Monday, February 15, 2021

Commons-based peer production can now scale

NOTE: Post inspired by a discussion on the Holochain Forum. This is the third revision, already passed the first draft stage. The text will continue to evolve based on feedback from readers, using the comments below or on various social media channels and forums. You can now share it with friends on social media.

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Commons can now be broadened. We can now scale commons-based peer production and apply it to almost all spheres of human activity.  

Elinor Ostrom got the Nobel prize in economics for her work on commons, emphasizing on the role of governance to distinguish between community shared resources and open access resources. In essence, she demonstrated that in all cases of successfully stewarded commons, community members, the stakeholders, agree on some basic rules that regulate the use of the shared resource. These rules come from past observations and experience and are designed to preserve the share resource or to maximize the community's benefits from using it. They can take the form of rules, social norms, local customs or other cultural artifacts. But can any resource, currently under any form of property be turned into commons? For some type of resources governance in the commons property regime becomes too complex, difficult to implement and/or enforce, or too costly. Currently, these type of resources are manageable under private or public property regimes and cannot be, in practice, taken over under a communal stewardship. New technologies promise to change that.

Until recently, material commons could only exist in simple forms. The classical example is the pasture shared among a number of herders. It is considered a simple instantiation of the commons form of property because all the stakeholders have very similar motivations, they value the same aspects of the shared resource, and they make a very similar use of it. This type of resource is rivalrous and requires maintenance or replenishment. To avoid the tragedy of the commons for a shared pasture, it is not difficult to conceive a set of rules to govern its use in a sustainable manner, based on the shared reality of animal farming, using some simple metrics. For example, the herders can agree on a time-sharing scheme based on the type of animals and the headcount in everyone's herd. All herders value the shared pasture for its capacity to feed their animals, the metric being the quantity of nutritious grass per year, which can be easily estimated by all herders to avoid depletion.

In recent years, we've seen the emergence of digital commons and of commons-based peer production of digital goods and services, a new collaborative and commons-centric mode of production described by Yochai Benkler. In this particular case, the shared resources are non-rivalrous and exhibit very low costs of maintenance and reproduction. The abundant and almost maintenance free nature of these shared resources makes it easy to manage them and to coordinate economic, cultural and social activities around them. Based on these conditions, digital  commons-based peer production can flourish.

The rapid expansion of digital commons-based peer production has inspired many to dream about a future post-capitalist and post-socialist society. P2P Foundation is a leading think tank that paints the p2p vision and maps commons-based and p2p initiatives across the world.

At the core of any economic model lies a property regime, which is designed to incentivize social, economic and cultural participation, to reduce friction in production processes, and to allow an efficient allocation of resources in society. The current economy is built mostly on the private and public forms of property, and their derivatives. The commons form of property is only marginally present in the current economy. These property regimes are intimately meshed with other elements that form the current economic paradigm. A commons-centric p2p economy or society cannot be achieved simply by enlarging the pool of commons. The entire system needs to be adapted, to be able to function efficiently based on commons. It is highly expected that capitalism preys and encloses the commons that commoners create. This property regime is incompatible with the capitalist system, it can be tolerated but it can never become central in a capitalist society.

The p2p society project needs to

  1. demonstrate that we can steward complex forms of commons
  2. propose a sound socioeconomic system that mostly relies on commons

The second point is for another post, we'll only focus on the first one. 

As we mentioned earlier, simple forms of material and rivalrous commons (the pasture) are manageable and they do exist. Digital commons are also manageable and they are flourishing. But what about resources that exhibit more complexity for their use and maintenance? We find most of them today under the private and public property regimes. Is that by accident, by greed or enforced by shadow forces? It's always a combination of many things, in different proportions, but the main reason, in my opinion, is that they simply cannot exist as commons because they are unmanageable, we cannot coordinate use among peers in a sustainable way, or it is too costly to do so. The only way to maximize benefits that we can extract from these resources is to manage them privately or publicly, taking into consideration the adverse effects that these property regimes can generate. Nothing is perfect and most things are the way they are because they represent the best compromise.

