Welcome to the dance of infrastructure project

Welcome to the dance of infrastructure - Formación and digital infrastructuring

Mike Hales, Frederic Sultan, Jason Nardi : Florence, Italy : 13nov2022

This project announcement was made by Mike Hales of meet.coop in the third session of the 2022Firenze Assembly of European Social Forum groups

Buongiorno compagni, a tutti voi qui. I’m privileged and glad to be speaking here this morning, and to make you an invitation, to participate in an action of self-organising in the commons, around digital infrastructure.

My name is Mike Hales, and I’m speaking for an alliance of three European and international organisations:

  • meet.coop - a coop with a practice in providing digital resources to movement organisations,
  • Remix - which has a practice of building the commons, and
  • RIPESS Europe - with a practice in the solidarity economy.

We three organisations share a focus on the capability of organisers in our diverse and distributed movements: which is to say, a focus on the practice of formación/formazione/formation. We English don’t have a word for it!

We also share a focus on the dependence that we all now have, as organisers, on digital means of collaborating. We hope that you all here share our recognition, that our effectiveness in cultivating and mobilising our forces of transformation and resistance now depends significantly on how we handle this digital stuff.

We also believe you’ll experience, as we do, how confusing the tech can seem to be, and how fragmented our use is, across our movements, of our digital means of collaborating.

So . . we fully endorse the concerns of this meeting’s organisers, to assemble a coherent and self-governed infrastructure for organising. We also bring to this concern a commitment to develop such resources, in the commons, under commons stewardship, moving beyond the fragments.

Why in the commons? Well, it’s a profoundly oppositional politics, beyond the market, beyond the State and beyond consumerist choice. We hope we don’t have to explain in this gathering, how contradictory it is, politically, to allow ourselves to continue to depend on the platforms of global capitalist corporations, under the supervision of tech oligarchs:

  • Zoom. Twitter. WhatsApp. Facebook, Google docs. And so on.

. . all this work of ours, done under their surveillance and limitation, without privacy or security, locked in to their regimes of extraction.

So today meet.coop, Remix and RIPESS inform you of an action of self-organising that we are about to undertake - a project - and we invite you to participate in it.


This is what we will do. It comes under six points.

  1. We will curate and facilitate a timetabled series of online discussions, monthly, on this challenge of how to provide digital means of organising, under commons governance.
  2. We will invite experienced and insightful users and providers of digital resources to open each discussion, leaving plenty of time for the open floor.
  3. We will carry out this series, not as any kind of academic seminar, but as a practical design workshop, for a commons of digital means, which can be mobilised under the diverse conditions of our diverse organisations across the regions.
  4. We will include the awkward question of paying for access to digital resources, versus free platforms and free software. What is at stake are significant matters of fairness and sustainability, privilege and labour.

I emphasise . . this is not a technical project. It’s not a playground for geeks. It’s about the things that we organisers do . .
• It’s about relationships, and facilitation, and making and holding spaces, where people can find a voice.
• It’s about the real economy and livelihood, and
• It’s about design justice. And formación. And prefigurative work in the commons, putting our visions into everyday practice, under altered social relations. A politics of production.

  1. The governance of the project will model or prototype, as far as we can, the governance and the contribution economy we are making.
  2. And, final point - we curators will invite you - your organisations - to participate in the series of design justice workshops, and to animate and enjoy the commons of capability that we mean us to weave, together.

Through the mailing list for this gathering [2022Firenze], we will make an invitation to you all, as soon as we can - before the end of this year - to join us in the collective design process for a commons of digital means, beginning at the start of the new year.

Thank you.
Grazie a tutti. Procediamo! [Let’s do it!]
Benvenuti nella danza delle infrastrutture. [Welcome to the dance of infrastructure.]

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Initial notes on the above project statement, just for starters . .

  • We will curate and facilitate a timetabled series of online discussions, monthly, on this challenge of how to provide digital means of organising, under commons governance.
  • We will invite experienced and insightful users and providers of digital resources to open each discussion, leaving plenty of time for the open floor.
    [/quote]

These two points will be handled by making the practice an extension of our tested commons.hour format, running thro 2023. https://forum.meet.coop/c/reportage/comonshour-sessions/60

We will carry out this series, not as any kind of academic seminar, but as a practical design workshop, for a commons of digital means, which can be mobilised under the diverse conditions of our diverse organisations across the regions . . It’s about design justice.

