Sent you a reply off-list.
I believe Michel Bauwens gave some thought to this matter in a related context. I haven’t worked through it though, because I hate burning my time on such topics due to the larger societal dynamics involved. I do agree that they are important - and I would be interested in brief and clear arguments on the topic.
stone wall of silence
hi ben, personal perceptions with such online communication are so unique…i appreciate that it seems like a stone wall of silence…i read this when you posted (as probably did many others), but there’s so much information here, so many ideas, to know where to start…we could create a two day conference around these thoughts…
hope you and billy will post further ruminations here…
That’s fair enough, and I understand that it might read as information overload, perhaps this was unfairly laid out to insist upon a direct response. Which with respect to ER LBG I believe it is needed - but I also tried to compile enough history and context so that others might have space to contribute.
In the past LOTE actually did serve this purpose, an opportunity to check-in, align perspectives and build the next parts, although (and in part because of things set out above) I don’t think LOTE4 really served that function. At the end of the conference there was as a large meeting where the general consensus seemed to be that there was a desire for decentralisation and a drive towards an ecosystem of initiatives, but that seems to have been redacted from the conclusions of LOTE4 (and likely the reason why no one followed up).
Perhaps a conference on the subject of organisational form, good legal stewardship and community dynamics is a good idea, I’ll mull it over. I’m planning an event on Cities and Communities with Near Now in Nottingham this July, which will likely also host the 3rd unMonastery summit, so that might make for a good fit, lets see.
I was literally afk
To be clear, speaking as a member of the ER LbG, I was away for the whole last week and am barely catching up. Jeez, if we all demanded that level of attention of each other we would die off quickly as a group/ or group of groups or whatever
Starting with the first list and then will move on in a different comment or maybe at the community call Thursday, or others? To be clear, these signs are the empty part of the glass. It’s your choice whether to see (only) that or not, but anyway.
- Steady and significant decline in numbers of individuals posting on the platform.
You of all people should know this, as unMon has been doing a lot of work offline!
Individuals posting on the platform is a result of engagement, which costs resources that ER LbG does not permanently have. If there is a specific funded project, people working on it take care of engagement - and that isn’t only company people… on the contrary, it’s community members.
If more people would be willing to make ER their main “work”, this would generate bigger response…
- Noticeable degrees of distrust and paranoia between key people instrumental to building ER.
This includes all those you have in mind, and yourself towards those you have in mind. Cause-effect is not an easy thing to flesh out.
- Personal attacks on individuals through back channels and over email.
People have emotions? I have not been involved - but I did take offence when Elf posted swear words on the platform where I took on the responsibility for community management.
- Unfounded defamation of character.
Nothing to add, a lot of it is personal fights that individual people choose to fight. I doubt it speaks of Edgeryders in general.
- Burning of bridges.
Nothing to add, a lot of it is personal fights that individual people choose to fight. I doubt it speaks of Edgeryders in general.
- Increased concentration of power - diminishing openness to disagreement.
It’s your personal perception and your own definition of power which I don’t know.
- Continual degradation of a shared vision and loss of long term perspective.
We should all do more work for that, badly needed. It could be part of any organization’s or community’s life at a moment, and that is not to reproach to anyone in particular.
- Closed meetings and groups becoming common place in the culture.
ER Admin group you mean? Just because they are closed doesn’t mean they are evil. Just because some people put their personal contacts and work in progress on a platform they trust as opposed to google doesn’t mean that anyone has the right to judge and take offence that they are not part of other’s personal communications. It’s like asking me to give you access to my email… the Admin group is my email box basically. The question is if you, having been part of it, can judge it based on what you have experienced.
- Unpleasant and high tension posts being the most active on the platform.
No one can’t control where people’s attention is going. Some even said that conflict is healthy, it’s even a sign of openness.
so your response to each point raised by @Ben is YES and as a community manager and company director you have nothing else to say that that is life? So things changed, changed for the worse, but all is okay?
Ben: “Steady and significant decline in numbers of individuals posting on the platform.”
