In our network economy, there is a value increase when users share and use goods and services. These ‘network effects’ show that digital goods are often non-rival and non-exclusive, and have led to platform models that facilitate and accelerate these dynamics (e.g. Uber, Airbnb, social media). However, in these closed and privatized platforms, most of the increased value has been captured by the platform itself, instead of users and suppliers or creators of goods and services. However, with rising interoperability, the proliferation of APIs, containerization & microservices, open data and open-source, the network functionalities of these platforms can be opened up to other stakeholders that actually provide and use these goods and services. Coupled with ever declining cost of computing hardware and network infrastructure, as well as the ‘zero marginal costs’ of digital goods, this means that production and network assets can be more easily shared throughout society. When renewable energy systems are being connected to these networks, and coupled with the relevant production hardware (e.g. 3D-printing, automated robotics) a wholly new economic structure can emerge, with new business models and incentive structures. Within this, cooperative stakeholder platforms can develop and create highly customized products while sharing the value creation amongst its members.
A Decentralized Society, based on Web3 infrastructure and decentralized organizations and network logic will boost the emergence of local cooperatives and ecosystems. A digital civil society is a socio-cultural prerequisite for a well-functioning digital, localized economy and network society.
New governance and business models are needed to profit from a zero-marginal-cost economy, with less emphasis on rent-seeking and monopoly profits and more on monetizing first-mover advantages and remaining an edge in niches. Furthermore, a smart habitat makes it possible to automate production and benefit from local data generation.
A zero-marginal-cost society is most likely a result from an economy in which resources, data, knowledge and expertise are being shared, leading to ever-decreasing costs as well as a level-playing field for companies and organization to provide services and produce in local ecosystems.
Marginal costs asymptotically moving towards zero will bring a whole new dynamics of globalization, which was mostly founded upon economies and scale and low transportation and transaction costs. For example, the model of ‘glocalization’ could gain traction as well as a move towards localized production and consumption ecosystems.
With increasingly lower marginal costs due to the deceleration of hardware prices, dematerialization of production, and open-source sharing have reduced marginal production costs. Furthermore, local production and ecosystems are more sustainable while also providing countries with a higher degree of autonomy and sovereignty over goods and services. Lastly, it is a good way to tackle rising inequality in the face of the rise of Big Tech, and subsequent power of ‘superstar firms’ and Big Tech, while also contributing to local social capital by bringing stakeholders together around co-creative processes.