Community Call 14th May: Nepal + Spot the Future Bucharest + social media drumbeat

Present: Dorotea, Ruxandra, Pamela, Jara, Nadia, Noemi, Matthias, Michael, Alex

Presentation + needs + replies

Matthias: in Nepal, initially on a UNDP project mapping alternative local leaders, now connecting disaster relief efforts together with the newly extended Nepal Edgeryders team.

  • Needs: how to get the locals’ stories online and connect them to an international dialogue to gather input from the wider Edgeryders community (especially challenging since Nepal has a largely oral culture).
  • Replies: [Alex] perhaps a sms-based citizen reporting tool, as has. [Nadia] if it would require editors to develop the story then it’s not sustainable. Need to find a mechanism that would make it work autonomously on the long run, even without facilitators.  

Noemi: Romania-based Edgeryders community builder & manager for 4 years, currently working on Spot the Future Bucharest - a project looking to identify and connect citizen initiatives as a first step towards collaborations - contracted for engaging difft projects in process of the Bucharest candidacy for European Cultural Capital.

  • Needs: how to go about identifying initiatives in Bucharest and what format should a workshop have to draw (and keep) people in. Maybe informal beer gatherings, first? Or one big event?
  • Replies: [Nadia] please, no “networking events”. Events should have an aim. Building something. [Alex] Mapping and connecting with smaller groups/tribes at first might be more fruitful, since in Bucharest tribes aren’t all that coagulated yet and calling everyone to one big event might dilute meaning and commitment to the community. Clear & tribe-specific call to actions might help draw people in. [Nadia, recapping] 1. Map groups/tribes of people interested in specific things 2. Sketch out possible things they might be interested in achieving/having access to (shared interests and relevant goals) 3. Articulate very clear call to action targeted to a specific tribe.

    [Noemi] In ER there is already high diversity, how to reconcile that with building very specific calls for local micro tribes? The social contract -> connect, then bring resources & build paid opportunities may not hold for everyone (this was Edgeryders 1, our first big project and how we came about). [Nadia] You don’t design to speak to everyone. [Noemi] But in an early stage, an exploratory pilot in a city you know nothing about, how do you go about it? And if you do plan a local event where people come meet other people they’re interested in and connect 1-on-1 and then leave, how do you signal value beyond immediate connections? [Nadia] You get them to stay by creating value for them. For instance, matchmaking between people in the city - finding ways to strategically pool resources and efforts across people and projects. 

Ruxandra: Bucharest-based Babele co-founder - online platform providing social start-ups with mentorship - and OuiShare member planning a joint workshop in Bucharest (with Edgeryders, other networks + London guy promoting co-working spaces around the world) in June.

Nadia: Brussels-based Edgeryders founding member with many different roles, from community engagement to business development.

  • Needs: how to get events to be conducive to action (they’re costly and excluding of people not in town, so publishing resulting documentation online and providing tools for everyone to use that content is critical) + how to coordinate a sustained social media drumbeat so everyone knows what everyone else is doing, how they can get involved, and help to spread the news. A kind of decentralized social media team.
  • Replies: [Matthew] Participation in Edgeryders is project-driven, so that makes consistent commitment to the platform tricky. It would take something different from the current methodology to create something like an Edgeryders culture. [Nadia] This reminder about what Edgeryders is about would help: The question still is how do we build a strong consistent core of community manager and builders. How do we develop a habit of a weekly social media drumbeat between engagement managers? Something like a daily email offering 3 things to tweet daily, and a distributed social media team that can update calendars constantly. 

Pamela: “London-based co-founder and main volunteer of Dadamac Foundation and also co-counder of other related things to do with integrated development and living in a rapidly changing world. My areas of expertise are related to traditional and newly emerging approaches to education/learning/knowledge-development and to integrated community development (local and global). On a macro level I’m interested in deep systemic change related to the impact of the Internet on how we “Connect, Communicate and Collaborate”. Everything I do is a mix of practical work, reflection, theory, and back to more practical work.”

  • Needs: find areas of overlap with Edgeryders + better use of networks in order to actively grow them.

Alex: new on platform, Bucharest-based, founder - community of young adults discussing the big topics & concerns of adult life, from professional choices to relationships, sexuality, identity, alternative lifestyles - currently focused on starting a conversation about the nature of work in times of uncertainty and alternative livelihood options for gen Y-ers in Romania and elsewhere.