Noemi: “You of all people should know this, as unMon has been doing a lot of work offline! Individuals posting on the platform is a result of engagement, which costs resources that ER LbG does not permanently have. If there is a specific funded project, people working on it take care of engagement - and that isn’t only company people… on the contrary, it’s community members. If more people would be willing to make ER their main “work”, this would generate bigger response…”
My understanding was that the company was founded on the assumption that people come here and share their thoughts and writings anyway Because that is what online communities do. Making that ‘cost resources that ER LbG does not permanently have’ - meaning paying people for posting, was maybe a mistake. The company has had at least one eroding effect on the community - people do not come here and post. Turning the logic back, that ‘we’ need more paid gigs to pay for posts, shows how much the conversation shifted from ER community to ER company. Maybe ‘we’ need a place where posting does not generate an income to support projects are are negotiated without visibility and feedback.
With regard to unMonastery, people did not go offline, they just went elsewhere to post their thoughts.
What I am, is being empathetic towards what Ben admitted is his perception and others’ (but not all) and I take his points at face value, so I make a decision to engage, even it it feels unconfortable.
What I am not, is someone who would talk about what they imply is everyone in the community, the community as an immovable entity, or even worse, position myself above all with my views of what “it” should become. It becomes what it becomes, based on a complexity of individual views and incentives to engage. People are happy to engage when there is something interesting, immediate, something that they really care about. And conveying that is hard work, it has to do with making opportunities visible. You are basically saying that ER LbG is supposed to provide that as a default, all the magic, and also opportunities for unMonastery, Lote etc. which need resources to build. And all while doing hand holding, making itself responsible for “everyone”'s wellbeing, bearing responsibility for deliveries, but not talking about “clients”, “paid gigs” etc. I think you are wrong. We would all want the cake and eat it too…
My strategy is keep honest and the values carry themselves. Where conflict arises from egos, and mine is not that big, I will surely stay away.
I have my own vision of Edgeryders - a community moving somewhere together or in distributed groups, and generating value that is recognized at the centre, rather than yet another online fora where people only share their thoughts. The conversations can be equally interesting in both cases, the question is what they lead to. And I put work into making this vision happen. That’s the only thing I signed up for. Anyone else can sign up to other things, drive their conversations and projects etc. It would be great if other ER organisations would pop up, and you now are involved in one, while building on everything that the people and content here has to offer or offered, which is the exact purpose because we all stand to benefit. What we have is a common space and shared networks that we can each use generatively (my own work and ER LbG’s lies bare naked for anyone to build on and I’m not concerned that it will get stolen because of so much openness and a compulsive working out loud culture:)). Honestly, I don’t know what else to say.
community, incentives to engage, making opportunities visible
hi there noemi, to me it feels you’re saying that having ‘another online forum where people only share their thoughts’ and working on interesting projects that ‘generate value’ are mutually exclusive. i think we need both for a healthy community.
random conversations are where great ideas emerge, whether followed through or not. we don’t seem to have much of a culture of conversation just for the sake of it around here and it’s probably something worth working towards…or pondering over…
thanks for the interesting thoughts and ideas in this thread everyone,
noemi, are the community calls still happening on thursdays?
When were people paid for posts? How much were they paid?
I need to add to my previous comment above.
Another thing that we need is total transparency of the accounts and all money moving through the organisation.
Billy, sorry for not being more explicit. By costs in engagement I meant material eg gigs like these:
- Paid work opportunities: Call for articles about interesting initiatives and people in Armenia, Egypt and Georgia.
- Paid work opportunities for online community builders in Armenia, Egypt and Georgia!
+ non-material (time and consistency in pushing content from the platform outwards to make sure people see what others post so that they engage).
Actions speak louder than words
Here is a work-in-progress list of recent ER LBG actions. Insofar as possible, each item is documented – as little hearsay as possible.
