Purpose Framework explainer

What is it?

The Purpose Framework is a data model and a set of patterns that is designed to keep track of current state, listen to events that may change current state and make sure that different Entities can understand other Entities' state. This turned out to have a lot of interesting and useful consequences. 


The proposed framework is the result of investigations from different perspectives. One was to find a way to find products without knowing what the products are - but with an idea of what purpose the products will fulfill. Another originated in the pursuit of how to avoid malevolent Entities to get too much power - without enforcing it with laws, but rather change the rules of the competition slightly to reward positive and constructive behavior.

Both coalesced into - how to define Purpose, and subsequently how to measure target achievement. Defining Purpose also helped solving how to handle the world as a constant stream of events. Which coincidentally was a very good fit to the CellProtocol’s streaming nature.

Purpose and product

In a project we were working with it was imperative to connect a lot of different merchants in a way that would let the customer seamlessly evaluate offerings without having to know the specific name or properties of the product. We figured out that the customer often is more interested in what Purpose the product fulfills than the name of the product or it's brand. Brand is however important when calculating trustworthiness, even though it is often not entirely rational. By decomposing products into it’s Purpose - which may be plural - we discovered that if we begin with the Purpose we want to pursue it’s much easier to find sub purposes that helps fulfill parts of the main purpose and look into what products the sub purposes are associated with. The challenge here is to normalize the Purpose definitions within a relevant scoped group of Entities, where The Commons naturally has the widest scope.

Incentivize positive and constructive behavior 

One nagging challenge when designing an digital ecosystem meant to protect and empower the individual is that it may give malicious players an advantage. The problem is that to succeed building a robust and stable system it’s very important to avoid that single entities does not get too much power. Especially entities that employs destructive strategies. Destructive strategies are usually much easier to implement than constructive ones and it hurts the potential value of the whole system. Though, any buildup of power that skews the defining power of the system must be avoided. 

The concept is simple; if an Entity claims to be able to help you fulfill a purpose then you can record that within your Entity and you can choose to expose that to a relevant group. This may be a group of your friends or a group of contacts with similar interests or any group you wish to know. Thus building a web-of-trust. If an Entity that claims to fulfill a purpose is backed by other entities you can use that to calculate the claim’s trustworthiness. Trustworthiness may be boosted by other technical proofs, such as certificates in the form of Verifiable Credentials.  

Please bear in mind that this is not a perfect solution, but something that hopefully will nudge the ecosystem in a constructive direction, imposing a cost to lying.

Calculating trustworthiness 

Any interaction with another Entity is an opportunity to calculate the remote Entity’s chance to help you fulfill your current Purpose. The reason for your thinking that the other Entity can help you fulfill your Purpose will typically be because that Entity has announced to you that it will fulfill a certain purpose. This can range from something abstract like being a good friend to something more tangible like protect your feet when jogging. When your Purpose is fulfilled with the help of another Entity, you can associate it with your own Entity’s representation of the other Entity. This is data you control and may choose to expose in a relevant social relation of your choosing. In this way an Entity's claim of fulfilling a Purpose can be backed by a relevant web-of-trust. If an Entity has no backing of a claim - either social or technical, the result of calculating trustworthiness should reflect high uncertainty. Building trustworthiness backing will increase an Entity’s potential value.








A Perspective is the collected state and it's associated configuration for the Purpose an Entity is currently pursuing and any number of background Purposes. It subscribes to events that may change current Purposes or change how to respond to other events. For example a Goal may be the same but how to reach it may change depending on the social context.


A Purpose is a way to describe intent or motivation in a nonrigid way. The purpose itself consists of a description of the purpose, it’s relation to other purposes and a measurable Goal. The goal may be a fulfilment of sub purposes or a concrete target like reaching a specific location. A goal may be ongoing or it may have an definitive end and it should be described by an expression.

In addition a Purpose may be associated with interests, to help finding matching purposes and Creation Space references that may help in achieving the current Purpose's Goal.


