What would a fediverse "governance" body look like?

The text is here draft funding aplication for NLNET - openwebgovernancebody - Open Media Network

The funding application went in:

Application received

The following submission was recorded by NLnet. Thanks for your application, we look forward to learning more about your proposed project.

Code: 2022-04-088
Requestor: hamish campbell
Email: hamish@visionon.tv
Phone: +4479365452
Organization: The OMN is a collective, building and hosting standards-based socio-political software
Country: UK/ Mauritius/ EU Nomad
Consent: You may keep my data on record
Call: UOI_Fund
Project: OGB (Open Governance Body)
Website: 01. Online Governance - openwebgovernancebody - Open Media Network
Abstract: The #OGB is not a traditional social coding project of a top down fight for power like the #mainstreaming agenda. It is a bottom-up grassroots fight for sharing power, found in many of the 20th century activist/social movements. We program tools for formation, communication and decision-making of communities. The #OGB code does not impose a singular agenda. The project delivers a robust, accessible, sortition and ActivityPub-based solution for communities to get together, formulate and agree upon proposals, vote, and take actions. It’s first incarnation builds upon XWiki, a well-established and stable platform. The resulting code shall be designed to facilitate integration with other systems. The system is designed to be easy to understand, flexible in it’s application, and work without training or configuration. That said, it can be reconfigured as required, to fit the needs of many communities and the unique challenges they face; to get shit done. The OMN approach gives local communities a stronger voice to work together and come up with viable, long term solutions that more closely represent their /actual/ needs and wants.
Experience: Our team has been actively working in the area where this project would be used. We’ve seen directly what works and what doesn’t. Hamish has 30 years experience in running grassroots social tech projects. He has been directly involved with UnderCurrents, VisionOnTV, London Boating, among others, and has a firm grasp of what does and does not work within organising both social and technological communities. Tom has 30 years of experience in development and project management, bridging the divide between the chaotic human aspects and the more quantifiable tech. Saunders is a programmer and permaculture designer/teacher who has worked on grassroots social projects, involving horizontal organisation. He is also the sysadmin for the OMN, keeping the servers online for the last 5 years. The project comes from our life times of lived experience of activist/hacker culture. We are coding an important/hidden part of our society. We as a team have been at the heart of organising these events for generations, back to our grandparents. We have been involved with social change groups from squats, protest camps, climate camps; to indymedia, Reclaim the Streets; to landscape and community rehabilitation via permaculture. we are working to solve The Tyranny of Stucturelessness (see Attachments). The team also has experience of working on UN and World Bank projects in West Africa and from this has decidedly moved to managing them through community/scrum, rather than formal methods. All of our team have worked in social/technology for there careers. Currently OMN run 6 servers hosting public instances within the fediverse, including https://activism.openworlds.info and http://visionon.tv grassroots journalism, running for over ten years.
Amount: 50000
Use: Payment will be handled via https://opencollective.com/open-media-network. Over a period of a 1 year Hardware: servers, backup Human labour: programming, community/University outreach, training and support Travel: outreach and training events (e.g. UK universities/protest camps). Misc: company upkeep It will be used to pay 4 people to work on the project at a fixed rate of ten thousand euros for 9-12 months work, invoiced at the end of specific milestones. The bulk of the work being programming and implementation details. The remaining ten thousand will be used for servers, expenses, outreach work, extensive testing and company upkeep. The 4th team member will be a new programmer, to be found - we need a solid “activist” coder to widen the OMN collective, to build sustainability and keep up levels of ongoing support. At the next stage of the funding application we will submit a more detailed budget.
