The finalists of the Knight Foundation News Challenge were announced on April 13th, and unfortunately, our project did not make it. We will nonetheless pursue it as we believe time has come for such a platform to become a reality. Here is where we are at, just a few weeks after framing the project and bringing it from an idea to a possibility.
Our Advisory & Concept/Project Development team has grown nicely:
- Sabine Amend: Bridge Builder and Movement facilitator
- Tom Atlee: Founder, co-director and director of research of the Co-Intelligence Institute
- Michel Bauwens: Founder of the P2P Foundation
- Giorgio Bertini: Founder of the Learning Change Project
- Nadia El Imam: Creative Director of Edgeryders – Council of Europe
- Helene Finidori: Strategy & Experience Design - Creator of the concept and project
- George Por: Founder and Chairman of the Community Intelligence consultancy and the School of Comoning
- David Price: Co-founder of the DebateGraph.
- Bonnitta Roy: Process Philosopher and Meta-System Designer
- Caroline Smalley: The Citizens Media Tech development strategy
- Irma Wilson: Innovation and community
What I love in the process is that this is already an emergence platform: I announced that we would endeavor to bring "edge thinkers and doers into the process for advancement of platform design in the fields of learning and action research, social change, governance, institutions, participatory politics, collective action, sustainability, business, collaboration, design and systems thinking, linguistics, semantic web." Well this is manifesting as we speak!
Paul Hawken describes the challenge of sustainability and activist movements that he sees converging into an unnamed and shapeless 'movement' in his book Blessed Unrest:
" ... as yet there has been no coming together of organizations in a united front that can counter the massive scale and power of the global corporations and lobbyists that protect the status quo.
...The as yet undelivered promise of this movement is a network of organizations that offer solutions to disantangle what appear to be insoluble dilemmas: poverty, global climate change, terrorism, ecological degradation, polarization of income, loss of culture, and many more. The world seems to be looking for the big solution, which is itself part of the problem, since the most effective solutions are both local and systemic. Although the groups in the movement are autonomous, the coming together of different organizations to address an array of issues can effectively become a systemic approach. Although the movement may appear inchoate or naively ambitious, its underlying structure and communication techniques can, at times, create a collective social response that can challenge any institution in the world."
What we are trying to do here, rather than to organize a movement, is to provide a 'space', a dynamic and some tools, the conditions to inspire, empower and enable these organizations and all the individuals and entities who aspire to a thrivable future, to come together to learn and dialogue, to evaluate actions and possibilities, to address these issues and become stewards of the commons in synergy. Each of us from the place we are at, at our own pace, and following our own principles and purposes...
If I had a 'mission statement' to write, as of today it would be:
"Engaging people and entities that are concerned with issues and the welfare of the commons into issues or commons-based governance and accountability networks, thus creating an environment for on-going conversations, learning and repeated interactions so that resources can be pooled, and informed systemic and leveraged action can emerge at all levels required, from the local to the global level, from the grassroots to the institutional level. This is done through a pull and evaluation mechanism and the integration of open source tools to inspire, empower and enable all the forces for good to converge meaningfully and effectively"
What the Comments Tell Us:
“There's nothing more urgent than supporting the emergence of real, participatory democracy and its collective intelligence and wisdom. You're bringing together the right disciplines in a potent mix, striking a masterful balance between orchestrating the process and nurturing emergence.” George - London
“I think you´ve got what looks like an interesting approach here. There is a need for structures that support network based action and collaboration between individuals around larger projects or aims, beyond the traditional stakeholder based initiatives. Especially when the participants are in different physical locations as the structures to support intra-national transatlantic initiatives are not really there.” Nadia - Strasbourg
“The platform has the potential to not just be "An ecology and process methodology structured around issues as social objects, designed to generate emerging forms of advocacy and governance." It could also be structured around a root cause analysis and model of the system. (analysis objects) It could be designed to generate emerging forms of high leverage solutions that advocates would promote. Since these are based on a deep, structured analysis of the system, the result would be much more likely to result in better forms of governance.” Jack - Atlanta
