The DisCO Project

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What is the DisCO Project

The DisCO Project takes the experiences and vision described in the DisCO Manifesto and DisCO Elements and provides the tools, methods and spaces for massive, transnational DisCO creation and development. [1]

DisCOs are real and happening now: The framework was originally developed in real-life conditions through Guerrilla Media Collective, the original DisCO, and has since evolved as a flexible methodology for communities to self-organise and sustain themselves through commons, cooperative and feminist economic practices. Since the publication of the DisCO Manifesto and DisCO Elements in 2019 and 2020 interest in DisCO has skyrocketed. We receive constant requests for assistance in the creation and development of new DisCOs. As originators of the framework we are honored, inspired and committed to providing the best possible resources and tools to make DisCO an accessible and reasonably easy to implement economic alternative.

The power of DisCO rests on federation: Lots of DisCOs articulating their interpretation of the Seven DisCO Principles and working with each other to create viable economic counterpower. DisCO educates communities on self-determination, commoning, distributed and feminist economics and how to engage with decentralized technologies from a critical standpoint, ready to engage with the most pressing issues of the 2020s.

Make no mistake: this decade will be determinant on how the future of humanity and the planet turns out. If you don't hold much faith in corporations and nation states beholden to them, if you think that techno-determinism is an dead end, designed to please investors and vanity project, if you're sick and can't take it anymore, then you've come to the right place: DisCO is a flexible framework that creates capicity in the face of ongoing collapse. It's the end of the world (as we know it) and we feel fine. What have we got to lose?

The educational resources, community spaces, and distributed Software software platforms described below have been conceived as commons from the ground up to make DisCO-building accessible to as many people as possible worldwide and, just as importantly, for these commons to co-evolve by reflecting how DisCOs worldwide develop and adapt them to their own specific sensibilities and circumstances. Ultimately we are at the service of the communities that choose to become DisCOs and federate with each other. This means that every component of the DisCO Project exists in Perpetual Beta - never closed-off or considered finished, but in constant development according to real world circumstances.

Purpose, Components and the DisCO CAT

Introduced in the DisCO Manifesto, the DisCO CAT (Community Algorithmic Trust) refers to all the cultural and structural components of the DisCO Project. All components are modular, concurrent and in Perpetual Beta. The DisCO CAT is designed so people can teach themselves, play around and, ultimately, build viable DisCOs. If blockchain-based DAOs and other decentralised systems use algorithms as a substitute for trust (or delegating it to intermediaries) in DisCO small-community trust building is at the core and it is from the human-level process of trust building that we interact and build together through software based platforms.[2]

Behind every server and computer terminal there are humans with physical and emotional needs. All the platforms co-designed under the DisCO CAT serve to strengthen these interactions, reflect and build on what happens offline. There is no one DisCO CAT: These platforms are designed to be federated and self-hosted for each DisCO.

The DisCO Project is a comprehensive framework to support the development of Distributed Cooperativism. It provides components under the umbrella concept of the DisCO C.A.T (Community Algorithmic Trust)[3] . All components are modular, concurrent and in Permanent Beta. They are:


  1. DisCO FLOOR: Comprehensive online educational resources and legal tools
  2. DisCO DECK: Value Tracking Platform
  3. DisCO STACK: Collaborative tools for DisCO practices
  4. The DisCO Experience: DisCO LABS, Research Events and Outreach


The project is initially envisioned as a 4-5 year process with provisions for further expansion beyond year 5. Along its cultural and structural axes, the components described below will be built by value-aligned partners and the DisCO_LABS themselves to ensure relatability and intimate knowledge of the DisCO framework.

1: DisCO FLOOR: Educational resources and legal tools

DisCO's educational web platform (DisCO Floor) gathers the cultural aspects of the project, including comprehensive educational resources and legal tools for cooperators to set up DisCOs worldwide.

