Basic DisCO Terminology
DisCO uses some specific terms that you'll want to get a handle on. This wiki in particular contains a thorough, evolving DisCO Glossary.
Many of the terms used on the wiki, our main DisCO.coop and DisCO Basics website, link to Glossary entries. We believe that reclaiming ownership of language is key for DisCO's aims. In many senses, DisCO can be described as an "economic-relational vocabulary" that gets us away from the unseen biases and assumptions of normative language.
The Basic DisCO Terminology presented here whittles down the many entries of the main Glossary into a few "essentials" to get you started.
Why so many funny words? Why can't we just talk like normal people?
After 40 years of bullshit neoliberal language (risk premium, derivatives, there is no alternative, there is no society!) it's time to rebel and revel in terminology more suited to changing this dystopian reality we inhabit. If the current language of economics is equivocal and, arguably, specifically designed to keep normal people out of self-determining their economies, we can co-create a new one to describe the much-needed alternatives. We don't expect you to know these terms, this is why we've created the DisCO Glossary.
It’s shocking that our mainstream societies have been so removed from the concepts of cooperation, collectivity and caring for each other that as soon as we begin to talk about these ideas in any depth, we enter into the often alienating and exclusive realm of jargon. We live in a world in which terms such as “value sovereignty” and “care work” are used and understood by relatively few people, even though they describe concepts that are very basic and human.
This is why education is such an important part of the DisCO Project. We realize that everyone is entering the DisCO with different levels and manifestations of experience and knowledge. However, if we all want to share in the same discussion, it helps to speak the same language. To this end, we’ve put together this glossary to help navigate the sometimes intimidating language used to describe our specific approach to feminist, commons-oriented cooperativism.
Don’t let this new vocabulary scare you – it just describes concepts that you already feel deep inside, concepts that maybe you haven’t found the words for yet. We have coined some of these terms ourselves, but many will be recognized outside of DisCO as well. Take this language and use it well – it will open up new worlds for you.
You can find the full glossary here. It is continually being added to and reimagined. Because language, like value (and values), is a living thing, never static, never dead.
Basic DisCO Terminology
Beyond the main DisCO glossary, we also want to clarify some of the most recurring terminology built around DisCO (the project) DisCO.coop (the non-profit cooperative stewarding it) and other basic DisCO terms. These entries are ordered by general relevance.
DisCO stands for "Distributed Cooperative Organizations", and is the name of the overall project.
If we say "a DisCO", we are talking about a single DisCO LAB, which is an organization. We use DisCOs (plural) when we refer to various separate DisCOs as a group. These "groups of DisCOs" can become DisCO Clusters or SuperDisCOs.
DisCO.coop is the "brand" name, hashtag and what we use in social media to distinguish us from platforms and mirror balls (although we love those too). It's also our main website domain.
Additionally, DisCO.coop is the organization that stewards the development and implementation of DisCO methodology and Tools. DisCO.coop is a DisCO Non Profit (or DisCO.NP), and the organization stewarding development and implementation of DisCO methodology and tools. There are also plans for creating a DisCO Foundation. Unlike our cousins in the DAO-space, we think that organizations are built around people not code. This leads us to...
DisCO Applications Program
The DisCO Applications Program includes DisCO Governance Model templates for:
DisCO.SSE is the original DisCO Governance model developed through Guerrilla Media Collective, the OG DisCO. DisCO.SSE is for Worker Owned Coops, Social and Solidarity Economy enterprises and mission-oriented SMEs.
DisCO.NP is aimed at Non Profits in general and Worker Self-Directed Nonprofits in particular.
DisCODelica offers anticapitalist, decolonial and intersectional feminist care-oriented solutions. It is aimed at psychedelic healing centers and science-grounded alternative medicine practitioners who are concerned about the ongoing exclusionary commodification of psychedelic spaces. DisCODelica approaches Mental Health from a DSM5-abolitionist perspective and psychedelics/plant medicine with an intersectional focus.
DisCOThropic brings DisCO Governance and Fluid Funding practices for critical philanthropic and grantmaking organizations.
Every DisCO has a DisCO CAT. Just as standard organizations use branding, memetics and logos to imbue the org with a personality (often for the benefit of shareholders) all DisCOs can imagine what their DisCO CAT looks like and how it behaves. It's literally the "spirit" of a DisCO and the avatar for caring for the health of the collective.
Beyond an imagined entity, the DisCO CAT also has an actual algorithmic dimension. The CAT is an on-chain algorithmic entity that enables the collective’s consent to a set of voluntary, self-organized rules. DisCO’s algorithms support the collective in overseeing, simplifying and carrying out the human-level agreements and rules. Once these algorithms are entrusted to the on-chain entity, it is described as a Community Algorithmic Trust which oversees the health of the collective, i.e. that agreements are being met.
When we speak about the DisCO CAT we are also referring to all of DisCO's cultural and structural components. All components are modular, concurrent and in Perpetual Beta. The following is extracted from The DisCO Elements chapter 5 The DisCO CAT and DisCO-Tech:
Introduced in the DisCO Manifesto, the DisCO CAT (Community Algorithmic Trust) is a series of modular software platforms designed so people can teach themselves, play around and, ultimately, build viable DisCOs.
So, Community Algorithmic “Trust” -? Trust is used in two senses here: first, as a description of a legal entity that holds the ability to maintain tangible functions like contracts and agreements, and also intangible ones like commonly held values. Secondly, “trust” is used in the sense of team members working with a specific relationship to one another, according to defined principles and common goals. To build this trust, in both senses, we need to develop and test systems, platforms, software, research, experiments. Our related mission is to spread the word and teach people the magic of DisCO. Within the DisCO CAT you'll find four pun-filled CATegories:
- The DisCO Floor: Our educational web platform. The DisCO FLOOR houses educational resources for cooperators to set up DisCOs anywhere. Within the DisCO FLOOR you will find MOOC courses, a reference handbook, the DisCO BALL Wiki, articles, audio and video content and much more.
- The DisCO DECK: Our value tracking platform. The DisCO DECK is the interface and back end of the DisCO CAT. This will be a user-friendly, accessible online tool featuring value tracking, accounting, and other Tools to support DisCO operations.
- The DisCO STACK: Our collaborative online tools. The DisCO STACK will be a toolkit of Free/Libre Open Source Software platforms to help people work together using the DisCO Methodology and resources.
- The DisCO EXPERIENCE: Our research and pilot program. The DisCO FLOOR and DisCO DECK will be developed based on the experiences, data and input of real cooperatives. The resulting case studies plus the mentorship that these pilots will receive make up the immersive DisCO EXPERIENCE.
The DisCO CAT's legs and whiskers are starting to grow; development in all four of the components is underway. Some components (such as the DisCO Floor and Experience) are further along. As above, a fuller description of each of these can be found in the DisCO Project Matrix page.
DisCO Clusters are temporal and situation specific multi-DisCO formations. Within the overarching concept of The DisCOVerse, individual DisCOs can network together into punctual, Federated, pop-up DisCOs. We call these "DisCO Clusters". DisCO Clusters are by nature time-limited and focused on punctual goals. These can include fundraising, solidarity actions, defense from hostile attacks, artivisms, direct action and more. DisCO Clusters allow individual DisCOs to DisCOJam with a purpose. DisCO Clusters are not to be confused with SuperDisCOs which are stable medium-large scale multi-DisCO organisms.
DisCO Elements are distinct modular practices which you can add to your own DisCO (Culture). These are also the basis for the DisCO Blocks, a drag and drop software interface to allow you to build DisCOs modularly, one block at a time (Structure). DisCO Elements are a great way to create a healthy Cultural/Structural balance.
The DisCO Journey is a seven-step P2P learning process to co-create advanced, mature DisCOs. The Journey is designed for DisCOs to build trust and federate with other DisCOs, to create a network of practice and ultimately build an economic counterpower. Every step builds on previous ones. Through these steps, DisCO.coop guides the communities that desire to implement the DisCO framework from community and trust-building steps to governance co-designing steps geared towards answering the DisCO Principles and Values, then through flexible integration of DisCO Elements and eventually preparing the ground for federation.
DisCO LABS are pilot projects experimenting with the DisCO model. DisCO Labs need to present a diverse geographical and cultural focus, as well as a healthy representation of various types of mission-oriented productive work. Any group can choose to become a DisCO and make use of the resources posted in the educational platform and contribute to its development but only selected DisCO LABS will benefit from hands on support from the project team. DisCO LABS should also benefit from financial resources and take part in the participatory action research components.
See DisCO.coop's LABS homepage to meet the current Labs, or DisCO LABS Worldwide for a list of Committed, Dating and Casual DisCO LABS. If you want to become a LAB, sign up for the DisCO Journey, our immersive P2P learning program.
Every single DisCO is a DisCO LAB, including DisCO.coop. There’s no hierarchical relationship between DisCO.coop and the other DisCO LABs, instead we operate heterarchically. The main difference is that DisCO.coop is a DisCO Non-Profit (DisCO.NP) that spends 100% of its time creating resources for the development and promotion of DisCO.
The DisCONauts, are the crew of any given DisCO. In the case of DisCO.coop, you can meet the crew here! We are working to develop this unique system of governance, related documentation and other educational materials, and DisCO-related projects.
DisCO Nodes are individual, but related "sub-DisCOs" that operate under a shared umbrella, or "Mother" DisCO. Nodes may overlap in terms of members, value accounting, Mutual Support, etc. They are autonomous on certain Value Streams, (mainly in Livelihood and Lovework) but share many Carework commitments with the other nodes. Their shared DisCO structure allows them to be rather permeable with and support each other in unique ways. Practically, they are suborganizations within a DisCO providing specialized services. For example, Guerrilla Media Collective has specific nodes for Translation, Graphic Design, and Agitprop. DisCO Nodes typically function under the same umbrella legal entity and use the same workflow Tools.
DisCO Nodes may have overlapping or differing personnel from the other nodes. Regarding Value Streams, productive activities (such as Love and Livelihood work) can be kept distinct from one node to another. Conversely, Carework Valueflows can be mutualized, for example, Legal and Finance work, Social Media Promotion, Website upkeep etc affect all nodes, so carework for these has to be evenly distributed. By the same token, this mutualization also extends to the DisCO's Working Circles. Carework which only affects the node in question can also be kept separate.
Extending out from In-DisCO Nodes, collaborations among DisCOs with different legal umbrellas can either be situational and time-limited (AKA DisCO Clusters) or complex, stable circuits of value creation (AKA SuperDisCOs). All existing DisCOs are part of The DisCOverse.
The DisCO Project is the journey the DisCONauts have embarked on, going boldly beyond and all that jazz. The DisCO Project Matrix describes the overall multi-year arch of the project. Our mission is to turn DisCO into a viable economic counterpower for the 2020s and beyond. Read The Open Source Conspiracy for more details. The DisCO Project entails many relationships and partnerships and has been conceived as a series of modular DisCO Elements.
The DisCOVerse refers to all federated DisCOs together, growing in solidarity to become an economic counterpower for social and environmental purposes. One way to illustrate this is through a quote from David Fleming:
"Large-scale problems do not require large-scale solutions; they require small-scale solutions within a large-scale framework.".
Individual DisCO LABS are the small-scale, trust-based solutions. The DisCOVerse is the emergent large-scale framework.
Within the DisCOverse we find stable and well established interactions and alliances, (AKA SuperDisCOs) or more punctual and transactional (AKA DisCO Clusters). The former require more Carework and real-world trust-building, the latter rely more heavily on DisCO Decks and value-tracking Tools. Click here for our thoughts on Federation.
SuperDisCOs are medium to large-scale stable and federated circuits of value creation. SuperDisCOs are complex organisms composed of individual DisCOs who have experienced a Dating Phase together, built trust, shared goals and values and are ready to mutualize Value Sovereignty. SuperDisCOs are DisCO's answer to the problem of scaling. They are also how DisCO manifests as a viable anticapitalist, decolonial and intersectional feminist, alternative to both Commons Based Peer Production and DAOs.
DisCO Governance values and visibilizes three main types of work:
- Livelihood Work (work that is paid by the market, or through grants etc),
- Lovework (Pro-bono, unfunded and mission-oriented work)
- Care Work (which includes well-being, as well as admin and maintenance tasks)
The three types of work, or "value streams", are tracked with complementary metrics and rewards are dispensed accordingly. Value Streams are the building blocks of DisCO Principle 6: Origins and flows of value.
- The DisCO glossary both complements and expands upon David Bollier and Silke Helfrich's excellent chapter on "Language and the Creation of Commons" from their 2019 book Free, Fair and Alive: the insurgent Power of the Commons". You can read the full chapter online here
- Legally, DisCO.coop is a non-profit, social interested cooperative established in Andalusia, southern Spain. This model allows us to have the social mission and tax benefits of a Non-Profit while retaining the workplace democracy and shared ownership of a worker-owned coop, following the Worker Self-Directed Non-Profit model pioneered by the Sustainable Economies Law Center.
- DisCO Clusters draw heavily from the concept of "Unity Without Convergence", Read this article for more details.
- The DisCO Elements is also the title of our second publication, click here to download it or read it online.
- For more on this subject, read The Open Source Conspiracy