There are many groups around the world working to deliver a more open, more collaborative and inclusive society. These groups are intention-aligned but remain disparate initiatives, which means they fail to benefit from the network effect.
The true value of a collaborative, open network will only manifests when its members communicate, and work together, through the same system or connected, federated systems. To catalyse this network effect, the CTA aims to encourage greater interoperability between the technologies and communities in our network.
The web of relationship and connections between our communities, and our platforms / apps / protocols is not immediately visible to the wider world, except via updates within our own networks and glimpses of social media activity. The CTA aims to change that by creating a visible representation of the connections within its network.
We believe an aligned ecosystem of individuals, processes, and tools can stabilize and rejuvenate the commons, and more efficiently distribute resources to the parts of the network that need them most, rather than concentrating resources in the hands of a few.
Communities that want to take collective action and develop culture and a solidarity economy have several barriers to realising their full potential for impact.
Tool fatigue and mirrored membership across boundaries:
There are currently a number of easy-to-use, user-experience first, collaborative software tools that are open-source, peer-to-peer licensed, and designed to benefit the commons.
Some are created by social enterprises, some are non-profits, some are informal projects. While their forms are different, what unites them is their intention to benefit the commons. However they are currently not well linked together.
In community software tools if only a small subset of the community joins, the tool is not valuable, and may even be a hindrance to productivity. However, if a critical mass of community members join, then the collaborative software tool can become extremely valuable. Complex communities have complex needs, and may need more than one tool to fulfill their diverse functions. Community managers sometimes speak of “tool fatigue,” which arises when a community is asked to adopt multiple software tools. If any one of these tools does not reach a critical mass they quickly become useless, and that function, however critical it might be, is lost.
Communities are often reliant on closed platforms that they can't hack and where they don't own the data.
Tool-makers themselves are reliant on sources of capital that are not aligned to their values and vision.
Who resources the “in between?”:
Different collaborative software teams are well-served by focusing on their specific feature-set, but they are stretched for their capacity to collaborate with each other to create pipes and portals to each other. Resources for them to do work that contributes to the schemas, data objects, and protocols that facilitate interoperability may be difficult to prioritize.