The Digital Life Collective in 2019 — member newsletter
Well, here we are in January 2019. A good time to take a quick look at the year ahead don’t you think.
First, it’s great to report that last year’s contributions to both the old chat.diglife, our new chat.diglife.coop, and the regular Zoom get-togethers confirm that our Tech We Trust definition is one we all get behind:
equitable and accessible technologies that put autonomy, privacy and dignity first.
From this consensus, as much by emergence as deliberation (we’re non-hierarchical after all), a three-pronged strategy has developed to progress our mission.
- Ecosystem mapping
- Social Ledger + CaaS
- Interpersonal data
There are always things you can help out with, but please know that we cherish those of you who are just here in solidarity with our purpose. That rocks too! :-)
Our mapping team is making progress on many projects, and is seeking funding to develop an interoperable backend so that maps can interlink and are not siloed. To create trust in our own community and facilitate broader cooperation outside the Collective, we’ve begun to map:
- Our tech community, so we may better co-operate (with help from the Internet Archive and Doteveryone)
- The burgeoning digital identity ecosystem, in partnership with Identity Commons
- Bioregionally relevant maps, such as food, energy, housing and more, so that the mapping technology we are developing will support those focused on effective change towards more resilient and responsive communities.
Social Ledger + CaaS
Our work on the Social Ledger has progressed well and we’re slowly moving towards pushing the code to staging and production. You can preview the portal on the dev site but expect some hiccups since dev code is notoriously unstable, and it may not serve at all at times.
Some of the recent developments include:
- Depicting “aliveness” by looking at the transparency and size of the holons in the Holonic Map over time
- Depicting “connectedness” by looking at the density and expertise we share in the Skills Map
- Experimenting with a card-based user interface to quickly filter relevant information
- Filtering profile tags by analyzing the “word frequency” — excluding common use words or words that are too specific via DataMuse
- Adding toolsets to the Cloudron platform to move towards CaaS (Cooperation-as-a-Service) — CiviCRM, Ghost, CodiMD, WordPress, etc.
As soon as we can get there, we’ll be offering all variety of communities and collectivities a suite of integrated technologies they can trust — a collective of collectives liberated from our current centralizing overlords.
Information — its creation, flow, combination, interpretation, application — lies at the heart of Tech We Trust. Identity is information. Relationships are information. Organizing is information. Etc.
The concept of personal data has accrued massive currency in recent years, not least with the advent of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. (The GDPR uses “data” and “information” interchangeably, so we will here.) We embrace the spirit of the GDPR but not the letter. Our research demonstrates that the regulation contains two substantial incongruities with our vision.
First, it doesn’t refer to human beings so much as it does ‘data subjects’. This single emphasis betrays a regulation having to grapple with tomorrow’s technology with yesterday’s paradigms and language. It’s a good start simply given the poverty of the prior situation, but it falls woefully short in the longer-term.
Second, it turns out that personal data isn’t all that personal. That lunch date, that genome map, those photos, that joint bank account — all turn out to be interpersonal data. In fact, a personal bank account also records the relationship between two parties / persons (the bank and its customer), and lists transactions between the account owner and others.
Perhaps Tech We Trust — self-sovereign tech, agentic tech, co-operative tech — relies on interpersonal data at the edges more than personal data at the nodes.
You can read more on the topic of interpersonal data on our Medium channel. The vision appears to be unprecedented, and it is shaping up to be a multi-party collaboration.
Your Collective is growing. Our collaborations are making things happen, possibly great things. Whether you want to dive in deep, simply show solidarity, or anything in between, every member makes a difference.
Philip, Roy, Joachim, and Christina, on behalf of the member relations team.