This frame of design justice is to be developed in the draft meet. coop Handbook. Here is a placeholder for a developed discussion:

Discussion will be here in the forum.

We will include the awkward question of paying for access to digital resources, versus free platforms and free software. What is at stake are significant matters of fairness and sustainability, privilege and labour.

In picking up this topic, we’ll extend and deepen the thinking we’ve collectively done in commons.hour during 2022, on contribution economy and livelihood work:
https://forum.meet.coop/t/session-6-discussion/949/,
https://forum.meet.coop/t/session-2-discussion/755,
A note on concepts
and on openness and limitation in digital stacks
https://forum.meet.coop/t/session-10-discussion/1158.

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A core design group is being assembled, to create a frame for the project gatherings. Here is the invitation.

===

Dear friends / I’m following up on my mail and posting about ‘dance of infrastructure’: a design justice initiative in support of digital space for organisers in progressive social and economic movements.

If this missed you, apologies: see this post in the meet.coop forum:
https://forum.meet.coop/t/welcome-to-the-dance-of-infrastructure-project/1241/

The proposed programme of co-design gatherings should run thro 2023, but needs to be overall-configured and announced by the end of this year, so that the core project community and a first-cut topic-order and methodology can be got in place. By default the designer-convenors of these will be @mikemh of meet.coop, @fredsultan of Remix the Commons, and @jnardi of RIPESS Europe, who together launched this initiative at the 2022Firenze gather of ESF groups earlier in November.

We would be very happy to expand this core group at this stage, since diversity and scope of knowhow is going to be essential in this collaboration. So: are you open to being a codesigner of the project, in the next THREE WEEKS? This will involve:

  • Some ongoing text chat: a Matrix room or the Discourse forum of meet.coop
  • One or maybe a couple of video meetings: in BigBlue Button
  • A files dropbox in the meet.coop NextCloud
  • Some collaborative drafting in NextCloud or an etherpad

Respond, obviously, very soon :wink:

Otherwise . . we’ll be in touch again when there’s a programme framework to invite you and your collaborators to, thro 2013.

Love and solidarity / mike

PS: You may notice, some US organisations are in the To list. There seems to be no good reason why distributed organisers in either the USA or Europe should not operate with infrastructures provided in the other continent. Solidarity, shared means and avoidance of too much silo-ing are part of the project.

====
Mike Hales
Convenor, Community circle, meet.coop - The online meeting coop
Website:: https://www.meet.coop/videos
Membership:: https://opencollective.com/meet-coop/contribute/
Forum:: https://forum.meet.coop/
commons.hour: https://forum.meet.coop/c/community/commonshour/26

Changing the world, one meeting at a time. Join us!
Project, ‘Dance of infrastructure’:
https://forum.meet.coop/t/welcome-to-the-dance-of-infrastructure-project/1241

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The group comprises @fredsultan @jnardi @mikemh @wouter @mnoyes @Sophie_B @dvdjaco . Fred (Remix the Commons) & Jason (RIPESS Europe) are original co-proposers of the project, at 2022Firenze, along with @mikemh (meet. coop Community circle lead). @Sophie_B (Commons Network) was unable to contribute for the Firenze gathering, but wanted to. @dvdjaco is bringing a focus from CommonsCloud and femProcomuns (Barcelona), as well as being meet.coop Tech circle lead. @wouter (meet. coop Org circle lead) was co-designer and convener of commons.hour Series #1 and is also Director of PublicSpaces (Netherlands). @mnoyes is a core member of social.coop (a multi-user member of meet. coop), an active contributor in GEO (Grassroots Economic Organising), a movement educator and a supporter of commons.hour. All are active in the meet. coop commons, and members of the Board of Stewards (except that Remix is represented there in the Board by @otisyves ).

A starter outline (pdf slide deck) for designing commons.hour series #2 is here: dance of infrastructure - outline 2022dec03. Hopefully, before this month is through, we can assemble a set of topics and starter-speakers (see slide #6 in the slide deck) that define a series of design justice workshop sessions running thro 2023 (slides #1, #8). Then the monthly series can be announced broadly, and especially, the European Social Forum community that gathered at 2022Firenze can be invited to participate in the collective design practice.

Comments welcome here on the draft outline and design principles.