“I believe this to be an extremely important development. It is getting interested people together to deliberate and eventually act on important social issues, but it's really more than that. It could, in the future, be a core system to enable democratic government. This is a major trend for society - for how we choose to organize ourselves for best outcomes.” Sepp - Berlin
“This looks like an important piece of work to consider. I am not sure I fully understand the idea you have but I do know that we are losing a sense of involvement in all democracies and they need to be reawakened. Democracies and the involvement in communities that keep them fresh and evolving are urgent.” Carol – Seattle
Creating rivers of PULL -- from the most able, interested, intellectually capable -- to gather advocacy for political will and to curate & give access to knowledge, is IMHO not one but THE most important thing we can do next with this technology at this stage of our unfolding. Knight Foundation would illustrate their deep understanding of the creativity and innovation that lies at the heart of the network, specially the network of humans who care about the whole, by selecting this project. Irma – Johannesburg
"It's the people raising their hands in authentic accountability who shall earn 'the peoples' respect. The leaders of the future will be those able to understand and embrace the importance of collaboration whereby traditional/hierarchical systems of governance are turned on their head. This model will work because of the fundamental principles that relate to demand and supply. As authenticity becomes the demanded/expected approach, so the power of 'pull to engage' will take the world by storm. Thinking must (and WILL) change from survival of the fittest to unity." Caroline - Vancouver
I believe that those large map views may help to direct agency efforts into systemic change, acting at several environments with different methods, looking into scalable and replicable solutions, filling the map and giving density to it. Populating and increasing density with diversity may be a sound whole strategy. In that sense this project may play a big role. I would like to read it also simultaneously with cohere-compendium means. Giorgio – Santiago de Chile
This looks like the most comprehensive proposal out there! Love the integration with community and capacity. Way to Go! Bonnitta – Winsted Connecticut
I love the feedback loops and systems thinking here. Sabine – Boulder
A very attractive and ambitious idea : if the first engagement issues are chosen well ("pick your battles"...), it can snowball into a magnificient form of enlightened governance. Patrick – Paris
Helene and Team Commons: I really appreciated reading your proposal and especially the links. Your team are all systems thinkers, and you have committed to working on a planetary basis within the highest level of organizational structures spaceship earth has. You folks are so way ahead of most herein simply because you know what the real game is and are playing it big time with the big boys and girls! I just love your team, project, and energy! Mike – Eugene Oregon
This is a brilliant blueprint for an action-oriented metamoderation model, and has the potential to turn the tragedy of the commons into the triumph of the commons if implemented properly. Keith – San Francisco
To my non-expert ear, it sounds like this is a pitch for "the Internet". Jonathan – Chicago
Good stuff. "issues as social objects" Mike – Wood Creek, Illinois
The strength in your outline is getting the appropriate stake holders involved and help organise groups of people into collective action. Chris – Adelaide (from my blog post)
I like this very much. It articulates with a number of things I've been working with over the years. Joe – Alexandria VA (from my blog post)
“Dissemination of information for transformational action is key, which is precisely what I like about this project… Engaging citizen action in the developed world, one thing in particular I like about Helene's proposed network, is it's future potential for connecting with another project we're working on that's focused on Africa. That project in Africa will be developed in partnership with www.ideorg.org, and revolves around implementing grassroots approaches for driving community empowerment from within… By connecting Helene's proposed network to this and the broader CM network it will allow for the flow of resources and information as well as the connection between a much broader group of relevant stakeholders. The challenge will be to create participation and buy-in across the stakeholder groups in each network, enabling the push-pull to active and grow on its own as interactions increase. By interconnecting dynamic content on scalable networks each focused on a fulfilling a core need, potential for collaboration will know no end! One thing's for sure: the time to act is NOW!” Warren – Chandler AZ
"Dear Helene, Thank you for the link to your earlier graphic and document. I really like your graphics very much. They're very suggestive of system dynamics models or mixed models using system dynamics. Thanks also for the link to your We Move presentation. It's beautifully done. I'll look forward to keeping up and collaborating on transformations." Joe - Washington D.C.
