Adapt Lichen to Your Needs

Lichen’s versatility lends itself to diverse applications and, under free/libre/open licensing, anyone can adapt it to any purpose. The following stories illustrate how Lichen can be tailored to fit.

An Internet of Rules through SMS

Ancke knows that it usually surprises outsiders that her Mennonite farming community in Bolivia, which uses horses and buggies for transportation, also makes use of cell phones to optimize their agricultural export business. They ship several types of beans, as well as cornmeal, to global markets.

During the past decade community members have used basic flip phones without a web interface. But the recent return to the market of an upgraded simple ‘classic’ device from one of the world’s top suppliers means that now Ancke’s preferred cell phone has 30 days of battery life, no Wi-Fi or GPS connectivity, and no inability to install apps such as Facebook, WhatsApp or Instagram. She’s also pleased that it can be ordered with a matte grey color option.

These Mennonite farms use cell phones for business data over telecom networks, but without need of the Web, in order to set up and conduct international transactions in conformance with the latest import/export regulations and trade agreements.

Once Ancke has the basic information together for a cross-border sale or purchase, including data such as the relevant product codes, unit prices, and the shipping orgin and destination details, she formulates a query to Lichen using using an international SMS service that operates via local phone networks to text message structured with some easy-to-recall syntactic conventions. Within a few moments she automatically receives back the message that informs her of all the current tax and tariff results that she and Jakob need to complete their business documents, such as sales orders, invoices, waybills or other records. When completing paper documents by hand, they and some of the other farmers use their phone’s built-in camera to photograph the signed record. They attach the image for the buyer or seller in the other country, which is accepted as an official transaction record.

Jakob said that he would mention this free/libre/open source method of access to the Internet of Rules at the next meeting of the Mennonite global outreach organization. He felt it would probably be directly usable in other countries and cultures, through any SMS mobile wallet service like m-Pesa, mHITs, Cyclos or WorldRemit. In reply, Ancke wondered aloud whether this SMS interface might also turn out to be the most efficient way for people with visual impairment to interact with an Internet of Rules.

Same Train, Different Tracks

While on the train, Frances noticed a person seated next to her, apparently using Lichen on a tablet. “Is that Lichen? It looks different”.

“Ya”, he said. “We wanted it to come up on a dedicated screen in our own procurement system. Also, we adapted the back end to automatically replace the JSON connectors in the algorithms with SQL. We keep our own company plug-in that gets updated every time Lichen gets a version update. Why, what do you use Lichen for?”

“Well, for my research I run it with an agent-based economic model to create market scenarios. I stripped out the user interface and repackaged it, because, in effect, I run several hundred thousand Lichen instances simultaneously. I’m trying to model what happens to entire markets when contract prices are benchmarked to different indices”.

“Wow, that’s different”, he chuckled.

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