Loomio
Sun 9 Nov 2014

Conversation for action

BH
Bob Haugen Public Seen by 259

This is the human-level protocol for coming to an agreement to do something between independent agents and then doing it. Here is an example of part of the possible conversation between a customer and a supplier:
http://conversationsforaction.com/cfa-playground

Conversations for action can apply to a lot more than customer-supplier conversations.
Helene Finidori's version
Another overview

This discussion spun off a request from @ahdinosaur here. I'll start with some references about CfA for customer-supplier-type situations in a comment below.

The goal of this discussion is to satisfy Mikey's request, 'would it be possible for you to document the CfA protocol through descriptions of message-passing (e.g. “at this stage of the conversation, here are the possible messages to send and the respective next stages”)?'

BH

Bob Haugen Sun 9 Nov 2014

This is just more intro and some history, focusing on customer-supplier CfAs.

Conversations for action are easy if they are conducted by humans face-to-face, or audio, or mail. They get more cranky if you want to automate them even a little. Now you need computerized social objects. And now standards raise their hands, as in, "we need to create a standard".

There are at least 14 competing standards for customer-supplier interactions, starting with [EDI](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_data_interchange}.

Fred van Blommestein, who had a lot of experience with EDI, explains why this was difficult in the Problem Statement chapter of his PhD thesis. Tl;dr: "currently the establishing of an EDI connection or other structured data exchange between computer systems needs high investments and time consuming involvement of IT personnel". And, I might add, usually lawyers.

But the basic human-level protocol of customer-supplier interactions is fairly simple and has been codified in commercial law since the 1800's: Offer and Acceptance.

The term Conversation for Action comes from the Cybersyn project in Chile during the late Allende administration. It is a more structured computerized protocol for agreements between independent agents (Cybersyn did not want a command-and-control economy). Fernando Flores of the Cybersyn project came to the US after getting out of prison in Chile, and started several companies based on that idea, including Action Technologies which appears to be still alive. The CfA playground linked to the discussion description above shows a simple version of Flores' ideas.

Here's another from ebXML, one of the many "standards".

Here's a more detailed version that is closer to what Mikey might want: Speech Acts and REA. I'll attach a diagram from that one.

Fred's thesis (cited above) provides a lot more elaborate version, also using speech acts.

And the ISO Economic and Accounting Ontology provides a simpler but longer version, including the stages of "planning, identification, negotiation, actualization and post-actualization". I'll try to combine ideas from all of the above in a possible message flow. (But not today, we got a mouse in the root cellar...)

CS

Caroline Smalley Sun 9 Nov 2014

We need conversations that lead to meaningful action. This will allow them to evolve simply in a way that makes sense. As shared, CM (the-cm.com) now focused on developing 'The Great Debate' in making this so. Will take form of an MSC (multi-stake co-op), Michel Bauwens will be on the board. First sponsor in. Will be looking for more. We'll manage stakeholder budget through Cobudget tools. Friends in BC talking about building a map that will help to connect work of stake holders (i.e. cobudgeted items).

M

Mikey Mon 10 Nov 2014

@bobhaugen wow, this is awesome so far! i'm excited to see what you come up with next. :)

O

OrsanS Mon 10 Nov 2014

Hi all, I did mention to Bob and Lynn some days ago about the projects I involve: with Frank Kashner, and others it is says-us.net (a platform for self-expression-empowerment-organizing-action). If this platform is built well and working, integrated to other projects we work on like GNUnion (global networked labour union) and fair.coop (open earth coop), we might have an early image of radically different and healthy worlds being built in more concrete. That would generate the hope we need to pursue and change the current course of things. I believe what we were lacking so far has been what you guys have been working on here.

CS

Caroline Smalley Mon 10 Nov 2014

@bobhaugen I'll reach out to Helene. Curious as to where she's at re: developing ideas, and wondering if we can collaborate. We've connected before through a Knights Challenge application...

