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:

LIST:

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/