The platform has great capacities but requires consistent efforts that increase the number of people using it as a meeting place, and helping people understand and apply the information in their local communities. Funding intermediary projects that help outline complex problems into blueprints and virtual work groups, would be of great benefit. Daniel – Chicago
If you could pick three specific examples to illustrate how the world will be wildly different through the impact of these tools/the whole approach: Paint us a picture, what might/will have happened? I love the feedback loops and systems thinking here - and I find it easier to understand processes and implications from a sensory (see, taste, touch, smell., move..) perspective of a future vision. Would you be willing to illustrate? Take me/us on that journey in the context of your aspirations? Sabine – Boulder
I am not sure I fully understand the idea you have but I do know that we are losing a sense of involvement in all democracies and they need to be reawakened. Carol - Seattle
I haven't been able to fully grasp what this actually is or how and why various players would use it, but I get occasional glimpses, flashes of sunlight through the clouds of my incomprehension. In those momentary glimpses, a number of related ideas and initiatives pop into my mind, which I offer here. Tom – Eugene Oregon (from my blog post)
I would strongly encourage an emphasis on tangible prototypes, because I have trouble understanding what this will actually produce. To my non-expert ear, it sounds like this is a pitch for "the Internet". Jonathan – Chicago
You are talking to the wrong crowd here. 99% of the folks in this Challenge are into pieces not whole systems. They are attempting to solve a specific problem with a specific solution, even if they mash this and mash that together. Read all of the proposals in this Challenge, follow all of the links the proposals take you to and map each one against your excellent "design map". Mash-up whatever you select which will approximate your design map, make sure it is tightly integrated, and stay away from anything you have to create yourself. Performance on that stage will determine where and how you get to play next. You will get your funding and a chance to build something incredible only if you deliver something very tight and cool using COTS...commercial off the shelf technologies/techniques/tools... Mike – Eugene Oregon
“People need a 'hook' / the beginning of a reel of the thread from where what's created can evolve. Initiating this project through a simple prototype in the design phase is such an important step. Integrating leverage 'ratings' for building momentum to the push/pull affect then transposing those ratings onto visual maps will soon create an interesting story. Sow and let grow. As Seth Godin would say: 'Small Is The New Big.' Make it engaging to get informed; Give people specific 'easy to do' actions that each word toward driving sustainable reform; Provide simple visuals for individuals to 'feel good' about the result.” Warren – Chandler AZ
Pick your battles - Just a few concrete examples…
- how to best deploy quickly decent emergency shelters after disasters (floods, tsunami, earthquakes, etc. ), lasting up to 2-3 years and yet very cheap ?
- could there be a ratio of one tree per urban dweller in all cities ? Is it desirable, and how to achieve that ?
- should the rewards of intellectual property -when applicable- be granted for duration (as is the case for patents or copyright) or volume concerned ? In other words, should the price of a software, a song, or a drug, automatically decrease when x thousands or millions have been sold ?
- etc. Patrick - Paris
Offers for help
“If you're interested in collaboration, why not consider the substantive commons knowledge repository we already built in the community knowledge garden of the School of Commoning. Helene, working with you and the crew on that translation [of design in technology terms] would be for me a dream coming true! Here's why. I started working on Internet-based collaboration and collective intelligence systems in the early 80s, learned from Doug Engelbart, and since then designed Innovation Architectures in dozens environments, both in the pre-Web and the Web era, (e.g. Lotus Notes, Drupal, various wikis, WordPress, Compendium, iCohere, etc.) During all that time, my vision were many years ahead what technology could do and what people recognized as desirable.” George - London
“I´d be happy to share my/our experiences from building Edgeryders and explore the possibility of collaborating around this.” Nadia – Strasbourg
“It appears that by using the analysis model in the paper, plus the Dueling Loops model and analysis at Thwink.org, plus additional models and analyses that platform collaborators can produce, the platform can generate discrete solution elements that are specifically designed to address the root causes in the Forces Resisting Change loop.” Jack – Atlanta
“I would like to think together how we could translate, complement, etc your work and outcome into a cohere (compendium) platform-map, for an array of complex (wicked) problems and complex solutions, involving several stakeholders.” Giorgio – Santiago de Chile
"Count me in!" Cauliflower ears - Barcelona
On Smart Immortal Cities, Thrivability, Generativity
Today, Seb Paquet shared a very interesting article where Venkatesh Rao defines four broad narratives that inspire social design in the face of uncertainty. Definitely, this project is positioned in the Hydra narrative! http://www.ribbonfarm.com/2012...
The present project aims to channel the restlessness that is palpable all around...
"What is new is the idea that we might be on the brink of a successful theory of social engineering.
