Processes and practises for informing our direction
As we get on top of more of the tech infrastructure topics (we're now on latest mastodon, woo!), the question arises (within the tech team calls) of what next....?
There are still some things to do before we are ready to do much significant new tech work (see last tech meeting minutes for some tentative steps to get there), but I think now is a good time for some more meta/theoretical discussion about it - without worrying too much about the practical outcome right now...
There have been a few suggestions of what to add/do:
... and probably many older discussions (adding matrix, ... other ActivityPub services)
So far it seems hard to progress them... especially because tech capacity is not quite there yet (maybe people also don't have a good understanding of what is possible or not), but also it's hard to know what will be good/useful/desirable/fun for the wider community, and how to ensure it is supported in the longer term, and maintained, etc....
To me, it would be very interesting to explore this as a meta topic in itself (also because it touches on problems that impact all the community-oriented software projects I work on) things like:
community members lacking sufficient tech understanding to feel able to make informed decisions
perception that it's only just for techies get involved in
tech people having dominance and arrogance, techbros, etc...
bridging/connecting "islands" of "tech" and "community" people..
missing human/care/love/support, leading to frustration and burnout...
I'm really searching for some models/theory that can frame some of this. A human/community driven/led approach. Or something.
I haven't actually read any Ivan Illich and their concept of "tools for conviviality" (maybe this article/paper is interesting) but it really appeals to me, also E.F. Schumacher's "intermediate technology" (and "appropriate technology" later) seems related and also interesting, and this article about "Convocational Development". I don't know if they're directly relevant, partly as we're not actually building tools here (just reusing existing ones), but it gives a flavour of the direction I'm thinking in... (and for my other projects we are actually building tools "for the community").
@mike_hales already make some nice comments, I'll quote them here:
On convivial technologies . . Illich on ‘tools for conviviality’ is a great source, definitely. But beware reading this in a tech way. The point of Illich’s critique is that modern cultural and economic forms and institutions are ‘tools’ too, which attract power around specialist professionalised roles, and undermine the possibility of ‘vernacular’ capability. What Illich has in his sights is the politics of these kinds of roles and institutions, not just hammers, tractors, cars, fast food and software code. So it’s convivial processes/practices in general that we need to develop - and then tech infrastructures come into the frame just as a part of that.
Avoid tech reductionism - we’re social.coop, not app.coop?
“Convivial technologies” . . is a term that gets used quite diversely. So the principle imo is good, but the term is unreliable. Guerrilla Translations uses it to refer to the architecture of digital means of collaborative working in a DisCO - apps like Trello, Slack and Loomio, and facilities like Google Drive (aargh!). See Book 5 of the Guerrilla Translation Handbooks . For Google Drive to slide in under the rubric of ‘convivial’ - or Trello and Slack, for that matter - just goes to show how slippery the term is! Tread carefully? Just because we mean well when we use a platform or app, doesn’t make the platform or app OK. Apps have politics.