open-source business infrastructure

commerce.net has set up a lab to explore decentralized electronic markets:

We propose developing an open-source toolkit for creating markets, called Zocalo, in order to catalyze broader adoption of markets in academia, industry, and throughout society. We are primarily interested in prediction markets, which allow traders to buy and sell securities that pay out based on the outcome of some future event, but Zocalo would also be useful for creating markets in other goods.

six reasons from the linked paper why prediction markets are a good choice for decision support applications:

  1. They give continuously updated dynamic forecasts
  2. They aggregate information across traders
  3. These markets give unbiased, relatively accurate forecasts well in advance of outcomes
  4. They can outperform existing alternatives
  5. market dynamics overcome biases that individual traders may have, effectively eliminating [the biases] from forecasts
  6. They can be designed to forecast a variety of issues and provide a variety of types of information

with luck, efforts like this (or ubl) might make hacking on business problems sexy / interesting enough to foster new open source communities. ideally, all these efforts nudge corporate entities towards peer production (bye bye HR raffles, bye bye conference room campers)