DisCO Journey

The DisCO learning journey will feature interactive materials to explain DisCOs in plain language over a series of short, didactic articles, complemented by pop-up vocabulary definitions, infographics and videos (see below), TL/DRs, quizzes and games. With a pop-science approach, it will be based on our previous work in the Commons Transition Primer

DisCO Ball: Knowledge Base

The DisCO knowledge base (DisCO Ball) will feature a visually engaging design, powered by semantic wiki software. Showcasing best pattern practices for DisCO development and management, the knowledge base will provide semantic categories linking to further resources and examples (from the various individual, self-hosted wikis of each DisCO_LAB). It will prioritize modern, clean graphics (following the template of the Guerrilla Media Collective Wiki) and user-friendliness. Video tutorials and resources on how to contribute and enrich the DisCO Ball knowledge base will be provided within DisCO Ball to facilitate community content production.

DisCO Ball will also be the default user manual for the various platforms developed as part of the DisCO PROJECT (DECK, EXP, BLOCKS, etc.) with embedded animated tutorials for maximum accessibility.

DisCO Directory

Geographic and thematic directory of DisCOs, as well as associated Social Solidarity and Platform Cooperative entities.

DisCO Blocks

Interactive base DisCO Governance Model (based on the original DisCO Governance Model developed for Guerrilla Media Collective).

The base governance model will display the basics for DisCO Governance in dedicated, graphically supported sections, with drop-down text and links for more details, including examples and solutions derived from the DisCO LABS. The model matrix will provide interactive Q&A style templates for prospective DisCOs to create their own spin-off governance models.

The builder works through drag and drop components. These are known as "Governance Modules", presenting recurring solutions to common DisCO challenges sourced from various DisCO_LABS and experiences. They also provide information, pros/cons and risk assessment about the significance and lived experience behind every governance choice.

The modules help DisCO members discuss and configure their governance models, which can then be tweaked, modified and saved as new modules.

The modules also serve to program the basic function and value flows of the DisCO Deck ( see below)

Handbook

Electronic, downloadable Handbook based on the template of the Guerrilla Translation Handbook, but updated for general DisCO use and with various practical examples sourced from all DisCO LABS. The Handbook will provide a complementary linear and narrative approach to the educational materials contained in the educational platform. Published in PDF, EPub and GitBook formats, the handbook is expected to be updated periodically as the project develops and will include practical how-to guides on forming a DisCO (best practices, cultural, legal and technological resources and more). Paper versions can be created through Think Global, Print Local methodologies, with source files available on demand.

The DisCO Trilogy

Three downloadable multi-format publications covering various aspects of DisCO. Also to be published as Audiobooks (see section below)

If I Only Had a Heart: The DisCO Manifesto

The DisCO Manifesto is a deep dive into the world of Distributed Cooperative Organizations. Over its 80 colorful pages, you will read about how DisCOs are a P2P/Commons, cooperative and Feminist Economic alternative to Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (or DAOs). The DisCO Manifesto also includes some background on topics like blockchain, AI, the commons, feminism, cooperatives, cyberpunk, and more.

Care Before Code: The DisCO Elements

The DisCO Elements is a compilation of several articles on DisCO, including dedicated sections on DisCO in our current historical and Pandemic context, the Seven Principles, DisCO Governance, DisCO Carework and DisCO policies. The DisCO Elements is a "director's cut", expanded from a publication commissioned by Autonomy.work. The DisCO Elements will also be serialized as standalone articles in Hackernoon and cross-posted in DIsCO Stories.

The DisCO PinkPaper

(Forthcoming, 2023/24) White paper for the DisCO project, not only describing technological aspects side, but also highlighting the cultural and ethical considerations underlying our design choices. The DisCO Pinkpaper will include sections on the DisCO FLOOR, DisCO DECK and their co-dependencies, as well as a sections on the DisCO STACK and how it relates to FLOOR and DECK.

DisCO Stories

Series of articles authored by the DisCO Crew, DisCO constituents, and outside journalists to be published in leading outlets (The Guardian, Open Democracy, Hackernoon, Truthout, the Conversation, etc.) outlining the various aspects of DisCO, alongside reflections on the implications of the framework, the unmet needs leading to its creation, the real stories and experiences of those using the DisCO Framework and Stack.

Articles include short articles, long read essays, and interviews. All articles are compiled in the DisCO Stories section of DisCO.coop.