  • Needs: understanding the inner workings of Edgeryders.
  • Replies: [Nadia] Our current infrastructure is 1. Weekly Hangout calls like this one (and the documentation from them e.g. 2. The weekly Community News Calendar 3. The Weekly Community Newsletter that also goes out to the entire mailing list:

Michael: nomading around Berlin, working in community activism. Interested in Edgeryders as an experiment in community collaboration.


The role of meta-networking in Edgeryders

Thank you @Alex_Stef for the writeup, I added some formatting. Nadia asked for our reflections on the call, so here’s the one valuable thought I had after the call ended:

My little debate with @Nadia on how to reconcile the sub-communities in Edgeryders who (1) want to learn entrepreneurial approaches in international contexts, and (2) those who want to connect with different projects and people was … kinda pointless. Because Edgeryders was always a community about doing stuff. This tribe does not gather around a topic (like “climate action”, “anti corruption” etc.) but around a method (doing something successfully, being heard, having ones share of influence). Naturally, everyone in such a tribe comes with their own projects: the things where they practice self-directed action and success. This does not mean Edgeryders is about meta-networking, instead people simply belong to multiple tribes and communities at once, which is perfectly fine.

So: Edgeryders is a community of its own, not a community of communities. But. We must not make the mistake to assume Edgeryders are members of exclusively this community. 99% of them are not, and we should not treat them that way. Edgeryders will be that community to which you come back to, not the one where you hang out all the time.


Re: How to get the locals’ stories online and connect…

I have devoted quite a bit of thought to a related issue that may be tweakable to serve your needs. I’d be happy to do a short or long skype chat with you (ideally +1 local) on this. At the risk of oversimplifying:

  1. (ruggedized) mp3 player/recoder with high capacity battery
  2. very simple oral instructions for individual agents
  3. time
  4. good incentive to circulate effectively, and to forward used devices to pick-up locations, (in a later version: perhaps lock after some time)
  5. (publish), evaluate, sort, (publish translated), improve, expand, rinse&repeat

A strong oral culture is probably a very good start. I expect language to be an issue of course though. See also DAISY.

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So people would be recording themselves?

Is this for curators/ engagement managers or for people to record themselves?

The discussion we were having kept getting stuck because it’s not so much a question of getting stories online, but getting people engaged and benefiting the most from what a global network has to offer. And that kind of conversation takes the most effort and is most rewarding at the same time. At least from what I’ve seen happening with ER projects.

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I think he refers to Matt

you == Matthias + 1 local == Nepalese. Right?

I did

But if @Noemi thinks this could work for her as well, or she wants to listen in and give advice I’d be happy if she would. I assume she has a lot more experience than I have with engagement outside of academia (where many people are super-motivated anyway).

I is basically a two-way communication channel to offline people

It is pretty slow and not as easy to integrate into the internet architecture as html for example, but I think it has great potential for intermittently or not directly connected communities. The lag is of course very high compared to a skype call or an email, but the interface is MUCH more inclusive (not even literacy required). Also with the sneakernet bandwidth is really competitive, so you could much more easily pay for audio (and perhaps images).

Yep, people would be recording the incoming content themselves, and the devices with their stories would pass through curator/engagement manager hands every so often, to process the recordings that were made. Depending on how you “program” the agents, you should also be able to establish connections to very engaged people who are very remote from the internet (or dislike it somehow).

Perhaps the architecture can be modified and adapted to aims, content, circumstances, and workload distribution somewhat but I think at some point you’ll be involving some sort of curators that listen to a lot of audio content and take some notes every few minutes. The DAISY link I gave should show some options of improving efficiency. Of course you could also put some outgoing content on the players that will help the heavily engaged people to link up with you/leverage online resources without internet connection. For the general incoming content I could imagine to publish it twice: one “raw” version, and one version that is more heavily processed to highlight the presumably critical bits (perhaps with links back to the full context).

The network architecture, agent instructions, and incentives will probably involve quite a bit of specialization and small scale trial and error. It’ll be somewhat tedious but it I imagine it is a near ideal playground for p2p and edgy approaches.

I originally had this envisioned as a sort of distance education/home schooling for very remote and very poor areas. The info flow would be mostly (but not fully) outgoing in that case - but perhaps this way of using it will help designing it better as well. I got stuck somewhat on the issue of trying to keep fundamentalist propaganda and advertisement from taking over this as distribution channel. I also wanted to include an incentive to translate e.g. wikipedia articles into very small languages or something similar (just so you know where I come from with that idea).