Comparison: The results of foundation funding too often ends badly for openweb project agendas. Let’s briefly look at some projects. #NGO process like https://decidim.org and https://www.loomio.com. Both Loomio and Decidim came directly out of an encoding of the failure of formal consensus; Climate Camp is a great example of this. Climate Camp started out flexible, open - with the introduction of formalised consensus it became ossified, with sub-optimal results. E.g. 200 people in the room where 10 geeks had a rigid process of formal consensus that no one could grasp. Ultimately this led to the agenda of the 10 being pushed through. Formal process is a BAD tool for “herding cats” in social challenge groups and the fediverse. We build up from actual producers/active members of a community; those who are already evidently participating and doing something - thus there is a higher chance of producing a functional outcome. We are similar in part to an un-conference (https://unconference.net/) or to the do-ocracy of Noisebridge (https://www.noisebridge.net/). OGB is designed for chaotic governance. A lack of community leads to money not being enough for a project to succeed in the long term - when the money runs dry, there is no community to uphold the work. Our project focuses on developing and supporting the community. ActivityPub works. It was developed by a community, continues to be upheld by one and is a rare example of a sensible standard. It emerged from a failure of “governance by power” who serendipitously did not turn up so the “little guys” got a voice. We aim to institutionalise this outcome with the OGB.
Challenges: To fill an obvious hole in our set of openweb digital tools while not reproducing the mistakes of the past. We increase our chances of success by taking something that has worked for generations and turning it into federated #4opens code. Technological challenges: (D)DOS disruptions shall be handled with standard techniques. Access control is to be managed by OAuth2, with re-captchas during account creation. ActivityPub is extremely active and if our code were to listen broadly enough then pulling signal from the noise becomes increasingly difficult. Comments originating from the fediverse at large and output from OGB do not generate notifications internally. This means an OGB only has to focus on trolls that are /within/ their immediate community. How this works in practice will be balanced/refined during roll out and testing. People challenges: We have to map messy human processes into code (which is better at representing more rigid structures). Our approach is therefore to map simpler behaviours and functions, while not imposing /how/ they may be utilised in the bigger picture. This allows for emergent behaviours to freely manifest, instead of trying (and failing) to define them. An API that is open and modular, thus flexible - not too micro-focussed to do one overly specific thing only. ActivityPub is a good example. Integrating into complex live systems. While ActivityPub has a standard, many implementations do not strictly follow it. Our awareness of this coupled with #KISS should help us here - implement only what is necessary as we need it, i.e. solve the /actual/ problem in front of us while being conscious that this can be a moving target. Bad actors are mediated by the system itself. This is one aspect of where sortition shines. Mis- and dis-information can not be properly handled by any social-code implementation - this can be seen clearly with constant failures (or deliberate censoring) of algorithms such as those from Facebook. In OGB, the responsibility rests upon a functioning community who use a “Security Group” (part of all Templates) - this encourages the process of moderation to be open. Such a group can be seen to do /actual/ research, fact checking, etc, and provided proposals may then be decided and acted upon by the community. The full tech spec is uploaded as an attachment to understand this better.
Ecosystem: The ecosystem ultimately encompasses all scales of community, from e.g. a local neighbourhood, through districts and out to nations and global. With federation, we scale in the fediverse native fashion, sideways. We start by engaging with subcultures of the fediverse and specifically activism, but rapidly move beyond this as the project UX and workflow matures to more mainstreaming groups. Stage one roll-out and testing will be for: - the fediverse: predominantly online, run by technologists; those who should make the decisions are those who are running the instances followed by those utilising. - a local street market: predominantly offline and mobile based - a community group working for bike use in Chiswick, London: predominantly offline, but whom communicate largely online. The outcomes will be published publicly via the instances themselves, being /OpenWeb/ Governance, furthering the OGB project itself.
Attachment1: OGB-Funding-Application-Attachments.pdf
Attachment2: OGB-Tech-Spec.pdf
Attachment3: OGB-Rev-March-2022.pdf