Videos

Supporting videos for the project will include:

  1. Animated infographic introductions to the overall vision, the history and facets of DisCO
  2. Video tutorials for the value tracking platform (see below)
  3. Talking heads/Greenscreen Videos with approachable explanations of DisCO aspects. These can be adapted from the articles below, as well as entries in the DisCO Ball knowledge base
  4. Interviews with DisCO creators and DisCO_LABS
  5. Short, on the ground, mini-documentaries of the DisCO_LABS
  6. Video summaries of Discothons
  7. Talks and presentations

Infographics

Graphic adaptations of DisCO resources and materials extracted from the DisCO Manifesto, including the seven DisCO principles, characteristics of the DisCO framework, the base governance model, steps to set up a DisCO and more.

Graphic Novel

Graphic narrative reimagining of the contents of the DisCO Manifesto. The Graphic Novel will prioritize accessibility and a deeper exploration of the four components of the DisCO DNA (Commons and P2P, Open Cooperativism, Open Value Accounting and Feminist Economics). The graphic novel will feature a humorous and relatable narrative, highlighting user stories and historical precedents. As with the Handbook, the Graphic Novel will be available in electronic format, with further resources available for local printing and distribution.

Audiobooks

Bilingual Audiobook version of the DisCO Trilogy to engage those who prefer their content via narration. The English versions will be read by co-author Ann Marie Utratel and the Spanish versions by co-author Stacco Troncoso.

MOOC

Three-month online courses with webinars, synchronous and asynchronous discussion channels, and supporting materials (as described within the section on educational resources) for prospective DisCO initiators. The MOOC will be modular and will include dedicated courses on the theory of DisCO, as well as its practical aspects (online collaboration tools, best practices, configuration and usage of the DisCO CAT platform, legal structures, etc.)

Legal structures

Tutorials and advice on DisCO-appropriate legal structures, organized by geographical legislation but also examining the practical legalities of DisCO's transnational dimensions, as well as possible legal frameworks for onchain structures (see legal research section below).

Translation and localization

Ongoing linguistic and contextual adaptation of all materials featured on the educational platform, as well as the DisCO Manifesto, homepage, Value Tracking Platform and research materials, described below.

2: DisCO DECK: Value Tracking Platform

To ensure their success and uptake DisCOs need accessible convivial technologies to facilitate their value tracking and redistribution components, as well as complementary DisCO-appropriate collaboration tools.

The DisCO DECK will be the front-end interface and back end for any given DisCO's Community Algorithmic Trust (or DisCO CAT). It is designed to be an accessible online tool with a balanced integration of Web 3.0, Distributed Ledger Technology and Blockchain components. The DisCO Deck will facilitate value tracking, accounting, and other tools to fully support the DisCOs in their day-to-day operations.

The DisCO Deck will feature:

DisCO Blocks: Governance Modeling

Configurable modules for value accounting with adjustable ratios and characteristics

These include:

  • Pro-bono Lovework, market Livelihood work, and reproductive Carework metrics, with the possibility of varying rates and modes of tokenization
  • Integrations for automated value tracking, depending on a given DisCO's chosen productive work and software tools
  • Time tracking tools

Interactive real time visualizations of

  • All value streams according to accorded value ratios
  • Drag and drop real-time adjustability of accorded ratios to suit personal circumstances and necessities of members (validated by voting-consent mechanisms)
  • Personalised views of each DisCO member's historical, invested and divested credits (see this section of DisCO governance model for more details)
  • Economic projections and budgeting tools, including reproductive vs productive work balances and readjustments, as well as optimal invested/divested credit ratios
  • Legislation-appropriate tax ratios, regular expenses and individual member expenses (deducted from individual allocations)
  • All interactions in the Platform can take place through drag and drop graphic visualizations and/or numerical input interfaces. This includes real time visualizations of all DisCO-wide and individual member value flows

Financial tools including:

  • Automatically executed value transfers mediated by the CAT (as in a regular DAO) or via liquid democracy enabled consent mechanisms
  • Access privilege mediated transfer of credits between
    • individual DisCO members
    • value streams
    • separate DisCO nodes
    • and toward configurable value pools for specific projects
  • Transfer of credits among different DisCOs
  • Conversion of credits to designated fiat currencies, with bank transfers to
    • DisCO members (ie. monthly payments)
    • Suppliers
    • Organizations
  • Conversion of credits to various cryptocurrencies and individual, permissioned access to wallets,
  • Automated invoicing and payment tools, both via bank transfer and/or cryptocurrency wallets
  • Legislation specific (Country/legal structure) community-developed plugins, validated by cryptographic notary signature for taxation and State financial reporting.