Interest is a symbol that can be used to match data with similar interests. Matching may be done by looking at an interest’s relation to other interests instead of searching for the interests labels. 


Other Entities are represented in one own’s Entity as EntityRepresentation, where you store data about said Entity like how to connect it - digitally or physically - or data like how good they are at helping you fulfil Purposes they claim they will fulfil.


A labelled node with an optional constraint that can be used when pursuing any Goal


Building upon the CellProtocol the Purpose framework is highly event driven. When setting up a Goal for a Purpose, one should subscribe to a cell that sends notifications relevant to the Goal achievement 


A node is not defined by its label but by its relations to other nodes. A label is only there for us to easily recognise it 

The Purpose Framework is built on top of the CellProtocol. A Perspective is typically loaded into on Cell and represents the Entity's current state of mind. A person may find it practical to use one perspective, but there are no limits to how many Perspectives is run at the same time in an Entity.

The paradox of progress

Although it may appear as the world is in tatters and rapidly spiralling downwards as we are hit by a continuous stream of bad news from all around the globe, it is actually - and has been for quite a while - improving for most people. Extreme poverty is down, education is up, health is up, war is down and so on. Considering these facts, two questions comes into mind: why does so many people think the world isn’t improving and why is it improving despite the fact that human nature hasn’t really changed much since we were hunter-gatherers?

As a Norwegian I identify myself with the western world and we usually regard ourselves as quite educated and blessed with a thorough understanding of how the world works. Although this is probably a worldview we share with most other people anyway. We are generally overly pessimistic when confronted with questions about how we think the future will look like. So why is it that so many of us share a world view that is so out of sync with facts?
The success of the human species is astonishing, by being able to adapt to any environment on the planet and collaborate massively, we have conquered the globe entirely and placed ourselves safely at the apex in the food chain. Starting out ages ago as small disperse bands and now living in a planet wide society.
We may not give it much thought, but being able to talk to a complete stranger without looking for reasons why you should not kill the other really makes the day more bearable, but this was probably how things went back when we were living in small bands, walking around and looking for stuff to eat. While it is quite subjective what constitutes a good life, not having to worry all the time about being killed frees up a lot of time one may make good use of. Life expectancy at the time was about 30 - 40 years and now hovers around 80 in the industrialised world. Child mortality has been steadily going down, much thanks to higher education levels. Women are regarded most places as first class citizens. Slavery is abolished. People has the right to be treated equal before the law. Everyone has the right to own property. These and numerous other small improvements has lead to the comfortable lives we enjoy today, albeit historically, often at the expense of others. The point is, life is much better now than it has ever been in human history.

Considering these facts against the, at least seemingly, common conception that the world is heading in a negative direction yields a paradox. Why are we so pessimistic? Some of the reason can be attributed to decreasing growth in standard of living. If one look at the share of people thinking that the world is improving, the western industrial world seems to have lost motivation with numbers below 10% (US 6%) while China is steaming forward with more than 40% that think the world improves. This is probably linked to the resent boom in living standard for the Chinese while western industrialised countries experience a slower growth since the top in the fifties - sixties. But it does probably not count for all the pessimism. Much of the effect may stem from our human trait of feeling united when faced with an external threat. Fuelling fear is an easy and effective way to gather supporters and is widely used by politicians, military and business using our natural inclination to unite in our in-group against a threat from an out-group. For example the enormous buildup of the US military after WWII was driven by a mostly constructed threat from the Soviets and led to the cold war. The aggressive attitude also led to the idea that threats should be met with military force instead of relying on diplomacy. Of course everyone else did and do use the same approach - as we as humans have done since we first formed bands of hunter-gatherers. This approach has been very effective in human history, at least when viewed from the winners perspective. But, when the various chieftains preach that life as we know it will be gone unless we obliterate some threat, it affects all the tribe members, or citizens, mindset. When the same methods are used by the whole society it inevitably leads to thinking that everything is going for the worse. Especially when there is no perceived increase in living standards lately. How destructive negative expectations are is well documented and will lead to a less productive society than what would be the case if we had a positive expectation.

