Integrating the Viral Academy and the unMonastery: a note

Quickly writing down a note following today’s conversation with @fortyfoxes. Make changes as needed.

One recent discovery and two decisions conspire to form an opportunity.

  1. unMonastery Matera is spending less than budgeted for. According to Ben, at the end of May we will have savings for 8K euro, which are enough to extend the prototype for 2 more months provided the city leaves us the building and keeps paying for electricity and connectivity.
  2. David might be willing to relocate the center production of the Viral Academy to unMonastery Matera. He would also be up for living himself in Matera for the duration of the project.
  3. Together with @Ben, @Rita O and Matera2019 we have decided to regroup unMonastery projects into three clusters (OpenTechSchool, Cultural Commoning, Sustainability Plan) and focus them on one particular neighborhood in Matera, called Piccianello. We would work together with the university to do some sort of Piccianello Open Day or something, using events as deliverables.

These pave the way for the following scenario:

  • we call up MT2019, ask for a meeting and tell them that we have the resources for keeping unMonastery Matera going to the end of the year, though in a mutated form. Are they up for extending our use of the building to the end of December, and keep paying the utility bills? It is going to be very hard for them to say no in the face of an investment of private resources from a foreign company. Since the VA is officially an Edgeryders project, it's simply a matter of extending our existing partnership agreement.
  • we use unMonastery Matera as the venue for VA courses and as a place of residency. As part of the same narrative, we buy an open server and turn it over to the community with a ceremony, in the course of the Piccianello event. As part of the VA classes, we can deploy WordPress installations on that server for people in the community to host websites of local businesses for free. VA students/teachers can build those websites as part of the course.
  • at this point, we have a building in stewardship for a year. In September Edgeryders is supposed to build a European event  on community-owned digital assets in Matera back-to-back with OSMIT14, the Italian OpenStreetMap community's meetup – so we build it at the unMonastery. 
  • and we might even push LOTE4 back to Matera, especially if Fabrizio Barca gets involved and finds us funded travel.

This is a very attractive scenario, and very likely in the best interest of Edgeryders. Though the final decision is David’s to make, we all might want to contemplate it. @ArthurD, would you be available to go through the VA’s budget with David? The main purpose of the exercise is to figure out if the VA has some margin for putting two-three people (of which David would be one) in the building for the rest of the year, while making sure he can still deliver the project to Nominet. One hack might be to recruit teachers from the community and paying them “in kind” with an unMonastery residency.


Based on the way the unMonastery has functioned to date, it’s clear that incorporating Viral Academy in this way would be highly disruptive to the outcomes of other projects people are working on. To this extent I would suggest that it’s an incompatible approach to what we’re attempting to do together.

With this said, what seems to an effective solution is the approach David has so far taken, in renting an alternative site to accommodate the extra support and going forward this seems to make the most sense.

Whilst from an operational perspective this may appear to make perfect sense, there has in the past week been a severe point of conflict in the group as a result of miscommunication on exactly the shape of @fortyfoxes project and the role of others he has brought to Matera. - which has yet to be resolved.

I see this conversation as an extension of that, whilst I personally believe that he may be intending to do his best to provide resources and support for the overall project, this is not the overall experience or perception amongst the group based on consistent feedback.

For now this is all I want to say on the subject but I think it would be good that others voice their opinion - having spent an enormous amount of time over the last month trying rationalise this input, going forward I intend to spend my own time exclusively supporting the projects that have been devised by the rest of the group, I do though welcome @fortyfoxes drive to initiate other projects in Matera outside of unMonastery.

Fair enough

Far from me the idea of getting in the way. I propose:

  • @Ben announces to MT2019 that, thanks to savings, we have the resources to extend unMonastery Matera by two months. 
  • the unMonastery group prepares quickly a strategy for either decommissioning the building in an orderly way or... doing something else, to be negotiated with the city.
  • meanwhile, the Viral Academy is an Edgeryders project, and @fortyfoxes an active member of the community. So, Edgeryders-the-org will do what it can to help the Viral Academy reach its potential, without jeopardizing what other edgeryders do in the unMonastery. I think Matera2019 would be delighted to see something come out of the unMonastery. 

