Edgeryders LBG: Failing forward in our third year

Those of us who have been part of the Edgeryders hybrid community - company over the last years want to build a structure that is open, transparent and freely harnesses the network for smarts, creativity, project opportunities, collaboration, income generation, and what have you. We have been trying and achieving promising results, mainly by growing the number of projects and people involved in running them.

Edgeryders never had a development model. Both the company and community evolved through trial and error, and a lot of experimentation. It became obvious ever since last year’s LOTE4 community event that we need some fixes in housekeeping and information management in order to move forward and preserve health. The challenge brought forward repeatedly is: clarify how anyone can use the platform as a common resource and where the entry points into formalized roles are; spell out mechanisms to protect anyone from abuses (newcomers and community members doing regular work altogether).

To give you an idea of how this year unfolded in response to the above: in March we were launching a process for two community elected board members in order to join the company and do oversight on behalf of the community; in April one of the operational directors at the time resigned from the board; we welcomed Patrick Andrews as the new (interim) director, unfortunately not without fallouts. Egos were hurt and some people took a step back in their own ways. Others decided to fail forward. During May-September us directors had to reassess, do a lot of admin cleanup and also run projects, hence the delay in making faster progress. Where there seems to be agreement is on the need to maintain a healthy environment for a growing number of community members using Edgeryders to work on projects in different parts of the world. Not everyone has the same historic knowledge of the community, nor the same expectations or even demands. One thing I’ve learned is that we should be designing for diversity and on a basis of mutual trust.

So here’s where we are, hopefully we’re moving somewhere better. Whatever your thoughts, please stay constructive and back suggestions with an offer to take responsibility for making changes happen.

  1. Housecleaning and written policies. @Alberto in particular has put in quite some work in outlining the social contract between company and community in clear words, particularly by explaining how the company works and makes use of this platform. You can find the description of roles, the ER statute of incorporation, financial report for 2013-2014 (we haven't closed accounts for 2014-2015 yet), the brand use, social policies and how to navigate roles from community member to company member in the main menu - under Help/Info. This link now goes into the welcoming message of every new platform user, particularly the terms of use.
  2. Hosting the first annual general meeting of ER LbG. It happened on August 5th in Brussels and we voted Patrick Andrews in as a new director. Yay!
  3. Changing the structure of the board. Because there was no leadership from the community as to who the non-executive directors would be and their role, we are trying out a new structure with a board of directors (all executives) and a board of advisors (who are not necessarily members in the company), the latter appointed in the persons of @Emkay and @Dorotea. This is for 2015-2016, and they are mandated to come up with a process for next year selection of advisors. Both Emkay and Doro have full access to company administration and will be interfacing gracefully with whoever needs information or support. Read more about the advisory board here.
  4. Enlarging the core. For the future we dream of large numbers of networked Edgeryders driving their own ER related projects and enterprises, under \#newwork headers compatible with own style and aspirations. We're starting this by writing highly collaborative projects like in OpenCare, working our strategies for growth with folks eager to get more involved in Edgeryders, or making an investment in the upcoming Living On The Edge 5 coordinating team at Antiheroes, without so much dependency on the usual organisers. Taking on themes such as failure and fuckups is not coincidental, we have lots to share and learn from.

This is pretty much it, keeping up the work and searching for ideal protocols!

Image credit: http://www.thisbusylife.com/


Thanks for the update

it’s really great to have more about ER plans, changes and challenges out in the open, thanks @Noemi.

one small fix required for the post though - the link to description of roles, incorporation etc leads to an admin area & ‘Access Denied’ page.

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Thanks for the heads up, @SamMuirhead. It’s “paranoid Drupal”: when you make something public that previously was not (this section of the website was work in progress for a long time, as we needed to tidy up all of the legal stuff after Arthur left without doing his homework), you have to go through several incantations to convince it that you really want to go public.

The new section should be accessible right from the main menu:


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I said I’d want to push something

that addresses onboarding and match making - thus probably part of point 4. If someone here is interested to help me - give me a nudge. It is a pretty Big Thing but it is made of mostly mundane bits…

Also if you are new here, and want to get your head around some of this I can provide my flawed view on things (as time permits). @Noemi this also means if you feel some people are a better match for me/you’re temporarily overloaded I’m up.


