The central thread of the evolution project is to find a sustainable home for meet. coop’s BBB platform operation in a community-oriented coop. This thread below contains the brief, job list, actions log and discussion for this dimension of the project. Background and overall project notes are here Evolution of meet.coop - Background and framework.
This thread has three parallel threads:
Each of these is sprouting branches, as the work of evolving meet. coop proceeds. This thread has two sub-threads:
Evolution #2 has three sub-threads:
And Evolution #3 has one sub-thread
Brief - Find a new home
The ‘crash team’ of Ops members and Board members @andia @dvdjaco @Graham @mnoyes @mikemh @wouter intends to:
- Open conversations (Feb 2023) with:
- At three months (May 2023) - agree partnership & a timeline for migration with the new host coop.
- If a multistakeholder coop able to take up the platform operation isn’t available at that time, the fallback is to make arrangements with Collocall, to offer a BBB service to our members.
- At six-to-eight months (October 2023) , close meet.coop memberships & BBB server ops
Criteria: The host organisation should be:
- A coop or federation of coops
- Experienced with and committed to provision of platforms running on libre software
- Preferably a multistakeholder coop with a strong community-facing /community-involving practice, rather than a workers’ coop,
- Able to work with and for members across continents: Europe, North America, preferably also South America, and possibly other regions, and as an aspect of this:
- a capacity to operate in plural languages is very desirable.
On Feb 3rd in a private Ops/Board thread @mnoyes (social.coop) posted:
Chatted about this in Community Working Group Ops Team this morning. People were skeptical about the wisdom of Social.Coop taking over Meet.Coop, but open to the idea of having the Tech Working Group talk with MC folks. I have put @Graham , @andia and @dvdjaco in touch with @EduMerco who is in both working groups. One question raised was why BBB instead of Jitsi, which we can already access via MayFirst?
A thread for this tech discussion is now open: Evolution 2 - Migrate the platform. At this point, May First and social.coop are in it, more to join.
The jitsi and BBB topic is obviously going to call for attention - see @anarcat response and other posts below. As we begin to talk with WebTV this will naturally develop, since they run both softwares side by side. Watch this space. @EduMerco has also surfaced the issue in the technical platform thread https://forum.meet.coop/t/meet-coop-evolving-platform/1284/2. So watch that space too?
On Feb 2nd in a private Ops/Board thread @hng (Collocall) posted:
We are open to talk about how we (ColloCall) can offer more technical support in this phase of meet.coop. We can setup a meeting in the next few days if you want to. We see two options:
- We take over current members (that want it) into our BigBlueButton services. Products/Tiers should be relatively similar. We could setup interfaces (e.g. Greenlight) in English, we can also provide support in English.
- As we do still think that meet.coop has a great vision and a lot of great work was already done (e.g. the nice website), another possibility would be to scale meet.coop down. I.e. we would take over services and (partially?) support, but the member base and organisation could be kept. How funds would be distributed and a lot of other questions would need to be discussed.
I am sorry that I can not personally attend today. If you decide to fold meet.coop I hope I get to the chance to say goodbye and celebrate meet.coop with you at a later point in time
- The ‘Evolution’ project team is definitely holding Collocal as a fallback option, thank you.
- It’s great to know you can provide support and a Greenlight interface in English.
- We definitely agree that the ‘user front end’ is important. For this reason we’re looking in the first instance for a m ultistakeholder coop, with a strong practice of cultivating active relationships with its user community.
- Both of these reflected in Criteria above: Evolution 1 - Find a new home - #2 by mikemh
Jitsi and BBB
On 04feb in a private Ops/Board thread, @anarcat posted on this issue:
[quote= @mnoyes , post:39, topic:1270"]
why BBB instead of Jitsi, which we can already access via MayFirst?
I think that’s an excellent question, and one where we (at torproject.org) are uniquely positioned to answer. (and actually I am not the best person to answer, because i’m not the most prolific BBB user, but hopefully I can relay the ideas here for others…)
We do use BBB quite extensively at the Tor Project. Back when we decided to adopt BBB as a platform, we had a specific requirement that the videoconferencing tool should be well adapted to trainings, it was the primary objective. You can see a more in-depth discussion about the design requirements in conference · Wiki · The Tor Project / TPA / TPA team · GitLab
Interestingly, the design docs don’t clearly point at Jitsi as a bad candidate per se. It’s possible that those trainings could be done in Jitsi. But after having used BBB all this time, I have personally reached the conclusion that it’s a superior alternative, feature-wise. It’s specifically geared towards classrooms and trainings and has unique features that are missing from Jitsi, or at least that was the case when the project started…
Now, Jitsi introduced Whiteboards and breakout rooms in 2022, so that is not so true anymore. It’s actually quite possible that Jitsi has reached feature parity with BBB… but I suspect it’s not quite there yet. For example, I don’t think there’s a way to upload a presentation, only use screensharing to present it…
So I’m not sure: maybe Jitsi could cut it, but I suspect it’s not quite there yet.