In the scenario envisioned by Ben, the stewardship story falls apart, but I guess that can’t be helped.


I did not expect this post. To hear of a major initiative that would fundamentally alter the longterm scope of unMonastery that bypasses internal channels entirely appears as both blatant disregard and strategic action.

In the past few weeks, I have tried to open the discussion on integrating Viral Academy and Open Tech School with David several times. I should be clear that, from my perspective, the issue is not one of namesake or leadership; it is one only of delivering workshops and building a community around skill sharing - and the Viral Academy’s aim toward distributed support networks is decidedly great. Yet when @fortyfoxes and I speak about next steps, the conversation only multiplies projects and technologies. However exciting this may be, it returns absolutely no plan to proceed further, and instead I have been working on my own to realize an initiative that could considerably benefit from collaboration.

This lack of personal responsibility demonstrated so far is quite frustrating and not something upon which the longevity of the project should be built.

The recent decision to regroup our projects around three main initiatives came from realizing the lack of capacity engendered by the one person-one project model. But to shift the focus of the unMonastery to one project - that would follow necessarily from its financial support - I think would be similarly, if not more, detrimental to unMonastery participants and to the great range of identified challenges we aim to address.

Hold it

@Kei no one speaks of altering anything. You guys run with the plan, and if you come up with ideas for how to move forward, more power to you – we’ll try to help, as we always have. Me, I wonder what happens when you pull out – which, as I write, is fairly soon: end of May as per our standing agreements, end of July if our extension proposal is accepted. David’s time horizon is a bit longer: bringing the VA or other Edgeryders project to Matera in 2014 is probably in MT2019’s best interest, and could also be in our (Edgeryders) own best interest. If you have more ideas and “meat” to bring to the Matera table, we are listening; the more the merrier.

More generally, I would not be so dismissive of talks of integration. The reason why you guys are in Matera at all is because of an integration move, made by yours truly, between an existing client with their own agenda and the unMonastery idea being floated within the community. So far this strategy worked, because integration typically buys you efficiency. Efficiency concerns may still be overridden by other considerations, and this seems to be the case here, but it is these other consideration that need to be justified. The default is that what makes “perfect sense from an operational perspective” gets done – the gods know we all are stretched thin.

Finally – and, for me, critically – no one should be forced to work in a way that he or she can’t agree with. If you can’t work with David, or anyone else, don’t, nobody will insist you do. However, remember: the same applies to me, and here I have to draw a line. If you guys question my right to think aloud and make (intellectually honest) proposals by whatever channel I choose to, I have no choice but to disengage from the process altogether, because this is the only way I know how to function. And while we are at it, this is as internal a channel as it gets. Your physical meetings in Matera are not a viable channel for someone who does not live in the building. You are welcome to use them to decide your day-by-day, but, by definition, all meta-level talk needs to be done on the wire. Key people in the meta debate (Rossella and Paolo, the whole Edgeryders board, and who knows who might come on board) are not in the building and they can only be useful because they are not. So it does not make sense to ask us to refer to them.

I like eggs (especially Materan ones)

Perhaps it’s because I’ve just had some lovely eggs for breakfast that now I have three very important egg related points to make…

Firstly, I’m totally miffed that this idea was discussed just with Alberto and not with the whole team. What message does that send about the way that the unMonastery team and a Viral Academy team would work together in the future? I like scrambled eggs. I don’t like scrambled projects.

Secondly, an egg shell is pretty strong but too much pressure will make it crack. I agree that the unMonastery needs to adapt to survive in the long term, but i don’t think at this stage it would be resilient enough to cope with such a change in its structure, power dynamics and core objectives.