Generally speaking, resources that exhibit a more complex structure do not have simple governance solutions as commons, therefore the tragedy of the commons cannot be avoided. These resources essentially become open access systems and are likely to be abused, since it is more difficult to get an insight into their use and their  degradation or depletion. You can be a militant Marxist and believe that capitalists are to blame for the failure of commoners. In fact, this is less about class struggle and more about our inability to manage complex commons. Let's illustrate that with an example. 


Mont Royal park

The city of Montreal is pierced at its center by an ancient volcano, which is now the Mont Royal city park, a place for recreation, sports and cultural activities. The green mountain has an impact on may people's lives. Neighborhoods surrounding the park benefit from fresh and cool air during the summer. The wooded slopes absorb the city noise. On the top, the majestic viewpoints delight the tourists, and at the bottom the Tam Tams wraps them up in the local alternative culture. Beaver's lake is where Montrealers prefer to go for picnic. The park is also a playground for animal lovers. In winter, the mountain is crisscrossed by skiers, hikers and jogger, and resonates with the laughs of kids on sleds. 

Needless to say, Mont Royal park is administered by the City of Montreal as public property. It is maintained with the assumed intention to maximize collective benefits,  fixing roads, building and repairing installations, cleaning the forest, cutting the grass, removing trash and snow, etc.  Additionally, the park needs to be well governed. Since we are in a multi stakeholder context (many categories of individuals with specific interests and needs) the municipality has created a set of rules to minimize abusive use of the park, enforced by a mounted police force. Is everyone happy? Hmm... not really.



People accept the situation because that's the way it is, that's how it's done in other places too, and they don't know any better. But if you really ask around, you'll find lots of people with lots of ideas about new things to do in the park, if only they could cut through the red tape. You'll also find some pretty happy people that had the privilege to get a maintenance contract or a license to operate a business in the park, and the unhappy ones that have been refused. Probably the best illustration of how new marginal activities can creep into the landscape is the history of the Tam Tams. There are tensions around a complex shared resource.

Let's suppose that we take the municipality out of the equation and turn Mont Royal into a commons. This means that we put all the stakeholders in charge. They need to find a way to provide access to use the park while maximizing the collective benefits. They also need to find a way to collectively maintain the park, to provide all the labor and the materials required. Maintenance needs to be done in a way that maximizes everyone's benefit as well. If one stakeholder group needs more grass space and another one needs a larger forest area the governance should provide a solution to compromise. Furthermore, suppose that the forest maintenance is passed to a "cleaner" stakeholder who's incentive is to sell the dead wood extracted from the park. What stops the "cleaner" from over exploiting the forest to the detriment of other stakeholders? Suppose there's an "animator" stakeholder who organizes cultural activities, music, dance, food, ... How can we make sure that noise pollution is kept at an acceptable level for the nearby residents?

Treating the park as a public property is probably the best compromise to maximize public benefits. Private property can also work, if the park is managed by a philanthropist that has the public interest at heart. The advantage of traditional property regimes is the centralized authority associated with them, the owner's exclusive rights for access and maintenance of the resource, which in turn reduces governance costs. These costs increase drastically in the more complex multi stakeholders commons situation.

The Mont Royal park is a simple example of more complex and unmanageable commons that would effectively become an open access system. In this scenario, we have multiple uses of the same shared resource and every stakeholder group has its own reality. We’re far from the more uniform example of the pasture, used by a number of herders that share the same interests, and value the same aspects. Technology is advancing and the costs of coordination have dropped drastically. Are there new tools that a diverse group of stakeholders can use to steward a complex shared resource and avoid the tragedy of the commons? One family of such tools is called network resource planning (NRP). We've already used them at a smaller scale and we are convinced that they do work.

NRP is for open networks what ERP is for a traditional enterprise. It allows peers to co-manage a peer production process, resources, activities, transactions, etc. As peers in a peer production process use the system to coordinate their activities they create data that can be used to visualize resource flows within the network and to better plan and coordinate activities. The system also captures various type of contributions to processes and projects, and offers a layer for benefit redistribution, which are algorithms that feed on the contributions data to allocate access to various forms of benefits.

