What would a fediverse "governance" body look like?

I joined this following a thread on Mastodon, I like the idea of a more formal board structure to try and drive the Fediverse forward, so that we can provide a real working alternative to big tech social media.

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The idea is good, but there is a naivety in the push, as “formal board structure” are prone to power politics and thus corporate and carrear capture. The fedivers is currently resistant to this well known problem. Yes we need to do better, but not at the price of losing what we have already :slight_smile:

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Well some sort of structure, Maybe we need a clear direction and maybe short - medium - long term plan to counter big tech and upcoming laws to deal with online abuse / harm.

Apparently now youtube are going to scan videos and be able to identify objects within videos and send ads or other material accordingly

Some other reports on the BBC site today

All of which are signs that tech needs to up the game, lets try and build something positive, safe and respectful,

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formal board structure

I think that a co-operative would be a way to achieve a board structure without the hierarchy/exclusivity that comes with it

I would argue that co-operatives produce much better levels of enthusiasm from members and especially new members, because of the important detail of “I own this” vs “I’m volunteering some time because I agree with the values, but ultimately that board over there owns this. Maybe in a year or two I could join them, but actually I didn’t get into this because I want to climb hierarchies”

Also because I don’t think it makes sense to have a hierarchical structure to govern a decentralised network ?

That’s not to say that having a board is necessarily a bad idea, my point is about ownership/governance. During my time in larger coops - Happy Dev (~600 members) and in CoTech (a coop of ~50 coops) I’ve seen both realise that a smaller, more tightly knit “Circle” to drive the networks forward can be really beneficial and it shouldn’t mean that you have to introduce a hierarchical structure. (This I think is where the power of Sociocracy comes in, but I’ve seen other networks use other methods, even * shudders *, representational democracy)

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I think you may be confusing the UDHR (Universal Declaration of Human Rights) which is non-binding. By comparison the ICESCR and ICCPR are binding, and they are actually higher than state laws, the majority of nations have not only signed but also ratified them. Any contraventions of the treaties can go all the way up to the international courts, but certainly can be tried at lower courts as well.

In terms of Freedom of Expression, at a global level it is absolute, since as Biden says torturing people to death and selling off their organs to prolong the suffering of their bodies is “cultural differences” instead of genocide.

Sure maybe on a national level you may live in some kind of evil dictatorship which will torture to death for thinking or expressing the wrong thing, however there are countries in the world that will not do that. So considering that the Fediverse is International, then Freedom of Expression is absolute, since it can not be based on “lowest common denominator”, as that would require everyone to get an electroprods and electrocute themselves for having thoughts contrary to the CCP’s preferences, or those of any other socialist nations which limits free speech.

All major world religions recognize a God which is most merciful and most compassionate, there are many names for this God of Love (God, Allah, Avalokitesvara, Sat Nam, Brahman, Jesus, etc). I know this is Very upsetting to socialist nations (thus the torture camps in socialist nations to stamp it out).

In Canada our constitution is founded on the principles of the supremacy of God. Thus one must always side with whatever is the most forgiving/merciful and compassionate resolution to anything. Thus all expression is allowed. So if we Do have any kind of fediverse governance, it will have to honour the international treaties.

Canada helped draft the UDHR and many of the treaties such as the ICESCR and ICCPR. Like I said earlier Treaties are actually higher than national laws, they are also the only thing that governs international organizations such as the Fediverse.

I’ve been on the Fediverse a while, and I’ve never had any issues with anyone. Sure there are some spiritual children that lash out in anger, or post pro-authoritarian stuff, but with some conversation of forgiveness, compassion and unconditional love they learn to be kind and gentle with themselves and other people.

This conv has been forked Organizing for SocialHub Community Empowerment to push the foundation idea. As I said here in the end this will be IMPOSED as a governance model dressed in “community clothes” if we do not build something else with dancing elephants and paper planes.

  • Do something different - dancing elephants and paper planes.
  • Do something normal - control freekery and power politics games.
  • Do nothing - maybe it all just carries on or more likely decay and irrelevances.

#Activertypub is the first option and this is why we love it and are having this conversation.

We are in a hot spot for weaponizing “process” my expirence is when you create hard structures people pick them up and start to hit each other with them. We are seeing an escalation of this…

In my experience this problem has played a central role in killing meany affective grassroots social challenge/change projects over the last 30 years, just about all of them.

Food for thought for our “academic” friends, community is messy, by trying to make it work better you feed fuel to ignite war that rips and tears.

IMO governance should be done the Elinor Ostrom’s way, using her design principles for managing the Commons. :slight_smile:

And of course, best to follow the Ostrom’s Law[1]:

A resource arrangement that works in practice can work in theory.