The question remains; why does the world improve while human nature has not really changed much in the latest 10.000 years and most people doesn’t believe that the world is heading for the better? A grim example of how thin the varnish of society is, covering over the savage human nature, is the war in former Yugoslavia. A country that was fairly civilised but returned to barbarism in a matter of days - and there’s unfortunately plenty of other examples.

Here’s the good news; being nice to each others leads to a more productive society. Each time rights has been granted to individuals, total productivity has increased. Abolishing slavery, women’s suffrage, the right to own property, equality by the law, in other words human rights in general, leads to a society that can sustain a larger population and makes the world more productive.

Fortunately, we do head in the direction of a nicer world, but it is in despite of our nature. We go in that direction because it is objectively more productive. Viewed from a wide enough scope the idea of hoarding valuables at the expense of others it is truly irrational. And the scope we must use is that we now run a planet, not a country surrounded by an infinity of resources that are up for grabs by the bold. And even if we fix the scope problem, we will face the challenge that the complexity grows and becomes unmanageable. Without better tools for handling it, the growth of potential value will level out.

It is my conjecture that giving individuals the means to truly control their personal identifiable information will lead to higher productivity for the society as a whole and as a bonus decrease complexity and I challenge you all to prove or dis-prove it.

The real irony of this is that many individuals oppose giving rights to others and declares that it leads to less productivity, effectively stating that they don’t understand the dynamics of economy at all.

Krise for Digital Identitet


Både nasjonalt og globalt står vi ved et veiskille, vi kan akseptere en fremtid med mindre frihet og mer begrensninger eller vi kan kreve at løsningene som blir implementert bygger på et fundament som gir mer frihet og mindre begrensninger. Det siste utelukker ikke at man kan bruke teknologi i krisehåndtering, men krever litt mer innsats - i første omgang. Til gjengjeld vil det gi et samfunn med objektivt større verdi og gjøre at vi stiller sterkere ved neste pan-krise.

Skal vi velge veien mot mer frihet og mindre begrensninger må vi alltid vurdere digitale løsninger opp imot dette. Om foreslåtte løsninger mangler gjennomsiktighet kan vi ikke godta dem da det er umulig å vurdere om det fører til mer begrensning eller mer styrke.

For eksempel den nye Smittestopp-appen mangler fullstendig gjennomsiktighet og det vi vet om den er svært betenkelig personvernsmessig. Det er ikke bare teknisk løsning som allmennheten må ha mulighet til innsyn i, men også hvilke avtalemessige bindinger leverandører av løsningene har. Om utviklere eller oppdragsgiver er redd for sikkerheten ved å legge ut kildekode, er det rimelig å anta at sikkerheten er for dårlig til at produktet kan brukes uansett. Men sikkerhet er mer enn en teknisk løsning, så det er viktig at disse løsningene blir håndtert av en organisasjon som også er juridisk sikker, som f.eks Stiftelsen Digipomps.

Saker som blir unndratt offentligheten har gjerne det til felles at innholdet ikke tåler dagens lys, enten det er for saken i seg selv eller tilstøtende interessenter. Åpenhet er den eneste muligheten vi har til å lære av våre feil.

Det er virkelig hjertevarmende å se at så mange mennesker strømmer til for å hjelpe og gjør en - i noen tilfeller - nærmest selvutslettende innsats for å bekjempe krisen. Men det myndighetene krever er blind tillit og det har historien vist ikke er spesielt heldig. Etterstreb åpenhet og dokumenter at beslutninger fattet på objektiv innsikt. Det hjelper troverdigheten. Det er lov å feile men det er helt utilgivelig å ikke ville lære av sine feil.