Can we do better? Yes, at least by (1) engaging in a more formal way with the non-executive directors and (2) publishing our financial data (Arthur has been working on building a financial dashboard for a while now). Can we do much better? No, I don’t think so. We are working like mad as it is. Maybe we will get better with time. Hopefully. But in all honesty, after two years, I can tell you: this is hard. I cannot promise much more than this any time soon. Any additional action people want, someone else will have to step in (working with ER LBG or outside it) and make it happen herself.
Good intentions all sides but tone detox & inclusion the way fwd.
@Vidrij_Da, thanks for your very generous offer. But please, don’t renounce your holidays! There is no way you can procure a facilitated meeting with a few hundred euros – travel costs alone would make it run more in the high thousands.
Thanks also for your kind words – even though I don’t think you are doing justice to Noemi’s, Matt’s and Arthur’s hard work. I think you are right on all respects save one. The most important thing I agree with is that everyone deserves respect. I can disagree with people, while still respecting and even admiring them. I do disagree with Ben’s current approach to Edgeryders and priorities (we have been aligned in the past), but that does not mean I disrespect him. I have been very careful in never posting a harsh word, or making allegations, or using private communications in a public context. So: yes, @Ben, @katalin, @Bembo_Davies, and everyone who has been involved in the various exchanges, I still think you are smart, brave people, capable of impressive deeds – even though I might not be the best travel companion for some of the things you want to achieve, and viceversa.
The style of leadership you describe remains, for me personally (and I think I speak for my fellow directors too) an aspiration. But really: I am throwing every available hour at this project. What are the results? Vinay says we are winning. I am not so convinced – in 2014 we could only start a handful of projects, with contracts signed for probably less than 200K EUR, which resulted in these opportunities. We are still unable to pay any salary to what two years ago we envisioned to be the kernel (we have been hiring community members on specific projects, though). I am not getting any younger. My friend Ivan, who started a new (traditional business model, digital media agency) three years ago, is invoicing two million and employing 30 people. Very soon this discussion might be moot – we might decide very soon to shut ER LBG down, demobilize and look for jobs while we still can.
What I am left with is that I work in my preferred style (do-ocracy, no veto power etc.), and on things I care about. This is a great privilege, and also the only way in which I personally have been known to get any result at all. I strive for more humility; some of it will come with age and wisdom – and I can assure you that, as a former minor rockstar, I have already made great progress! But meanwhile, I am struggling uphill, and I need any edge I can get, and the steelier, the better. “It’s about a how”, that you present as a matter of style, feels to me an unreasonable extra demand, the straw to break the camel’s back. Get in and pull, guys: bring in contracts, share them with others. Then I – and everyone else – will be able to relax.
Wisdom. Some things are structural and come down to resources.
Yes I do see your points David. And I do recall that conversation. I also very much appreciate your stepping forward with advice, with a clear offer to back it with your time and resources. I am replying as myself not because I agree with your reading of who is responsible for Edgeryders’ successes. For one thing, Noemi has been at the heart of Edgeryders since day 1. Not to mention Matt and Arthur, and many others who have contributed throughout the years.
Re transparency in planning and strategy: It is a lot of work distilling things which are tacit knowledge, or processes which are long and windy, into legible information/knowledge such as this post. Or this one. These take hours to prepare. Getting the word out so that more people get them also takes hours of work. And so on. Assuming things not happening, or happening, are due to malicious intent are a great way to demotivate this effort.
Being able to “put a hand on the tiller”, or “move to the back”, would be wonderful. Organising the community calls. Producing weekly newsletters to keep everyone updated, maintaining the website, welcoming new arrivals, driving the building of LOTE events and fundraising to cover participants travel etc. . The work we all do on Edgeryders, myself included, has involved a huge commitment of unpaid work. And the paid/resourced opportunities that have been drawn into Edgeryders could just as easily have been channeled into personal consultancy gigs. So I consider myself one of those strand of ER volunteers. It has also involved finding personal resources to cover costs of travel etc in building relationships with clients and or funders that result in our having resources to pay for travel grants etc. Or getting into closed spaces where we can interact with certain societal actors for those in the community who’s desire for change requires engaging the old school political/institutional machinery. I have stepped back to see who would indeed step forward to keeping the ship afloat.