Not overloaded

Thanks @trythis. At this point it’s no longer a matter of one or two people doing onboarding, I myself have been slacking over the past months, and you, Inge, Anna and others gracefully stepped in :slight_smile: Much appreciated.

You talked about matchmaking a number of times, can’t remember which proposal is it…? Got link? What do you need for us to get started?

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I was thinking of the mythical MUSE project - no link

But this is predicated on if something else sitting in the pipe gets turned down (I should know in a week or two). If that happens I’d like to prep something for a workshop together with someone (DIT, Do It Together) which could go into LOTE. It could either be a little more theoretical in nature - and focus on the math/psychology (very amateurish) of the match making part. Or it gets more techy/hands on/rapid prototyping and focuses on the “documentation of what you’ve been up to until now” part, which is also important in this context.

Then I have a couple more projects that aren’t in my “active list” but could be (e.g. drones, EU language and innovation issues, an in/outdoor eco foam shower, the materials, energy, and technology matrix-shelf, and about a dozen more) if the right person pipes up. Then I’d consider sharing what I’ve got and sinking a good chunk more time into it. This probably explains my priorities already. :slight_smile:

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Somethin blipped on my radar in Berlin

at politics for tomorrow event. A possible drones-related funder. Just wanted to get up a booknote here quickly as a reminder, will upload my notes from the event tomorrow and then we ought to chat.

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Throw me a couple of dates

I guess 1h should do right?


Monday next week I am back online proper. So monday and any day after…lemme know?

Noted you for 26th, 10 am

Can you think of another person who might want to listen? If so reach out.

sanitized online collaborations?

hi noemi,

thanks for the news, it’s great to see some of you there still holding to some sort of vision of collaboration,

if it’s of any help from these edge-ryding corners here, as much as i would like to, interaction with a web ‘platform’ is not usually a way for me to meaningfully contribute, or to connect. i’m not going to be comfortable opening up and being myself (and thus creating anything meaningful) online… i usually end up saying something that’s misinterpreted, that seems critical or negative to someone (ie. fucking things up) and thus closing down any real continued conversation. i actually don’t mind the conflict if i know people are willing to work through it (to me that kind of honesty is necessary for any kind of ‘creating’ and ‘innovating’) but if i’m the only one on that page then it’s not worth the grief of being singled out as provocateur/trouble maker…

in the end i don’t think i’m the only one, we all probably do so much better simply meeting f2f, one on one, in the development of new ideas and the honest conversations that need to happen for substantive collaborations and innovations to emerge.

sooo, if this platform could somehow help facilitate people meeting a neighbor down the street or at least in a similar physical locality then it does stand a chance of creating something new and meaningful, until then we’re all over the damn map (of europe) here. i have yet to meet any other edgeryders here in berlin for example, though i did recently actually bump into dorotea after trying for months to meet…

hope that is of some help, again i could say a whole lot more but that won’t happen within this very narrow bandwidth of comprehension that we’re provided with here…there’s very little room here for making mistakes and being misunderstood…can’t be bothered with the hassle…

…it’s so much easier to stay in my own dream world of a reality that facebook (for example) is doing a much better job at helping me tailor than anything else, haha…i do also enjoy the use of tumblr, instagram and less so, twitter and skype as a means to uncover the inspiration, connection and communication that i seek these days…

best, michael

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am never able to figure out how to keep the font the same size…

is there an option for font sizing?

“Paste as unformatted text”

Hello @mishek, we have a known issue with the way the WYSIWYG editor treats font size. It does not like copy paste. A simple way is:

  • when you copy-paste, always use "paste as unformatted text" (Command-Shift-V on a Mac, Crtl-Shift-V on a PC). You can also use the function in the toolbar:

  • If you want to be sure, and – like you normally do – do not use much formatting, select your whole text, cut it and copy as unformatted text as above.

This issue is in a queue with many others. We’ll get around to fixing a lot of stuff in that queue, probably in early 2016.


yes, this is a real issue.

