Thu 30 Apr 2020 10:44AM

Open Co-op Webinar 4pm UK time today re: Digital Life Collective

G Graham Public Seen by 105

Members here may be interested in the series of webinars being organised by the Open Co-op if you are not already aware. Clearly there's no shortage of online events available currently, and some of us may already be struggling with webinar-fatigue, but these stand out for me as being highly relevant to what this group is all about. Today - April 30th there is one focussing on the Digital Life Collective. (Full disclosure: I'm the current chair of the Digital Life Collective, so forgive the plug). The Digital Life Collective is a UK-registered co-operative society, with several hundred members from around the world. Its focus has been to bring together people with insight and knowledge about how we use and relate to technology, about how important it is that we can trust the technology that we do use, and how we might bring about a situation where we can have agency and trust with respect to the tech we use.

As part of the work of the Collective, it has brought together some useful tools that help to enable rich conversations to flow within the membership. We've since opened those tools up for others to use, on a purely experimental and non-commercial basis, partly as a way to bring other groups and collectives into the space so that we can work on how we can enable communications not only within groups, but between them.

This cross-fertilisation of information and ecosystem-thinking is, I believe, critically important in the creation of wider co-operation at scale, breaking down factions and repairing fragmentation , and exploring the massive untapped potential of what we might call the "adjacent possible".

Anyway, if you'd like to find out a bit more, the webinar is free, you can register for it here: https://open.coop/events/open-2020-webinar-digital-life-collective/, and it starts at 4pm today (Thursday 30th April).


Lynn Foster Thu 30 Apr 2020 11:06AM

>As part of the work of the Collective, it has brought together some useful tools that help to enable rich conversations to flow within the membership. We've since opened those tools up for others to use, on a purely experimental and non-commercial basis, partly as a way to bring other groups and collectives into the space so that we can work on how we can enable communications not only within groups, but between them.

Thanks @Graham . Does this mean that DigLife software is now open source? If so, I congratulate you all in joining the movement towards a digital commons for all people.


Graham Thu 30 Apr 2020 11:10AM

As far as I'm aware Lynn everything we've ever done has been open source. It's a fundamental.


Wael Al-Saad Thu 30 Apr 2020 12:05PM

Hi Graham. An important approach to care about digital life. I would suggest to add it as new Permaculture principle :)
I came across your work some years ago and it seems you have been developed well and did a lot of efforts.
How to get to know your "cooperative economy" tech tools?


Wael Al-Saad Thu 30 Apr 2020 12:11PM

Sorry .. just saw, that is the topic of the webinar. Looking forward to hearing you then.


Graham Thu 30 Apr 2020 12:50PM

Love the idea of care for digital life as a permaculture principle 🙂


Lynn Foster Thu 30 Apr 2020 6:11PM

Cool! My apologies, I'm way behind the times, some years ago nothing was open source except the software that was used from other open source projects, and there was quite a discussion somewhere on OAE that I can't find with a quick look, and isn't important anyhow. I thought the way DigLife had hooked different apps into an actual software ecosystem was very well done, will explore again and watch your session when it appears. Links to source code? I know more than one group who could benefit.


Danyl Strype Sun 7 Jun 2020 1:55AM

@Lynn Foster You may have been remembering a blog post I wrote that included a dig at Digital Life for using and thus promoting Slack. I was quickly corrected, as they had already set up a Mattermost instance as a replacement. I immediately put an update at the top of on that blog post, apologizing for not fact-checking sufficiently before publishing.

Links to source code?

@Graham may be able to correct me here, but I presume the apps themselves are free code developed elsewhere (eg Mattermost). But I agree with Lynn that it would be tremendously helpful for digital cafes like Digital Life and Disroot to publish open documentation, describing exactly how they strap the whole thing together to create a unified UX for members, and how they make it easier to maintain.


mike_hales Sun 7 Jun 2020 8:26AM

I’ve been in DigLife for a couple of months - since the OpnCoop webinar, which seemed impressive. Yes, the apps made available are FOSS - it’s a selection of a dozen or so from the Cloudron stack. No, there isn’t in practice a unified UX.

