Local Organization

How can (digital) technologies help people and groups organize on a local scale?

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Des pratiques collectives concrètes du logiciel libre, avec les petites singularités et les @gnuragistes.
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From the top of my head, I would say: they barely can, since many are used by the police to watch activists, and others are not censorship-resistant.

I know @heathermarsh has another idea about it, especially in the case where people can leave traces for other people to pick up – which is, in a way, what we’re trying to do with #engagement:offdem this year, and in a larger scope with /run which would require some love in order to become of any use: only by showing there is life while the government and media outlets focus on death – and only a single kind of death – can we demonstrate that this situation is not a fatality.

This question really stems from the recent events: censorship on mass-social-media, the wave of right-wing activists flowing through the Fediverse, government repression craze and the crisis of democracy ; as well as our current focus with IN COMMON and DREAM. It will be useful to make this more concrete and focus on actual needs rather than try to answer this question on an abstract level – at least this is how we intended it, in a situated way. See also the other #offdem-topic discussions.

Hey How,
I respectfully disagree: they surely can, and they definitely should. Many people think that not going into the mainstream consumption model equals living with candles in a cave. I want to stand as a living proof of the opposite (and so are many people in this community I guess). Similarly we can’t find gun-armed right-wingers with knives, and so we can’t fight big tech monopolies and organisations with with old means. It seems to me that’s why we are here, having this discussion.
As experts and actors we can provide privacy-safe grassroots tools and collaboration means, and my belief is that if we can provide these tools and means to the people, those who daily run local organisations, services, communities, then we can altogether weight in, and have our data, algorithms and lifes back. Not only for us, but for the people we love and care about as well.
Yeah sure monopolistic power uses these tools, but it’s also up to us to bring that to light, discuss it, and ultimately fight it. It’s up to us to setup this counter-force, make education and knowledge available, rise awareness and propose alternatives. Because if it’s not coming from us, the people, then whom from?

It’s not the tool, it’s how you use it.

Just my 2 cents btw, I’m still a guest here. :slight_smile:

Have a wonderful day!

Yes I think this is exactly what this topic is about, and also what petites singularités is about. Indeed we organize to work with local organisations not only providing tools but also supporting them in understanding how those tools offer different possibilities and can support coordination and organisation models for resistance.

Afaik, there are many tools out there, and often both very sophisticated and underused, and as @how says not used in a secure manner. Mostly I would say it is the understanding of the people and collective to transform their relation to technology that makes a difference, and this is a human factor. We are not only talking about adoption here, but also about transforming the practice to rethink organisation models.
This is what we will discuss during this session:

  • What are the local organisation models and what is their approach to digital tools.
  • What are the experience in the digital sphere that have served local organisation models
  • Presentation of existing projects that deal with local organisation such as: https://incommon.cc/

@dawal is there a discussion/concern/topic you would suggest in this thematic, that we could develop during OFFdem?


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I respectfully disagree: they surely can, and they definitely should.

I guess it’s a question of degree: when I say “they barely can”, it’s not because the tools do not exist, but rather that they do not have the means to use them (and that can stem from many reasons, from time to invest to general knowledge of the alternatives to default applications, to imposed applications in their environment, etc.)

It’s up to us to setup this counter-force, make education and knowledge available, rise awareness and propose alternatives. Because if it’s not coming from us, the people, then whom from?

Totally agree, but again we’ve been doing that for decades. Maybe there’s another problem, and that would be: people are elsewhere. Maybe we need to meet them where they are, not try to bring them where we are.

It’s not the tool, it’s how you use it.

I do think the tool matters anyway. I would not use proprietary software not because it’s not a good tool, but because its purpose does not match my need: I do not need any of F̶̥̈ȧ̶͜k̸̤̋ê̶̦b̸̠̎ơ̴̠ọ̸̍z̷̝̎’s features. But I do need a lot of Discourse features.

