Notes from our Design Workshop 16/09/18

How can we create a thriving community where people can contribute and where all contributions are valued?

Workshop participants:

  • M – lived a schizophrenic life – from 14 an anarchist and travelled the world for this from 16. In 20’s joined Reuters and worked as an IT technician, started internet there and was head of corporate web. Lots of experience working with communities. Worked for Reuters Foundation. Global South/Majority World/Developing World/ Third World. Now doing more hands on and positive – want to be ‘for things’ not against.
  • S – academic in systems analysis, systems thinker. Tech interoperability standardisation around learning technologies, split off from university to form a coop. Co-housing. Involved in P2P and Commons Transition, Collaborative Tech alliance, digital life collective. All doing related things. Very keen on promoting co-ordination. How to work effectively together.
  • A – Researcher of digital co-creation, documenting event
  • J – is catching up with what has been happening. Joy studied Fine Art, History of Art, Philosophy. Languages. Passive observer role today. How do we all liberate all of us?
  • N – wants to be self-employed. Has started a website called intelli-medical. Doing projects with St. Mungo’s, Missing People, NHS. Beginning to find there is quite a bit of evidence that links to the community leads to good health – came for the morning
  • A – IT, but also permaculture, counselling, eco-thinking, eco-therapy. A generalist in a sense.
  • D – a friend of a friend, getting an education on the Commons Platform. Worked for large corporates, getting things done. Schizophrenic in terms of approaches. Making sure all the food cleared up afterwards!
  • Sophie – as a commons, we are all looking after the space together. Can do this as stewards. Radical self-care. Whatever you need to do you can do it, so long as it’s not disruptive or offensive. Sophie also one of the corporate escapees. BT, selling IT networks to other companies. BT didn’t feel evil. (but they are). Had kids, and experienced social exclusion and this made Sophie think about the need to recognise unpaid labour and offering spaces for all. Spaces to recognise reproductive labour, emotional labour – all these things which make the world work. Sophie has done business design for design companies in product design and retail design. Using skills in networking but to create a way of working together. Wants to include everyone – there is a community in India which has a seed bank. Sophie wants to include everyone, including homeless people.
  • N – also schizophrenic career. A generalist. Brings in the Burning Man spirit. Bringing in a shamanic spirit, family consultation facilitator, energy work. Also works in advertising, bringing things into order. Tech nerd.
  • Nick – EU educational exchanges and the occupational psychology, and corporate worked for GCHQ and BNFL. Half the people resigned when he’s done the courses and had a letter asking him what the courses were actually for!
  • S and T – came for the afternoon

Workshop Notes

Design weekend for Commons Platform at Furtherfield, Finsbury Park

Sophie has put together sentences and goes through these. Asks if we need to explain the site a little more. A new participant shares the Care Knowledge Exchange.

Sophie explains that there are 800 people in the network and this is a first step to develop a place to come together and co-design the site. Aiming to create the conditions of collaboration and creativity, rather than wasting energy on conflict and discord

Not just doing something for the sake of novelty. Starting from the point that lots of commons involved people are using ‘the devil’s platform’ – profit-making FB, who also steal data and surveil. Also, many people do not want to be on FB, so have to talk to 12 different platforms.

M – Always healthy to go back to the pain – what pain are we trying to solve?