  1. Fennel, Lee Anne (2011). Ostrom’s Law: Property rights in the commons.
    International Journal of the Commons, 5(1), 9-27. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/ijc.252 ↩︎

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If academic knowledge worked in the real world we would live in different ways - thus it is easy to show that most academic ideas are useless and IMPOSING them on the real world has a VERY bad history to it. Please rethink before you doing this as it’s just adding to the mess

“Governance” is a formal word and may give off bad vibes, but some kind of structure and organization is needed in any thing we do. Otherwise entropy will take over and - though the natural way of things - will be messy for us people too :slight_smile:

PS. I created some prose in my SocialHub and Spiral Island: A Fediverse Foundation Analogy

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I think you both misread me and misunderstood Elinor Ostrom’s work.

The is a deep POINTLESSNESS in pushing academic knolage at grassroots movements. You have to take the time to cut the carrots in the kitching, make the tea, paint the banners. From this you will move away from pointlessness and find connections which MIGHT make some book learning useful to practical things. Or more likely you will move on to do something more useful than pushing “book learning”.

This is in no way Luddism, I have a MA in politics and sociology and spent 7 years in academia - you can likely tell, but I have spent more than 30 years embedded in grassroots/on the ground campaigns. Local knolagy matters and pushing agenders hard from outside this local knolagy historically has been pushing failer over activism, the is a BAD history.

In the story of the ESF on my blog, at the meeting at the end the was some creative grassroots action that would have likely mediated the decay had it not been for “reasonable voices” talking “sense” in ways that people “could understand” that allowed the power politics to take back and keep the control that then killed this grassroots movement.

This blog post in its “nutty” way is an attempt to mediate with the “reasonable voices” http://hamishcampbell.com/index.php/2021/03/13/bluesky-thinking-of-a-governance-body-of-the-fedivers/ and at the same time, most importantly, not end up doing the normal shit.

Q. who is a stakeholder - who should have a voice
Q.we know that representative democracy is a globe fail, we should mediate this - democracy vs lottery.

Two issues to start with…

Give us some cocreate implementation of this theory in context, good first step.

Sure, local knowledge matters more than academic knowledge. This is exactly the point of Ostrom’s Law.

I also recommend Anna Tsing’s Friction[1] that relates her work with the Dayak Meratus on the Borneo island of Indonesia. She makes the point of academic blindness (and beyond academics, occidental blindness to non-capitalistic approaches). Again: [what] works in practice can work in theory is a call to arms not to apply theory to practice, but rather to inform theory from practice. Practice may be able to do without theory, but the opposite is not true.

My conviction is that in our complex situations, good practice SHOULD inform theory, because then practitioners can reflect on their own path and bring more power to their action. Ignoring theory, or making it a byproduct of the Academy does not help. On the contrary, theory should always come from practice. This is something adamant about current “philosophers of technique” who don’t have a clue about using a computer or welding.

Ostrom’s books on the Governance of the Commons start from existing concrete situations from around the world. From her studies of these different (and unrelated) situations, she came up with the design principles that, she found, are common to all the successful institutional arrangements made by very different cultures about very different resources and situations (water management, fisheries, herding…). She also demonstrated that sub-optimal results or failures were correlated with not following these principles.

Note that I did not spend any time in academia: I am a dropout and proud autodidact. So it’s not like I’m not sympathetic to your view about academia. Still I’m confident there’s useful knowledge in places that I’m not politically or philosophically aligned with.


  1. Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection (2004)
    https://press.princeton.edu/books/paperback/9780691120652/friction ↩︎

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Sounds good.

So what would “What would a fediverse “governance” body look like?” how do we make structers that fit with the no-control network of #activertypub and is both relevant, relatively affective and resistant to carrear/corp/highracy capture.

You can reference my blog post or come up with a different path - both are good :slight_smile:

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Here is the text from the blog post:

#Bluesky thinking of a “governance” body of the fedivers

“A resource arrangement that works in practice can work in theory”

What exists already?

The is a pretty sorted #activitypub crew, then some organizing sites/forums, the yearly conference. MOST importantly some “kings”, “princes” a bit of a tech/influencer aristocracy who currently hold much of the “power”.

Where do we go from here?

On online “governing body” to be the VOICE of the #fedivers – all done #4opens online:

We have a yearly voting/consensus (online) body made up of “stakeholders”

Who are the stakeholders-representatives:

  • One voice one instance – if you run an instance you get a vote – put the URL in as long as it’s online last year your vote counts.
  • The is then an equal number of votes based on a “user” lottery – have to opt in by adding your account name. This is refreshed every year.

Then we have other more complex stakeholders organizations:

  • Codebases – could be factored by installed based on instance registered above. You get a vote over a basic threshold and the body agrees.
  • fedivers events – any group that regularly runs events gets a “stakeholder” vote based on them doing it last year. If the body agrees to this.
  • fedivers support organizations get a vote if the body agrees to this.
  • activitypub standards crew – get votes through all the rest and can have a vote as a founding fedivers org.

