ID3 Releases “From Bitcoin to Burning Man and Beyond”

From Bitcoin to Burning Man and Beyond: The Quest for Identity and Autonomy in a Digital Society.
Anthology probes the rise of digital currencies, self-organized governance and secure online identity.

ID3, the Boston-based nonprofit affiliated with the M.I.T. Media Lab, announces the release of a collection of fifteen essays that explores a new generation of digital technologies that are re-imagining the very foundations of identity, governance, trust and social organization.

The fifteen essays of the book stake out the foundations of a new future – a future of open Web standards and data commons, a society of decentralized autonomous organizations, and a world of trustworthy digital currencies and self-organized and expressive communities like Burning Man. A recurrent theme in all of the essays is the huge, untapped potential for self-organized, distributed governance on open platforms.

The book was edited by Dr. John H. Clippinger, cofounder and executive director of ID3, and David Bollier, an Editor at ID3 who is also an author, blogger and scholar who studies the commons. The book is published by ID3 in association with Off the Common Books, and is available in print and ebook formats from and Off the Common Books.

Among the contributors to From Bitcoin to Burning Man and Beyond are Alex “Sandy” Pentland of the M.I.T. Human Dynamics Laboratory; Dr. Clippinger; former FCC Chairman Reed E. Hundt; long-time IBM strategist Irving Wladawksy-Berger; Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peter Hirshberg; monetary system expert Bernard Lietaer; journalist and author Jonathan Ledgard; and H-Farm cofounder Maurizio Rossi.

From Bitcoin to Burning Man and Beyond also explores such cutting-edge concepts as evolvable digital contracts that could supplant conventional legal agreements; smartphone currencies that could help Africans meet their economic needs more effective; the growth of the commodity-backed Ven currency; and new types of “solar currencies” that borrow techniques from Bitcoin to enable more efficient, cost-effective solar generation and sharing by homeowners. A chapter on the 28-year history of Burning Man, the week-long encampment in the Nevada desert, traces the arc of experimentation and innovation in large communities devising new forms of self-governance.

In addition to explorations of self-governance, From Bitcoin to Burning Man and Beyond introduces the path-breaking software platform that ID3 has developed called “Open Mustard Seed,” or OMS. The just-released open source program enables the rise of new types of trusted, self-healing digital institutions on open networks, which in turn will make possible new sorts of privacy-friendly social ecosystems.

“OMS is an integrated, open source package of programs that lets people collect and share personal information in secure, and transparent and accountable ways, enabling authentic, trusted social and economic relationships to flourish,” said Dr. John H. Clippinger, executive director of ID3, an acronym for the Institute for Institutional Innovation and Data-Driven Design. “The software builds individual privacy, security and trusted exchange into the very design of the system. In effect, OMS represents a new authentication, privacy and sharing layer for the Internet,” said Clippinger “– a new way to share personal information selectively and securely, without access by unauthorized third parties.”

For more information and links to download or purchase the book, see:


ID3 was cofounded by Dr. John H. Clippinger and M.I.T. Professor Alex “Sandy” Pentland in 2011 to research new software systems to protect personal information and develop Open Mustard Seed (OMS). In addition to directing ID3, Dr. John H. Clippinger is Research Scientist at the M.I.T. Media Lab’s Human Dynamics Group. He is a serial entrepreneur, technology innovator, and Co-Director of The Law Lab at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and is the author of A Crowd of One: The Future of Individual Identity (2007) and The Biology of Business (1998).

Professor Pentland directs M.I.T.’s Human Dynamics Laboratory and the M.I.T. Media Lab Entrepreneurship Program, and co-leads the World Economic Forum Big Data and Personal Data Initiatives. His research group and entrepreneurship program have spun off more than thirty companies to date. In 2012 Forbes named Pentland one of the seven most powerful data scientists in the world.