The great hope is that we might somehow be able to put together ideas about anti-fragility, immortal cities and resilience to solve the problems that defeated the similarly-inspired authoritarian high-modernist (a term due to Scott) social engineers of a century ago."
This is what we have the ambition to dive into...
The Power of Pull
The whole point of this platform (or 'process, protocol, interface for pulling people, knowledge, tools and more together') is to create a proximity for 'things' to happen such as John Hagel describes in 'The Power of Pull' or Geoffrey West in his various talks about "Why Cities Keep Growing, Corporations and People Always Die, and Life Gets Faster". The critical generative process of action that we would like to create here is based on the fact of pulling the people, solutions, ideas, tools into a virtual space where they will be visible as possibilities to those who need, want and can act towards a specific issue, taking advantage of combined density, diversity and synchronicity of intent for things to emerge.
Here's a design map of the pieces and the process
The internet should be able to achieve this 'on its own'. The idea utlimately is to get objects on the internet to 'find each other'. For the moment it needs a little help...
This project is distinct from Debategraph, but will benefit from David Price's expertise in polarized debate moderation and complex argumentative data curation. It provides the people dynamic layer that enables to pull together by designation/nomination/sommation (please pick the right word) social actors who are believed to be part of the solution, the problem or the facilitation process, and provide the -inspiration, empowerment and enablement- tools to advance the issue. The idea is to bring a maximum of possibilities into the radar of those who have the will to influence action, to providing people at any level with a capability to 'read' their realities for change and act according to their understanding and place in the action space. And this includes understanding and making use of the information in all its nuance and complexity, in practice on the field and politically. In this respect, the work of Giorgio Bertini who commented here and others -your included- on learning, action and pulling networks together will be essential.
On Knowledge and dissemination of information
As far as disseminating the information, the challenge is to frame the knowledge, and present the data in ways that are simple and compelling enough to engage the intent long term and the action step by step, but nuanced enough to convey complexity when issues are complex.
As I wrote earlier, our goal is not to drive engagement and change through hashtags, slogans & tee-shirts. Our platform will not be used for Kony 2012 type of campaigns however powerful and gratifying this may be. We will talk to the intelligence of the crowds and channel it for systemic change.
On Participatory Democracy
Tom Atlee and Joe Firestone shared some insights on IVCS Interactive voter choice system, which could constitute a good user case for the platform.
I'm very interested in participatory democracy which talks to collective intelligence and dealing with complexity and not to the possible tyranny of a well manipulated majority... I am very weary about mass organized deceptive or reductionist campaigns. We exchanged a few comments on Kony elsewhere...
I believe civil society and in particular young people should participate in policy making for the commons. This ought to be the real meaning of politics. Here's a paper I wrote on the subject at the end of last year: http://issuu.com/we-magazine/d...
On an eParticipation platform for Human Political Complex Adaptive Systems
Joe Firestone shared on my blog the links to the conceptual foundations and requirements for a Meta-Layer for Restoring Democracy and Open Democracy he wrote with Henk Hadders. This could well have been written for this project.
A Meta-layer for Restoring Democracy and Open Society
Part One, Conceptual Foundations: http://www.correntewire.com/a_meta_layer_for_restoring_democracy_and_open_society_part_one_conceptual_foundations
Part Two, Meta-layer Requirements: http://www.correntewire.com/a_meta_layer_for_restoring_democracy_and_open_society_part_two_meta_layer_requirements
"The new institutional framework must provide a meta-layer of political interaction and networking that places new ecological constraints on the current political system, driving it back towards a condition in which the ability of individuals to both arrive at more accurate constructions of reality, and act on them, through increased self-organization and distributed knowledge processing, is dominant."
Joe and Henk, I would be glad to collaborate further to make this platform a reality. We are converging here.
An idea whose time has come
I am quite confident this is an idea whose time has come. David Price is currently working with the Planet Under Pressure 2012 conference taking place right now in London to weave the main arguments and policy options discussed at the conference into a coherent, dynamic knowledge map that can be explored by a global public audience in the build up to the UN Rio +20 conference and beyond. He just confirmed to me that the need for networked governance models was one of the key themes of the conference.
A Blueprint for a P2P society?
Here is a Blueprint for a P2P Society by Michel Bauwens: http://www.shareable.net/blog/...