This leads to the last issue - most people love eggs becuase they are small, simple, well defined and fullfilling. We’re already struggling to complete the simplest tasks and the main reason is that they often end up being over-complexified, intellectualised and digitalised to the point where we end up in such a mess that very little action that actually has any impact in the community ends up getting done (without a lot of effort and time). As we’re already becoming increasingly overburdeoned with systems that are stiffling our creativity, I’m concerned that the Viral Academy would add another heavy load of complexity without actually adding any value to the community of Matera.

I like eggs too

@Lucia, your concerns are noted. See my previous comment for appropriateness of channels – this platform is much more transparent (anyone can read), accountable (it stays as a written record) and open (anyone can jump in) than your internal meetings. On my last-but-one trip to Matera, before you arrived, @Nadia made a forceful point that unmonasterians are accountable to the broader Edgeryders community, who worked hard to put you guys in the building; here is where this discussion belongs. David and I had a very open conversation sitting at the dining table on Saturday; hours later, I reported it here for all to see. If you are “miffed” (I assume it means “baffled, surprised”) because of lack of transparency, I have to ask you to reconsider that position. 


Okay this feels a lot like people talking past each other, which is damaging for everyone involved - but seems to have become common practice of late at the unMonastery.

@Alberto I think you’re misreading what people are expressing in terms of suprise about this post, actually this kind of transparency is most likely welcomed. Where the frustration falls, is in the fact that @fortyfoxes was asked to be transparent about his intentions and plans, a week ago (and also 3 weeks prior to that by myself and Nadia). Everyone is still waiting on his response to both of those meetings we’ve had, and the frustration is centred here because you’ve been put in the position where you’re the one reporting back for David. This is where the flares of tension are coming from.

I agree that anything happening at the Meta-Level needs to be communicated on EdgeRyders, since this is the stakeholder dynamics and the way the project should function - so at each turn that we’ve taken at this level I’ve tried to report it online in posts. However the interpersonal dynamics taking place in the building are better resolved offline, otherwise we waste an enormous amount of time and energy debating online.

In terms of accountability to the broader EdgeRyders network, since that meeting with @Nadia we have consistently produced a Friday public review, primarily intended for online consumption. Were this producing a dialogue online, more would likely be reported. It’s also worth noting for the record that a mistake was made at the beginning of the project (perhaps by me) in that it was never stated explicitly that people post on EdgeRyders - given the disquiet, it’s obviously not something to be repeated. It was though something that was lost in the infrastructural nightmare of the first month, particularly the severely flakey/no internet.

In terms of contribution to the success and potential continuation of the project, individual reports will be going online this week coming from each project and I hope that this will go some way to giving recognition to those who have put an enormous amount of energy into making things work.

On a side note, unMonastery wasn’t supposed to be a burnout inducing project but it’s now starting to feel that way more and more by the hour.

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Peace! And wrapup

Ok, let’s wrap this up. There is no conflict here, though the emotional temperature rose quite high – unexpectedly, for me. Let me reassure everybody involved that this was no attempt to impose anything on anyone. Even if I wanted to impose something on, say, Ben, I would have no instrument to do so!

On the proposed integration move:

  1. We drop the idea of integrating the VA and the unMonastery.
  2. Edgeryders continue to assist both VA and uM as best it can.
  3. None of this superimposes with the patching up of the working relationship between @fortyfoxes and other unMonasterians. I was not aware of it and David did not bring it up. 

On protocol (in the spirit of the Benedictine Rule, I am more interested in having the “right” interaction than in moving towards the “right” outcomes, so this second part is much more important to me):

  1. it is ok (in fact, encouraged) to publicly question and interrogate anything Edgeryders, as long as it is done (1) with intellectual integrity (2) consistently with "who does the work calls the shots" (3) publicly and online.
  2. The need for documentation, brought up by Ben in this comment in a broader accountability context, had already being discussed. No action is required beyond that already agreed with Nadia about a month ago.

Works? Shall we move on?

This helps a lot.