What was the outcome:

User-Operated Internet Fund

“Software is eating the world. Maybe the world ought to consider biting back” let’s talk about the #geekproblemby looking at NLnet; User-Operated Internet Fund

“Individual autonomy” it gets off to a bad start as the WWW/internet is a group project, made up of meany different groups of people. The is NO UNDERSTANDING OF THIS in the text or the funding outcomes.

This is a common thinking to all this funding, little will affect real number of human beings, building social technology is a group project, any technology built outside social groups is always poring money and focus down the drain.

“We need your ideas and contributions to help reshape the state of play, and to help create an open, trustworthy and reliable internet for all yes… and what did they fund, lets look:


Armbian — Versatile OS for ARM-based single board computers

This has nothing to do with the call-out text/subject, this is not a project based on people – it obviously should have been funded under a different track.

Canarytail — Warrant canary standardization and automation

This has little to do with the call-out text/subject, this is not a project based on people – it obviously should have been funded under a different track.

CeroWRT II — Make Wi-Fi routers faster and more reliable

This has nothing to do with the call-out text/subject, this is not a project based on people – it obviously should have been funded under a different track.

Telecommunication in HF using the Internet Protocol (IPoHF) — High-throughput software-defined wireless telecommunications

This has nothing to do with the call-out text/subject, this is not a project based on people – it obviously should have been funded under a different track.

KiCad — Professional open source electronics design application

This has nothing to do with the call-out text/subject, this is not a project based on people – it obviously should have been funded under a different track.

Local Production of Antennas for LibreRouter (LoPaLiR) — Reliable open hardware Antennas for LibreRouter

This is far away from the call, but closer than the rest of the projects.

LTE support in OsmoCBC (Cell Broadcast Centre) — Open source Cell Broadcast Centre for mobile networks

This has nothing to do with the call-out text/subject, this is not a project based on people – it obviously should have been funded under a different track.

GPRS/EGPRS support in Osmocom CNI for Ericsson RBS

This is away from the call, but maybe closer than the rest of the projects.

Open source ePDG for VoWiFi — Enhanced Packet Data Gateway for mobile infrastructure

This is away from the call, but maybe closer than the rest of the projects.

Pion — Network congestion measurement for adaptive real-time applications

This has nothing to do with the call-out text/subject, this is not a project based on people – it obviously should have been funded under a different track.

RADIUSdesk — Open wifi mesh deployment application

This is away from the call, but closer than the rest of the projects.

“Technology should be commons for everyone to enjoy and contribute to”

The outcome they funded tiny and irrelevant in social impact terms projects, much of the funding going to a single NGO project which will obviously achieve NOTHING at all.

“The internet in whatever shape or form it will take is already part of the social fabric of our societies” they funded no projects that deal with societies.

“Have a look at other NLnet funded projects to see what we mean, but don’t be afraid to send something completely different if you think you can contribute to the technology commons and the user-operated internet.” with this round they funded projects that should have been funded in different rounds – the is nothing human, nothing social, the outcome a BAD refection of the #geekproblem

It is unlikely they see this as a problem, that they clearly failed in their selection brief. Who are the people in the selection community, can we get some #4opens process on this strange and compostable outcome.

We should not be doing progressive technology unless the is a non-tech social group around this technology. We have to stop feeding and thus reproducing the #geekproblem

Though DIRECT criticism is difficult as the projects they fund are useful, but at a friend of a friend level, lack involvement of wider-tech folk me thinks.

More articles http://hamishcampbell.com/tag/ngi/

Do we actually need governance or do we just need representation and collaboration?

Having a representative that speaks for us at official events or regarding government legislation would be a good thing. Having a group that coordinates interoperability between projects would be a good thing.

But, a body that tells people how they should do things (i.e. govern them) is not something most people are looking for.

I think that perhaps we just have an classic non-profit association that loosely represents the fediverse. The association serves the fediverse community rather than governs it.

Members would elect representatives who sit on a board or on committees. The focus of the association would be representing the interests of the fediverse and furthering collaboration & interoperability.

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This is exactly what the #OGB is about, yes we do need this.

This is a process that is NOT working anywhere and would be alien to the #fediversity:fediverse-futures anyway, this should be obvious am always surprised when people bring up this LIBERAL common sense that clearly is a bad fit for what we have.

How is this idea in any way related to the #fediversity , please tell us as people keep pushing this without explaining why we should go down this traditional hiracical path?

Please explain your thinking :slight_smile:

So let’s look at who can speak authoritatively for all the people of the fediverse and who can bend the fediverse to their liking and control everybody within it - by force if necessary.

Nope, nobody.

There’s your answer.