Digital cafe? Digital plumbing supplies depot maybe, with a chat room. Cool for a plumber with time to hang out between jobs.

Centrally there’s a Mattermost instance, with not a lot of common traffic, maybe some of the sub threads are busy but I don’t see them. Beyond that (if a member searches hard enough for them) there’s the usual grab-bag of stand-alone FLOSS apps - like the collections at Disroot or FairApps or Cryptpad - accessed through a very plain panel interface. Not a unified UI or UX in any sense. There is single sign-on, which is as far as it goes.

Floated on top are two cool-looking interfaces that don’t seem to do much work. One is a Venn diagram of the Mattermost threads. The other is a network diagram of members, according to the tags they have in common, in their member profiles. It’s a mass of lines, not really navigable or manipulable. I can’t imagine any regular user uses either of these much, if at all. Many members are not in the tag map. Basically, it feels to me like a Mattermost instance with window dressing.

I do use some of the tools (which I could find elsewhere) and do get some news (mostly tech) in the Mattermost instance. But I think you would have to take your community into DigLife, actively using the toolset, in order to get a UX - and it would be the ‘X’ of your community, not the tools. As it happens, the community that presently populates this Mattermost instance isn’t the community that I most need to be active in, it’s quite tech-centred.

I get the sense that UI or UX-oriented development effort is focused elsewhere - Hypha maybe.

@Graham am I being unfair? You’re a regular user, active member.


Graham Sun 7 Jun 2020 8:44AM

I agree that documentation would be really helpful. If we had any paid staff we could add this to their to-do list. As a (currently) wholly volunteer powered co-operative my sense is that producing documentation is not likely to be created any time soon. And of course, as a co-operative we welcome new members motivated to help move the project forward.


Graham Sun 7 Jun 2020 9:41AM

Hi Mike. While I don't think your comments are unfair, I do think that you are perhaps focussing too narrowly on the tech, which is what it is, and maybe not so much on the socio bit of the sociotechnical stack. All of the projects/groups that you mention, and many others besides, are attempting to make progress in similar areas. Some are solely tech projects, and some, like the Digital Life Collective are attempting something broader, in terms of seeking to open up important conversations about how humans can co-operate (or not) and the importance of the tech we use in that effort.

I originally got involved in DigLife because of my twin interests in co-operation and tech, and how they inter-relate. What I found most interesting at that time were the conversations that were going on in DigLife, often on the regular conference calls: fascinating discussions involving people that I would never otherwise have encountered, working in adjacent spaces, exposing me to ideas and subject areas that I'd never previously encountered or delved into. Reflecting on the last couple of years I think we've probably lost some that richness as the emphasis shifted towards trying to put some of the thinking around 'co-operation as a service' into practice. Some of the work done on the tech over that phase, which hasn't made it into the light of day, is in my view really important - for example Joachim Stroh did a whole load of great work around asynchronous sociocratic decision-making which really deserves to be taken forward. We simply didn't have enough people with the requisite skills within our group to be able to get that work to a point where it was usable. Like many other projects that I've seen or been involved in, we've stuttered through lack of resource.

So it particularly good news for me that in recent weeks, and including the recent general meeting in which I think you participated (thanks for taking the time), we have been reflecting and reviewing strategy, realising that if we are to make the next stage in our evolution effective, we need to reach out to other groups and projects to develop partnerships, alliances and broader coalitions that can advance the mission. My thanks to Philip Sheldrake for elucidating this so well (Philip has agreed to lead a conversation in the next couple of weeks or so to dive into this more deeply). We've begun that work by entering into co-operation with the https://meet.coop project (we've provided the server that is currently running https://demo.meet.coop), and I'm excited by the prospect ahead. I hope that you, and others here, will participate in those conversations and be a part of the journey.

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