Records of Origin Edit
Goal: Reliable information about where stuff comes from
From Slow Food and small farms to worldwide trade in coffee and cotton, the origins site provides a place to collect and tell the stories behind the facts.
As a customer buying a chocolate bar or any other product, I would like to know where the chocolate is coming from. Did the growers use pesticides? Were the Cacao pods picked by slave labor? Did it come from a diverse rain forest or a large, monoculture plantation?
Reliable answers to these questions cannot be found today. Yes, an organic label on a package can give me some confidence that no pesticides were used. And yes, if I see a FairTrade logo, I'm pretty sure that no slaves were conscripted. These "brand" based approaches are a step in the right direction, but fall far short of satisfying the need for information regarding the vast range of products and questions that concern all of us. (See also The issue of certification)
Solution: Wikipedia meets Community Supported Agriculture Edit
The basic idea: people with credible information regarding suppliers contribute their knowledge into a shared pool. The community itself handles disputes and generally accepted standards of evidence.
Each product and each supplier has their own page. Anyone can search these pages and edit them wiki-style. For the moment, lets refer to this commons as WikiRecords (just a working codename with actual name TBD by primary stakeholders). Origins.wikia.com provides a place to get started collecting these records.
Neutral, fact based, and equal access Edit
Similar to Wikipedia, information in WikiRecords should have a neutral or factual point of view. For example, claims of "organic" production would reference inspection reports. (Ideally, the original reports themselves would also be stored in WikiRecords, e.g. as scanned images.)
Furthermore, WikiRecords should be universally accessible to everyone on an equitable basis. No special treatment for any participants. It is especially important that no one in a supply chain has a favored position.
On the other hand, WikiRecords should recognize that some types of information can have unintended, negative consequences for the suppliers. Care must be taken to protect sensitive information. For example, information about transaction details might disrupt ongoing pricing negotiations. In these cases, mechanisms could be provided which allow references to private information such that those references can be positively verified without revealing the actual information to the public until a specified "release date."
Help us help ourselves Edit
Make your values heard. Share your factual story about the chocolate bar you love, a farmer in your local farmers market, or the packing plant where you work. All we ask is that you tell the truth and let others judge for themselves.