Over the past few weeks Nico, Daniele, Riel and I have been collaborating on this “corporate” video for Unesco:
Notice the blue Edgeryders logo?
That’s to distinguish between content we produce for ourselves as a community (red logo) and work commissioned by other organisations using the Edgeryders social enterprise (blue logo).
Is this a new development? No. It’s easy to miss this but those of us who have been part of Edgeryders development will recall that it is a path we have been on for some time now.
Two years ago @Darren proposed that we should set up a not-for-profit organisation to “facilitate the collaborative projects of Edgeryders, helping us to working together effectively”.
This sparked a really active discussion (90+ comment thread!) and the consensus was that yes we should. Anyone who wanted to register Edgeryders was free to do it under their own chosen legal format, and that’s how five people put ourselves forward (again with an open call for discussion +26 comments) to set up a not for profit organisation and carry some responsibility - legal and towards the community in general. So we registered Edgeryders LBG a not for profit organisation in service of a beautifully unruly community
In short we set out to see if by pooling resources and efforts we can help one another to get more interesting, paid work and be able to support one another’s projects more. Knowing full well that we were stepping out into unchartered territory and would be making a lot of mistakes along the way.
So far it’s been a promising experiment. It has its challenges too.
How to keep everything transparent without adding unreasonable workload on people already putting in a lot of volunteer work to make the opportunities happen or compromise people’s privacy? How to manage the conflict between need for speedy delivery, with the time it takes for calls for participation/paid work opportunities to reach the network?
These and many questions pop up along the way. Many of which have been explored in comments spread in the discussions that we had in setting this up. New questions and challenges continue to pop up along the way. Each new project brings with it new challenges and lessons around organising our work so we can collaborate in decentralised ways across countires, cultures and disciplines. And the more projects we do together, the more people in the community who develop these new skills that are at the edges of contemporary working practices.
"Yeah but will it land me a job?"
My hunch is that the members of this community and beyond will already be running rings around the dinosaurs by the time the market starts to realise what is going on and why these skills are so valuable. Because by then we would have had x number of years supporting one another in building meaningful, resilient initiatives…helping one another to lead lives that fulfill and sustain us. Peer to peer. I believe we should be striving for more than competing over shrinking pieces of a dysfunctional labour market, and instead turn to one another in building what we need. In a recent post Matthias posted a quote from a livechat with Slavoj Žižek:
"The problem is effectively who is a possible agent of change today. It can no longer be the traditional working class. Because to be a traditional worker, let’s say I’m employed by a big factory or company and I have a safe long term job. Ok, I am exploited, but in a stable way. This is almost a privilege today. What about permanently unemployed. What about precarious workers? What about all those living outside of our cupola, our universe? So the only agency of possible change I think can rise with the combination of all these dispossessed, marginalised and so on. Illegal immigrant workers, permanently unemployed, those living under ecological threat, the task is to somehow join all these multiple points. […]
We should fight all our struggles, against sexism here, racism there, and so on. But we should nonetheless keep open a sense of risk. There is always a mystery in political activity. You think you are engaged in a big project and nothing comes out of it. But often you make just a small demand, and if you insist on it, everything changes. We cannot master in advance the consequences of our acts. We should act and keep our mind open.""
We're already well on our way.
Part of this means collectively accepting that we will not get a smooth ride, and deciding to stick to it anyway. This means eating our own dogfood. For #lote4 we decided to coordinate the work of building the event through Makerfox, the network bartering app built by @Matthias.
We will try to post paid gigs that come in through client work secured by community members on Makerfox (i.e. work done using Edgeryders LBG as the organisation handling the administration and money). If you want to encourage this development, you can help by using it yourself in coordinating work on your projects. The more people who help fix bugs and improve Makerfox integration with the Edgeryders community platform, the faster we can do this and scale it up (because with improved integration we would not be asking for an unreasonable amount of work from project managers). If you have developer skills and are up for wrangling with Drupal, please let me know!
Another important part of this working well is to harmonise expectations between everyone involved. The need for this was highlighted by several people at LOTE4 so I am currently producing a document giving an overview of Edgeryders governance for newer members of the community. If I do a good job it would be including the input from the discussions we have had on and offline, and translating what we have learned from experience into a shared document that is simple to understand and implement. Expect it to be published as a wiki in early December.
How you can help
Using an alpha or beta version of an underfunded open source platform to coordinate a complex event did make it more demanding in some ways: for example @Noemi and @Natalia_Skoczylas who were coordinating the work had to spread time across two platforms both of which are severely under-resourced (i.e. non-smooth User experience, bugs everywhere etc).
However, the results were really promising (see video here). The quality of this year’s lote was the best so far and I believe the sense of deep community forming mentioned by Dan in his beautiful post is due to everyone there having been an active participant from before the event…and having really earned this beautiful event by building it together.
Why don’t they fix the bugs? Why don’t they improve the user experience and visual design? How can I tell where to even begin when I get to the platform and why don’t they figure out how to help me not get lost? Why don’t they run a proper newsletter goddammit? And why isn’t there information about the company? And why don’t they highlight some of the great people and content that is in the platform? There are so many small things they can do to take this whole thing up a notch, why don’t they?
Everything changes when you replace “they” with “we” in the questions…
We do weekly 1 hour video conferences (google hangouts) where community members meet to catch up with what is happening in our projects and lives, give one another advice and collaborate around different projects. As well as coordinate community-related work. It’s a great way to get to know and support one another.
It would be lovely to see you there on Thursday November 6 at 11:00.
Come. let’s adore and endure each other (thank you Jeff)