Social Ledger Lab

Building Organizations Powered by Human Ingenuity, Cooperative Technology and Shared Protocols.

(plenty of gear, coffee and NYC parking tickets on the table)

What is the future you want to create?

Imagine setting off on an expedition with a group of people unbeknownst to each other to discover and build something truly remarkable. Now imagine a way to capture this unfolding story of your journey together and to weave it into a rich tapestry that begins to make more sense the deeper and further you go. The new paths you create, the social objects you discover, the activities you do all become sign posts (aka ledger entries) for others to follow. But unlike a personal transaction in a Financial Ledger, the Social Ledger records your interaction with others: your social contributions, your intangible assets, the things you say and do, inside the fabric of a larger social being you are part of. That is the idea of the Social Ledger, a digital environment that provides a safe space for participants to travel through a series of collaborative and immersive sense-making activities, accumulating social capital on the way to deepen the trust and build your identity.

Goal 1. Envision an architecture for the Social Ledger that is powered by human ingenuity, cooperative technology and shared protocols.

This is not about a new (transactional) platform or service. This is not about technology per se. This is about a meta-body that constantly adjusts itself based on the needs of its inhabitants. For example, when a new team gets together, they need to establish communication protocols (how you work together, what communication channels and tools you use, etc). The architecture for this approach needs to be open-ended, with new pieces (cards, protocols) being born into a playful context that can be adapted, adopted and exapted for a given problem space that a team explores together. It exists at the intersection of work (build), play (experiment) and learning (sharing).

Goal 2. Develop a prototype meta-platform for the Social Ledger to launch expeditions into virtuereal spaces.

Based on the architectural elements and patterns we’ve discovered in the previous goal, we set out to build a first prototype for this environment. Bits and pieces of this meta-platform are based on earlier prototypes of the Social Ledger (launched in the Digital Life Collective) and Knowledge Expeditions (launched at Sceenius). The notion of “virtuereal” stems from an increasingly blurring boundary of what is real, what is virtual and how your body relates to being present in such a space (think scenius, a term coined by Brian Eno).

Goal 3. Invoke a quasi-infinite possibility space that amplifies the minds of the participants and nurtures the skillsets (and gear) needed to co-create a better world.

The space feels infinite (almost incomprehensible) because new things are beginning to emerge that were not understood or contextualized before. Only once teams reach “sense-making plateaus” are they beginning to see the unfolding landscape in front of them. “Social objects” (collective attractors) draw in the attention of other teams and increase the flow among the many pods and activities that are arising. The goal is to provide a “home” for anyone longing to co-create things with others, because in the end, all we have is each other (to paraphrase Carl Sagan).

How do you track progress?

The Social Ledger has many moving parts that can be tracked independently. For example, it is fairly easy to see how many teams have launched expeditions, how many teams have entered into new portals or how many new “social objects” (e.g. game cards, see below) have been created and/or shared with others. Underlying the platform we will be an open currency trellis that allows all participants to record and track the contributions of their own work. The data that participants create belongs to them, there is no intention to harvest it for any other purpose than to advance the cause of the individual and the team.

How are you doing so far?

An early version of the Social Ledger has been prototyped in the Digital Life Collective and various other spaces. Knowledge Expeditions have been run for a few years now with adventurous volunteers. This lab will work on the next generation of the Social Ledger and create a new environment from the ground up, piece by piece (card by card), leaving a trail behind that others can follow in the future. We have also created a conceptual framework for an organizational context and high-level design specifications.

What have we learned so far?

The metaphor of an expedition resonates deeply with people, because you need a only few committed members with excellent gear and level skillsets to begin the climb. Focusing on the human aspects of the journey (creating relationships, enactivity and immersion) overcomes the many technical barriers people face when entering online spaces. The person you really are (i.e. not the mask you are wearing) begins to shine through and surface in these expeditions. Our task is to provide a scaffolding and affordances (such as an intuitive interface) to help the onboarding process. A certain base set of protocols, tools and roles help getting new teams involved quickly. Most importantly, we found that many teams work in silos (by design or unintended) and wish for better ways to reach out and to connect to each other. The Social Ledger can function as a bridge here.

How can we help you?

The initial “services” that this lab can provide focus on defining who you are (your identity), how you communicate (e.g. via Mattermost), where you publish your ideas (e.g. via Medium) and where you store your social objects (e.g. via Google Docs). These services will be represented as “cards” that are available to individuals and teams. Each card has one owner and connects to a “service provider”. Once you become part of this meta-body you can see other players in this space (if they decide to work-out-loud) and share your own cards. To take this further, cards record contributions (activities) in an incorruptible ledger to leave a trail behind for future value creation (think currency with memory).

How can you help us?

We want to build the Social Ledger now! Since there is a strong alignment with other collectives (from what we have seen) and what the School of the Possible is going to do, we can see many symbiotic relationships. The Social Ledger is Open Source, so there is no profit incentive and anyone can join. That is not to say that services are free (e.g. running an infrastructure or tapping into service providers costs money) but we envision to create our own monetary flows or currencies that allow all participants to be fairly rewarded. Those that have climbed with us to higher sense-making plateaus and have opened new portals that others can step through will feel a sense of belonging and accomplishment. Let’s meet at Base Camp.

“The Social Ledger pronounces meta-level conversations but then goes further and invites the audience to step into the screen.” — Gary Coulter

For more information contact Lab Director Joachim Stroh or join our Social Ledger Lab chat space via Way Station on Mattermost.