It’ll be great to learn how WebTV feels about this, when they come into the thread.
Vibrant ecosystem of tech coops (aka federating?)
On 07fed via email @jamie (MayFirst) responded:
Thanks for reaching out! Wow - this is a big move and I really hope you can make it successfully. We need a vibrant ecosystem of tech coops.
I’ve forwarded the request to our coordination team which meets on mondays, and I think we’ll need a meeting to discuss. Can I get back to you next week after we have had a chance to talk about it?
Looking forward to MayFirst’s response and a conversation @Jaime @freescholar @EduMerco . Seems to me, an important question that now opens up is about ‘the vibrant ecosystem of tech coops’? meet.coop, social.coop and mayfirst are already in a federating relationship that provides BBB, Jitsi, NextCloud and email (via meet.coop and MayFirst) to social.coop members, in addition to their own core Mastodon service in the fediverse. This practice of furnishing richer means within the federating digital commons may get more interesting when we have WebTV in the mix too, see below.
One side issue: this is looking somewhat North American. What are the America/Europe/South America issues and options? How much does it matter at a tech level (is a regional server essential?) or is it mostly a matter of active multistakeholder relationships with national/regional members (and thus, maybe the language base)? So, flagging another subtopic here: Trans-regional relationships and plural languages.
Trans-region and plural language
On 10feb in email, @otisyves said:
I spoke yesterday with Gabriel Chicoine (Coordinator, email@example.com) of WebTV (Montréal - https://lacoop.webtv.coop/). They have a commercial offer for webconf services (BBB and Jitsi, and a third one I don’t remember - https://visioweb.coop/).
Note: 'The third service' is distributed working and learning - a cloud-based suite of tools.
I explained to him the migration process that Meet.coop is undertaking. He’s very interested to discuss how he (WebTV) could help - long term/short term. WebTV have a strong technical capacity - for example, they stream the city and ward council meetings in Montréal and provide strong webconf services for large general assemblies of co-ops and NGOs. Gabriel is also very engaged in FLOSS ans social economy ecosystem here in Québec.
So to move forward, I proposed a meeting with some people from the Meet.coop board - maybe both people from the tech and community sides. Can be done early March. Count me in.
This is exciting We’re making contact with Gabriel, inviting them and colleagues into the threads here and hoping to talk soon. Because they run BBB, Jitsi and streaming services this will add important dimensions to our tech and service discussion. Not immediately able to make out their governance - a workers’ coop? (They describe themselves as a Solidarity Coop - a Canadian category?) Operating in Montreal they’re basically Francophone? But the WebTV arm of their service offers an interface in four languages. A machine translation of their home page into English is here Nextcloud
Federation across English/Spanish/French platforms might be key issue to begin to explore in this connection?
Hello, here’s a translation of the meaning of Solidarity coop in Quebec :
The solidarity cooperative is characterized by the diversification of its membership and its openness to partnership. It brings together within the same company people or companies who have a common cause or interest, but varied needs.
Five members are required to form a solidarity cooperative.
The cooperative brings together at least two of these three categories of members:
users: people or companies that use the services offered by the cooperative;
workers: natural persons working within the cooperative;
supporter: any other person or company that has an economic, social or cultural interest in achieving the objective of the cooperative.
Rebates are distributed to user members in proportion to the operations carried out with the cooperative and to worker members according to the volume of work carried out. Supporting members are not entitled to discounts.
Solidarity cooperatives are very present in home help and health services, professional services, business services, local services (grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, etc.) as well as in the arts and culture.
thanks gabriel, great to see you here Is this category of coop a legal category (recognised or required by economic administration or taxation, for example)? or is it a widely upheld informal distinction, inhabited by many cooperators? it can be both of course !
Sounds very like a commons, to me! Is ‘commons’ in the everyday discourse of cooperation in Montréal? in WebTV?
It is a legal category in Quebec, here’s a link with all legal categories of coops in Quebec (French only)
It does sound like a commons I agree. It is part of our mission and values at WEBTV!
@mikemh that page doesn’t exist, which thread is it?
pardon me @anarcat . that was/is a private thread, b4 the public threads were opened. The public thread on tech issues is this one: Evolution 2 - Migrate the platform. Relevant posts have been reposted above, in this thread on coop options. the link above is fixed now, thanks
We actually run 3 softwares : BBB, Jitsi and HPB for Nextcloud Talk.
BBB and Jitsi are both amazing softwares and we offer both. The reason is that we use them depending on the situation. You have to understand that we offer a complete solution for online meetings, meaning that we also provide cameramen, soundmen, etc. We have been streaming since 2008. Our expertise is a/v and backend. We have partners for frontend.