Sensorica is a network of makers and collaborative entrepreneurs that share a physical space in Montreal. The Montreal lab is administered as a commons. It is legally represented by a Trust, a non profit organization called CAKE, also called the Custodian. But CAKE does not own the lab. Over the years people have made multiple uses of the lab: a place for coworking, meetings, prototyping, events, education, etc. These uses have been championed by groups of stakeholders who have specific interests and value the lab space in their own way. But the lab is a rivalrous shared resource: a public event can disrupt coworking or prototyping activities; some prototyping activities are noisy or dusty or smoky, which can interfere with meetings and coworking activities. Lab users have built tools and found ways to compromise. The lab is a shared resource listed on Sensorica's NRP. The NRP is used to plan and manage tasks within projects, which can be: offering educational courses, organizing public events and prototyping some hardware. The NRP is used by peers to log various individual contributions to projects, as well as the the use of shared resources, which includes the use of the lab. If a planned use enters in conflict with another one the system's internal logic should provide a way to resolve it. But most importantly, the system provides transparency into its multiple uses by multiple stakeholders. We can, for example, compare the use of the lab by those who engage in prototyping and those who organize events, and reason about what could be a fair use, in the context of the entire network. We can also interrogate the system about who is contributing more to paying the bills, cleaning, purchasing of equipment and materials. Extraction and contributions are made transparent. Moreover, a benefit redistribution algorithm is used to gamify access to the resource based on contributions to maintain or replenish the resource, and based on the respect or the harmony of use.

Sensorica is one network using one economic model, based on one economic reality, allowing peers to share resources and to engage in peer production. The NRP that sensoricans rely on is designed as a traditional server-client service (or app). Today, distributed ledger technologies (DLT) do to applications what the Internet has done to content. Many organizations that operate on specific realities and that are using specific economic models can use interoperable distributed applications (dapps) across the web. Thus, multiple stakeholders can intimately interact via dapps and steward their commons on which they base their production. In other words, if sensoricans can steward a lab as commons, using a server-client application, Montrealers can steward the Mont Royal park using a public blockchain-based dapp. 

The NRP absorbs the complexity inherent in some resources and hides it behind a user interface. This diminishes the cost for stewarding complex commons. Thus we can expand the pool of commons in society, to include more complex types of resources. The very possibility of pulling resources out of the public and the private regime opens the door for large scale commons-based peer production. In my opinion, this is desirable because it leads to a better allocation of resources in society, more sharing, lower redundancy and fewer externalities. 


Some preliminary thoughts about how to continue the development of tools to steward commons

What do we value?

The tools need to map the different stakeholder groups, based on what people value in a particular resource? In the case of the pasture (traditional manageable commons case) every herder values the same thing, the capacity of the pasture to feed the animals. In the case of the Mont Royal park, multiple stakeholders values a different things. The "cleaner" values the dead wood that he can sell. The " animator" values the scenery, the shadow of the trees, some installations. The local residents value the capacity of the forest to absorb sound and to refresh the air.

What do we measure?

The tools should be able to capture quantitative aspects about the resource's state and use. In the case of the pasture, the quantity of nutritious grass produced per year. In the case of the park, different stakeholders measures different things.

Governance and benefit redistribution / gamification

In the case of the pasture, the herders can agree to a time sharing scheme based on the type and number of animals that everyone owns. In the case of the park, by trial and error, stakeholders can reach a consensus if they base their reasoning on what everyone values and on everyone's metrics. The consensus is a compromise that brings more satisfaction than harm, it is formally implemented into the tool. An equilibrium can be maintained if metrics are used to keep what everyone values within the levels of acceptance. Once data about use and replenishment is captured and made available one can build all sorts of symbolic systems on top of it to nudge behavior and increase synergy. NRPs open a new space of possibilities. The tool can signal to stakeholders how to conduct their activities.
 

Interaction between traditional property regimes and commons

From Samuel Joseph: We see informal commons spring up in both private and public property. On Mont Royal, for example, there is a complex set of mountain biking trails which have been created and are maintained by users. In this case it seems the city turns somewhat of a blind eye to the situation. Indeed, I would suggest that it would be more complex for the city to govern those trails, because of liability, paying for staff, etc. So here we see a nice example of how the commons can in fact turn elements of a public resource into a commons. 

 

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By Tibi

Inspired by Pospi and Bob, on a post from Holochain forum

Helped with feedback by Samuel Joseph, Michel Bauwens


If you find this interesting, please engage in a discussion below. Come back later, this post may evolve based on yours and other people's feedback.

