do it together
This is an introduction the the platform for changemakers we are busy developing. The official release date is 22 March, 2023, but if you are interested in contributing as a test pilot, with code or content, please fill out this form. Because, well, let's do it together!
1. Some background
Do we really need another platform?
Short answer: yes, we do. The dominant platforms today are exploiting us as individuals, dividing our attention, manipulating our perception and our behaviour, mining our data and selling it to the highest bidder, making us less informed, less confident and less competent. This is quickly spilling over into our societies at large, where algorithms that engage through enraging us create division and favour conflict.
The issues caused by the current system of profit driven social media are too massive and complex to explore here. More importantly, the business model they are based on will not allow any significant change as this would invariable lead to a significant loss of revenue. Which, in the end, is the purpose of these social media corporations. Providing a sub-par service is merely the method by which that profit is generated. In this model, you are not the customer, you are the product being sold. And as a product, the more time you spend in front of the screen and the more you passively consume, the more valuable you are. Counter to intuition, or at least branding, the more you engage in actual social activity, in community, in meaningful connection, the less valuable you become as a product.
Thus, clearly another platform is needed, if we as individuals are going to be able to connect and develop meaningful relationships, engage in our local communities, and manage our shared resources in a responsible, sustainable and democratic way.
Is that platform co:do? Perhaps not, and definitely not all on its own, but it is part of an ecosystem being born, pollinated by the basic human need for real connection.
The task of co:do
2 Some more background...
To put things into perspective, co:do is not designed to replace any of the current social media behemoths. Our ambitions are far less grandiose. Rather than attempting to right all the wrongs of for-profit social media, we are merely prototyping new ways to connect in more meaningful ways with each other. To add one piece of the puzzle being laid by a number of players, who all have different though overlapping areas of the puzzle that they are focussing on.
Our ambition is to bring as many pieces of this puzzle we can to the table, working with all open source projects out there that want to work with us, to co-create a social network that actulally serves us as social creatures and to share freely everything we build with those who would like to take the prototype further.
That said, we are building something intended to be practically useful as soon as possible. A platform that will allow changemakers, activists, problem solvers and volunteers to meet and share their resources in order to achieve their shared goals, whatever these goals might be.
In fact, these goals are business or ours. We are toolmakers. Our goal is to provide you with the tools to create the change you want to see in the world.
3 ...and s final piece of background
Though we obviously want to build a useful platform, in part to find out what works, but even more so because we want people to actually use it to improve the lives of others as well as their own, the future is not one of centralised platforms, whatever the ethical foundation they are built on.
If there is going to be any future in the digital realm worth aiming for at all, it will be a decentralised and distributed one, for a number of reasons.
One of these reasons are that central repositories of data, platforms such as co:do in its current form, will require not only storing private data with a third party, it also allows this third party to leverage that data in ways that you might not want it leveraged. Any information you store will be accessible to both this third party and anyone that hacks into the system, or is given access through a back door or similar. This information includes all the relationships that you have established and maintained through the central platform. If you get locked out for whatever reason, you lose all these relationships. And this is only one aspect of the problematic nature of centrally stored data.
Though we are still a few years away from fully decentralised digital networks that give users, or nodes, complete autonomy, co:do will be moving in this direction as rapidly as possible. When we reach this destination, there will be no "co:do" in the sense that it exists today. Rather, we will simply be a protocol, a set of tools, that you, a voluntary node in a greater network, may or may not choose to make use of. Perhaps we may also be a community of sorts, but an entirely decentralised one.
The point of the above is that what we, and all other open source projects that are still making use of centralised technology, are mere temporary fixes. All or us, or at least the ones deemed most useful to the individual, will need to let go of both control and brand if we are to successfully pass over what "memes" we create into the next iteration.
So, with that said, let's dive into co:do, what what we offer today, and what we plan for tomorrow...
4 On co:doing
The best way to understand co:do in its present form is that of an open experiment and a shared engineering project. A combination that should make both experiment leaders and engineers shudder, but desperate times demand desperate hacks.
With that stated, co:do is by no means a rudderless ship without a sail and full of holes set adrift on dangerous waters. Well, the waters might be a bit dodgy, but co:do has a solid hull even if it is still a few masts and sails short of an ocean cruiser.
We have a clear destination in mind and roadmap, or a plotted out course on a sea chart to stay in metaphor, with the steps we need to take to get there. And our ship still needs a lot of crew members to get us to our next port, even if the winds are favourable.
Over the next few months we are reaching out to individuals, networks and organisations that might be interested in co.creating the platform with us so that we can be sure we are building something that will actually be useful to you.
If you are keen to be part of this adventure, don't hesitate to sign up by filling out this form so we'll know best which area best matches your passion and interest.
5 Getting our bearings
Where we are now
At the moment our prototype or beta version of co:do offers a few basic features. The kind of stuff any social software needs to provide. You can create a profile, select some interests in the form of #hashtags and connect with other people on the platform. You can write messages on your feed or the feeds of your contacts. You can create groups, or as we like to call them, circles, and invite others to join. You can create events and initiatives that others can join or sign. Like we said, the basic stuff.
What makes co:do slightly more unique and interesting in this early version is the global map interface that we are using, curtesy of mapbox. This interface allows you to see where all your contacts are, or all the members of your particular circle, if they have chosen to share their location. You can also visualise your connections in a graphic way, reminding you that you are, in fact, not alone.
This map interface, or atlas, if you will, offers a lot of potential for location based activity, and we'll explore this more in a bit, but there are a number of other fairly compelling features to co:do that are worth visiting first.
6 Next stop
Where we are heading
The next features we are integrating into the platform are voting & governance, matchmaking and basic project management.
For voting, deliberation, delegation and various other democratic features we are working with Flowback. This will give users of co:do access to a number of useful tools for collective decision making, such as polls, petitions, proposals, multi option choices and ranked selection of options, so no vote is never cast in vain. In addition to this, users will be able to delegate their voting power to someone they trust, i.e. liquid democracy. In time we will introduce quadratic voting, prediction markets and more. An additional perk is that Flowback provides the option voting on the blockchain through Metamask, which allows users to verify that their votes are correctly registered while remaining anonymous.
Matchmaking features will allow users to automatically couple up with projects that correspond to their preferences, making volunteering opportunities and other potential matches fully automated, and will open up a number of useful search options.
The project management tools we are designing are very simple, but we hope useful nonetheless. Basically, project owners will be able to post tasks that circle members can sign up for. We will provide a tracking or reporting system to these tasks in order to trace user activity. This will create a kind of "dependency rating", or likelihood that an individual will actually show up when signed up. This will help project managers plan numbers of volunteers of crucial roles and will provide volunteers with both and engagement rating and a trust rating of sorts. A means to over time build reputation within the ecosystem, where the goal of the game is contribution rather than competition or extraction of resources.
7 What's new?
What makes co:do different
The business model of co:do
The Altruistic Business Model
Exploring a new business model...
How to get involved
Does the co:do ecosystem beckon you too? Come add your thread to our story!
We are always keen to explore new ideas and potential opportunities to create together.