The best you can do is have public stewardship of the associated protocols sort of like the IETF did for email, but that’s assuming somebody controls all the fediverse protocols, which they most certainly do not. Let’s look more closely at email as an example because it’s very relevant to the situation. Hmmm. No lords, no masters. Even after all this time. Curious. So maybe governance isn’t really absolutely necessary after all.


Interestingly, this is exactly what the #OGB is not for or about, it would help to read some background before jumping in with comments.

We need better ways of having good “trust” based conversations and “trust” based “governance” in the #openweb this is what the #OGB is about. It’s built from hundreds of years of on the ground organizing that has shaped every “freedom” we enjoy and done in a #KISS aproch, please have a look and happy to talk about the issues the project bring up.

OGB sounds interesting, but I can see how the flagging might get abused. Instead of flagging people for legitimate issues, they could flag them for political issues or simply because they disagree. One group could easily target another group to flag so it decreases their power in the organization.

Flagging isn’t necessarily bad, but it does have it’s issues, of course.

The biggest challenge with any organization and any organization structure is that harmful people will try to infiltrate it. Flagging is one way of dealing with that, but flagging can also be a tool used by the harmful people to get rid of the, for the lack of a better word, “positive” people.

So any proposed structure would have to address the question of “how do we deal with a situation where the harmful people gain power” realizing that harmful people can use the same mechanics against the positive people.

Good points, think we talk about this here 99. FAQ - openwebgovernancebody - Open Media Network

"AGEN if people start to take the piss and game the system the human flaging comes in to mediate this issue. Secondly if few people are taking up the roles the solution is to be more human to get more people involved - this will dilute the problem.

If this controlling few get shitty sighn up more people then flag them out - its politics and if everyone gets shitty the community can solve this issue the same way.

The solution is ALWAYS more people - the lottery will shift bad groups out if fresh people of goodwill join."

Good to look at this as well 03. The Tyranny of Stucturelessness - openwebgovernancebody - Open Media Network as I say this is embedded from a long history of what works.

Another thing you have to be careful is “tyranny of the majority.” Most people think of “tyranny of the minority” and try to avoid individuals having to much power. That is a good thing. We don’t want individuals to have too much power over other people’s lives. But we have to face the issue that the majority is not always right.

For example, in the U.S., we had something called “Jim Crow” laws which were racist laws against people of color. They were not put in place by a dictator or powerful individual. They were voted in by the majority of the people. In the 1940s, people were pretty racist. Society has changed and we repealed these racist laws decades ago, but the struggle continues. The point being, you can’t always count on the majority to do the right thing.

I did read the FAQ before I posted my previous comment, and I still see flagging as a major issue because you can’t always trust the majority.

You also have the issue of a toxic majority. If the majority of a group becomes toxic, “good people” don’t want to associate with the group because of their reputation. Then you wind up with even less “good people” joining, which makes it harder, if not impossible, to displace the harmful ones.

What is needed is some sort of checks and balances. I have no ideal how that would look in OGB, but it needs to be there to prevent rogue groups sabotaging the mission or molding it to favor themselves.

Interesting, think all these issues are already covered on the wiki, remember this is a #fedivers native way of working, NOT a #mainstreaming way.

And it comes from lived expirence in my case of 40 years of directly working, setting up and solving recurring problems at hundreds of direct action protest camps, the traditional go back over much longer to the Diggers - Wikipedia

We have to put a stop to the #techchurn as we have piles of #techshit all ready to compost #nothingnew is a hashtag for this.

Good to focus on what we know works, as at mo almost nothing works for social good :slight_smile:

One challenge that we have as a society (and the fediverse is part of that society) is that much of the world is based on force. Political factions try to force their agenda on others. And even “direct action protest camps” are a way of forcing change through direct action.

The challenge with any organization structure is that no matter how you organize it, force can still be used, either by the admins or by the majority.

What we want is a cooperative and collaborative environment that does not use force to achieve our goals. Something voluntary and win-win.

And that means we cannot use traditional institutions and its opponents (like “direct action protest camps”) as models, because both of those are two sides of the same coin. Force vs. force.

I think a voluntary cooperative and collaborative alliance would be more suitable for the fediverse. We can play around with who has power and who does not, but in the end, the organization itself should wield little power to begin with, no matter how it is structured.