  • Imagining joining the platform
  • Prioritised list of functions
  • How the screen might look
  • We then went over the day one activities and looked at the Pinterest site
  • Needs to be accessible, beautiful, inspirational
  • Safety, Consent, Commons Ownership, Ease, Trust
  • Corporates – not safe, extractive. Aiming to be decentralised. Stewarding the space together. Never bought or sold by any group or organisation. Don’t live in a consent culture. We are made to do things in order to get security, getting to a place at a particular time. There is a thing called Consentful tech which will feed into what we are doing here. Blue box is what we are doing today. Creating fun, diversity, understanding, joy
  • Conversation not debate. Not trying to be in opposition to things or each other. Creating conditions for creativity, collaboration, innovation. Wait for organisations and companies to come along – but we are aiming to
    Smart city thing is terrifying as means that everything will be extractive.
    Sharing skills, events, ideas, knowledge, things. Can decide which content you want to see.
  • Be:longing for a better world.
  • Building one specific part of the site, as shown in diagram in the blue box today.
  • Nick – introducing Consentful tech. It is something which can be downloaded online.
  • Tech is usually written by young white males. Consent. Massive agreement which is too long to read. Can’t go back. Don’t read it. Actually books and music – you don’t own it – loan/subscription model. Consent has to be freely given, explicit, informed, reversible and granular – so you can tailor your consent. ‘Customise your consent’.
  • Work fast and break things – the consequences of this impact people who are more vulnerable. There is a cost and it is not to those who are building stuff. Programming to prevent trolling. Because division and conflict/outrage creates a dopamine hit, which self-perpetuate.
  • ‘Maybe you’ve manifested it… Or maybe it’s white privilege’
  • ‘Maybe it’s intuitive… Or maybe it’s inbuilt bias’
  • Conversation around intuition: people think that the spiritual notions of intuition are objective, but actually neurologically speaking it is a particular result of life experiences. Intuition can also have a bias – not universal, also part of a structure. Presenting check and balance – inbuilt filter for this. It’s peripheral vision. 1 million bits of information which fires on us, and we can process only 8 bit. There is a book on this called the Chimp Paradox. – first instinct is a gut instinct and then try to back up. Depends where gut reaction come from.
  • A lot of these things stem from unintended consequences of a model
  • Consentful tech strikes M as a set of granular rules which must be programmed in to a site as a capability and maturity model. Sometimes you have granular consent on commerical phone apps. Are there frameworks in place? Can we ask? Nick – will ask U. There was a subset of allied media conferences, Allied Media aims to offer media and internet to everyone in Detroit. They were talking about this.
  • It is like a template
  • Privacy by design and default – like an algorithm. K is a security specialist in NZ. Has open-access project. He is really up on security. Having it built into the culture is essential. Kade building Panopticon – working out where the threats are around the world. Github repository, warn people if they are being actively targeted – hackers, trolls and bots. When paid trolls try to split communities apart.
  • The way the community comes together to resolve things
  • What we are going to do: break into 2 groups?
  • Think about what it would be like to join the platform
  • How to discover it, how to register
  • Can we start from the end-point? Discussion
  • Routes in
  • Aims
  • M says to stick together rather than work in groups so can balance things – this is agreed.
  • Tea then start
  • Long piece of paper –routes in/ platform/ – discussing ways to discover – will search first. E.g. Have heard someone talking about co-op in Spain and entering keywords. So might come in via search engine.
  • Do we need to differentiate between the first chat iteration and the final product – Yes
  • The below needs to be cross-referenced with the diagram created by Sophie at the Workshop

Routes In

  • Search engine direct
  • IRL Commons Platform Event
  • P2P group
  • Content on social media
  • Personal recommendation
  • Related groups
  • Published material
  • Listings on more established websites
  • Related groups should be able to get in and out

What you first see

  • Often can’t see the website until you’re in – don’t want this
  • Is this for you? Homepage and 2/3 pages where you can get in
  • Like any publishers, we want to hook people in – without them needing to have much effort
  • Did you know – a fact which might bring you into it – some people might find that patronising – but knowledge rather than just information or data. Want knowledge, which has been made to appeal – ‘have you thought about’ – need to think about tone – not wanting to be too fluffy or bubbly.
  • Needs to reflect values – ease for instance. What sort of content which goes out into the world which brings people onto the front page.
  • Need to do this without compromising security
  • 2 ways to look at content – is it about community? Getting people involved?
  • Think about how we discovered commons platform – M – through word of mouth Michel Bauens – activist in the commons world. Saw the video through P2P foundation.
  • Watched a video and got in through this.
  • Where is content stored?
  • Make sure it’s not too zeitgeisty
  • Can have a container of information with different interfaces going into it, with different demographic going into it, and different platforms of access – laptop/ smartphone. Data remains the same but look and feel changes – content for specific audiences
  • Related groups have not yet been made visible yet as no platform, but will be
    School of Commoning material – Sophie and S both working on this –
  • GP

Content put out into the World – where is it floating around so people can join it?