BH

Bob Haugen Tue 11 Nov 2014

@ahdinosaur - status report: I'm studying Fred's thesis again, because he gets deep in to the weeds, and I want to load that view into my mind before writing anything. But I had a short email interaction with him and he thinks the thesis is probably a 'bridge too far' for implementation.

EW

Edward West Wed 12 Nov 2014

Hey friends-- I'm new here and not privy to a lot of the things you guys have done and talked about before.

I'm a new Enspiral contributor, working on the project "Hylo." www.hylo.com

The project we're building has been built with a cognizance of the "conversations for action framework" and seeing these things discussed here was interesting!

I'm looking forward to meeting you that will be attending the retreat this year.

Perhaps there are ways to find to support these initiatives together-- I've been envisioning a flow that goes from conversations-for-action and resource discovery to Cobudget and Loomio.

Blessings,
Edward

BH

Bob Haugen Wed 12 Nov 2014

@edwardwest - cool! I just signed up for Hylo using an invitation code I got awhile ago from @derekrazo .

Would be good to see an OpenApps Ecosystem community out there, if that makes sense in Hylo (which I do not understand yet).

I promised @ahdinosaur that I would do a first draft of a message interaction pattern for CfA by the end of this week, but maybe you already got one? Would be good to compare notes.

O

OrsanS Wed 12 Nov 2014

In case I can get an invitation code :) from you Bob, would be lovely to have a chance to explore it for using it with Says-us, gnunion, and fair.coop ( http://fair.coop ) communities..

o.

BH

Bob Haugen Wed 12 Nov 2014

@edwardwest - how about an OpenApps Ecosystem community on hylo? If I pass on the invite code I got from Derek, @orsans will end up in Oakland (where I ended up, which is ok to explore Hylo, but not to actually use it in any real way).

P.S. Edward, were you familiar with Netention? So far, Hylo reminds me somewhat of something-like-Netention wanting to cross over into something-like-ovn.

BH

Bob Haugen Wed 12 Nov 2014

First draft (attached). It's a cacoo diagram. Shared with @lynnfoster and @ahdinosaur so far. Let me know if you want to edit.

P.S....and then we need to detail out all of those messages...

P.P.S....and after Lynn and I go for a walk-and-talk, I'll write up some of the limitations of that first draft...and, second draft with Lynn's improvements coming up. [Aside: how do I delete an attachment to a Loomio comment?]

BH

Bob Haugen Wed 12 Nov 2014

Limitations of first draft:
First it's limited in scope: in terms of the stages identified by ISO - “planning, identification, negotiation, actualization and post-actualization”, this only covers negotiation and actualization. (And everybody who has looked seriously at the question has similar stages, maybe with different names, boundaries and definitions, but close enough.)

And then, it's limited to one CfA pattern: the diagram depicts a requester and a performer. What about collaboration, do-it-together?

In terms of project the assembled multitudes here might know about, that diagram covers the scope that might live within our NRP software. Hylo might cover the identification (matching of needs and abilities). And Netention went even farther and deeper into the direction of "what happens before you are ready to start a conversation for action".

And then a lot of stuff happens in what ISO calls "post-actualization": like, let's evaluate that action. How did it work out? Should we do something like that again? What should we do different, how can we improve, the next time?

And then these actions form networks. I did something with you, and then I did something else with some other people, and so did you, and we could all come together in something else altogether. (In other words, this spins into the person-and-organization stuff, where organizations form from engagements.)

From another angle, as Fred writes about, in the real world, everything is negotiable, including the vocabulary and message flow.

I'm happy to start with a limited scope and assume we can all come to some agreements on vocabulary, but even that is a conversation for action.

Feel free to suggest other limitations and suggest other improvements or directions...

BH

Bob Haugen Wed 12 Nov 2014

Second draft attached. Lotsa improvements from Lynn.

Still more to go (for another day and after more feedback): message details, maybe some explicit timeouts here and there?

EW

Edward West Wed 12 Nov 2014

Let's create a community that you guys can use.

