unMonastery / EdgeRyders Meet up in London

The unMonastery thrives and prioritises face to face communication, so we’ve decided to begin hosting a series of small informal gatherings in different countries where unMonasterians are present, starting with London - the first one will happen at on the 3rd floor at Royal Festival Hall on Sunday: 26th of April / 10:00 - 12:00. Anyone and everyone is welcome.

Community Calls

Last year we used to run regular community calls, that hasn’t happened for while but it seems like a good time to bring them back - these will happen on the last Sunday of every month. The first of these new round of community calls is schedule for the 26th April at 11:00 CET - I’ll make a separate post with relevant links and details later this week.

It’ll mean getting up a lot earlier than usual, but i’ll wander down.

How long will you be in London? Do you need somewhere to crash while you are in London?

Besides the meet-up, i’d like to talk with you about the Kiderwind project.


@Ben - where in RFH?

community call

hi :slight_smile:

Is there a community call today and how people can join ?

Report Back from April meet and wondering about the next

After a bit of confusion with location I eventually joined the rest of the crowd for an interesting discussion about governance of open projects.  This was prompted by the recent developments around the governance of Edgeryders and Unmonestary. Open governance was explored mainly through the lens of Open Source Circular Economy Days  (OSCED) as  @SamMuirhead answered questions about how the project was developing, how its governance was structured (informally), and may be structured in the future (some kind of corporate structure after the fist events in June).  The development of OSCED has been supported by The Renewable Freedom Foundation


@Vidrij Da suggested that The Art of Hosting offered practical tools to overcome frictions within an organisation/group

Wondering who was interested in meeting again this weekend.  We decided it would be good to meet again at Royal Festival Hall, on level 5 and it would be easier for people to have a slightly later meeting, if I remember correctly, at midday, bringing along food to share.


Thanks for connecting

I am interested in the more unMon centered member’s take on the governance developments. Unfortunately so for my time spent reading about this on the ER platform does seem to give me a lot of substance from the unMon perspectives. I nudged in the general direction a little bit, but so far not much reaction. Do you know where the communication channels I’d have to get into are? Did anyone per chance do a record of the (or a similar) discussion that is okay to share?

I’ve not been involved with UnMo, other than being at the founding session at LOTE1 and following the progress via the web.

I was involved in the conversation (via this platform) when Edgeryders incorporation was discussed, after LOTE2 (which led to the creation of ELBG) , as I have some experience and interest in group dynamics, governance and UK legal structures.   I was hoping that we could piece together something that would somehow have an open structure but it was clear it would take a lot of work.

I guess people were keen to get on with other work, and not so interested in experimental hacking of governance and legal structures so the proposal for ELBG came forward with some time for people to make/develop alternative proposals before it was adopted (do the work-call the shots).  I did not have the time or energy to put into something else - even though I am fascinated by possibilities. (eg. this video of a now dead project)

I’ve never used Google Hangouts and have for a long time avoided Skype (Microsoft) as I don’t like the power these corporations hold.  This, and the fact that I often have very poor/limited internet connection, has led to me not being involved in any video calls.  Interesting to listen to some of the community call you recorded.

This disability to participate/observe conversations obviously acts as a barrier to participation.  Also there is greater value in more personal communication face-to-face>video>audio>text(chat)>text(asynchronous)>passive consumer.  It appears that this is a significant part of the current friction around both UnMo and Edgeryders and their governance structures - the conversations that are not visible appear to be a cause of some tension.

The trouble is that the most valuable communication is often not shared - who is going to write up the meeting (preferably with a reasonable degree of detail)  and publish them.  I guess your technique of recording the video call is one method(any data on visits/listens to that recording?) that could be used for face-to-face meetings although a summary of a meeting is more useful to some people.

As for UnMo communication channels - as far as I’m aware none of the conversation about governance and incorporation happened in open online channels (where I might have seen them).  I get the impression it happened through meetings.  Main online UnMo communication channels I’ve noticed are currently http://discourse.unmonastery.org/ and Twitter and some organising through Trello - although it appears this was used much more during UnMo Matera.

So the question has got to be is the cost of documenting and sharing info more widely, possibly allowing remote attendance of meetings (working in the open), worth the benefits of lower friction / being more accessible for participation.