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You could think about this in your reply.

This is exactly what the #OGB project is all ready.

OK you are in danger of braking the #nothingnew tag here, to mediate this tell me examples of real world use of your ideas working, take me through 20 years of history of human beings developing and perfecting the ideas you are pushing in your replys.

We need to STOP the #techcurn rather than add to, the hashtag #stupidindividualism is a key one here, we can’t just each come up with academic ideas and code them, focus on grounded projects in lived expirence is a way outa this mess.

And the #OGB is NATIVE to the fedivers which it self is based on copying #dotcons that is #nothingnew is where the working value is.

This is clearly not true, have you been involved in protest culture? What am adding to this “success” story is doing grassroots DIY copying, it’s a simple idea that we know works, have a look at the #indymediaback project or the resistance exhibition set up a few years ago as examples of this.

We have to stop the #techcurn if we are going to use #openweb tech for social/ecological change/challenge, have a think about this please.

@WisTex totally agree with your points. But a conversation about governance (OP) is inherently about “force”. There’s no governance without force (in whatever is being governed). But I think what you’re proposing is not necessarily a “governance body” but a community support group?

I like that this group wouldn’t be driven by “force”. But the opposite can be a net negative as well. Having a group where everyone has a say, goes their own way and/or does their own thing can just put us back where we started. Decisions will need to be made based off of trade-offs–even if those decisions are from community feedback, someone somewhere is going to be disappointed and will think the group is doing more harm than good.

Where is the formal co-op anywhere organizing the fedivers… please point to the existing project you are copying with your formal co-op and are they a good fit for the fedivers?

This thread is the GOLD standard in #4opens process, thanks everyone who is taking part, please give lived experience of orgs, historical examples and academic thinking when answering questions, thanks.


We don’t need a governance body. We need a support organization. Considering how many in the fediverse are anti-establishment oriented, I doubt you will get a lot of traction with a governance body.

The support organization can have groups within it that work of specific projects that benefit the fediverse, and we can have some fair method of governance within the organization, but the organization itself should not be governing its members.

We can have groups that work on protocols. We can have groups that work on representing the community to the government and other actors. We can have groups that work on education. We can have groups concentrating on interoperability. Whatever we feel will benefit the fediverse.

But it should all be voluntary and collaborative as much as possible.

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You are directly laying out what we have already, this obviously suffers from this Tragedy of the commons - Wikipedia I should know as have been working here since before this current #activertypub based #openweb reboot.

Note, am in no way endorsing the “tragedy of the commons” but it is a good recurring description of the last 40 years of #stupidindividualism we have been shaped by, and it’s what you are not addressing here.

Do you realize you are “unthinking” in this thread, did you guys notice the repeating “this is what the #OGB all ready is” on each post?

Good to think on this in your next reply and try and bridge the gap, please think of this as a foundation stone to building a bridge.

Yes, you keep mentioning OGB. Based on a brief reading, I see that it has drawn a lot of concepts from grassroots movements, cooperatives, and democratically-run organizations. A lot of the names have been changed, but if you boil it down, it looks a lot like a bunch of ad-hoc committees that are formed using specific methods described in your documents. A lot of good concepts, but I also see some things missing. The lottery system and flagging people (i.e. blacklisting them) are interesting concepts, but I do not see how they are superior to democracy and I can see how it can be abused and manipulated. A lottery does not result in the best people being selected, and blacklisting (flagging) can be abused. The design of OGB is not something I would be interested in joining.

And I also notice from your blog and posts that you have a lot of complaints about #techshit and competing platforms, protocols, and ideas.

Is it your goal to create an organization that tells everyone what protocols and standards we should use in the fediverse? What exactly is your goal with such an organization or governance body?

The #OGB came out of this thread which itself came out of the outreaching #activitypub to the #EU a group of us organized, this was a kinda worked as they are now rolling out instances, hopeful this expands the scope of users.

Both the lottery, and flagging obviously does not work as described, what would be the point.

This is obviously not true of any projects outlined at the #OMN

This is obviously not true as well.

Now that is an interesting question, would you be up for talking about that in a positive way?