It seems that people, rightfully ask, what is the personal return on investment for doing this largely unseen work.
All components which people say they appreciate, and which contribute towards bridging gaps in information, making people feel welcome and invited etc. require commitment over long periods of time. Making calls for help which is engaging and does not feel like just asking for someone’s unpaid time but offers something in return costs a lot of time. Especially when constantly facing suspicion you might be taking advantage of people. My choice to do any of this work is not unconditional. What you refer to as a sharp tone w.r.t logistics comes down to making it clear what I am up for doing, and what it is up to others to make happen if they really care enough about it.
People’s perception will vary. Pseudo corporate, communist, hippy, too rough, too smooth, too tough, too soft, anarchist, politician, totally unstrategic, machiavellian. The list of what I have been called is long. Time required for engaging in longer, slower personal processes is something which can be requested, not demanded. I can spend time dealing with personal issues or I can spend time creating the work opportunities for work that rarely is valued but important, there are only 24 hours in a day. Economically, it would be a much better investment of my personal time to just do for-profit work in a corporate environment. I do not want to do that because think it is an irrational position in the long run (who cares what you earn if the air is poisoned). Nor do I think self-exploitation catering to never ending demands for my time/attention is acceptable.
If others wish to build other organisations or spaces with different rules, good for them. At the moment I cannot afford to commit more time than I already to do Edgeryders. In a few months this might be more feasible for me. Especially if it is within the context of a community event such as the next lote, and especially if someone neutral and not vested in any interpersonal conflicts takes responsibility for driving it.
If we start the work of organising lote from now it’s possible we can find resources to cover the costs involved, but this requires more hands on deck.
licence : CC-BY-SA possible ?
As a quite recent and peripheral member of the Edgeryders community I have refrained my temptations to intervene in this debate. But in point 4 of this post @Ben made me aware of something that I had missed : all contributions are under CC-BY.
I presume most are familiar with the Open vs. Free/Libre debate; so I will just say that for my activity I am in the Free/Libre camp. I can elaborate if needed.
I would be interested in knowing when and why it has been decided for CC-BY; but what is crucial for me is if it is irrevocable, or if it would be possible to have an option to decide by project for CC-BY-SA. Otherwise I will have to find another solution for my project.
Thanks for any reply.
Hello @fjanss. This is a really interesting question, and one that might be asked by others. So I addressed it in its own post for better searchability. Here:
I’m still interested to hear about views on the 9 questions that Ben posed!
I hadn’t forgotten this post, yet it is a very weakened position that of the accused, so bear with me. I’ve stated this before, where there isn’t trust chances are we won’t solve anything, but anyway… I still hope we can meet somewhere, at least halfway.
I don’t know if the Legals page (re-positioned in the main menu) answers some of your questions (1,2), or similarly the newly started discussion on content licensing (for 4). Or if you even acknowledge that. There’s no harm is pointing stuff out (the Legals, or many of the like pages, got lost in the various moving around of stuff on the site, you know how it is), just like there’s no harm in fixing it in good faith.
Over 2 years, next to no effort has been made to expand the board, or open out the governance structure - I think this is a major contributor to discontent on the part of those who view LBG as wielding too much power.
Lote3 session Hire yourself? to keep the doors open for anyone to bring in stuff they care about - including another company stewarding and helping grow the community - sharing costs, responsibility, resources and “power”, whatever you mean by that. Aside from that, the company is so small, what promises can we make if we don’t even know if it’s viable or not, yet? What stops others from proposing new governance structures, or improvements to this one? I don’t understand where the friction is.
What about the argument documenting transparency efforts? It seems to me that one is stronger than power “perceptions”.
Who defines the meaning of ‘community’ on EdgeRyders? (There has been a continuous shift between representing LBG and community. LBG directors consistently fail to represent the company viewpoint as unique and not necessarily the same as community)
We know already from past discussions that the effort to define “the community” in one unique way is futile (search for “governance” or Dante’s threads in particular where we clearly disagree).