Michel describes the emergence of a new institutional model for peer production at the interplay between three partners:
1. A community of contributors that create commons of knowledge, software or design;
2. A set of for-benefit institutions which manage the "infrastructure of cooperation"
3. An enterpreneurial coalition that creates market value on top of that commons
This Pull Platform gathers a community of contributors and provides conditions for the emergence of the "infrastructure of cooperation", creating pull, evaluation and accountability mechanisms, and enabling the pooling of resources so that they can be redeployed where they are needed throughout the community of contributors and network of stakeholders will have assembled around the issues or commons. This community of contributors and distributed network of stakeholders constitutes the entrepreneurial coalition where the value in all its dimensions is ultimately created.
On Root Causes, Leverage, feedback loops and learning cycles
The whole objective of this platform is to leverage power and action dynamics with a political outlook, through a challenge/action/reporting/seeking accountability/identify gaps feedback loop. This is illustrated in the following diagram .
There is a learning dynamic at the commons scale expressed in the central loops of the diagram, emerging from the action/reporting/evaluation/challenge cycle. I need to express the individual learning cycle or discovery journey in the diagram.
I have already represented the learning dynamic and the feddback between the individual learning and the commons learning in an earlier work: http://bit.ly/wDMN4t.
The whole document (which actually underpins a great part of this concept) is available here: http://menemania.typepad.com/h...
On channeling conversations and driving commitment
From the experience I have acquired in social network conversations and crowdsourced discussions, I noticed that people are ready to give portions of attention, that may add up to significant time and involvement, but it is hard to obtain commitment to deliver something consistent, especially on wide open issues that are somewhat abstract and cannot be transformed into a project with a deadline and action plan. Most of the attempts at long term collective participation fall short because these pieces of attention get diluted or too focused on detail.
The whole difficulty of the exercise is to channel these chunks into meaningful and constructed action that operate on the proper levers and to drive more commitment. That's why constructing the platform around issues as social objects is critical. It enables to create ongoing conversations around and from disparate chunks.
Channeling the conversations can be achieved with collective intelligence tools that can piece together the chunks in meaningful ways and feed back patterns into the discussion to drive practical action, just as well conceived result and evaluation data can show evolution in the making and drive more action. I have illustrated this here in an older blog post: http://menemania.typepad.com/h...
Driving more commitment can be eased by facilitating access to what people really care about and to resources that can help them unfold their discovery and action journey step by step, moment after moment. Here is a diagram where I illustrated this: http://bit.ly/wDMN4t.
On implementing solutions and applying know-how on the ground.
We will work on systemic levers and levels and practical discrete concrete actions as well.
Empowering networks are key for the diffusion and distribution of resources and know-how. High impact solutions should get their way to implementation fast. But they don't.
Too many solutions challenge finalists fall short to implement their ideas because the actual distribution, implementation and scaling mechanisms are not imbedded in the process, and because the 'channels of distribution' of the distributed economy are not yet in place. Last time I heard of Open Ideo, they were struggling to see their winning projects implemented because implementation is not in their model, though they were looking at ways to increase their impact and accompany realization. The Buckminster Fuller Institute is faced with similar challenges with its prize-winners and studying solutions.
The unwillingness to take risks on untested 'technical' solutions and the absence of a 'distribution network' is actually what impedes bottom-up open source solutions to find big philanthropy funding, and what pushes big philanthropies to use the centralized distribution channels of big corporations to do the work, narrowing the possibilities for other innovative solutions.
The Pull Platform would provide the potential for local communities and networks such as CM and iDE to access and contribute to a wider pool of peer to peer resources and know-how to implement high impact solutions and undertake high leverage initiatives, and therefore increase their autonomy, resilience and well being.
On Occupying the Commons
I just watched the recording of James Quilligan’s talking about "why we have to Occupy the Commons". This Pull Platform enables to create common pool resources and to define the boundaries and domain of a common...
On Responsible Business
In addition to the work that can be done in communities, I believe a lot of the sustainable outcomes hinge upon 'the corporation'. If we pull it off, I will reach out to Carol Sanford author of The Responsible Business so that she can participate in our corporate responsibilisation initiatives.
On Goals, Structure and Prototype
I want this project to be as open as possible to the most advanced thinking, facilitation and action AND structured in a way it can progress both openly and effectively in a scaled way.