  • Video – vimeo and youtube
  • Pamphlets
  • Interviews
  • Talks
  • Podcasts
  • Blog
  • Personal stories – a chance to get in diversity
  • Articles written about the site and by site, Mozilla, Real Media, Eco-magazines
  • Guest blogging – P2P foundation
  • List of links to the site on other external platforms and websites
  • Young people – special place for them onsite
  • Outreach activities with young people
  • Strategy for social media presence – need the balance for openness and privacy
  • Comms strategy
  • Research
  • People sharing with other users/ events

Type of Content

  • Content needs to be compelling, speaks to you, inspiring, accessible, intuitive interface, inclusive, safe
  • Different learning styles – visual – might need audio versions – translations –Whatever the basic information you might need to know – you might have 2 versions – writing and video
  • Manageable chunks
  • Flexible accessible communication – short and more detailed
  • Can have a quote – on the homepage ‘permaculture is the revolution disguised as gardening’
  • Lots of sites have quotes which are too fluffy and are just rhetoric, need it to be doing something which is actually descriptive
  • Can have quotes which are mixed up with other information
  • Hand-drawn element
  • Creative and a wordsmith – collaborating
  • Can have it like Google so the quotes change every day – collaborative way of producing things
  • Also any updates on CMS lead to better search
  • Can have a logo which is always recognisable, but changes


  1. Profiles of some sort
  2. Mapping
  3. Groups – satellite groups/ local groups
  4. Events
  5. Links to Wikis
  6. Links to other sites which are relevant
  7. ‘Interesting Things’
  8. Good set of resources
  9. Glossary – all terms have a hyperlink? Can look clumsy – can use text. What is oppression, discrimination? Instant access. Words need to be described or explained.
  10. Mapping to show where other local groups are. Location systems should be optional. The local level is essential. Already clusters like this.
  11. Options to meet in real life
  12. Stewards and welcoming buddies – must make it clear that it is a human not a bot. IM capability. Can be a bit like ‘Be My Eyes’ where someone who is visually impaired can be helped through crowdsourced help with queries.
  13. A route to join where modular options to join particular groups
  14. Skills frameworks – in occupational framework – what skills are needed to participate – or to moderate, or to steward. Coding would need Consentful tech
  15. Need values very visible, will need to do this to join a forum as an active participant
  16. Need to practice the consciousness of the site, and also be able to attest that you have the skills
  17. There will be moderators – including someone who will be hot on the values, and it will become a process. There are questions on FB groups, screening questions.
  18. Initial sign up process – with values, where you decide whether you want to join
  19. What do you see when you join
  20. Is the forum a permanent fixture
  21. Being able to engage helpfully with each-other
  22. Every group needs to have entry requirements – but groups are fluid, they go between groups and circulate between.
  23. Need sub-values for groups – which are a double check.
  24. Other groups also need to read something – could have screening requirements and conversations
  25. What happens to data? Need a conversation about this
  26. Personal, interpersonal and systemic growth as a key objective of the site.
  27. Although potentially hierarchical, does not need to be interpreted that way.
  28. You may want to be operating on the personal growth level. This is an outgrowth of courses which did this.

