The most valuable thing we can do to help people cope with crisis is to help make visible, connect and coordinate different initiatives on the ground. At a massive scale.
We are on a mission to turn the internet into a massive pool of collaborators who can support many initiatives to achieve impact by putting a little time and effort into completing simple, fun, tasks.
You can help by becoming a community connector !
- Login to/Create your own account at edgeryders.eu
- Go out onto the internet and find an initiative you like: it can be a covid19 event or hackathon, a project or an app that people are building, a campaign, an organisation fighting heroically to cope with the crisis, anything!
- Invite someone who is involved in the initiative to come to a 30 minute call in a virtual room at now.edgeryders.eu (our latest replacement of zoom calls). The call is aimed at understanding how others can support their work.
- Find and reach out to people heavily involved in similar or related initiatives. Invite them to the same 30 minute call.
- Document the conversation and structure it into a blogpost introducing everyone who participated in the call, their initiatives, what they need help with, how, where and which kinds of skills/people are needed to make it happen. Click on the + New Topic button to publish your blogpost.
- The communications crew will read what you have posted, then build and push out a series of calls to action through various channels. So that others who see them can help!
- Let the people you engaged know that the calls for action are out!
Why is this useful?
By taking on this work, you are making an important contribution towards creating a web of relationships between individuals and projects that becomes an active source of mutual support. It becomes community. Something which is crucial to have for individuals to be ok when crisis hits.
If enough of us do this, we can create the world’s largest web of mutual support between all kinds of projects and organisations. Also, we save people from wasting time on reinventing the wheel, and instead helping existing initiatives to achieve real impact for many more people!
How long does this take?
We estimate a total number of 6 hours:
- 2hrs: preparation and invitations to the call
- 2hrs: facilitating the call
- 2hrs: documentation and publishing
Is this a paid role?
Your first conversation is part of our community response and we cannot afford to cover it, sorry! But:
- if the conversation presents interesting insights (as deemed in the community comments) and participants are ready to move forward, we will support the next steps: make it into a webinar, include it in our Open Collective Intelligence Incubator (OCI Labs), and generally fund work that helps the initiative (read the FAQs for more info).
- Edgeryders is continuously advertising paid positions for community members who have demonstrated skills and commitment. If you enjoy the work and would like to continue, your track record puts you first in line to benefit from them.
Click here for FAQs
Where does this come from?
In this discussion about how we take back the internet Howard was pointing to about a key function we can take on to be useful in the context: "What can we do to help your organization and to help grow a network of mutual aid efforts?”
Have you guys thought of taking on the work of coordinating between large organizations and this patchwork of initiatives that are popping up in response to COVID-19?
Yes, but we struggle. Everyone is shouting for attention. And what you call greenspaces (nice name, by the way!) seem mostly hyperlocal, ephemeral – they are out there, but I do not see them connecting. No one is keeping track of the big picture.
Suddenly, everyone’s social media feed is full of bottom-up, self-organized initiatives for mutual aid. Everyone is releasing previously paywalled content, offering help, creating resources and directories. Is the communitarian Internet back? The question is important, because Edgeryders considers itself a virtual community, one of the last of the original, early wave virtual communities. We were born as a response to the previous crisis, the 2008 financial collapse. In the wake of COVID-19, we are mobilizing, just like everybody else (example , other example ). But: are we doing enough? Are we making the right moves?
- there is a long list of unconnected initiatives out there currently. Looking at a range of them here in the Netherlands, while some seem to have some substance, many others seem more a coping strategy that keeps one busy but has no impact or meaning on the originator’s scope of action or anyone else’s agency. Kind of like the way I keep a spreadsheet with case numbers in NL, providing a sense of control or something, but then announcing it to the world as yet another Covid dashboard for coders and designers to contribute to.
At the same time initiatives that might have a real impact are invisible and never mentioned online unless they become visible once creating such impact. (e.g. my brother in law’s 3d printer company has approached all businesses and factories that use their printers to donate printing capacity, creating a global networked printing facility, and now discussing with manufacturers (like Phillips) and health ministries how to deploy that network to print respirator parts and masks where needed. It won’t be publicly announced as a bottom-up initiative, and it may not be publicly mentioned at all ever.) How do we filter wheat and chaff on a list of initiatives, or do we have a role in guiding others to potentially more meaningful activities and away from the coping projects like my spreadsheet/ other’s shiny dashboards?