I appreciate this post, thank you - it reads with the spirit of what we are trying to do together and I hope that everyone can see and appreciate this - above and beyond the crossfire of the past days.

Updates will be forth coming on the platform about the situation going forward and updates on the meeting with Rossella this morning.

We shall move on, but gingerly


I ran off to Bari for a day and returned to find a virtual ruins - now we are to understand it was a bad dream and all is to continue as before.  There are forces afoot that may facilitate this, but the foundation now feels very shakey.

I was going to suggest that you get back down here asap and do some better listening.  I did take you aside to inform you that all was not well, and suggest that you move in with us to help restore balance.  That I am veiled and diplomatic about revealing particularly other people’s distress and indescretions, may not be a good thing; but distress flags have been waiving for some time now, so I am surprised you didn’t try to get to the bottom of it.

As I choose to narrate things what gets forgotten in the push for deliveribles to clients is that the Edgeryders are primarily concerned with Social Cohesion Research.  This must remain our specialism; it is the why we are prototyping the protocol of unMo in a generous climate.

That it is the way of human beings to generate hope and positivism despite evidence to the contrary can be confusing. Sure a large percent of the house showed up as team players to be your performing seals and to tell the waiting world that we are on to something good; but behind the PR our social cohesion has been suffering.  In our Saturday terrace conversation, Ben gave you his good news, sandwiched in between were easyily decipherable messages that we were struggling and that he was at his wit’s end.  When I left I kind of assumed that you would give ear to these… apparently you didn’t catch on.

There is more to be said, but let’s get that one floating out there first.

Yes, I too am probably a closet Benedictine,


PS: it wasn’t mentioned on Saturday but from backstage it felt as if you did a good job of working the crowd.

“It’s not you, it’s the social dynamics”

Thanks for the vote of confidence, @Bembo DaviesI do plan to come back to Matera at least once more before the end of May: but, in all fairness, I may not be the best guy around to go to for emotional support. I guess I am more like @Marc: I am driven primarily by building useful, clever, beautiful things. Occasionally I become friends with my co-workers at the construction site, but that’s a very welcome outcome of our working together, not its prerequisite. If you look at the Edgeryders board of directors (with the obvious exception of the strong pre-existing tie between Nadia and myself) you will see five people that have very little in common, don’t hang out together (we must have spent less than ten hours overall in the same room – and that’s one year after starting a company together!) and don’t expect to. We bond over common goals and respect for each other’s abilities; our social contract is built upon delivering, or – failing that – trying to, very seriously.

You guys went for a different way. And well you did, because it’s your way, and hey – I am not particularly successful with this stuff to begin with, so it’s not like my way of doing things is so great. But once you go your way, you’ve got to play ball. We expected tensions and glitches, remember? Your application form had a question “Are you prepared to be challenged, physically and emotionally?”. That was no joke. We knew from the onset that monasticism 2.0 would certainly need more than one iteration, and could well fail altogether. This does not mean there is any blame to around: you, me, Ben, everybody means well. The failure is in the wiring, not in the people. “It’not you, it’s the social dynamics”: if we don’t see this, we have been studying network science for nothing.

Faced with relational difficulties, my instinct is to disinvest emotionally: we don’t have to like each other to work together, we just need to respect each other, and respect needs to be encoded in concrete indicators – like we show up on time, we take good care of each other’s work, we don’t waste each other’s time. This is often easier to do than to be socially cohesive with someone if the chemistry is not there. Then, in my experience (and in Simmelian sociology), this sort of arms length, constructive, respectful interaction builds trust over time, so that people can at least relax, and in some cases even move towards being friends. But that’s just me, and once again I am no expert. I am only telling you this because if I were in the building that’s what I would do: remind myself and others that we are experimenting; that it is ok to fail; and that, above all, failure can be… incremental. If people fight for lack of privacy, it’s probably simpler to bring in partitions and try to spread people across more rooms than to try to enforce communal living “just” because that was the original idea. This is what I would do, and if you like the approach you can deploy it yourself. What would you expect from me moving in with you – other than the obvious tensions with me, like Ksenia, not being a sanctioned unMonasterian?