Really Clear Functions: WHAT not HOW

How can we create a thriving community where people can contribute and where all contributions are valued

  • Communicate
    • Some to everyone – some to specific groups. Some communication which is one-to-one. All sorts of flavours. Public and private. There is a BM forum – departments for camps, newbies. To provide benefit: do not do harm, justice. Reputation system based on value rather than popularity. Can have anonymity in terms of clapping. People can join groups to learn about growth online, in person and in groups. Discussion Forum – not just showing popular groups
    • Quora is a good forum to draw from.
    • To everyone: Commons Platform News and Important Announcements – How? Some could be opt-in.
    • Video calling in line with values, IM, conference calls, broadcast to everyone, notifications
    • Choice about delivery – how do you get notifications and on what medium
    • Is it in collaboration with other platforms? Can just put a link with whatever other platform is most linked
  • Events
    • Need to have a calendar which synchs with other calendars
  • Curation of Content
    • See the value you are bringing, appreciation or contribution rather than reputation. Endorsement as Trust-building. Inspiration as a value. Finding other groups. Can build content. News, successes shared in groups or externally.
  • Project Organisation
    • Project management tool which shows opportunities to get involved and tasks to be done. Organisations would need this. People can see where they can come in with their skills. As long as it is on the skills framework.
  • Search
  • Within a group
    • News, Information and Resources
    • Shared in groups, Recommendations which are not in an echo chamber. Community guidelines always visible.
  • Groups
    • Would you have a moderator? Communicator? Welcomer? Objectives, agreements, resources, a moderator or sorts. Contact point could be someone leading the project. List of groups including communications.
    • Could you have introvert/extrovert? This is quite label-y – can we not just make it flexible, so don’t have to label self and go down a route, but do get the chance to work with the platform as you like. Contribution and value needs to be another conversation.
  • Maps
  • Profile
    • Agreed tagging system for things you’re interested in. Agreed set of tags which can be added to. Topics that a group has, which can be classified in multiple groups.
  • Need to be really clear on what to do before October
  • Need a process

Overview of the Morning

  • Looked at routes to find out about platform
  • Users will find platform from other places in the internet – articles, events, talks, personal recommendations
  • engagement and outreach
  • All content welcoming, inspiring and accessible
  • First thing you see will be a quote or statement, which changes each day
  • You would see community guidelines, values, mailing list and newsletter
  • Could be a guest- just looking around – or could sign up
  • Welcoming process which is tailored to needs and is personal. Will be designed in workshop
  • When in can create profile and there will be choice around this. Name, interests, skills, location.
  • This will then connect you to other groups – a lot is about curating.
  • Being able to find the content that you are interested in, both internal and external, news
  • Video calling, notifications
  • Need events and a calendar on there
  • Search Function to find different information
  • Being able to join groups
  • There will be pathways for joining and supporting groups – tech, design, content, comms, moderating, skills framework.
  • Want to be able to help with tech and software development

Final Exercise (See N’s Mockup)


  • Drill down to 3 key functions in addition to forum
  • Using coloured dots to show preferences, the following top 3 were chosen:
    • Events & Calendar
    • Tasks and Projects
    • News and Important Announcements
  • Plus a very simple forum which is very basic.
  • Need welcome text and a short description.
  • Video, projects and tasks, events calendar.
  • Home, who we are, groups.
  • Basic skills Framework
  • N created a sketch/ mockup of possible homepage and presented this to the group
  • During this workshop, Sophie also identifying next workshops to be done for signing up

In the Cark Park: (Also see D’s Flipchart Sheet)

Design weekend for Commons Platform at Furtherfield, Finsbury Park
  • Governance and Community Guidelines
    • Community guidelines – need to make sure that there is a process for values to be changed in terms of community guidelines
    • Need sub-values for groups – which are a double check.
    • Other groups also need to read something – could have screening requirements and conversations
    • A design group really needs to know the people who are impacted by design choices. Often the most vulnerable and marginalised people, who may not join if they have to read a certain document
    • Is there a way to make it gentler, more of a mutual agreement
    • Co-op group – must be able to understand the ramifications of the two choices
    • Usually it would be aspirations for joining
    • Co-housing – have service teams – one of the requirements is that if you have skillsets. Can just sit in until you get the jist. But needs self-reflexivity
    • Fork the software and one sub-version, you make changes, see if it works with your little version. Then NVC training.

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