(You'll find the flow we use to be highly simplified-- It is, strictly speaking, not CfA, but it is influenced by CfA)

To set up a community, here's what we'll need:

Community Name:

The Community's Core Intention: (1-2 sentences)

Logo: (image, square, at least 300x300)

Banner Image: (something that your community will recognize or resonate with, at least 1200 pixels wide by 500 high)

Invite Code: (Something like: openapp-hylo)

URL: (Something like http://www.hylo.com/c/openappcommunity)

Bob-- I can make you a moderator

EW

Edward West Wed 12 Nov 2014

Let's create a community that you guys can use.

(You'll find the flow we use to be highly simplified-- It is, strictly speaking, not CfA, but it is influenced by CfA)

To set up a community, here's what we'll need:

Community Name:

The Community's Core Intention: (1-2 sentences)

Logo: (image, square, at least 300x300)

Banner Image: (something that your community will recognize or resonate with, at least 1200 pixels wide by 500 high)

Invite Code: (Something like: openapp-hylo)

URL: (Something like http://www.hylo.com/c/openappcommunity)

@bobhaugen -- I can make you a moderator

BH

Bob Haugen Wed 12 Nov 2014

@edwardwest - I think either @ahdinosaur or @simontegg or @derekrazo or somebody else who is more part of the nucleus should be the moderator. (Derek is already a member of Hylo and presumably knows the ropes.) I could copy and paste something lame about the core intention but have no ideas for logo or banner.

And I understand about CfA. Our diagrams are simplified, too. Helene probably has the broadest scope. Flores' version is simplified compared to Helene's.

EW

Edward West Wed 12 Nov 2014

Great-- and @bobhaugen -- you asked if I knew about Netention-- I had heard the name, but I didn't have any sense of it-- upon reviewing their slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/helenefinidori/introduction-to-netention it is clear there is some convergent evolution going on -- or, perhaps more correctly, we're all blind men and women feeling the same elephant--

BH

Bob Haugen Wed 12 Nov 2014

@edwardwest - so how can we get connected and start feeling up the same elephant?

(Afterthough: I'm not sure how the elephant is gonna feel about that...)

EW

Edward West Wed 12 Nov 2014

:)

Right now, I have a small team and we've got a thesis of a good first step toward light-weight CfA-as-social-media-like-tool for "communities of purpose" in Hylo-- I'd welcome any thoughts/suggestions/support with this specific project, and I would welcome the opportunity to build flows that include Loomio and CoBudget and other apps

BH

Bob Haugen Wed 12 Nov 2014

@edwardwest - we understand the heads-down-on-a-project feeling. But then there's this other part of the conversation for action that we have not touched on yet, which is, do we match? Do we have compatible goals and values? Are we to some extent trying to accomplish some shared purpose in the world?

And even if we do match in some abstract sense, how exactly do we connect in some useful and practical way? Do we find each other in our own adjacent possibilities?

I don't know your answers to any of those questions. Lynn and I are still heads-down on part of our current project, but our real goals are not to create a product but to be part of an ecosystem. So we'll be happy to tear everything we have done so far into little pieces and distribute them among a bunch of OpenApps, assuming that can be done. Might not suit you...?

I'm sure there's also other ways to connect, between Hylo, Loomio and CoBudget as they are now. I can't speak for them.

TT

Theodore Taptiklis Wed 12 Nov 2014

Hi Bob, Mikey and everyone,

I've been trying to follow this conversation in between a whole lot of other things going on. But just to say that I'm working on the first draft on a new book on the quantum physics of human encountering. This addresses the collaborating, do-it-together question that Bob raised as well as the simpler pattern in the diagram above.

I believe that this thinking may be quite helpful to Open App, especially in the context of conversation for action. It's all about conversation as a template for the effects we have on one another in our everyday lives.

Anyway, I'm deep in this work, but if you wish I'm happy to share it with you. No finished or polished documents yet, though.

And I'd say the elephant is going to feel pretty good...