Mods – ideas on how to give them a voice?

Groups and individuals could get more than one vote – which is fine.

This would give us

Some kind of representative “stakeholder” body.

How would the body work?

#techshit all ready has way to much LOOK at ME look AT me. I don’t like competitive elections as the shit float to the top

Let’s do a LOTTERY- from these “representatives/voters” a lottery decides 3-5 as #spokespeople then leave um to get on with it. There is a tick box to opt out of being in the “spokespeople” lottery, so you have too wont to do the extra work if you don’t want to.

They have the power to speak for the #fedivers and can add ideas to be voted on by the stakeholders (of course they would be subject to recall/impeachment if they fuck up too much).

Levels of “voice” any “member” can put in a public proposal to be voted on by the stakeholders – if it jumps that hoop then it can be edited/pushed by a open group of stakeholders (DANGERS maybe with some limited invited “experts”) though some semiformal #4opens process to jump to an agreement. Then agreements are acted on by the “spokespeople” up to them to take these ideas forward? If non are interested better luck next year with your agender.

Q. what dose digital online Community “democracy” look like

If it does not have elephants running around throwing paper planes it’s likely the wrong structure.

PS. of course these alt-ideas have been tried in the offline world and they generally DO NOT work. But this is no reason to go down the dead end of “liberal” foundation governances that also does not work

We need fresh ideas or to reboot something from before the #deathcult perverted all our thinking, likely a safer option

UPDATE

Celebrate the mess of humane “politics” to try to banish it is to resort to war in the end – have seen this way to meany times in alt-tech projects. Its both sad and bad liberal shit.

Lotteries take the “power” out of power politics… likely worth an experiment.

Compost and shovels are needed.

The current leadership model of the #fedivers is “aristocracy” this is the same model of most open source projects. The developer “king” works fine to an extent.

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#activitypub as a standard is interesting/attractive for the #EU and #NGO because of the #fediverse that is the community of people who use it. This is a community that currently has no voice. @aschrijver please help to make this happen.

The money can be held by https://opencollective.com and we can do some custom coding on top on an existing activitypub backend to build the #UX the funding comes from https://www.ngi.eu you could help write the proposal.

The end product would work as a stakeholder management tool for any federated online project so has use outside our ginypig community.

I don’t see this as anything productive or desirable. To me the interest of the Fediverse is the collation of multiple worlds that can co-exist peacefully. Having random people “speak for the Fediverse” sounds like removing all the diversity of an ongoing conversation. Your description proposes a process to elect random people to become responsible for a common voice, but 1) I can’t see that common voice developing, 2) you don’t really describe the responsibilities of this governance body.

I tend to agree that some kind of assembly with randomly chosen people can be useful. But to what end is not yet clear. In the commons, users and practionners get the primary role in shaping the arrangements. The arrangements take into account regeneration of resources, which is a bit complicated to consider in an electronic network environment. If the goal, as stated elsewhere by @rhiaro and quoted by @bengo is

A governance body cannot function as a random apparatus with no goals nor boundaries.

What we’ve been trying to do here at the SocialHub is to engage people in the common governance of the community, and the response has been overwhelmingly about technical cooperation, but this remains insufficient and we’d better ramp up this engagement, with more people and clearer goals. Nevertheless I do not think creating an artificial body outside of known and expressed needs is going anywhere.

True that.

I dislike the Open Collective approach, I much prefer https://Snowdrift.coop for that matter.

Helping on proposal writing is something the NGI0 mentors have been doing with a few projects here and elsewhere. It’s also a lot of what happens behind the scenes at PUBLIC.

I can clarify some points, the text has been updated here http://hamishcampbell.com/2021/03/13/bluesky-thinking-of-a-governance-body-of-the-fedivers

  • The body is made up of stakeholder one for each instance - you wont a voice you run an instance and register it. This is clearly the voice of the #Fediverse as they are the people running it.

  • This is then balanced dynamically by the same number of “users” who are interested in the pro
    cess, they are chosen by lottery from the registered accounts. Your choice to register or not your account as a possable stakeholder.

On registration the is a box you can untick if you do NOT do this then you are in the lottery to get “governing positions” Sortition - Wikipedia for a background on why this path.

Only people who want to be part of the governing body AND play an active role are enrolled in the lottery.

You second point “common voice” comes from the working groups, agen are made up of ONLY people who are interested in playing a role.

“serving the humans trying to communicate.” we get out of the way and let the humans work it out - we provide structer for the groups, we don’t define the groups.

SocialHub though an interesting tool has strong tech aristocracy which is not surprising as this is how almost all open source project run - the fedivers is something different which is why we do so badly at governance. Let’s continue to use the SocialHub for #activertypub organizing and possibly governance though it has no tools that I have found for the governance.

The money is a subject up for discusern, am just using https://opencollective.com as example.

Help would be needed to do the proposal and #UX

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