Common vision/Information Technology requirements

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The goals of the common vision can be achieved far more efficiently if we're able to harness the expertise of the many to find the best solutions for all aspects of the system and to work towards unifying them into a cohesive package that can be distributed around the network. In our project at Organic Design, we've called this package the Platform, and the network of all those using it we called the Platform network. The common knowledge, procedures, documentation and other informational assets and tools we've called the unified ontology. This document concentrates on what the common Information Technology requirements are that best suit the Platform network and best support the participants in working together in it both for themselves, their groups and in alignment with the common vision.

Trust network

The bottom line of the common vision is to build our own social mechanism, but to do this within the context of conflicting organisations, agendas and bottom lines means that the building of such a mechanism together requires a foundation of trustworthy privacy in our communications, and trustworthy objectivity in our information.

These requirements are gaining more and more focus in recent times as people are loosing their faith in the financial system, the legal system, the political system, the media and many other fundamental aspects of the social mechanism. The free software community is responding to these needs with many tools such as Tonika, Friendika and Diaspora.

The requirements of this network are:

  • Groups formed from remote members can share information (such as media and documentation) and communicate together privately with text, voice and video etc.
  • They can know that their information is safe and only flows over trusted connections between them (i.e. connections of reciprocal trust).
  • Open standards compliant so that it can merge with other such social networks.
  • Able to maintain network connectivity over a wide range of protocols such as DHT, HTTP, FTP, Email, XMPP and even using physical devices such as memory sticks etc which can take a great deal off Internet bandwidth leaving it for more dynamic communications requirements such as video conferencing. Using physical media also makes the network more useful in sparsely connected areas and more robust to Internet outages.

Objective information

Web 2.0 (the collaborative web) doesn't itself lead to objective information, there are many diverse opinions contributing to the information, some of it powered by large corporate budgets and also spam is becoming more and more intelligent and difficult to filter.

Organisations that serve as information providers such as news channels or wikis are all filters that become more or less biased in various ways depending on their contributors and their operating constraints. The philosophy, values and mechanisms composing these organisations determine the overall objectivity of their information.

We can see this problem today in many Wikipedia articles where being limited to a single current version of the article is a problem when there are multiple strong points of view about the subject matter.

It's imperative for groups to maintain their own version of their specialist focus. For example, if I were to go to a particular article in Wikipedia, I should be able to see immediately if an article has a number of main viewpoints - all points of view are real and valid information, but one point of view should not make others unavailable. The number of popular points of view should be clearly available, and the popularity of each should be known along with the identity of the groups that support each point of view.

The technical requirements for this are really not much different than existing Concurrent Versions Systems except that currently these are designed for maintaining versions of software code so that development and bug-fixing work can continue on a number of prior versions of the software.

Note that Wikipedia does not and will not support this concept because their policy is for each concept to exhibit a single consensus point of view called the neutral point of view. They clearly state in their content forking article that multiple points of view are against their principles.

Organisation

Traditionally most applications (both desktop and web) are not able to work in a peer-to-peer environment. Even the applications that run in the so called "cloud" are heavily reliant on high-bandwidth and high availability network connections.

One important new advancement in the web application arena is the massive uptake of JavaScript and the associated frameworks such as jQuery. This has brought about a whole new paradigm of application called the Single Page Application (SPA) which are web applications that don't ever need the page to be refreshed, yet still take advantage of the ability to use the browser history and to associate the specifics of page view and functionality as a unique URL so that it can be book-marked or sent to others.

Another really important thing about the popularity of the Single Page Application paradigm is that many of these applications have very little reliance of server-side technology, see for example corMVC or TiddlyWiki. Having such a minor reliance on the server-side technology makes them excellent candidates for migration into the peer-to-peer world. This migration is not practically possible for the majority of web applications like MediaWiki, Wordpress, Plone or Drupal because they're heavily reliant on the non-distributable relational database model, see also cloud for more detail about this issue.

If the private shared context that is provided by the trust-network described above were a browser-based environment, then it would be a very attainable goal to create an interface for a group that consists of the organisational and communications tools found in the Single Page Application arena, for example the free and open source mGSD organisational application. In addition, thousands of widgets created by the jQuery community and other large JavaScript frameworks communities become available to these distributed private group environments. These applications and widgets that can help us to engage in group decision-making and self governance together.

Trade

We know that the financial system in its current form is a fraud, and we also know that there are proven ways for a society to sustainably and fairly manage, produce and distribute its resources. This scale of things is handled by ensuring that the information available to the members of the society is objective, and making accessible the means to organise together as described above.

But in addition to the funding of industry and the running of large-scale institutions, there is also the need for people to be able to trade amongst themselves, and for this a stable currency is required. This is very difficult to achieve in a way that is global and yet not relying on corruptible third party institutions, but again the free software community is able to provide a solution, this time in the form of projects such as Bitcoin, RipplePay, OpenMoney and VoucherSafe.

By packaging up software systems such as these into the Platform, the members of the network are able to trade together without any dependence on the corrupt global banking cartels.

Governance

Even though the free software community has many of the tools required to help achieve the common vision together, it doesn't have all the answers. This is because the common vision is about running an organisation at the scale of nations. This has to involve the decision-making of institutions that already understand how things work at that scale and have refined their knowledge and systems over many generations.

Likewise, when it comes to the job of deploying this new harmonious society into a context that is operating in accord with the economic bottom line instead of the common vision, and this economic aspect is of a global scale in its power, we must turn to those who have long experience in defending the peoples liberty at this scale of operation.

Groups such as the International Peoples Conference Organisation and the Green Charter Movement are groups that work at this high scale and their members and associated organisations have experience empowering nations of people with the knowledge of how to build freedom and independence for themselves from the bottom up. These groups have had a strong online presence for some years and they're starting to move into the realm of distributed trust networks.

The next step is to empower these distributed groups with the tools of self governance so that we can apply these well-tested principles toward building a free, harmonious global society.