Ancient History


I’ve been cleaning house – It’s Broom Day at the unMo – and found this text snippet that I just sat upon at a time last month when any more words were not likely to inspire more listening.  The emotional temperature around the dining table has regained some glee.  Perhaps we secretly know we are still negotiating an impossible balancing act, but several things have lifted the spirits…  Is it still the case that you’ll descend once more?

— just interrupted by the arrival of Gaia + beau and Nico - the house once again full and then with Elf pending, more than full.

The arrival of Nathan Schneider with his pithy questions has also stirred up the consciousness of the house in an appropriately provocative manner.

Anyway, I still continue to tweak both the culture of the house and an understanding of the culture of the house.  We have come a long way in exploring core values and their attendant compromises.  I am not sure if I sent you a direct link to our collective apology to MA2019 - Rossella got it directly.  The last month’s definition of i progettini may also illuminate a ‘culture first’ working strategy.

I’m sending you this to keep it on the record – it was during the days of reeling in our vulnerability.

"Thanks for the Challenge Alberto.

I would say that we unMos offer no path to FastLove, but without a well-oiled way to ‘renewable frugal joy’ we cannot build the necessary core to sustain our community.  The project hardware is accessible and therefore predictable; given time deliverability is always possible.  Administrating the environment that defends this time in a coherent manner has always attracted me as our key research project.  What makes the unMo unlike all other project residencies?

Your comment ‘chosen to go that way’ illuminates this balancing point.  Friendship does too easily become a commodity; we shift surroundings - people vanish.  Creating mandatory false fellowship is not the answer.  Ours was a choice-by-ordeal; the cleansing shock of deprivation hit the original settlers hard.  As we lifted our eyes from our cold plates, we had only each other and our sense of community.  (See my report to Rosella : The Health of the Idea Fountain)  As things stabilised and when the whip of ‘responsibility’ was raised by some, this sense of community was deemed a luxury and its cultivation a self-indulgence.

I would suggest that the contagious appeal of the unMonastery project is the popular imagery of the monastery:  service, sacrifice, contemplation and the collective cultivation of ecstasy.  Under another name the package would not sell so readily.   Of course, we flirt with the trappings of a cult – but as long as we design ourselves as a non-hierarchical, fun-loving, outward facing cult we shall probably be able to negotiate a palatable interface. 


above this line I feel clear – below I am in more speculative territory that moves closer to places of soreness.  I am aware that I’ve never used this rhetorical tool before.  It feels as if I may be on to something


If the question really boils down to deliverables in our compressed timeframe, I do think that we have a realistic handle on this.  The furor of the last few days may abate –

Good steps have been taken, a key unit seems there ready to fall into place, but I still possess my fears.  It may be that we need a miracle to unite the forces.

If I don’t think that we can continue should we lose Ben; mathematically we could, but for me this reflects an esthetic choice.  Throwing him the mantle of unAbbott was always a chance.  He caved in during the run-up, he is brilliantly analytical at times, he withdraws and gets all nerdy when he must.  At times none of us have been able to take necessary steps, if it residual stuff from a life of being civil, or because we are a prototype and have not the protocol to move into regions of horror, I cannot say.  I am used to having an overriding discipline that demands all forces pulling together.  If it means swallowing elements of ones individual understanding because not everyone thinks the same, one does so and contributes where one can. 

Before the LOTE#3 I discussed with Ben what should be his true job description – we battered around a few terms without reaching a conclusion.  I warned him that unAbbott was an unwieldy weight, he squirmed in recognition.  We mentioned whipping boy, he squirmed in recognition.   I am not the unAbbott; it doesn’t fit my quirky, guerilla team-player modus operandi.  Perhaps I am a semi-retired brother left to dodder around at the foot of the garden and dragged forth for ceremonies  to dispense wise words.   I privately think of myself as the Glueman which brings us back to the social cohesion function.  When Ben left he took with him the Benedictine protocols, so he may return all inspired.

