A tentative plan…

The plan

The aim - Improved collaboration to facilitate the development of the open social web

The aim of this proposal is to provide a plan of action to grow and develop the CTA to the point that it can achieve its mission of "knitting together a flexible, collaborative open social web at the scale required for a connected and collaborative humanity."

This plan focusses on establishing the CTA as a viable community which uses pre-existing communication tools for its own management, and proposes a possible means of initiating conversations about how we can 'knit together a collaborative open social web' on a global scale.

The impetus for this project is based on the belief that improved collaboration is a, possibly the, key ingredient for achieving a more equitable and sustainable future.

The idea is to keep it simple, but to try to define a viable process, which does not use up members' precious time, and avoids the pitfalls of previous incarnations of the CTA and other social web projects.

Step 1 - Growing the community of pledges

The first step of the plan is to grow a community of members, who are committed to collaborating to achieve the CTAs aims. The CTA website has been set up as a place where interested parties can make public pledges to:

  • Active collaboration - to increase interoperability between their technologies and communities.
  • Sharing updates about their projects and learnings, to help develop more and better ways to work together (but the CTA promises to help write and publish updates, so no stress there…)
  • The shared principles and values of the CTA.

So nothing too onerous there.

Potential members often ask

"How much time and input will the CTA expect of us..?"

And the simple answer is

"None to start with, then it will be up to you".

Until a suitably large and invested group of members has pledged a commitment to collaboration the CTA won't do anything. There's no point in attempting to have a 'global conversation' about something so holistic without a critical mass of members. How big is 'critical'? That's the million dollar question - possibly somewhere between 20 and 50 key organisations or projects, or 100 to 200 individuals (representing 20 - 50 key organisations or projects)?

Step 2 - The community picks its group management tools

Once membership reaches a critical mass the CTA will initiate a discussion to determine its "holy trinity for group management": A tool for realtime communication (i.e. chat), a space for asynchronous comms (email or a forum etc) and, a space for static content (a wiki or doc management app).

There are already several contenders for elements of this holy trinity including Hylo (where much of the CTA discussion has taken place to date), Loomio, Discourse, and potentially the DigLife Social Ledger to name a few… Without any governance structure or decisions making rules in place it will be hard to define how this decision should be made but, rather than put the 'governance conversation' cart before the 'holy trinity for group management' horse, I propose the following:

  • Any member can submit a proposal for any of the 3 elements of the 'holy trinity'
  • Every member gets one vote on each of the three elements
  • Quorum in each vote is at least 80% of all members

Quorum might sound high but what good is the first decision made by a group of potential collaborators, on such an important issue as their communication channels, unless the vast majority of members vote?

Step 3 - Developing a minimal governance structure to empower autonomous working groups

An effective CTA is going to require some rules about participation, procedures and decision making and, as such, an effective governance structure should probably be defined and agreed by all members before collaborative work begins.
However, to avoid losing time and to empower members with more interest in technical discussions and development it is proposed the CTA adopts a pre-existing governance philosophy, such as a meritocracy (like the GNOME Foundation, Apache Software Foundation, Mozilla Foundation, and The Document Foundation) or sociocracy as its foundation.

The aim of this step is to enable autonomous working groups to form and start collaborating as quickly and painlessly as possible, so that they are empowered to begin working towards achieving the CTAs goals. As with any group work it may make sense to engage facilitators, who are practiced in developing effective groups and governance, to help the CTA through this stage of development.

Once a minimal governance structure has been agreed, in order for topic specific working groups to organise themselves independently, a more permanent governance group (to which any member can contribute) should continue to refine the communities procedures.

A separate, 'oversight' group should be established to direct CTA strategy by defining SMART objectives for working groups that focus on specific areas of CTA interest. These groups would conduct research and make recommendations back to the Alliance as a whole. For example, a working group could be tasked with researching and proposing the most appropriate Single Sign On (SSO) solution, whilst another could research and propose the CTAs recommended API standards or protocols, thereby allowing members to focus in on their specific area/s of interest without requiring them to keep up with discussions in every group, since the Oversight Group would report back to all members with updates and instructions for voting on wider issues.

The objective is to co-create the most effective system for collaboration possible, which empowers CTA members to contribute as much or little as they want in the areas which interest them most, whilst minimising administration and the amount of reading required. This may take a few iterations to optimise but if members are conscious of, and committed to, this objective from the outset there is no reason we can not create an effective methodology which delivers real progress towards an open social web.

Have your say

This is a tentative proposal which attempts to address some of the issues and blockages which caused previous efforts in this area to stall. It is by no means a final concept and will not be implemented unless the members of the CTA agree it's a good plan. Hopefully others will build on this proposal or submit alternatives which make this one obsolete! Until Step 2 has been completed (or another step which defines communication tools) we encourage feedback and comments via the form below or, if you'd like to submit an alternative proposal please get in touch and we'll give you access to publish your proposal here or publish it for you if you prefer. The CTA is a collaborative effort which relies on the collective input of many voices - we want you to have your say so we can do more together, together.



Over 50 years researching and developing collaborative systems makes me somewhat sceptical of the viability of yet another effort in this area. While there is great lip service given to collaboration I see dozens of new organizations being created rather than collaborations with pre-existing organizations. These organizations fail to scale and become dormant or become political with limited effectiveness.

I am swamped coordinating DivvyDAO.org, RChain.coop, DigLife.com self-sovereign identity, community support and economic freedom. To that end I've added to my load projects with Holochain and metamaps. My cooperation with Hylo, IoO, OAE, etc. necessarily has been limited. 

I am joining CTA in the hopes of realizing cooperation among the communities I am part of where such cooperation has failed previously.. If it is to succeed it will need to do things differently. Rallying behind a pledge has not proven to be sufficient.

In my view CTA might succeed if it scales collective intelligence. Linking teams in a sociocratic manner into a sociocratic polyarchy where each organization, team and individual is at a center of self-managed control with active, visible, deliberate self organization promoting cooperation affimatively. Cooperation on identity and the mapping of our needs and resources in our organizations is essential in my view.

I am happy to see the  DigLife Social Ledger  mentioned in the plan as it is a start of a scaffolding for such an organization. I suggest CTA join the social ledger trial.