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Couple of other oral reporting & archiving tools

They both require a smartphone or computer, so not a solution from the technical pov, but they’re interesting projects of archiving oral (and visual/mixed media) stories that may inspire more suitable solutions for rural Nepal.



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A few reflections from the call

1. Being project driven vs. having an explicitly articulated bigger vision and grand narrative. I was reminded of the first community survey we did around a year ago around this topic. Their results have influenced what I at least have chose to focus my Edgeryders efforts on and I think the results can serve as a good starting point for discussing this further:

2. On the purpose and process for smaller Edgeryders events that are worthwhile and contribute towards everyone reaching their goals. I think this should be connecting and Matchmaking people who need one another for both to move forward, measure of sucess is - preparation happens online before, documentation during physical meetup posted online, and project building continues after.

So how do we move forward?

Any suggestions for structuring the above into goals and a to-do list for moving forward?

Begin with a Skype call on the community survey results?

…and then continue with further discussion around the bigger idea of what we each think a healthy, vibrant ER community culture looks like? that can’t help but breed the ideas and connections that lead to collaboration and action at local, micro levels…?

Skype call sounds good, but…

I would strongly recommend people like me (who are new and were not involved in the last rounds of discussion) catch up a little. This popplet @Noemi made looks good for that. However I still am a little afraid to “dilute the process” if I pipe up too early here…

[a few minutes later] In case people (like me) wonder what a “form storm” is: look here. It seems to be rather similar to the next point - help with “EU funding”. I am not sure what “community management” involves exactly, could be a lot of things. I assume joining dev team is the online pendant to real-life project retreats.

On a general note I’ll contradict myself a little here, and question how imperative the survey result should be seen. It seems there were not a whole lot of participants, but certainly a large fraction of the most active ones. The thing is that this could lead to some echo chamber/navel gazing dynamic so I am a little torn. On the one hand ER is supposed to be a do-ocracy, but on the other hand it is also not about making everyone in the existing core group happy - but to grow the community and achieve results.

Personally I am interested in consultancy, the corporate shell, perhaps the funding stuff. I could imagine organizing workshops could be facilitated through ER, though not necessarily my flavor (yet). I’d be happy to lend a hand to the dev team to move things a little closer to ER 2.0. There’s a lot that resonates with me there.

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Agreed re just point of reference

This week I had the pleasure of hanging out with Caroline, Peter and Susa (also members). Prompted by the various discussion threads during and after the call, I felt the need to synthesise the discussion into something that brings it all together ahead of the call this thursday. Here’s how far I have gotten so far, curious to hear what everyone thinks?

There is a lot that needs to be clarified and simplified

I think over the years we have accumulated a bad habit of not cleaning out clutter, and taking time to simplify and better package the lessons and experiences from promising initiatives that we do already have in the community.

So to answer your questions:

FormStorm: an approach towards lowering the costs of applying for grants or fellowships while improving skills of unexperienced community members. The thinking is that by turning applications building into a social event, and sharing contents of forms we have already submitted to different calls, people can reuse snippets of text and also learn how to build successfull applications. @Kseniya set this up.

Help with EU funding: EU applications have three main hurdles 1) Finding credible (to the EC) organisations willing to act as lead partners in consortiums and 2) Finding partners willing to commit the time and discipline required to collaboratively writing a credible application 3) A strong, 1-page concept description. Without all three you will not manage to build an application. So while the Form Storms could help get together #3, we did not not really end up using them to build EU funding bids this year. What did end up happening is that while several community members showed interest in building EU applications when set up the Horizon 2020 Collaborator, even where #3 was sparked by conversations in the community, the actual heavy lifting in building bids ended up being done by the directors of the Edgeryders company with the community invited in again once 1) and 2) had been done.

The Dev team: So far the Edgeryders Dev and Testing group has been dedicated to addressing issues with the platform. People have been using it to post information about bugs, or ask tech-related questions, and if and when we have had the resources (mainly @Alberto@Matthias). And we are heavily under-resourced, so the list of tasks that fall under “putting out fires” grows, while promising initiatives like project retreats (Harmonious Hackathons) gather dust. Ideally we would use Makerfox to barter different kinds of help between community members to both keep the infrustructure running and help move individual projects forward but this requires resources to carry the cost of coordination (which is an ungrateful set of tasks people rarely are willing to shoulder without financial compensation).

Survey simply a point of reference …

…seems like a good time to revisit where we are now a year and more after the survey. There is no process you’re in danger of diluting here, please do pipe up and ask all the questions u need to ask. Those who can reply will.

Cheers, M.

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