( Ben -  came back. )

Let’s have a google hangout instead?

Guys, like Ben I am seeing a lot of speaking at and past one another. Let’s chill with this thread and have a face to face conversation. Alberto is stretched super thin with time, so am I. So is everyone else. But Im prioritising this so am making myself available for individual google hangouts with everyone in the group to get the different perspectives on what is going on and why. With emotional distance, which I think might be helpful at this point.

And maybe we can come up with creative workarounds that preserve everyone’s sanity and energy. Ok?

just email to schedule a call with me.

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Community Calls (weekly)

Most of the time we tried to do Community Call every week. Now that I say again on the road I would really like that we keep them happening! For such conversations I find it much better setting then comments, and of course we do take minutes of each call which we can later re-publish here!

Hard to post on + Financial Factor?

Small observation @fortyfoxes profile suggests that David posted here last time 2 months ago… I must say once again that from UX perspective I also don’t have that much fun using it but sometimes I still take this effort :wink:

Also The Viral Academy group here doesn’t look very active!

I also wonder how big role finances play in this conversation, to my understanding VA received some funding for its operation. On the other hand I sense that while we don’t have clarity on capacity of unMonastery to operate on low finaces it may look like it runs out of time?

I did some radical cuts to make minimum version of budget projection, please see 3rd sheet in this spreadsheet , if we get creative project might even continue till end of October wihout any additional funding!

For making our conversations more productive IMO Loomio provides more useful framework then plain threaded comments, I even started group for unMonastery where we could test it! It supports Mozilla Persona which means that you can log in there as well as here with your email address and persona password (it also has handy bridge to make it even sipler for people using gmail and stay logged in!)

Slow calm reply

Hi guys, thought it best to wait a little before replying :slight_smile:

It was great to talk to @Alberto on Saturday. We had a fun, light weight and inspiring conversation over a lovely dinner at the unMonastery. There was absolutely nothing strategic going on. Our chat was in full view of everyone, and if any sin was committed it simply came from the positive energy generated. I’m truly sorry if any trouble or stress was genrated by this.

I’d like to talk about the content brought up here and continue the conversation over on the much neglected Viral Academy group which I’ll be posting a lot more to in the coming days. Over the last 4 weeks I’ve been here in Matera I’ve been discussing with @Ben about the structural problems of this first prototype of the unMonastery concept. Change is not easy, especially with a concept held so dearly and with a group of people that have been living together day and night in the same space, yet these discussions were positive and open. @Ben is in a very difficult position, and we have all been doing everything we can to support him, and make this project a success. It is the structural problems though that have made this process of necessary change hard, and the pressure for results has been enourmous. The more the pressure the easier it is for people to snap and become defensive.

The first problem was that the original project was structured as a rotating group of 10 or so individual projects living in the same space. Ben agreed that one project/one person wasn’t a good idea and brought it up in our last meeting (Global Strategy Summit at the unMonastery 2), The second and related problem was that there was no explicit place for individual projects to come together and seek overlaps. The group comes from very different backgrounds, and group work differs in each speciality. Group theatre work differs from community co-living, which differs from community engagement which in turn differs from engineering or software project management. In the time I’ve been here we had one planning meeting, which rapidly dissolved into an understandable confusion of approaches. Planning therefore consisted of daily 15 minute reports back as to what each individual had done during the day.

In this framework the only way to seek collaboration was on a small tasks, based on approaching people one-on-one. There simply was no physical space to discuss any significant pooling of resources, time or ideas. Add to this two very significant other factors - pressure to deliver results, and hands off leadership, and I would argue that even the most open and collaboration minded group of individuals would struggle. The greater the pressure the more inclined individuals are to knuckle down and concentrate on their own outputs, and without someone whose job it is to look at the big picture and initiate meetings it is asking an awful lot of people to hope for a collaborative structure to emerge by itself in such a short time frame.