I only briefly evoked curation and facilitation, but the idea is to develop a process, the tools and team who can valuably exploit density, diversity and synchronicity and put to work the data, stakeholders, resources that will have been pulled together in the network.
Our goal is to be the integrators of the best tools and process methodologies for informed action and impact. And I understand that this is the very subject of the challenge: to use and combine existing tools to create extended outcomes. In the short term we would do with light versions of what is available just to test our pull mechanics. In the middle term, we would convene all those able to come up with the best tools and ideas and start on some prospective.
My intention, once we know what the following weeks will be made off, in particular as far as the grant is concerned, is to convene a workshop of the advisors and potential technology partners we have in mind and work on an integration scheme and schedule.
The plan is to get a prototype going quite soon to test and fine tune the push/pull mechanism around data and evaluation and secure our presence around Rio+20. I am in discussion right now.
More on a technical roadmap
The technical roadmap is under construction. This map may give an overview of the pieces we would be looking at: http://menemania.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8341e84bf53ef0163030ab6b4970d-pi
We will integrate/build the techno based on a conceptual framework, and experience and outcome requirements. We are concentrating on systemic dynamics and practical outcomes. We are not interested in reinventing the wheel either but to integrate and bridge the best out there (existing or in becoming middle term) both in terms of social and technology to deliver the experience and achieve the outcomes.
The project is totally open. We will be starting from a core component to build a distributed network of stakeholders around issues as social objects and start an interaction dynamic, and gradually integrate more empowering, collaborative, visualization, knowledge curation, evaluation tools.
We are currently mapping what is already available that could fit our framework.
Prototypes/proving through localized beta projects always key. (Caroline)
Prototyping an “emergent” platform (George)
Prototyping is certainly the key, particularly if it is not limited to a piece of novel technology but prototyping an "emergent platform" as Stephen Johnson talks about it:
“In nature a few species function as platform creators while most exploit the opportunities and interdependencies on an emergent platform. The platform creators cannot go solo to get their job done. Coral needs algae to fuel their endeavors. Beavers need willow saplings on the adjacent riverbank to build their dams. Once a platform emerges, a staggering volume of biodiversity joins the party. The quantity and quality of innovations, adaptations, co-optations and reciprocities are an inspiration to us.” (Where Good Ideas Come From)
So, how do we "prototype" or design emergence? Of course, we cannot, but we can design the *conditions* favorable for emergent platforms to manifest. That's what I feel Helene's project is about and that'w why I love it. There's nothing more urgent than supporting the emergence real, participatory democracy and its collective intelligence and wisdom. That's what I've been telling for the last 25 years, but nowadays, I'm definitely not alone, as this project and many others show it.
Part of my contribution to designing for emergence is what I call the Innovation Architecture that optimizes the social, knowledge, business, and technology layers of the emergent platform, for synergistic outputs...
How this network would use CM (Caroline) -
The 'issues' will be presented on customized Microsites (= mini participatory websites).
Microsites can be shared among any site in a network that's powered by CM. This means that any features and tools enabled through this network can be used to benefit others as well. Collaboration for complete scalability and growth. 'For the people; by the people', CM will be turned into an online information and commerce co-op (http://thecitizensmedia.com/pu....
Proposed Customizations of Microsites
Microsites have different member permissions. They could be customized so anyone can be a member and vote in the stakeholders.
2. Data Collection and Reporting:
For a network being proposed with iDE (http://newschallenge.tumblr.co..., we're looking to connect with SANGOnet (a South African network being funded by Gates Foundation) by integrating API's for sharing data collected through surveys enabled through ,the network we create will help local farmers gain easy access to info on market prices, as well as various other things such as monitoring usefulness of tools designed to help them get ahead (developing these tools is what iDE does).
Sounds like Rio's network could use GIS and visualization tools being proposed through the Catalyst Mapping project (http://newschallenge.tumblr.co.... Reports on 'Issues' would be created as blogs posted in applicable Microsite. Recommend tool would invite members to vote, which in turn would be transposed onto a 'catalyst map'. Such tools could also be put to good use with iDE. By collaborating integrations, costs are reduced, power to promote increased.
3. Assigning Tasks:
Microsites can feature voluntary/paid job posts, which could be used for assigning tasks.
NETWORKS EXPLAINED: http://thecitizensmedia.com/pu...