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Saturday, December 15, 2018

The la-la land in small scale collaborative communities

Since 2011 I have been working almost full time on collaborative projects, with open and decentralized organizations. I can say that I've seen it all, but I am still trying to make sense of it all.

I recently realized something that plagues a lot of small scale collaborative organizations. As strange as it might seam, it's the good feeling that most of them nurture. To put it bluntly, often these type of organizations put the good feeling that members experience together, before work. Members of these organizations will often act to save the pleasure, the friendship, while they sacrifice work.

We all want to feel good in our work environment. But we need to realize that the primary reason people get together in open and collaborative projects is to achieve something, not to have fun. There are plenty of other opportunities to have fun. Fun can be a byproduct of working together, when everything goes well. But work is not always fun, it comes with responsibilities, sometimes we must do things that we don't like, sometimes it generates stress, sometimes we need to confront difficult situations and difficult people.

The problem is that most informal, small scale collaborative communities lose their ability to deal with negativity, which cannot always be avoided. When a negative situation arises, very often people go into hiding, try to cover it up, put on the proverbial fake smile, simply ignore the situation, or take the wrong approach in dealing with it, avoiding at all costs making things personal, even when the source/cause is a particular individual. Some people, we know them as the straight shooters, the community guardians or the barking dogs, identify the issue, call it like it is, point the finger. Very often, those who don't shy away from defending the community from wrong-doing find themselves attacked by other members for disrupting the good feeling. They become the problem, they feel victimized for having acted for the benefit of the community, they get frustrated, and some even quit. Such communities filter out these important individuals who fill the role of keeping things real, and attract people that avoid negativity. Some communities that I experienced feel fake, they are a place where everything is rose and must be kept rose. When the straight shooters and the barking dogs are neutralized, the community becomes a lame duck, widely exposed to abuse. What might happen, is that wolfs identify the widely exposed flock of sheep and infiltrate it. When they attack, the superficial sense of good feeling gets replaced with an overwhelming sense of insecurity, and the community disperses.

We also need to mention the tremendous amount of effort these communities spend to harmonize relations, which is not put into productive work. They are pretty heavy into forging a group identity and a sense of belonging. They spend a lot of time on training their members on non-violent communication. They heavily rely on face-to-face meetings to strengthen interpersonal bonds, which are costly (in terms of time and traveling), sometimes highly inefficient and excluding those who cannot be there but can still contribute.

Another important side-effect of too much bonding is the creation of collusion clusters, people that start protecting each others, covering each others up for their wrong doing to protect their friendship, even if that goes against the common goal. A strongly bounded community also develops a tribal mentality, which makes it less open to newcomers, who need to divert a large portion of their efforts towards gaining acceptance instead of doing productive work. There is an optimum of bonding in a collaborative community, beyond which things turn bad.

But it's not just people to blame here... We need to understand the socioeconomic dynamic. These types of organisations that form around a cause and don't generate (enough) tangible benefits for their members are held together mostly by good feeling, shared values and culture. People instinctively or consciously realize that in order to keep everyone engaged they need to keep everyone happy, they need to nurture a positive atmosphere. The game becomes: commit to some effort and you'll be rewarded in good feelings. Peer pressure gets biased towards maintaining the good feeling.

So how can we escape the spiraling down towards the la-la land?

In my opinion, we need to realize that the game played within small scale collaborative communities is only first order, mostly driven by irrationality. People are almost unconsciously driven towards this good feeling and want to preserve it. They end up reversing priorities, putting the good feeling before the work. They almost forget why they are there, which is to achieve something together in the first place, rather than just having fun. Shying away from negativity is also a natural, mostly irrational reaction. Dealing with negativity requires energy and guts, which come with commitment, with the realization that we are there to achieve something, and that something needs to be protected.

Small collaborative communities need to add a rational layer on top of the irrational first order, which amounts to a work ethic. Members need to be reminded that they are together first and foremost to achieve something, that work might be difficult, stressful, that they might have to deal with insecurity, to put up with problematic individuals, etc. The community needs to nurture a sense of responsibility and commitment to the cause, not just to naively promise fun and good feelings until the end of the project.