EdgeRyders are doers. The culture is one of a do-ocracy. Each individual tends to be strong willed and motivated to speak through action - long meetings are an anathema. Talking to Ben before the Global Strategy Summit I pointed to the problem of changing culture, and the need to take at least a full day planning this. Even with a simple agile planning session to organise the next weeks work, it is strongly recommended to take a full day. A significant shift in strategy and group culture takes at least this. However, this would have been very difficult to talk the group into, even half a day out of individual schedules is met with understandable resistance. The 2 hours meeting we had failed even to report back, and we never got down to the task of looking closely at rationalisation of resources and project overlaps.

It is with this background that the current mini-flame war errupted. And it brings me to the other major structural problem that the unMonastery has. And this one is unavoidable. It is due to end at the end of May. Everyone is trying very hard to contribute to the possibility of the project continuing, but in the meantime it makes it super hard for all the projects here to gain traction. It was a discussion with @Marc about an Open Culure Festival for Matera that the an idea came up that could address this issue.

Together with @Marc we black-hatted the ideas for the festival we had discussed (handing out open source software, creating a growing map of local resources, running a Creative Commons Film Festival etc). The problem @Marc identified was that he didn’t want to do another event where people turn up, watch, participate, and then there is no follow-up. The solution we thought up together was to leave as a legacy, a local open-source server, and then to run monthly online hackathons to add to or further develop open-data or open source tools for the community.

The follow up could then further be facilitated by offering prizes to members of the local community that contributed most to the development of this open cultural resource for the community - and my proposal was that members of the EdgeRyders community with an interest in open culture could offer a “residency” in their homes. I for one would offer for people from Matera to stay in my flat in London, and based on previous discussions on this theme I’m sure others would. Visually we could show these links from the OpenStreetMap of Matera to places on offer for a residency, and this would make a powerful visual symbol of both the growing local culture facilitated by the unMonastery project, and the cultural exchanges and international connections that EdgeRyders brings to the initiative.

Is this practical? Which brings us to the question of resources (@elf-pavlik notwithstanding :slight_smile: My proposal to @Alberto was with regard to using the EdgeRyders Viral Academy budget to support the online initiative, which would allow us to provide the follow-up to this event and the potential closing of the unMonastery to at least the end of the year, and possibly all the way to a festival in 2015. This is I believe a great synergy between the Viral Academy project and the unMonastery. Maybe we got carried away in our conversation, and although I feebly tried to cast doubt on the idea, there is no doubt that we possibly took it too far in our conversation in terms of actual physical occupancy and extension of the unMonastery project (something that I am not sure I could personally do, or that the budget would tolerate).

However I believe in a soft-yes to early stage ideas - as I believe we all should. Running with an idea and exploring it’s potential is something that both the unMonastery and EdgeRyders should excell at, and I fear that many people in this thread have been too negative too early.

Life is hard enough in Matera figuring out how to deliver real results in a difficult situation without each other making things harder. People have been hurtful and people have been hurt. It’s time for some healing, mutual support, trust and some hard thinking.

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#1 - Radical Transparency

Hey @fortyfoxes, glad to see you jumping in this conversation :slight_smile:

Just to clarify, I do see various possiblities of cooperation between unMonastery and Viral Academy. In general I see unMonastery just as a generic platform to provide living/working environment for people to enable them(us) to work on all kind of more sepecific projects!

