CSC Manifesto-Proposal, 2020-10-17

Peter Kaminski

(copied from CSCommons Mattermost 2021-05-13)

(originally sent in email to a few OGM/CICOLAB folks)

Proposal: "Collective Sensemaking Commons"

I have a proposal.

First the background:

IMHO, we all are headed for something I think of as swarming, flocking, a flotilla, etc. Small pieces loosely joined [1]. An organizational structure beyond the firm, and beyond peer production. (I call dibs on an essay title, "Benkler's & Coase's Swarm" [2].)

Emergent, coordinated activity arising from simple rules and information exchange, without central coordination. I think there will be organizations and networks (and clumps, pods, units, groups, teams, etc.), of different sizes, flocking in scale-free [3] federation/swarming/services-oriented ways.

Further, I think that OGM and CICOLAB (and Flux Mindset? and others?) have an immediate need for a chat service (Mattermost, Slack, etc.) and a memory service (a wiki), to enhance their ability for collective communication and action. These would be in addition to their current comms tools -- mailing list, Telegram, OGM Forum.

Okay, now the proposal.

I propose that I (and hopefully a few colleagues) set up a "service provider pod", called something like "Collective Sensemaking Commons", which runs a "Collective Sensemaking Commons Chat" and a "Collective Sensemaking Commons Wiki". CSC would specialize in information and collaboration plumbing.

OGM participants, CICOLAB participants, and others, would be encouraged to use both the chat service and the memory service as one of their "home bases" for chat or for memory. Starting even as early as this coming week.

With respect to chat, I think the largest use would be to replace the Zoom chat during synchronous events. Every time we use Zoom chat instead of a better, more persistent, and more shared chat service, we are wasting the potential we have to garden and grow the wisdom in that event's chat stream. There may be other, more asynchronous uses for the chat service, but those can evolve separately. We really need something better than Zoom chat ASAP.

With respect to memory, every time we don't have a good and growing commons for memory (a wiki), we are wasting the potential we have to garden and grow the wisdom that's flowing through email lists, Telegram, and even OGM Forum.

The CSC pod (or team, or organization, or whatever you want to call it), would be both its own independent entity, AND part of the OGM swarm/flock/flotilla, part of the CICOLAB swarm/flock/flotilla, and ultimately, part of many swarms and flocks.

(I can discuss "why me?" "why now?" at length if you'd like, but I think you mostly already know or can guess why.)

You can extrapolate that CSC is a "service provider" pod in these flocks, and that there will end up being many other service provider pods, "activity-oriented" pods (for climate change, regenerative agriculture, socially equitable finance, what have you). Maybe "governance" pods, "outreach" pods, "revenue generation" pods? I don't know all the types of pods that will be needed and evolve, but I think we need something like a "Collective Sensemaking Commons", that's not within OGM or CICOLAB or whatever umbrella, but is along with all the other umbrellas.

You can also extrapolate that information needs to flow between all these different tools (and more importantly, between people - communication is really about people, even if the people sometimes use tools to help them communicate). For a long time, I think this will be sort of messy, duplicative, and human-mediated/computer-assisted. I think that's fine, until we evolve something better. I also look forward to continually improving the tooling for this information interchange.

You can also extrapolate that what I'm proposing is more or less centralization of information resources, when the dream we all have is decentralization. Two things: since it's a commons, everything should be commons-licensed (and indeed, forkable if that's ever needed), so it can decentralize in big chunks if it needs to; and, again, I think it's fine that it's sort of centralized until we evolve better decentralized technology and practice. I look forward here to working on better decentralization of chat and wikis, while also operating these more centralized commons.


And can you believe that we are hosting this particular thread in an email cc group, instead of some more suitable chat service? ;-)


[1] David Weinberger's language:

[2] and

[3] From network theory, "scale-free network": the characteristics of the network are independent of the size of the network; similar to fractals, which appear the same at different levels.