Inject more rationality and objectivity into your community and you'll avoid becoming a la-la land. Realize that your straight shooters and barking dogs are important assets. Nurture a work ethic of responsibility and commitment. All this should be enough to change the collaboration game to: commit to some effort and we'll achieve our collective goal, and perhaps have some fun on the way. Changing the game will affect the composition of your community. You'll most probably lose some people, those who have a really low tolerance to negativity, but you'll retain other people, those who are more goal oriented.

Building a more goal oriented community is an important step, if you aim at creating a more stable and capable organisation, that can generate tangible benefits for its members. As members start to benefit in a tangible way from their collaboration (generate earnings for example), they will stop putting the good feeling before the work, the collaboration game will shift again.

For more insights, also read my post Developmental stages and problems for open communities and networks.


By Tiberius Brastaviceanu

By AllOfUs

Thursday, November 22, 2018

eco2FEST - week 1: Collaboration in Motion

It was an ambitious second week of eco2FEST with workshops and conferences revolving around four different themes: Public Policies, Governance, Habitation, and Urban Agriculture. A lot of important questions were raised as citizens, entrepreneurs, and government officials worked through them all to find collaborative solutions.

Even when no concrete solutions were proposed though, the discussions set the stage for a more focused framing of these themes in the future.

Public Policies

At their most basic, public policies are the intersection between what citizens ask for and what governments can provide. It is this constant flux from one side to the other that creates the common ground of how society is run. Finding a common ground that’s truly for the benefit of the greater good, however, is a different story. This has been the root cause for countless of political struggles since the dawn of civilization.
For any equilibrium to be achieved, there has to be a balance of energy or power on all sides. And that starts with trust and a willingness to collaborate. Governments need to make a greater effort to seek input from citizens impacted by proposed policies while citizens need to take initiative to engage in constructive dialogue with government officials. Only then can innovative public policies take shape.
During the Public Policies segment of eco2FEST, Guillaume Lavoie – professor at ENAP and former city councillor of Montreal – observed that citizens have been asking their elected officials the wrong question about innovation. Instead of just seeking their support for innovation, elected officials should be asked, “What is your level of tolerance for disruption?”
Historically, governments often favour stability while businesses mostly thrive on disruption. But for overall progress to happen in society, it depends on government’s ability to stomach change.
Businesses have always been a step ahead of governments not only because they embrace change, but also because they actively seek out public opinion. If governments want to keep up, they have to do the same and go a step further by establishing units or processes that provide future projections based on current socio-economic trends.
This will allow governments to at least proactively prepare for future growth rather than reacting too late to realities on the ground. It will result in more opportunities for governments to engage in timely discussions with the public.
Besides examining the role of government, eco2FEST participants also considered the other side of the equation: how can we empower citizens with the notion that they have the right to express their opinions on how society is run?
Participatory democracy was brought up several times as a potential way for people to get in the habit of working together with the government. Of course, it means that the government has to transition to that concept and introduce how it works early in the education system.
Once citizens start to participate more and governments have a better pulse on what the needs are, what’s the best way to use crowdsourced data effectively to implement public policies? This was another sticky point in the workshop discussions last week.
For example, there’s a massive amount of urban traffic data out there compiled by both public and private sectors. But it’s been difficult to design mobility models and transportation systems based on that data because every source wants to protect its data for different purposes. On top of all that, there are privacy issues that people are rightfully concerned about.
The question then turned to regulation, which is sometimes a waypoint of implementation. For that, Guillaume Lavoie recommended not to jump straight to regulations before the subject is fully understood – that would be worse than not regulating at all. “The goal is to have the least possible, to access as much as possible,” he said.