M

Mikey Wed 12 Nov 2014

@bobhaugen @lynnfoster these CfA diagrams are incredible. :) i thought the first one was good, but then the second one was even better. i like the reduced scope of focusing on negotiation and actualization, i like describing it as a finite-state machine. the only feedback that immediately comes to mind is considering how this would extend to any number of parties, but more than happy with whatever direction y'all want to take this.

BH

Bob Haugen Wed 12 Nov 2014

@theodoretaptiklis - if you can take a stab at a do-it-together pattern, in any form whatsoever (don't get hung up on formalisms), I think it would be hugely useful right now.

@ahdinosaur - what can we do to encourage Theodore here?

Theodore, where do you live? We'll come to your house and do dishes.

TT

Theodore Taptiklis Wed 12 Nov 2014

I'll have a crack at an overview shortly. The new version is still in my head. I live near Wellington & the brilliant Loomio crowd. We could maybe do a Skype or Hangout...

Gotta rush

M

Mikey Wed 12 Nov 2014

i second a Skype or Hangout on this topic for everyone interested, as i don't have any specific ideas for encouragement, so a good default is high-bandwidth discussions to cross-pollinate our minds.

O

OrsanS Wed 12 Nov 2014

:) I would love to join in Large Ideas Collator experiment with you guys, on cybernetics, or better dialectics of conversation-action-conversation or (abstraction-praxis-abstraction), especially being informed by quantum like cognition theory- if Theodore you and others are interested.
Orsan

TT

Theodore Taptiklis Wed 12 Nov 2014

Very much in tune with my thinking, except that the experiment I am hoping to form is asking to be called the Large Human Collider. And it has four experimental sites that seem to match those of Cern's LHC. It needs a team of the quality of Cern's as well...

BH

Bob Haugen Wed 12 Nov 2014

Well, if we mash your slogan up with Orsan's, we get the Large Human Ideas Collider. Let's do it!

TT

Theodore Taptiklis Wed 12 Nov 2014

I'll come back on this later. But a strictly quantum view is that it's the collision of actions (trajectories) rather than ideas that produce observable results. But mashups are good...😝

BH

Bob Haugen Wed 12 Nov 2014

@theodoretaptiklis - well, yeah, you're right, but I had this image of those large humans colliding and I could not unsee it...;-)

TT

Theodore Taptiklis Thu 13 Nov 2014

Of course, I hadn't even thought of this! Now that you mention it, I have an image in my head from Wall-E...those large humans drifting around in zero gravity, collinding with each other... Hmm. May require some work to decouple "large" from "human"...

ST

Simon Tegg Thu 13 Nov 2014

@bobhaugen you're the one at the nucleus doing vocab!;). I just try to make things look pretty.

@edwardwest please set me up on hylo.

BH

Bob Haugen Thu 13 Nov 2014

@simontegg - given your function of making things look pretty, can you please do the hylo logo and banner, too?

(P.S. I'm not actually doing vocab, MIkey's doing the work, I'm just feeding him sandwiches.)

BH

Bob Haugen Fri 14 Nov 2014

Another sandwich: some notes on vocab for the CfA state diagram, and connections with other LOD vocabs:

I think the Request and Counter messages are all gr:Offering.

The Accept message creates a pair of Commitments, which will be part of the OVN vocab. It is somewhat related to gr:WarrantyPromise, which is oddly and narrowly specific, but a Commitment also has the property of reciprocity with another Commitment, so in the A:B:Committed state, both agents have committed to do something reciprocally.
(This is the usual case with contractual agreements.)

The fulfillment assertions are EconomicEvents, which will also be part of the OVN vocab (an EconomicEvent appears to be different from any of the other LOD event terms).

TT

Theodore Taptiklis Sat 15 Nov 2014

I'm working hard on a do-it-together pattern for you. It's big work (a) because do-it-together is such new and uncharted territory (for reasons that I'm writing about) and (b) because I'm distilling it from notes for my about-to-be-written book into a shorter form. But I'm hoping that a first cut should be with you in two or three days.

