After time away from social media while on holiday, I’ve come to the decision to leave fosstodon.org and return to social.coop. You can now find and follow me at email@example.com!
There are several reasons for this decision:
Home timeline — Fosstodon has grown in membership quite a lot over the past couple of years, which is great in and of itself. However, the ‘local’ timeline is important to me, and as Fosstodon has grown I’ve found it’s less relevant to my context.
Reply-guys — there are some people (mostly middle-aged white guys) who seem to think it’s their duty in life to point out that a particular thing isn’t 100% FLOSS (Free, Libre, Open Source Software). There’s only so much of this I can tolerate.
Co-operation — while I’m still very much interested in making the world more open in every way (including Open Source) I think what the world needs more than anything is more co-operation. I’m a founding member of a co-op, and part of a network of co-ops. This is how the world gets better and, right now, I want to have my home timeline full of ways we can do that.
I was part of social.coop for a year from 2017-18. I left after some drama, which was ultimately resolved. In my interactions with the team while applying for membership, I’ve been informed that it was very much a learning experience and things are in place now (see the wiki!) to prevent such things happening again.
For those keeping track, I’ve now gone mastodon.social → social.coop → fosstodon.org → social.coop. It’s easy to migrate accounts, although posts don’t come with you (I delete them every three months anyway!)
Many thanks to Kev Quirk and Mike Stone for setting up Fosstodon, and for the excellent moderation team! I’m looking forward being a member of the social.coop community again and, of course, still being part of the Fediverse 🤘
This week, I spent Monday evening to Wednesday evening at Wortley Hall, near Sheffield, England. It’s a stately home run by a worker-owned co-op and I was there with my We Are Open colleagues for the second annual Co-operative Technologists (CoTech) gathering. CoTech is a network of UK-based co-operatives who are focused on tech and digital.
I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but I was delighted by the willingness of the 60+ people present to get straight into finding ways we can all work together. We made real progress over the couple of days I was there, and I was a little sad that other commitments meant I couldn’t stay until the bitter end on Thursday lunchtime.
We self-organised into groups, and the things I focused on were introducing Nextcloud as a gap in the CoTech shared services landscape, and helping define processes for using the various tools we have access to. Among the many other things that people collaborated on were sales and marketing, potentially hiring our first CoTech member of staff, games that could help people realise that they might be better working for a co-op, defining a constitution, and capturing the co-operative journeys that people have been on.
There was a lot of can-do attitude and talent in the room, coupled with a real sense that we’re doing important work that can help change the world. There’s a long history of co-operation that we’re building upon, and the surroundings of Wortley Hall certainly inspired us in our work! Our co-op will definitely be back next year, and I’m sure most of us will meet at CoTech network events again before then.
The CoTech wiki is available here. As with all of these kinds of events, we had a few problems with the wifi which means that, at the time of publishing this post, not everything has been uploaded to the wiki. It will appear there in due course.
Although there are member-only spaces (and benefits), anyone – whether currently a member of a worker-owned co-op or not – is also welcome to join the CoTech community discussion forum.
‘Architecture of participation’ is a term used to describe systems designed for user contribution. It’s a term I use relatively often, especially at events and thinkathons run by our co-op. Not only is it a delightful phrase to say and to hear, but (more importantly) it’s a metaphor which can be used to explore all kinds of things.
In my 2014 post, I made some suggestions for ways to improve your project’s architecture of participation. I’ve updated and improved these based on feedback and my own thinking. Based on my experience, to build an effective architecture of participation, you need:
A clear mission – why does this project exist? what is it setting out to achieve?
An invitation to participate – do you have an unambiguous call to action?
Easy onboarding – are there small, simple tasks/activities that new volunteers can begin with?
A modular approach – do volunteers have to commit to helping with everything, or is there a way which they can use their knowledge, skills, and interests to contribute to part of the project?
Strong leadership – do the people in control of the project embody the mission? do they have the respect of volunteers? have they got the capacity to make the project a success?
Ways of working openly and transparently – does the project have secret areas, or is everything out in the open? (this post may be useful)
Backchannels and watercoolers – are there ‘social’ spaces for members of the project to interact over and above those focused on project aims?
Celebration of milestones – does the project recognise the efforts and input of volunteers?
Most of the links I can find around architectures of participation seem to be tied to Web 2.0 developments pre-2011. I’d love to see a resurgence in focus on participation and contribution, perhaps through the vehicle of co-operativism.
If you’ve got another couple of features that lead to a positive and effective architecture of participation, I’d love to hear them. Then this can be a 10-point list! As ever, this post is CC0-licensed, meaning you can do with this whatever you like.
(Image drawn by audience members during a keynote I gave at Durham University in 2015)