number and motivation of buyers of
information currency.  This inverts the motivations for information
protection that are normally associated with compensation for
information, where a seller of information generally restricts the
availability of the information and uses copyright law to further
restrict the dissemination.  A seller of information currency (based,
for example, on open-source code) is likely to experience higher
demand for their information currency if the underlying information is
made more widely available.

One of the goals of the InfoEng project is the use of financial
engineering mechanisms to manage information and the risks associated
with information creation (particularly in the context of open-source
software development), leading to the practice of "information
engineering".  Nonetheless, suggestions for less ugly and more
felicitous names for the InfoEng project are welcome!

= Rationale =

The importance of software development, particularly Internet-based
collaborative development of open-source software, motivates the
creation of new mechanisms to facilitate development.  The efficiency
of economic mechanisms for coordinating widely-distributed (and
critically important, including life-critical) productive activities
justifies the exploration of economic and financial mechanisms for
coordinating software development.

It is anticipated that Apache developers will particularly benefit
from information currency-based systems, given the extreme importance
of Apache software to the global Internet.

= Current Status =

The InfoEng project has released the Information Currency Web Services
software (current version 0.2.1).  ICWS uses the Apache Derby database
for data storage, the Apache Axis and Apache Pubscribe libraries for
SOAP and WS-Notification support, and the Apache XML Security library
for XML Signature support.  ICWS is currently released under the MIT

The InfoEng project has also released an Subversion client, icsvn
(current version 0.0.4), that generates information currency based on
the information within a commit to a subversion repository.  This code
is licensed under the Subversion license, as the icsvn code is a
modification of the svn command-line client included with the
Subversion distribution.

Two Internet-drafts (with the most recent version available at have been
submitted to the IETF, with the objective of establishing an open
standard for information currency documents and operations.  The first
priority for standardization, to this point, has been "working code",
with "rough consensus" to follow.

The InfoEng project has explicitly disclaimed any patent restrictions
on information currency, enabling the Apache License to be used for
the incubated project.  The application focus (economic coordination
of software development), open-source licensing, and disclaimer of
patent rights are factors aligning the project with the Apache
Software Foundation.

= Known Risks =

== Development community ==

The development community, so far, is one developer.  J. Patrick
Bedell ( has been working on the development of
information currency for two years.  He will continue to actively
contribute to the project, as well as seeking to enlist new

1. Scope of the subprojects 

The subprojects will initially be:

  - enhancement of ICWS to use newly-developed Apache web services and
    security software,
  - development of additional information currency clients, in
    particular an information currency-enabled cvs client, 
  - development of a trading framework for information currency,
    including a client for managing and trading a user's IC and a
    trade server through which trades may be executed,
  - a documentation subproject, for end-user documents and
    standardization documents.

2. Initial source (MIT License)

2.1 External Dependencies of the project

The current implementation depends on the following components:

  Jetty-6 (Apache License)
  BouncyCastle-1.32 (MIT License)
  JUnit-4.0 (Common Public License)
  Spring-1.2.4 (Apache License)

3. Identify the ASF resources to be created
3.1 mailing list(s)

infoeng-ppmc (moderated subscriptions)
infoeng-dev (commits to dev list)

3.2 Subversion repository

3.3 JIRA


4. Identify the initial set of committers:

J. Patrick Bedell (

5. Identify Apache sponsoring individual
We request that the Apache Incubator PMC sponsor the 
implementation as an incubating project.

Champion: TBD




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