Thanks to both of you for the kind and quick replies.
It’s good to see we share these values, and that we still have some room for discussion. :wink: I’m eager to continue the conversation further during the offdem. :slight_smile:

On a more practical tone, I’m not sure how this will be organised (my poor understanding): if the ‘local organisation’ is a track, then there shall be talks submitted, right? Or is it more like an interactive workshop?

I can surely propose a talk, or participate to a debate/workshop. My topics would be around software ethics, grassroots tooling, structures of resistance and resilience. It also depends on the audience.
May I kindly ask for a live (phone-, signal-, jitsi- or whatever-) discussion to help me understand how I can best help?

Thanks again! :slight_smile:

There is no talks with attendance (as they are explicitly forbidden) this is a work meeting and the preparation is happening here.
Amazing if you feel like proposing a workshops.

Hey Natacha, How,

Thanks for the clarification (ok, I didn’t read the full official statement, my bad ;-). Ok, good.
I’ll rather try to contribute/participate to the existing workshops (namely Local Organisation and Collective Data Sovereignity) than propose a new one I guess.

So back to the topic of the thread. Thanks, @how, for the inspiring thougths. I generally agree, and the “need to meet them where they are” part is definitely right and needs to be further discussed.

However there’s one point we (as administrators of local instances) have failed on: reliability. As local, associative resources, we come short of providing the level of reliability and sustainability that big players provide. And I believe that could be fixed with better cooperation between local partners: there are tools for meshing and federating servers (talking at the application level), there are techniques for distributed backups, fail-over management, decentralised services. And we probably have altogether the knowledge and skills to do that, what we lack is the organisation (still that punky-anarchist thing, ahah).

We should be able to leverage the energy and work done at local levels. That would greatly help.

Interestingly, this was the primary objective of networks like Librehosters and InfraRED. It’s also a good part of what the @gnuragistes like to do…

The problem remains that cooperation among various collectives is a very hard task, hitting on habits and methods, rhythm and preferences, affinities and perspectives.

We’re trying to push this kind of cooperation with DREAM to enable local hosters to provide distributed and federated services, with IN COMMON for collective data management, etc. Our friends at InfraRED have similar backgrounds and histories of sharing infrastructure and making collective endeavors happening. I’m also thinking about @fsoulard’s https://dunia.cc which brings collaboration to a whole new level of scale and professionalism. We have the networks, we have the technicians, we have the situation requiring cooperation… Why does it remain so fragile?

Great we can meet soon!

Yep, true. And I believe it’s really how it should be, for diversity is one of our foundational pilars.
But it’s sad that it’s making collaborative work a bit harder.

I’d love to hear more about these initiatives. I don’t know DREAM (and can’t find any info online, wrong terms probably). Didn’t know about Dunia, cool! Sounds like a super-charged chaton. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the resources and thoughts offered in this thread, @how . It helps understanding the local landscape, so to speak, and that’s a beautiful one. Cheers. :+1:

Interesting comments in this thread :wink: thanks for mentioning and networking in this Discourse ground.
I believe also it’s far to be easy to scale and agglutinate groups in general. It means to transform a weakness (i.e. high diversity of frameworks, cultures, interests, priorities, perception within the low tech and FLOSS groups) into a common force, in a context where monopolies and hegemonic networks are moving quickly.
There is a dominance of narratives, of a philosophical approach of progress and technologies, and also in term of organization (big actors speak among themselves). But at territorial levels, where social, political and socioecological issues are intertwined, many failings of big actors and opportunity can be seized. In these territories, as you said, we need methods and ideologies to boost cooperation, “fediversation” of techs/groups, overcoming of differences. From my side, I try to amplify, in the social movements and institutions, the synergies between methodologies, communication and transformative action. It’s a very “dialectic” activity.
Anyway, it’s very necessary to hear and share stories on the group-making and cooperation-building around these issues.

That would be my main reason to participate to this meeting. :smiley: