In Degrowth world, we find plenty of online communities that associate themselves to the message of post-growth economics. In the past I have often encouraged to take a holistic view at online activity associated with Degrowth, as below:
From this outside view, it is interesting for me to know which communities we serve online, and how we appropriately answer their needs. To arrive at a consolidated picture, we can enquire each other in these three domains. What I would like to establish is an open and ongoing conversation about the needs of active user groups and required maintenance efforts for their processes.
Curation, pollination and maintenance
The use of online communication media, is to reach wide and nearby audiences for increasing exchange and understanding between peers in a group. These groups may vary from being very large (the public, conferences) or medium (Degrowth movements mailing list) to very small and intimate environments (private conversations, action-oriented teams). All of these user groups seek to find an appropriate entry point to their Degrowth-related enquiry.
Their interest may blend multiple domains into an unambiguous whole, why low entry barriers and widely open transparent processes can be helpful to increase accessibility. Thies does not only mean to shape technical aspects, like responsive design, availability of services and documented conduct, but also to have opinions on information architecture and knowledge taxonomy, available community processes to participate in and a habit to work publicly, out in the open.
A relatively simple option to increase relatedness of the degrowth online hubs .org/.net/.info would be to share activities between the different platforms through syndication of content. This might allow to build up a transversal community, which cares about translation and exchange of ideas, and renders actual interaction visible, giving visitors a wearmhearted welcome anywhere.
Ethical use of tools
Prospective, shared aims of the three .org/.net/.info degrowth domains are to provide
- shared information resources
- free access to free knowledge
- space to develop and nurture social relationships
around Degrowth and its associated communities. Am I right so far in this assessment?
The resource we here would like to contribute is a computational common: an infrastructure for communication and exchange, plus maintenance, community moderation and technical support for Degrowth groups and individuals.
What we do here together can be described as collective note taking: when equal access to information resources exists, both read- and writable, people are encouraged to participate and contribute with fairly simple means. Then curation of such processes breaks down into establishing and enabling interaction and exchange between many people and groups.
See also this article with practical examples in the field of Collaborative Online Writing and Techno-Social Communities of Practice Around the Commons: The Case of Teixidora.net in Barcelona in the Journal of Peer Production.
Our chance is to build a learning commons on degrowth practices, like a language of patterns that work well together in a degrowth-oriented world. If we propose and use appropriate web tools for the independent activities, we can build an inclusive and emancipatoric online community that links together very well.
An exemplary presentation of how online tools fit well into each other is published at the Open Learning Commons.
A variety of technologies enable conversations, ranging from slower-deliberate pacing to a faster-ephemeral pacing. Cooperation can be conducted in public, or in semi-private spaces.
The above presupposes that there is a strategy to address diverse publics, and the intentionality and capacity to interact tactically with them. Inviting for dialogue has always proven to increase the number of meaningful contacts, so why not make use of the means provided by an independent knowledge commons like the Internet, and the Web alike. Using the web brings visibility and relatedness to distributed degrowth practitioners and helps them realise a decarbonated, decolonised world.
Strategic use of in-person meetings
If we understand the separation between strategic and tactic aims as an effort to separate long-term oriented and short-term intervening efforts, we can strategically reserve to mobilise high amounts of resources only for rare occassions. For example, a coordinated effort of displacing humans across long distances, e.g. for conferences or summer schools, underlines the need and the quality experienced when we seek to meet in person.
It is equally important to bring the users and the maintainers of online platforms physically together, as it is to encourage locally embedded community interaction of peers in distinct places. The online media cannot replace what is necessary to establish strong bonds and empathy across long distances and cultures.
Tactical use of on-line assemblies
The electronic interwebs between us people, as limited a substitute for human interaction they have turned out to be, indeed allow a variety of applications in our informational everyday. Since it is already questionnable why we rely on digital intermediates at all, digital tools deem only useful when employed in a conscious manner. A degrowth-friendly interpretation of this need for software infrastructures and labour is to nurish a local-first culture, which reconnects people in local areas and circumvents the anonymity of the cloud.
An online assembly is a permanent facility to welcome varying informational needs: information, research, exchange, calendaring, editing, budgeting, or presenting, to name only a few. These needs can each be met with timely (synchronous) or deferred (asynchronous) practices. How we assemble the groups to stay in fertile contact determines the ways of interaction possible. Our conscient and explicit intent is to lay out and design accessible information exchange platforms for many publics.
In a familar demeanour, I had previously also stated, reflecting upon this agora as a place for online community interaction, that
Coming from this perspective, how do you see a possible alignment of Degrowth communities and communication channels¹ in the world wide web?
¹ Addendum: Degrowth communities and communication channels
An outline of communication contexts, as seen from degrowth.net
- Public (.info)
- Research (.org)
- Support group
- Local initiatives
- Group assemblies
- Global Degrowth Day
- Summer Schools
- Informal, direct contacts
- Web sites
- Chat groups
- Mailing lists, both public and private
- Agora, with public and private groups
- Cloud, mostly private groups
of which all bring different needs to a sufficient digital environment.