Sound recording of community call has 4 plays so far + OT

However, I don’t think that is saying much in either direction. It is too early to tell, and I am also not really sure what is the best way of doing and integrating it. We’ll run out of minutes (180 for a no-pay account) on the next community call. I think it might make sense to archive a lo-fi version of the call on ER and only have the last one up for discussion and linking to it. The other thing is that I am thinking about a way to say something “off the record”. Of course there’s issues with that, and it would make some sort of editing necessary. I like transparency, but I think extremely strong transparency can get in the way of potentially good dynamics as well… I don’t think I have a hard and fast rule on this though. I’d probably want to “spread” these decisions throughout the community with the persons acting having a relatively large say.

The bettermeans.com video was interesting - thanks for that. I have a few visions some of which are somewhat similar (e.g. 2nd paragraph) under the hood, but I am not a fan of the interface. I generally agree with the hierarchy of communication channels you gave, though my take is that we’ll have to do a lot of trade offs so video will be the exception. The scenario I am designing for is one where most of us are very busy. Many doing menial and intermittent tasks, or agricultural work. Hardware performance is similar as today (but electronics lifetime increased), connectivity varies a lot by location (rural vs urban, energy dense vs starved). Sitting at home working with clean hands using pointer and screen will be reserved for a small minority, the rest use very rugged devices adapted to their physical work. The reason why I tend to favor audio is that it comes with a couple of strong pros: 1) your hands are free 2) it needs extremely little energy (works fine in the dark) 3) you can easily make or fix the i/o device 4) since we killed off most dangerous megafauna we only need our ears very intermittently 5) we pretty much come with spoken language pre-installed - written not so much 6) emotions can be reliably communicated 7) relatively frugal in terms of data storage 8) speech -> text -> arbitrary language (with fuzziness) -> speech is hopefully “around the corner”.

That is why the bread and butter jobs will probably be going through audio. Of course intensive interaction with the collaborative platform will happen intermittently for very many people (think visit to library or committee meeting), and may also be a full time occupation of some networkers. Both will use a lot more channels than audio. However, even in that case text will be probably restricted to a supporting role for aspects that require low ambiguity, and as a general rule the bandwidth of the optical channel will be required for fast orientation, navigation, discrimination, and pattern perception. Input would probably be based on hand/finger gestures and facial expression.

Summaries are of course essential (but also very political). Browsing through lots of unsuitably structured text is a losing proposition, but data synthesis comes with loss. My preferred approach would be to keep as much raw data as possible, as local as possible - with making provisions to make it searchable in an abstracted form and request a full data set in a smooth manner. E.g. individuals tag/comment/picto certain parts of the file appropriately, perhaps also while the discussion/presentation is ongoing. Then you could supplement a human made summary with automated “highlights” using various perspectives (e.g. based on sets of tags, or composites of individuals - like the members of a project). That reminds me, @Matthias - it may be useful to be able to @mention a project which will send a nudge to the involved individuals. That shouldn’t be terribly difficult technically I think.

If you have the audio you could probably do most of that at some later point when the infrastructure is ready. For the projects that get a little more hands on or are happening in an unMon you could do video (stills or moving by activation) from a couple of angles by default. It is likely that is can be relatively easily squeezed into a platform like bettermeans, ER, or something else altogether. The worst that can happen is a human transcript - which is a lot better than straight into the text box for people like me. I lose half my brain capacity when writing. During dialogues I think I perform better than if I can concentrate in a quiet environment alone (at least for the more creative bits).