En plattform som gir hver bruker mulighet til å kontrollere egen digitale identitet - f.eks HAVEN - medfører at hver bruker kan ta med seg sine data til enhver tjeneste og gi denne tjenesten tilgangen de selv går med på. Om brukerene kan stole på at de er den eneste som har tilgang til data som de eier selv, vil det være mye lettere å få til å ta vare på data om seg selv, de bygger tross alt opp egen potensiell verdi. Om f.eks myndigheter ønsker tilgang til data må de spørre om akkurat det de trenger og i mange tilfeller er det unødvendig å vite hvem de tilhører. Slik løsninger er implementert i dag hentes det gjerne inn mye mer enn det de trenger. Lagrer og kontrollerer individer dataene sine selv og myndigheter på et senere tidspunkt skulle trenge mer detaljerte data er det bare å spørre igjen - skjønt siden det er opp til brukeren å gi tilgang må man passe på å spørre på en måte som brukeren aksepterer. På denne måten kan man utvikle tjenester som helt anonymt kan følge innbyggernes bevegelser og om det er nødvendig kan man spørre om utvidet tilgang. Det vil med en slik løsning også være mulig å delegere tilgang til enkelte data slik at akuttmottaket kan spørre om bestemte behandlinger eller medikamenter kan benyttes på en innkommende pasient uten å trenge tilgang til pasientens komplette sykehistorie. Om brukerens journal også følger brukeren og man kan spørre om tilgang til nødvendig data. Om brukeren ikke har forbredt dette i forkant eller ikke er i stand til å gi samtykke, vil det ikke være mulig å få tak i dem,men helsemyndigheter kan oppfordre alle innbyggere til å gi akutt-tilgang til helseforetagene for slike tilfeller. Man kan også oppfordre brukere til å sette opp automatiske regler for samtykker slik at om myndigheter trenger å kjøre simuleringer på hele befolkningen kan de ta ut datasett med ekte data på hele befolkningen så lenge de holder seg innen for regelsettet.
Får vi dette på plass vil vi stå mye bedre rustet til å starte tiltak neste gang vi står overfor en nasjonal krise og som en bonus vil vi ha en plattform hvor innbyggerne kan ta del i verdiskapningen data om dem selv genererer. Små og mellomstore bedrifter vil potensielt ha lik tilgang til data om mennesker som store selskaper. Skulle det bli en global plattform vil små land ha lik tilgang som store.

En plattform som muliggjør mer effektiv deling av og verdiskaping fra data, som en person-orientert løsning har, vil helt objektivt ha en totalt større verdi enn enn dagens silo-orienterte løsning har. Allikevel er hovedargumentet mot en slike løsninger at brukerne egentlig ikke verdsetter at personvern, noe som er riktig, og godt dokumentert - men det er ikke noe argument som er relevant i forhold til totalverdi av en slik plattform. At brukerne trenger en slik plattform for sitt eget beste er en god etisk bonus. Og det vil bli satt pris på når vi kommer dit hvor dette er hverdagen.

Noe av utfordringen med å få dette på plass er at - ganske riktig, den store majoriteten ikke er veldig opptatt av dette og at næringsliv og myndigheter stort sett følger ideen om at løsninger som gangner enkeltindivider ikke kan være bra for forretninger. Vi trenger at nok individer i landet - og verden - tenker grundig igjennom hva dette betyr og krever fra myndigheter og næringsliv at de må forholde seg til oss som digitale individermed våre digitale rettigheter.

Ikke ta i bruk Smittestopp appen før åpenhet og personvern er ivaretatt på en skikkelig måte. Å argumentere med at brukere flest allerede gir bort persondata til SoMe tjenester etc. er både arrogant og en farlig utvikling. Bruker vi noe av dugnaden til å beskytte vår digitale identitet vil vi stå så mye sterkere rustet ved neste krise og vi kommer så godt ut av denne som overhodet mulig.