What these exchanges and many more we have had here over the years, is the need for people to reach out beyond our respective “homes” on the internet, and interact in other spaces.
To find and make visible the unsung heroes and invisible efforts required to achieve impact in tackling the current and future crises.
This needs to move beyond collecting static repositories of information like links or manuals. Rather we need a combination of first hand accounts, conversations as well as dedicated people to synthesise and structure it all into concrete calls for participation/support. Then carry the weight of coordinating the people who do show up to help.
In the end it all comes down to building meaningful, active, relationships between a lot of people. Building, growing and activating dense networks. Making visible and accessible the knowledge carried within these networks, yes. But more importantly, making it possible to find, learn and interact with the individuals with whom we can get things done.
Our mission with this effort is to contribute towards this and engage others to do the same within their own settings. Because we believe this is needed for communities and societies as a whole to get better at responding to these crises in the future.
Are people paid to work on projects?
- Whenever possible, we try to find money to pay for people’s time. Our ability to secure resources relies on a lot of unpaid work such as researching and writing grant applications. We all pitch into this and whenever paid work opportunities are born out of our collective conversations, they are advertised on the community platform: community members who either have, or demonstrate aptitude and will to quickly develop, the required skills are then first for the paid work opportunities.
- Our reasoning around this is that we prioritise pay for people who carry the brunt of the “boring” work like coordination, or administration which requires significant commitment, specialised skills and personal accountability. Freelance work which requires a concentrated full time effort for more than a day or two is next on the priority list. These often require significant administrative overhead due to the complex resource management and reporting requirements attached to our funding sources. What is easiest for us to cover is small expenses e.g for servers, materials or rental of equipment.
Why so much emphasis on documenting what people are doing and publishing online here?
The Edgeryders approach to documentation has two elements - interviewing people and telling their stories. Then structuring information from the conversations into calls to action that anyone can then take on.
The storytelling is necessary for understanding and connecting with the people behind the initiative that needs support. As well as to make sure their efforts, and those of the people who contribute to making them a success, are recognised. This makes it easier for them to draw more engagement and resources to support their work. When this takes place on the edgeryders platform it lowers the cost of coordination for everyone involved. Because we have community managers to welcome each person who shows up and help them find the right conversations, people and tasks for them.
Why use now.edgeryders.eu to host the video calls instead of say ZOOM?
Once you set up a room on now.edgeryders.eu it is always open for anyone with an edgeryders.eu account. You can invite people to spontaneously drop in whenever to say hi, ask questions or let everyone know how things are going. No need to book appointments, write emails etc - it keeps things light, flexible and social for everyone! Let @MariaEuler know when you set up the room so we can organise ourselves to ensure there is always someone in the room to welcome people who show up).
Where does the data on the platform go?
- Sensing & Sensemaking: Edgeryders has developed a stack of open source tools to turn large scale conversational data into collective intelligence (see our github repo). We use these tools to make interactive visualisations of what we are all posting on our community platform that anyone can use to get the bigger picture on what connections are being made between ideas, topics, projects, fields, experiences, places etc. And get a “bigger picture” sense of what all of this is telling us about the world around us. We regularly do training on how to set up and use them for your own work. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about this.
- Distributed coordination: The tools also enable us see where there are clusters of people and projects which could better achieve impact with some alignment of practices, sharing of resources etc. We can see where there are overlapping areas of interest and focus our community management efforts towards building bridges, deepening relationships, seeding novel practices. To support others in doing this wherever they, we are building a mooc on distributed collaboration that we will make freely available. write to email@example.com.
- Research for public benefit: We regularly conduct action-oriented research projects around bigger issues. Like how to tackle the failure of market and state in providing health and social care services. Or The coordination and community management work is partially financed by two European Commission research grants on how we build a next generation internet aligned with humanist values and how to tackle the rise of divise political movements. While the research projects are formally focused on Humans and Europe, we are well aware that crisis like the current pandemic or ecological breakdown do not respect borders. In order to truly make sense of how to address the big problems, the platform conversation is open to all. We participate in EU research consortia on a regular basis. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org for partnership requests etc.
- See our Terms of Service & Data management policies here