I think both unMonastery and Edgeryders as a whole is struggling to find healthy working practices that don’t put too much pressure, or power, in the hands on a small number of people. Which is inevitable when not enough people are willing to step up and put in resources to support all the invisible work needed to keep these kinds of initiatives going. At the same time, this is often because people who would want to help don’t see a point of entry unless they like yourself try this are willing to take the time to explore and figure it out themselves or at least put their ideas in practice and then share their findings with others. Improving this requires those with the overview to structure clearly defined tasks and a social contract which makes doing them an attractive proposition. Them people who realistically can do that tends to be the small group of people doing the heavy lifting, who are usually operating under a lot of pressure on their time and attention and without support it is not feasible that they can do this work on top of everything else. It is not unique as we found when doing a structured analysis of the conversations around stewardship. The question is how to move forward, we have a few ideas for how to do this, but discussing them requires a number of committed and reliable people discussing things in a calm and reflective manner in which there is a clear separation between interpersonal, legal and financial points of tension. This is not the case at the moment and it is my hope that the process Caroline is offering to steward can help. I would ask everyone who genuinely cares about Edgeryders and its potential, and is sufficiently removed from current conflicts, to get in touch with her and help build it, as it is far too much work for any one person to carry alone.

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+1 to @Nadia suggestion:

“I would ask everyone who genuinely cares about Edgeryders and its potential, and is sufficiently removed from current conflicts, to get in touch with her and help build it, as it is far too much work for any one person to carry alone.”

On the above, I have notes, and it’s been on my to do list but unfortunately it’s not a priority right now with everything else going on - it will get done though, as well as suggesting a fixed London meetup on a more regular basis.

On the documentation point, briefly: I recently bought a smart pen, hoping they’d reached a point of reasonable maturity, as I tend to document everything, as in every conversation I ever have in note form and have found recently I rarely have the time to type up my notes. It’s kind of working but I haven’t yet established a decent workflow with it.

I also tend to record a lot of conversations and have been paying for transcription at a reasonable rate but tend to only do this for things that make sense to publish - but that also requires substantial editing time.

Having grown up using a laptop (at the age of 11 I was told I was dsylexic and given a laptop as a cure), so I’ve always spent a lot of time online sharing my thoughts and engaging in online dialogue - but at some point in the last year I moved away from this. I find the information overload of platforms like twitter, slack and also at times EdgeRyders to be massively exhausting, and a cause for fragmented thought, both in terms of emotional intensity but also that a constant feed often infers an illusion of progress.

I’ve found of late that a staggered trajectory of: informal conversation over time > curated structured conversation on a subject derived from a longer running thread > distilled into notes > shared notes with time for reflection > structured 2-3 day meet up focused on prioritisation and alignment > assignment of tasks > 1 week sprint > publish. Derives much more successful results than the previous mode that I was operating in. This though obviously has it’s pro’s and con’s.

By way of example this is an approach that has been taken with The unMonastery BIOS, and I anticipate with publication in a month or so time, we will be able to judge whether this process can yield sufficient results to justify it’s relatively closed nature.

Also there’s something worth noting that would benefit from more thought, there is clearly a problem within the transfer and distillation of tacit knowledge from those who do the heavy lifting in networks such as EdgeRyders and unMonastery. That due to the high workloads of those doing a substantial chunk of work from the start there is rarely time to skillshare, teach and pass on knowledge to newcomers, and this seems to grow exponentially overtime. This from my perspective is one of the main contributors to the concentration of power that (accidently) forms in networks that aspire to decentralisation and any form of horizontality. Classical institutions rarely suffer from this because clear hierachy also enables a structured means of transfering knowledge over time, we’ve also had many centuries to figure this out.

Too often it seems that networked and distributed organisations form and grow around a set of personalities that hold everything together by maintaining an overview - as communities or responsibilites grow, the pressure intensifies and it becomes increasingly difficult to hold up the structure. Observing this from my experience with organisations over the last few years, I’ve begun to try and factor in an exit strategy as a part of the workload that is accounted for from the start. Whether that be through teaching, documenting specific aspects of great important or making sure to share external relationships key to the initiatives survival.

**Not as brief as I intended, hopefully it doesn’t read as a ramble :wink:


Skype call?

Hey @ben perhaps we can do a skype call with you and perhaps 1-2 more people who are also interested, when it is convenient. I feel like I have accumulated more “ER-platform influence” at the moment - and I want to see if I can move into this process starting with a little more balance. If you prefer another mode, no problem we’ll find something.

I like the the staggered trajectory. My last impression was that smartpens still suck, unfortunately. I do a lot of sketches that I photograph when it is needed. I also like txt and presentation files as “rich link-dumps” -> draft pres.

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Tacit knowledge transfer through pairing ?