All components will allow for granular customization of how many of these processes are:

  1. automatically executed by the CAT
  2. automatically displayed by the CAT but only executed via customizable governance-model determined permissions and votes by the members
  3. individually permissioned


Although modular components and existing FLOSS options will be repurposed and built into the platform, a white paper detailing the structural and technical characteristics of DisCOs will be provided for technical development and funding partners, complemented by a more accessible narrative overview of the technical scope of the project.

As described in the DisCO Manifesto, the platform will use non-blockchain DLT technologies such as Secure Scuttlebutt, Commons Pub and IPFS for individual (small-scale, trustworthy) DisCO value tracking, internal transactions and data storage. The architecture employs public Blockchain sparingly for logging compendiums and transacting with other entities (through two possible cryptocurrencies or "DisCOins"; see below Individual-DisCO level interaction-generated data can be crunched and placed in these blockchains for secure, trustless, external transactions and value flows, with the possibility of Solid serving as a protocol for querying PDS through blockchain validated access privileges.

Complementary DisCO_LAB-tested inclusive educational materials and state-of-the-art UX (presented as part of the DisCO Floor Knowledge base — see above) will ensure the CAT's accessibility and user-friendliness.

Tech Development Stages for the DisCO Deck

The development cycle for the DisCO Deck will follow three incremental stages:

  1. Centralized server MVP/Test case Stage
  2. Web 3.0 (SSB/IPFS) Stage
  3. Blockchain Stage


Each of these roughly corresponds to the three main features described in the previous section (value accounting, visualizations and financial tools). The stages are not strictly sequential, with concurrency increasing for Stages 2 and 3 in particular. Perpetual Beta will be deployed through various combinations of Stage 2 and 3 architectures.

Centralized server MVP/Test case Stage

The first iteration of the DisCO Dev is currently being developed based on existing components developed for Network Resource Planning by Mikorizal Software. This iteration is being piloted by Guerrilla Media Collective. Other DisCO_LABS can use the MVP to prototype different value accounting frameworks, as described in the section above. This initial stage will let us test the robustness of the software, increase the scope for tweakability and refine the design for the UI on top of a non-distributed architecture.

Web 3.0 (CommonsPub/SSB/IPFS) Stage

Stage 2 will take over from Stage 1 and deploy the software on a secure Web 3.0 system. Stage 2 will be partly research-based, where we will iterate the DisCO NRP MVPs on different architectures (CommonsPub, Secure Scuttlebutt and IPFS) to test functionality while incorporating the finished front-end interface described in the visualizations section, as well as some of the characteristics described in the Financial Tools section above.

The Web 3.0 Platform will be considered the default platform for individual DisCO Value accounting and small DisCO federation value mutualization.

Blockchain Stage

Stage 3 builds on the previous two stages by utilizing the user graphic interface and value accounting architecture developed in Stage 2 and applying it to a public blockchain. This Stage is primarily designed for DisCOs, as well as other organizations with compatible/convertible tokens who want to trade or engage in value sovereignty mechanisms but it can function alongside the Stage 2 Web 3.0 architecture for some of the tokenization, invoicing and monetary transfer tools described in the Financial Tools section, as well as the cryptocurrency possibilities to be examined in the DisCOin: Cryptocurrenciesresearch component below.

3: DisCO STACK: Collaborative tools for DisCO practices

The DisCO Stack is a toolkit of convivial Free/Libre Open Source Software platforms for people to work together using the DisCO Methodology and resources.