BH

Bob Haugen Sat 15 Nov 2014

I look forward to it.

TT

Theodore Taptiklis Wed 19 Nov 2014

Ii's been a journey...and I'm just trying to upload the document...but I keep getting a 'failed to upload' error message

TT

Theodore Taptiklis Wed 19 Nov 2014

OK, the Loomio bug is fixed and I've uploaded the document.

I sent a copy yesterday to Bob, who came back with comments and some questions.

He said, "I totally believe that "self/other is a social rather than a natural construct". My very identities are multiple, constructed partly in my mind and partly in others, where the others in my identities are incorporated in all of our collective minds in slightly different overlapping ways."

And: "Re leadership: we believe in leadership, which a lot of people we encounter don't these days. But we believe in organized development of everybody's potential leadership, not in anointed or even elected leadership." Made me think of two things - shared or group leadership, that I try try to discuss, and leadership by random ballot )"it's your turn", like the Amish.

And we discussed quantum physics (not mechanics!) as perhaps being an analogue or metaphor rather than an ideology here. Though I do think the parallels are helpful, and the observations are scaleable.

Then Bob asked: "how do you think this set of ideas can bounce off or influence the Loomio conversation for action thread, where (I think) people are trying to find patterns of intra-action that can fit into linked open data and open computer apps? Or is that way too mechanistic?" And later, "if you want the conversation to be conducted by
computer and end up being usable data, then you need constraints."

So just to quickly respond:
- I have understood Open App as a template or a protocol or maybe an architecture that could attract and host a range of collaborative apps
- I thought my document might suggest an orientation for the initiative and lay out some of the conversational sequences that might be useful
- On the generation of useable data, I am still unclear, but I'm sure there may be some
-I've been conducting tests with a Loomio-developed MVP app called Yesandera
- We're getting and using data for simple tasks like group coordination, tracking individual progress through the conversational sequence and messaging participants to keep them aligned
- Early experience is that the process generates perturbations in the users that are too varied and too complex to auto-process, and we're looking at more human intervention rather than less at this stage
- But it may be that with more experience we can narrow the range of uncertainty around user responses and automate accordingly, perhaps with an emergency "Help!" option that calls up an operator for those responses beyond the predictable
- So I think at this stage I see useable data playing a role, maybe even at some stage the major role, but perhaps not performing the whole task

There was talk of analysing Loomio conversations to look for replicable sequences. And we could maybe do the same thing with Yesandera as we build more users. But for me, the first task is to build interventions that work, whatever the balance of automation and guided facilitation happens to be.

Hope this helps. I'm very curious about your responses to the document.

BH

Bob Haugen Thu 20 Nov 2014

As I also said to @theodoretaptiklis I loved the Maori story. Reminded me of the Mandan where I grew up. It wasn't a race to the top, it was helping everybody find their place in the choir.

BH

Bob Haugen Fri 21 Nov 2014

@theodoretaptiklis - thinking about your doc again: I'm wondering if we can put some ideas in a spectrum.

Like, conversations for action don't start there. They start way long time before people start even thinking about doing something together, whether in pairs or larger groups.

So you've got this sequence from (1) Mattering; (2) Touching; (3) Encountering; (4) Differencing.

Mattering starts way before Encountering, where (if I understand correctly) conversations for action might emerge.

Netention (see slides @edwardwest cited above) started approximately in Mattering as well, but was not so conscious of its stages of evolution,

Helene Finidori starts there, too (I think).

ISO talked about stages of “planning, identification, negotiation, actualization and post-actualization”. (I like the inclusion of post-actualization.)

And Loomio starts almost anywhere, but does contain its own protocol for group agreements.

Fred's thesis (cited above) starts in Encounter, but is a lot more flexible than most (at the expense of complexity).

And then there's that simple CfA state diagram that Lynn and I stole from Maria Bergholtz, Prasad Jayaweera, Paul Johannesson and Petia Wohed.