I was briefly involved in conversations during the early development of growstuff.org

I found it very interesting that they had a strict policy of all software development happening via pairing - no matter what their skill levels 2 people would link up either in real life or remotely and work together on all development.

Great way to build skills and relationships although obviously this has some overheads - guess in some situations it could be worth it though?

looks like it may have been dropped by Growstuff now as there is no mention at http://wiki.growstuff.org/index.php/Get_involved

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Pairing, staggering, inversing, iterating

Yeah, that was at least part of the idea. Also, a conversation between 2 is run differently than between 3 - and my gut feel is that it may be helpful in this case. If I remember correctly the Netherlands have a law that says (in some sectors) you are not allowed to work alone (for safety reasons). But it may pay off in other places as well. Overhead is to a large degree a question of effective management (unfortunately seems to be at least partially sucked into the (academic) economics clusterf***). In other words, I don’t want anyone to picture clean handed, tie wearing, people external to the process, who claim to be managers or consultants.

Another advantage for groups of 3 is that with two connections you are more likely to get a linear info spread which is very fragile (weakest link). If the info spreads through a highly branched and connected structure - (some of) it is more likely to get to point B. Also it’ll morph differently along different routes - both a blessing and a curse. But if the raw data is kept, it is mostly helpful and enlightening. Thus my preference of groups of 3, one junior (most active), one senior (moderates junior, and encourages:), one (or two) beginners (helps with simple stuff, asks questions about complex stuff, makes sure documentation is there and useful, and substitutes for junior if one is needed). That way you can build a (widening) talent pipeline, and spread work and info effectively.

Ideally I managed/supported multiple projects to have them complement each other in different phases and have people inverse roles when contributing to such a related project (senior in mature project → hops into beginner role in a supporting or sequel-project). If possible I liked to split projects into a couple of self similar phases with different scale and emphasis. Each phase would typically break down ino: dream, work, triage & assess. For advanced technology demonstrator type work I liked a relatively intensive dream-stage (experts & beginners separate, then mixed, borrow some people) that would also be relatively detailed in the end - to be able to forecast requirements for the critical backbone. If time is short I would start the alpha version (the fast, sloppy, and a the edges) staggered but essentially parallel to the first beta version (balanced performance with reliability). In the alpha version you do “dump-documentation” that has a lot of data but little structure. Alpha is half expected to fail/burst into flames before assessment is fully completed to see how-low-can-you-go (la-la-lalala-lala) on error margins. This informs the progressive elaboration of the beta version. If things work well in the first iteration, you do a second one to see if it was luck, and focus on documentation - cause you’re probably onto a good solution. If you kind of missed your aims, you check if it is possible to dream up good aims that fit what you made. Usually though you will feel that you’re on the right path, but it just needs more work. A lot more work. If that doesn’t seem to help you probably need to ramp up assessment and spread it throughout the project. Each new iteration is a good opportunity to bring in new people (and also let a few go). I would not want to make a lot of strict rules though. I’d rather welcome the opportunity to point out the difference between an “excuse” and a “good excuse”. This all however is based on technical projects that are probably some of the easiest to handle in principle. If you have strong outside influences (seasons) or complex living things (social aspects) to consider, this shoe would probably not fit on every hand…


Meet tomorrow

I’m guessing that means you are not going to be able to make a meeting tomorrow Ben?

The lack of any affirmations of attendance/interest makes me slightly hesitant, but I’m going to try and hold the space this month.  Last month attendance was unclear and there were 8 of us there.

I’ll be at Royal Festival Hall, level 5, in the corner furthest away from Waterloo station (I think it was called - blue side?) from 12 o’clock for at least a couple of hours.  I’ll have some food to share (suitable for vegetarians, vegans & wheat intolerant - even though I’m none of these)  I’ll ware my stripy yellow & black hoody - so I/our group will be easily identifiable.

Will I be dining alone??  I’ll update and let you all know.

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Hey Darren.

I’ll come along too.

See you around noon.

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Fly on the wall

I’d probably have time to listen in as a skype on the wall or so, if someone brings a device with a nice mic. Never done it before, and not sure if the location is appropriate. But I’d be up for it if someone posts a username…