“consistently fail to represent” is harsh, even for you since you’ve been around, we worked together and you bring this up now… I can only say, where I’m concerned, that if you point me to where I wrote something you disagreed with I will re-consider or change my formulation.
From someone building community, there is preference for an inclusive language pointing to what unites us- the story of we versus I or you in community building - as opposed to positioning ourselves through differentiation. Yes, the “we” is increasingly abused elsewhere for reasons we know, that doesn’t make Edgeryders guilty in its intentions, just because.
“EdgeRyders has increasingly begun to feel more and more like an agency primarily focused on financial interest - the core drive seems to be focused on generating revenue - projects that don’t appear fundable suffering at the expense of those that are. With things such as LOTE being seemingly discarded because they didn’t generate the necessary sales environment.”
I’m sorry if it feels like this to you personally. Focus on finding resources is not the same as generating revenue for the sake of revenue. Lote hasn’t been discarded, I completely disagree with the way you make it sound. Who ever stopped anyone from building Lote or why building it becomes a demand you make from ER LBG is beyond me… you know we did this together, you know it’s a community effort, you know that we are open to ever new formats, and you don’t know it’s not happening this year (on the contrary). What gives?
“The person who does the work calls the shots” as the primary modus operandi under which ER functions - this seems to have been repeatedly contradicted in recent months - with calls for consensus". Again, “repeatedly”? no idea what you mean, in all honesty. unMonastery related?
“In the past 6 months I have witnessed this clause be completely disregarded, as if it were never written - meaning that there is currently no mechanism in place that ensures protection of abuses of power; this is a problem. Was this ever written into the Articles of Association or have any legal standing?”
Legal standing? Hm, not that I know of, @ArthurD can confirm. The idea I think is that if we in ER LbG operational go cuckoo, the community will walk away, and there will be nowhere to move forward. The fact that people in the board disagree doesn’t mean someone is vicious. Asta and Vinay should be in a position to say if they viewed ER LbG operational as being abusive to the community. Let’s make an effort not to overlap personal issues (where’s there’s two sides to every story) with Edgeryders endangered.
still in the confessional
I have been distraughtly following at a distance – it seems the kids will destroy Edgeryders, and we’ll all fall into glorious limbo. This is criminal. It is also pandemic.
I appreciate all attempts to heal things but I think we ignore a fundamental truth: human beings are not always at their best on-line. Great, heartfelt effort gets poured into our work - little gets heard. You will have spent so much more time sculpting your letter than any of us will spend in reading it. At best, over-exposed minds will scan it for junctures where we can paste our already formulated opinion.
In the unMon I’ve accused us of ‘Living in Our Laptops’. I am also guilty of this: believing somehow in the value of the pure word - however, this doesn’t carry. Turning rational thought into text to be placed on the platform is not communication. Until other people absorb and can champion the ideas, it will take ages to reach any congruent use of terminology. In the meantime we flounder.
In the ER we should know this: the legendary ethos of Strasbourg was about meeting in the flesh to explore the tools of Social Cohesion. The unMonastery was a response to this desire. When we embrace the replacement of human interchange with documentation on a machine something is not completely thought through.
Apparently I don’t see the half of the growling and chest thumping as many things go on in the secret channel which only a select group of ER veterans can access. This puts some of us at a disadvantage in trying to fathom what is going on. That I should be excluded from the inner circle is a choice of the inner circle, but that which surfaces is symptomatic enough to document that all is not well.
My working premise is always that people are doing their best at all possible times; any discord or conflict is then a symptom of real or imagined pain: Ben’s petulance overshadows the principles he argues; Nadia declares herself ‘not happy’ and keeps her head down. An unConfessional was launched: half a dozen people stood forth as potential father/mother confessors: no one had anything on their conscience – My (perhaps ceremonial) entrance https://edgeryders.eu/en/comment/16579#comment-16579 was met with a request for more depth, https://edgeryders.eu/en/comment/16650#comment-16650 and then a mysterious silence… as if I had clumsily broken the very agent of our renewal. David Ridge offered to engineer something, likely felt rebuffed and even tried from afar, ( though he surely knows enough not to offer even delicate diagnosis of other people’s interactions without spending hours of in the same room generating points of joyful understanding.) So strident did some of your posts read that it was hard to believe they spoke with your voice.