I'm not sure I understand the whole spectrum yet, or even if that is a useful way to think. But thought I would write it down and see if it contributed or what other people might make of it, if anything.

TT

Theodore Taptiklis Fri 21 Nov 2014

@bobhaugen - thanks for this.

I think your notion of a spectrum as a way to relate ideas is an interesting one.

I looked at Nentention. What struck me was that its focus seems to be on knowledge 'objects' and possible patterns of linkage rather than on how they are generated in the first place. Conversation For Action on the other hand starts at a more basic and detailed level...with the conversation.

Yes, I'm thinking that conversations for action emerge in Encountering. Thing is, most exchanges start there, or are understood to start there. So your point that they actually start way before, is, I think, a profound insight.

One way I think about this is visually - when we walk in to a room, we bring with us all of our past, present, and anticipated future - floating above us, a bit like an even taller version of Marge's blue hair. But it's invisible and largely ignored. Mattering and Touching are meant to provoke ways of getting at that stuff before the conversation starts. A big crisis (widely felt phenomenon) tends to force some of these background understandings to become tangible, when they can go straight into action; otherwise they tend to remain dormant.

In this way Mattering and Touching are forms of preparation - if we discover what matters to each of us and how our matterings are related, and if we are conscious of how our forms of talking touch or don't touch each other, our encounters can be a whole lot more productive.

  • I just heard a radio interview with Atul Gawande of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, who has a new book about end of life called Being Mortal: Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End: he promotes the radical idea that end-of-life care should be directed towards what matters to the person involved. He says the question, What matters to you most now? is almost never asked.

I'm very energised by the way you're thinking.

BH

Bob Haugen Fri 21 Nov 2014

Might not have been obvious from the slide deck, but Netention arose from issues like Fukushima and other actual or potential disasters. It's rich, multidimensional and confusing. A labor of love, not a product. Helene loved it and tried to make it more comprehensible, possibly taming some of the wild hares.

JR

Jon Richter Fri 28 Nov 2014

Before I will have time to read myself through all your writings, while still preparing an OVN-NRP TransforMap dossier, let me throw in this link with pieces by Ward Cunningham (who gives Hangouts every Wednesday):

http://yala.fed.wiki.org/view/welcome-visitors/view/concept/view/federation/view/about-design/splash.fed.wiki.org/federated-wiki-design-principles/ward.fed.wiki.org/chorus-of-voices

Use your keyboard cursors to navigate from left to right.

BH

Bob Haugen Fri 28 Nov 2014

@jonrichter - Ward was one of my personal heroes back in my Smalltalk days, and I was a member of his (the) first wiki, and watched as it became a kind of mess. Ward was watching and reflecting, too, and I expect the SFW came out of his reflections. I have not tried SFW yet. I get the idea technically but not the experience or full value. People I know who've tried it gave up soon after. Do you think it would be useful for us (for some definition of "us") to try it in this OpenApps context? Is it relevant to (for example) LOD?

Oh, I am so stupid! Lynn just pointed out that if I scroll to the left, this must be (at least partly) @jonrichter 's smallest federated wiki! (?) So Jon, you got the experience.

JR

Jon Richter Fri 28 Nov 2014

People I know who’ve tried it gave up soon after.

It evolves at the pace of a glacier. But is also as forceful.

Do you think it would be useful for us (for some definition of “us”) to try it in this OpenApps context?

That's completely up to you. It's challenging, as it moves the wiki paradigm away from the neutral-point-of-view to many-points-of-views. But once you get it started, which took me about two years to feel comfortable with, you don't want to miss it, especially my local farm of personal wikis.
Try any new subdomain of *.wiki.allmende.io for working with the Node opposed the *.fed.wiki.org Ruby server.

Is it relevant to (for example) LOD?

Not yet, we're just starting to think about semantics.

BH

Bob Haugen Mon 1 Dec 2014

@jonrichter - if you want any help with your OVN-NRP TransforMap dossier, please yell.