At the same time I find it quite crucial to put some values, which I hope we share, into practice. One very fundamental to me relates to Radical Transparency, which I see needed to enable holopticism :)

Here my first request to you and Viral Academy crew: Please publish all the financial details of your project as Open Data, and put in place way to track them publicaly. If you would like to use any of those VA specific finances to extend operations of basic unMonastery:Matera infrastructure, please also create clear proposal using public space for discussing it. Here again I would suggest unMonastery@Loomio (BTW they just meet their crowdfunding goal and will invest >$100k in improving open source codebase!!!) I can imagine inviting them to sponsor residency of 1-2 people who would code on Loomio from Matera and make it fit local needs… possibly also mixing it with local Code for All brigade… Sorry for mixing subjects, I just try to bring to everyone’s attention that we can come up with many complementary ways to continue our work in Matera, and we need to make sure that we use decent framework to work with all those various possibilities (proposals) all together with maximum clarity!

Acknowledged and agreed

Thanks for this, David. Two quick side notes:

  1. it seems I might have misinterpreted your proposal a bit: I thought you meant to ground VA operations in the uM space, whereas you seem to have been pointing at VA doing online stuff. The two are compatible, of course: but grounding the VA in Matera makes much more sense if you use the city to prototype the viral method of teaching code.
  2. I like @elf Pavlik's suggestion to release the budget in open data. I like it politically: you would effectively be telling the city "Look, we are bringing some extra resources to the table. We can use them to give the city a new service because we stand on the uM platform." That, in the south of Italy, is a powerful story.

Thanks David. Much appreciated.

David thank you for your well considered response. I have sought to stay out of this as far as possible up until the point where conflict threatens the well being of individual unMonasterians, and what we are trying to achieve together. On location and remotely as the wider Edgeryders community. I think you bring up a crucial point which is worth reiterating:

“EdgeRyders are doers. The culture is one of a do-ocracy. Each individual tends to be strong willed and motivated to speak through action - long meetings are an anathema. Talking to Ben before the Global Strategy Summit I pointed to the problem of changing culture, and the need to take at least a full day planning this. Even with a simple agile planning session to organise the next weeks work, it is strongly recommended to take a full day. A significant shift in strategy and group culture takes at least this. However, this would have been very difficult to talk the group into, even half a day out of individual schedules is met with understandable resistance. The 2 hours meeting we had failed even to report back, and we never got down to the task of looking closely at rationalisation of resources and project overlaps.”

The rule we operate by is rough consensus and running code. As in, no one can veto anyone else’s ideas or work.

If you don’t like an idea or an approach, build a better one. At a minimum, build on what is there so that it includes whatever you feel is missing.  The unMonastery is a community project and is free to be developed by anyone who puts in the work of creating the conditions for it to continue. In Matera or elsewhere. Those who do not like the offered resources are very welcome to do the work of securing others.

We also tend to avoid physical meetings because they are too high bandwidth and not particularly condusive to getting things done.

Working out loud, online where the primary mode of communication is in writing has several advantages in this respect.

  1. You are forced to communicate with clarity as you are writing for a broad audience and cannot rely on hidden assumptions or others sharing your biases and pre-concieved ideas. Having others ask questions and having to think abuout responses is a great way to achieve this clarity. We know it works. It's part of the reason why there is an unMonastery at all.
  2. You are reminded to stick to a certain social protocol because you are in a public space. Just knowing others are watching helps us to exercise constraint and self-discipline in our interactions with one another.
  3. It allows for decentralised collaboration where everyone can contribute by aligning their work or participating when and if they can. Because you know what others are doing, what is needed and can more easily figure out how you can be useful.

For example, a huge burden of translating communication has been disproportionately shouldered by Italian speakers  in the unMonastery. Edgeryderas supports different languages and you can easily contribute a translation of a text on the platform. Which means you guys could do a call for members of the community who speak and write Italian to contribute remotely to alleviate some of the workload off Italian unMonastery residents.

Those who are concerned about and wish to contribute to the continued existence of the unMonastery Matera presence in some form are welcome to contribute to the sustainability plan. Perhaps you have other ways in which you can contribute? Please feel free to share them on the edgeryders platform. They would be much appreciated by everyone I am sure.

At a minimum I ask that everyone respect others’ efforts to contribute to this beautiful project in their own ways.

We are building something quite remarkable together and it needs all of us to pitch in what we can.