One thing I like about edgeryders is the combination of online collaboration with communication in person – whether it is LOTE, or meetings specific to a project. Part of the idea for the unmonastery was that interactions can happen better when there is a physical location to act as focus.

As for Berlin – I’m here. At a minimal level, I’d be up for just getting a coffee with you some time (this weekend?). I think @dorota also has a plan to arrange ramp-up meetings towards LOTE, though I’m not sure what the timeframe is for that.


some ideas for more offline

I agree with you both, @mishek and @danohu, in that we need as much offline to complement interaction here. I recently presented ER in Paris and someone from Make Sense community said just that. Talking with @Ruxandra in Bucharest we also agreed to keep creating opportunities for people there to meet, somewhat inspired by the OuiShare events in Paris she was part of. But this we do locally, so it’s up to each of us.

If it has to do this platform making it easier for us to find each other, let’s not suppose that someone will build it. We can of course add this as a conceptual to do in the list of things to fix and improve in 2016 (you know where the tech dev group is), but we’ll never agree on a magical feature. E.g. we know people don’t fill in user profiles properly, and we had a conversation before about geo profiles. Why invest resources into a feature that people don’t use? Also, people move around quite a bit, so you never know who’s where unless you give it a shout.

At the level of projects, we are learning that consultancy via online conversations and community building is not enough, so a solution we find when writing proposals for funded projects is to bake in as many events and local exchanges in all the projects, and even set up small teams on the ground to organize them - see Brussels, Kathmandu, Bucharest. So it’s happening, but there’s always someone committed to do it.

Hope this helps, any other ideas?

Also, what do people think about the user policy and terms for moving into the ER organisation as members? It would be great to have some feedback and not have to re-open the discussion on how ER can be used only during wartimes :slight_smile:

“How to get people to fill user profiles?”

Here’s a question that’s more fundamental than it seems. It’s the usual dynamics of networked collaboration: individually allocating some extra effort yields a payback greater than the extra effort itself, but it does so at the level of the whole network, not the individual. So, the question is if – and how – it is possible to persuade a critical mass of people to volunteer enough information that the whole network will start being useful in a new way, in this case in finding each other.

Maybe @johncoate has some insights to share.

Make skills more obvious?

One thing that I think takes more work than it should here is to understand what skills people have to offer.  Maybe my way of saying matchmaking, as described above.  Who is good at what?  How available are you?  I wonder if it would be useful to have a simpler way to list them or explain skills and experiences. Something that advances matchmaking.  Having a free form bio space is good and should always be there, but in a project-oriented endeavor like this, I don’t think it is enough since everyone has their own approach to writing about themselves.  Plus, the editor for the bio is more primitive than the editor for writing responses such as this one.  That doesn’t encourage more use of it.

As for meeting up in person - I am a huge fan of that and it is one of the strong points you have going here.

Maybe increasing participation requires suggesting more clearly what benefits await someone. To me you offer the potential to find both friends and work in service of solving important problems.  That’s pretty powerful.  How can you make it easier to both see and to realize it?

For me it has to do with tech

You are right I think… that’s a real challenge and during our events community members mention it often. I don’t think doing it “manually” more than we do now is possible with the resources at hand - by doing it manually I mean communication that encourages people to know each other, to work together based on concrete opportunities or bring people together at events where they discover first hand what skills others have. This is a function of someone doing work to get the word out on various stuff.

As we grow the more challenging is to find the “scalable” solution - making it ever visible who and what others are doing, where folks are based etc. The way info is structured right now on the platform is not conducive to that, only those making an effort can see and be seen. We need an app or a feature for this kind of thing, that someone knows how to do well and is willing to implement. I see platforms that are content focused (like ours, or reddit, or loomio) and platforms that are people focused (like the CreativeMornings platform whose looks and feel I love), but seldom both… From the latter, look at how many skills they’ve inventoried and how few returns when filtering one, just an example.

This is Drupal

So can other Drupal modules be added to it?


Is there something you want people to do here that they are already doing in some form somewhere else?  And can you either get them to do it here instead, or can you be a hub for those places too?