Governance

Public Policies naturally lead to Governance. How do you build the consensus and the principles everyone has agreed on during the development of public policies into a long-term governance system? In short, as Agathe Lehel – Projects Promoter of OuiShare Québec – so succinctly put it, “How do you make sure that [governance] culture persists over time?”
Technology was consistently proposed as a possible solution. Technology can facilitate the processing of governance processes because of its dynamic ability to provide real-time information and instantaneous feedback.
One of the most promising technological applications in governance comes in the form of smart contracts in blockchain. The potential of blockchain as a governance tool is so strong that it has been adopted by businesses and even governments such as Estonia’s digital republic.
Blockchain platforms are designed to evenly distribute the power of governance and direction that decisions take. In that sense, members of the platform are simultaneously users, investors, and stakeholders. All these members are brought together from different cultures and values. The issue is how we make it work and achieve consensus.
Another concern raised in the discussion was maintaining decentralization. What we want to avoid is the consolidation of power in any extreme and not knowing who actually holds the power.
In response to the governance concerns of blockchain, Pascal Ngo Chu – co-founder of EOS/Steem Québec – pointed to EOSIO as an example. It is a blockchain platform that introduces a governance model. A constitution can be created first, which all other application systems must follow. From there, a democratic system can be established with voting tools for people to make decisions.
At the end of the day though, it’s the individuals who form the hub of a blockchain network. Yes, government needs to be involved in supporting the system, but the grassroots level needs to first demonstrate that it works even in a rapidly evolving society. However the platform is designed, governance has to be ingrained yet remain flexible enough for new directions.
We also have to remember that the platform is not the solution – it is a tool for governance and transparency that works so long as the human connection is stable.

Habitation

For all the talk about progress in society, it can’t go very far if the basic needs of the people aren’t met. That brings us to the theme of Habitation.
We’ve seen the steady rise of housing costs for years and it’s time we come up with creative solutions to combat that issue.
Many ideas were pitched at the eco2FEST workshops, including transitional use of vacant spaces. So rather than leaving undeveloped lots sitting empty, is there a way we can make use of them? The same goes for unoccupied buildings or infrastructure. What would a system that temporarily repurposes vacant spaces look like?
Housing cooperatives were also mentioned as proven working models, although everyone acknowledged that they do have some hurdles to overcome. These include setting up reliable conflict resolution systems as well as systems properly recognizing everyone’s specialties and contributions.
The most significant hurdle has to do with the public image of housing cooperatives. They are neither social housing nor places where everyone is expected to scrub the common floors together. Housing cooperatives are all about lowering the housing costs for their members. If that is what everyone ultimately wants, why is participation still so low?
It seems that housing cooperatives could do with more support from governments and more rebranding campaigns from the private sector.

Urban Agriculture and Food Sovereignty

Food is another basic need that needs to be addressed. And in an urban environment, it’s even more important that sustainable approaches are used.
It was fitting that communal food was served throughout eco2FEST, but especially so during the urban agriculture workshops. It ties in with the fact that it really does not require massive infrastructure to feed people.
What emerged from the discussions was the need for us to completely change our way of thinking when it comes to urban agriculture and food sovereignty. In a sense, we need to think big in small systems.
For instance, we can first change our concept of food consumption. Instead of consuming what we want, we can start by consuming what we want among what’s locally available. That would cut down on infrastructure being used to produce food for distant locations, along with all the transportation costs that come with it.
Douglas Jack, a sustainable community development expert, gave a presentation advocating people to take a 3D approach to agriculture. That involves considering the collaborative effect of plants occupying all height levels – from trees to fungi – that contribute to a healthier ecosystem. He also talked about various indigenous techniques for sustainable livelihood, the details of which he catalogued online for open-source sharing.
From his example as well as that of Jack SoRelle – who created the Plenty4All organization from scratch – there was a consensus that open-source sharing of agricultural techniques is an economically feasible way to establish grassroots-oriented solutions for communities all over the world.

As the second week of eco2FEST came to a close, it was apparent that there is a common thread that ran through these four themes: it all comes down to education.

It’s about learning how to let your voice be heard; it’s about teaching how to run an equitable society. It’s about learning how to live affordably together; it’s about teaching how to feed the world sustainably.

What inspired you the most from the conversations you’ve had last week at eco2FEST? What would you like to accomplish by the final week?

Winluck Wong is a freelance writer helping companies grow their businesses through blogging, web content writing, copywriting, and social media management. He gets excited about an eclectic mix of topics from business strategies and sustainable development to personal finance and life hacks. Follow his cheeky musings on Twitter and imagine how he can fit in your story on his website.

by All of us

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

eco2FEST - week 1: Collaboration in Motion

Last week marked the beginning of eco2FEST, a three-week journey to explore new forms of economy, sustainable open-source design, and more. Organized around nine themes, eco2FEST highlighted Mobility and Collaborative Economy as the first themes of the week.