I have been trying to make my contribution for over two years, it is only intermittently that anyone listens. (both on the ER and in the unMon.) My point of retreat after my post-LOTE entry (Nearing the Edge) that sought to renew the Edge we choose to inhabit https://edgeryders.eu/en/lote4/nearing-the-edge provoked nothing but a pat on the head, (or maybe like so much on the platform it simply vanished beneath the sheer volume of multiple tracks,) has been to recycle most of my post-Matera writings into a 22 page document of my grumpiness — chastising and cajoling those horrid unMoaners to work more strategically. http://discourse.unmonastery.org/t/the-unmon-wanderings-notes-for-historians/39
One option is to give up. Some of us are not programmed to support this option. Instead, I feel I have to put myself forward as a Guardian of the Edgeryder rank and file.
Demographically, I have felt that the grumpy elder anglo bloke quota was well covered by Arthur and Vinay. If Vinay is no longer desirable for some reason, and if Arthur follows him in solidarity - I should replace them given my long service and unique skillset.
When the question: Why I cherish the unMonastery? was posted, I had an impatient response. It felt as toothless as all those group tweaking exercises. Upon reflection, group tweaking is better than vacuum packing. In internal discussions in the unMon deliberations some of the younger crowd of recent arrivals have dismissed ER as a foreign, non-comprehending irritant. I have consistently countered this; putting myself forth as a dedicated Edgeryder. This remains the case.
The Strasbourg gathering was major: great brains, great ideas, relatively little flakiness.
I have not followed every detail of the ER evolution. For me it has been enough that the core key of Social Cohesion Research - Early Warning Division embodied all that I have worked for for forty some years. With projects such as : The Gods of Money, Institute for Non-toxic Propaganda, Future Protection Agency, Den Multinationale Scene and Society for the Promotion of Human Rites – not even pompous, silly names like Edgeryders and unMonastery could keep me away. Working on Social Cohesion is why I care about Edgeryders.
We, the general membership, have never been informed about the divorce from Strasbourg. I asked Nadia about it once; she gave the impression that it was a case of almost personal pique. As you point out so well in your letter, we are here to do social cohesion, we cannot allow ourselves to lose control of our vision due to unresolved moments of pain.
Efforts to resolve such matters via the platform don’t bring out the best in each other. Time chewing over the selection of emotionally charged words is less automatic when one isn’t in the same room and can more sensitively and generously absorb the core of the concerns while filtering out the impingement of emotion. Again: laptop posts don’t always invite to dialogue - one of our specialisms has to be superior communication and listening tools.
I took the ER pledge seriously and rigourously aligned my life to spend in practice 2 years in the Research Lab. This has been a considerable investment, professionally, emotionally and economically. I don’t want this investment to evaporate.
An evolving list of candidates to two positions as non-executive directors of ER LBG
Bembo: you are a star
Your writing has the bearing of classics; it bears ruminating, recombinating, re-re-reading… I can see a whole discipline branching out, the Davies Exegesis, with scholars arguing to death with each other, ponderous treaties being written and all that.
I was never an accomplished interpreter of your thinking. Let me see if I understand this comment correctly:
- You put yourself forward as a non-executive director of Edgeryders LBG.
- You bring to it a long-standing interest in social cohesion
- You see faults in the online mode of communication when wounded egos and potential conflicts are on the table. You have an idea for ameliorating this, or are working on one.
Is this correct? ER LBG execs have taken a vow of silence on the candidatures of non-execs, but I am recording a candidature that might get lost in the noise.
For the records: it is not true that Vinay has become undesirable; and I am not aware that Arthur resigned in solidarity. Arthur wrote a letter of resignation that did not mention Vinay at all. He also wrote he would post publicly announcing his resignation himself, so we can expect him to clarify his position. That’s all I know: I have emailed him, but he never replied, and I have not spoken to him since.