I don’t like to use the Z word but here’s how we usually explain it to our members :
Jitsi is like Zoom Meetings and BBB is like Zoom Webinars.
However, since we also offer NextCloud, HPB for NextCloud Talk is our biggest demand.
Hi! Collective Tools is also interested to be a part of this discussion.
Sad to see meet.coop go! It’s been such an interesting project to be a part of! But maybe most important for me has been to get to know the other coops here, so I really hope we can find ways to collaborate and work together in the future too.
We’re in a discussion in Collective Tools right now about finding ways to expand and be able to work with bigger organisations and possibly the public sector, with Schrems II opening some new possibilities, so offering video services could definitely be a part of that.
Glad to see this conversation evolving so we can find a new home for meet.coop - I have started discussions with @petter about how we might be able to help provide a home via https://openweb.systems/ or somewhere else… and really do hope we can find a secure and sustainable home for the project, wherever that may be.
Whilst I love the commons approach, and am generally a huge advocate for all things commons, co-op and collaboration, I think it is worth acknowledging that one of the main things which held meet.coop back (imho - based on a lot of time invested in the project…) was the lack of dedicated roles and accountability - and the large (and therefore hard to coordinate) and changing “team”. In my experience, collaboration is hard, and the more people it involves the harder it gets. So, while I love the ideas of federation and cross-country commons etc I think it is worth recognising these issues and, as I have pointed out before, that meet.coop is not a business which can support a large team, or that really requires a large team… By contrast, meet.coop could be run very effectively, and far more efficiently by a small team consisting of few (2 or 3) highly dedicated experts (i.e. back-end, sales, marketing). Whatever happens in meet.coop’s future, I hope these observations are useful.
Catching up with this thread. The CommunityBridge.com team would love to help in any way that we can. Looking at how we can be helpful and talking with our host that is very coop positive. Will be interested in joining any discussion coming up.
I saw mention of finding a BBB server host and possibly having meet.coop team members control a greenlight instance - short term or long sounds like a good idea to discuss. This is pretty much how Communitybridge has been flying, with WordPress as a front end and it has been great. We have not formed a coop because our primary purpose was to be a pre-coop, educating people about coops and how to use BBB, then introducing them to meet.coop to join. We have about 120 members, but not all pay for membership as that is a hurdle for some. Looking forward to talking and figuring out a plan for meet.coop.
In Mastodon, @akshay from social.coop TWG (Tech Working Group) posted:
On first look the tech stuff doesn’t look too complex to host. My gut-feel is that people in TWG have the required skills to run BBB and even adopt code published by meet.coop.
However, I would like to see how we can solve some of the challenges faced by meet.coop. Currently I have no ideas for that, perhaps we can have a little discussion about it sometime next week?
Great In the next couple of days I plan to make a presentation (in BBB - it has special features!) for the community of comradely coops we’re now in conversation with. Hoping to outline a range of issues that it would be great to resolve.
Rather than a new parent for BBB, i suspect we need a platform coop federation, provisioning an ecosystem of tools under commons stewardship. Across regions & member communities. Different coops = different elements in ‘a stack of commons’.
I failed to get this down yesterday and thursday, will make another attempt today. A bit chewy! Fingers crossed! i’ll announce in Mastodon and Discourse when I have a recording to view. Then - all jump into the forum, I hope! Plus video chats? The clock is ticking.
Currently the discussion potentially is with CommonsCloud @dvdjaco , social.coop @mnoyes @edsu @akshay @EduMerco MayFirst @jamie @Jaime @EduMerco , WebTV (Montreal) @gcotnoir @otisyves , Collocall @hng , Agaric/CommunityBridge @freescholar and collective.tools/OpenCoop @petter @osb . Would be great to bring in other European and multilingual coops. @jnardi @fredsultan
This is part of what’s behind the notion, introduced in the preceding post, of a federation of coops, engaging various elements of back end, front end and community engagement/facilitation ‘out there’ in the solidarity/coop/commons economy, rather than a single coop and one single tool (BBB in meet. coop). The coops each might have their own regime of payments and revenues (and payments of ‘rent’ or ‘services’ between some of them); also their own stack of software tools to administer. Some of them might be, as @osb wrote, pretty small and tight focused. others might be looser, more ‘volunteerist’ and community-organiser focused (more like NGOs or campaign orgs). A hunch: single sign-on for User members of the federation, across all platforms, might be a deal breaker?
The tech coop ecosystem already has this kind of diversity, internationally. Maybe it’s time we began to specialise in a more aware and mutualised, solidaristic way, on various missions of various federating entities, and to federate better across coop models, and across linguistic and cultural communities. Anyway - I’ll try to knock up a thought-provoker in a BBB recording as soon as.