Mobility

eco2FEST was aptly jumpstarted with the first theme, Mobility. Progress has always traveled on the
back of our ability to transfer ideas, resources, and people over great distances in the shortest amount
of time possible. The need for this ability to be efficient has become more pronounced in the growing
urbanization of society.

As ecosystems of urban jungles continue to spread, mobility is what will preserve their delicate balance and keep them thriving. Without mobility as the primary consideration in infrastructure design, cities run the risk of a drawn-out but inevitable decay.

It’s a well-recognized issue and many cities throughout the world have ventured ahead with innovative models of mobility. Take Barcelona and the Bicing program, for instance; London and its GATEway project; or Guangzhou’s Bus Rapid Transit system.

And we can do the same here. Montreal is the ideal city for mobility innovation and it’s evident when
the city hosted the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) World Congress last year. The world came to us last year and this year, we’re demonstrating through eco2FEST that we’re ready to bring our ingenuity to the world.

The official launch of eco2FEST last week inspired a lot of frank discussions about the future of mobility in Montreal. Mobility entrepreneurs like Eva Coop and OuiHop’ met with local residents as well as citizen groups like Trainsparence. Together, this open forum invited everyone to give their input on major mobility issues such as the “last mile” problem, bike-integration solutions, and even specific issues such as mobility challenges in Verdun.

It is a promising start to eco2FEST. Jean-François Parenteau, the Mayor of Verdun, mentioned at the
eco2FEST press conference last Tuesday that he and his elected officials wanted the borough to shine
when it comes to a collaborative economy. It captured the intent of eco2FEST perfectly. This is our moment to take the lead by getting the private and public sectors together to collaborate on inclusive solutions that improve the day-to-day lives of everyone.


Collaborative Economy

As the conversation moved from Mobility to the second theme, Collaborative Economy, the ideas continued to flow. Although the participants in the workshops and roundtables were from different backgrounds, they all found common ground with these two statements:


  1. Access to resources can be very difficult for individuals; collaborative workspaces can meet this requirement as well as create opportunities and accessibility for entrepreneurs;
  2. Collaborative economy adds social and economic benefits within society.


Moreover, certain words came up again and again that showed how strongly they resonated with
everyone: inclusion, participate, equity, growth, and empowerment. All these are values that a
collaborative economy strives toward.

It means less constraints from a traditional workplace and less emphasis on profit before all else. It
means more innovation and ecological results driven for and by the community. Above all, it means
genuine collaboration that goes beyond the family unit and reaches every facet of society.

What’s striking about the first week at eco2FEST was how deeply engaged all the participants were in the discussions that took place. Everyone had something of value to contribute and it’s all these ideas in aggregate that will make a difference as we co-build the society of tomorrow.

All this came out of just the first week. Imagine what we can accomplish next. Find out what’s
happening this week at eco2FEST on our schedule and participate!

What really spoke to you during the first week of eco2FEST? What would you like to see done differently in the upcoming workshops and conferences?

Winluck Wong is a freelance writer helping companies grow their businesses through blogging, web content writing, copywriting, and social media management. He gets excited about an eclectic mix of topics from business strategies and sustainable development to personal finance and life hacks. Follow his cheeky musings on Twitter and imagine how he can fit in your story on his website.

By AllOfUs

Monday, November 6, 2017

Developmental stages and problems for open communities and networks

Over the past 8 years, I have contributed to the development of www.sensorica.co, an open network for open innovation and peer production. 
SENSORICA can be described as a commons-based peer production community as defined by the p2pValue project, and as a permissionless p2p network like Bitcoin. 
Along with my hands-on involvement in SENSORICA, I have also contributed to other open networks and communities and observed their evolution. It didn't take long to noticed that these new types of organizations were developing similar problems as they were growing in complexity. A few months ago, I sat down to uncover the underlying mechanisms behind these problems. My theory is synthesized in the table below. 

In essence, open networks and communities go through developmental stages. The transition from one stage to the next requires organizational transformations, which are adaptations to the new conditions that the organization is facing. More often than not, these transitions are accompanied by organizational crisis. Sometimes, these crisis are fatal, they destroy the organization. This is an attempt to inform those involved in setting up open communities and network, to help them steer clear of potential pitfalls as their organization mutates through its developmental stages.  

Summary of developmental stages (see details below)


Developmental Stage
Contribution and reward
Structure
Athmosphere
Problems
1
Informal
Only volunteer
Ambiguous and ad hock  
Friendly, loose, fun
Attract attention
2
Formal
Mostly volunteer
Some basic roles, some norms, some procedures
Mostly friendly and fun
Dealing with complexity
3
Managing material assets
Volunteer and for benefit
Clear and more stable roles and relations, written rules, some adopted methodologies
Higher responsibility, some frustrations.
Dealing with the freerider
4
Tangible rewards generation
Mostly for benefit and volunteer
Clear and stable roles, formal relations, system of rules, body of methodologies, legal structure
Formal, professional
Dealing with the thief
5
Large potential
For benefit, wealth generation and projecting influence
Always filled roles structure, excellent governance, solid legal standing, proven body of methodologies, connections with the larger ecosystem
Responsible, formal, professional
Dealing with the jealous enemy

This table was created by Tibi, as part of a new synthesis work. In alpha version. CC BY-SA 3.0 licence


If the table above is not clear, if you need clarifications, please ask questions in the comments below, and I will use your feedback to improve this post. 

More details and explanations

Monday, January 23, 2017

After the Black March, the Women's March on Washington. When are we going to start marching towards the future?



First: I am not sexist nor racist. I am also very proud to say that I have never participated in the rigged game of representative democracy, never voted in my entire life, although I consider myself as part of the 1% of doers when it comes to concrete action and sacrifice to make the world a better place. I am completely outside of the Hillary vs Trump or left vs right debate.

Reading the Wikipedia page and a few articles on the Women's march on Washington 2017, I understand that after some issues during its planning and organisation, the goal was to come up with a very inclusive statement and to create an inclusive movement. I am going through a bunch of videos on Youtube and although I can sense inclusiveness, here and there I also sense a divisive language, a confrontational language between women and men. During the Bush years we've experienced the religious divide. During Obama, we saw the racial divide. Trump vs Hillary brings us the sexual divide. We had the left and right divide for more than a century... How many divides can our society sustain before it disintegrates and falls pray to a tyrant who will force piece upon us? 

We don't like our friend because s/he is a communist or a libertarian. We don't like our neighbour because her/his skin is of a different colour, or s/he eats or doesn't eat pork. Am I soon going to fight with my female friends because I am a man and therefore guilty of all the sins men have done in the past? Hey, I am just a guy brought up in a traditional family, trying to be fair and to respect the complementary between men and women, doing as much as I can to support the movement of emancipation of women, but sometimes I do make stupid mistakes... I am trying to unlearn and to improve my worldview tinted by my upbringing in my traditional family, trying, ... I think I am not alone in this situation. I don't want to be criticised or accused by my female friends of being "patriarchal". I want to be able to stay focused on building a better world. I don't want to feel obliged to measure my words and calculate my actions, afraid of being called a sexist, or a racist, a leftist, or some other ...ists. I feel alienated by all this and perhaps many other men who mean good feel the same. 

There is some racism in the struggled of race emancipation. There is some sexism in the struggle of women emancipation. Let's make sure we truly emancipate and not overshoot in the opposite side. 

And by the way, about Trump's victory, I think it is part of a global trend. Our society is in deep crisis and in need of a new world view. We are bouncing between the two extremes of our debilitating right/left dichotomy. Yes, we are going to see the extremes growing more popular, both of them, in different parts of the world, until we get exhausted and realise that these old models don't apply anymore. Only then the imagination of the masses can jump to something new. Only after this exhaustion people will go through the gestalt transition and see the new paradigm, which is already here, developing and picking up steam under their gazing eyes. 

Don't get me wrong. There is racism and sexism in the world. But the general problem in our society doesn't come from the Muslim or from the Man. Let's come to terms with the past. The world is what it is now. The problem is a system in decay, facing huge transformations coming from deep within. Read more about p2p, commons-based peer production and other things like that, and you'll realise that we are trapped into all these fights because we don't have the new/proper language to speak about what's wrong with our society and about how we can make things work better. So we put the blame on what's immediately visible (skin color, gender, etc.) and on the past.  

This is my angle on it, there are others to see, in order to get the full picture.

Broken Assumptions of GovernanceThe Future of Governance is not GovernmentsSituational Assessment 2017: Trump Edition



By Tiberius Brastaviceanu