Rather than recreating the wheel, or designing an all-in-one tool that is a jack of all trades and master of none, the DisCO Stack will leverage and customize existing FLOSS tools into a complementary browser-based framework custom-designed for DIsCO needs and value accounting. It will include tools for:

The DisCO Stack will be presented as a suite of browser-based apps within the DisCO CAT. Co-designed with its user community, the Stack will follow the needs of the DisCOLABS, as well as the findings of our research teams.

The DisCO Stack is designed to be used in conjunction with the patterns and practices described in the educational resources listed above (Knowledge base, Handbook, video tutorials, etc). Crucially, the DisCO Stack will interface with DisCO DECK and DisCO BLOCKS to:

  • Automatize Value Tracking according to consent-based protocols
  • Assess the health of the collective and its needs for carework, with clear displays of needs, imbalances and red flags

Beyond the particular tools and their interface with DisCO DECK and the DisCO Governance model, the DisCO Stack will prioritize integration among the different tools. Finally, documentation for DisCO Stack will highlight best practices and educational materials to use complementary tools within a coherent framework.

4: The DisCO Experience: DisCO LABS, Research Events and Outreach

The DisCO project needs to be developed in close collaboration with the distributed cooperatives that seek to incorporate its framework. The DisCO Experience is how DisCO gets deployed in spacetime, with real communities and people. It includes three main components:

  • DisCO LABS (DisCO pilots and active co-creators in DisCO development).
  • DisCO Research Lines (Collaborations with universities and research collectives on DisCO participatory action research, as well as investigations into applying the DisCO methodology and tools to research itself)
  • Events and Outreach (Large scale community activation)

DisCO LABS

Pilot projects for DisCO need to present a diverse geographical and cultural focus, as well as a healthy representation of various types of mission-oriented productive work.

Criteria for included LABS will be determined by the overall capacities and resources of the DisCO project. In any case, 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 selected LABS will benefit from hands-on support from the project team. DisCO LABS directly involved with the project should also benefit from financial resources to prioritize their own development and learning journey, as well as to help with initial setup costs. They will also take part in the participatory action research components of the project and will be a key influence in its direction.

More resourced groups can also engage with DisCO.coop's in-house consultancy for bespoke training, accompaniment and co-creation of the DisCO processes detailed below.

DisCO LABS Co-Development

During their development phase, DisCO LABS will be supported in the following Lab-specific areas (links point to existing examples in Guerrilla Media Collective)

This list is not prescriptive, however, and DisCO LABS may diverge from this template as long as they successfully fulfill the seven DisCO principles. Existing patterns from Guerrilla Media Collective and other emergent DisCOs can be copied selectively or serve as a point of origin/inspiration for all the preceding areas. However, it is for each LAB to decide which patterns to prioritize and how. LABS are also encouraged to devise and document new strategies and patterns to fulfill the possibilities of the DisCO Framework.

DisCO LABS may choose to convert their whole operation to DisCO principles or to experiment with the DisCO Framework through dedicated clusters. All LABS will be supported by the online resources described in this text, as well as the ongoing support of all stakeholders involved in the project.

Ultimately, the DisCO project is designed to be a mutual learning experience, prioritizing new forms of non-hierarchical education and a wide variety of approaches to the DisCO framework and its seven basic principles.

List of DisCO LABS:

DisCO LABS are subdivided by the Casual/Dating/Committed taxonomy.

  • Committed LABS are already-operational DisCOs with their own documentation and resources.
  • Dating LABS are in a process of direct mutual mentoring with the DisCO Project.
  • Casual LABS have either expressed interest in becoming a DisCO (and being co-mentored by the DisCO Project) or are in the process of becoming one without the direct involvement of the DisCO Project.
Committed DisCO LABS
Dating DisCO LABS
  • Cooperation Jackson (Self-managed solidarity networks, United States)
  • Multi-Talented Makerspace (Makerspace, Zimbabwe)
  • Laneras (Dedicated to the preservation and advocacy of Merino Wool crafts, Spain)
  • Tazebaez (Cooperative innovation and changemakers, co-designing products, services, brands, environments, organizations and teams, Spain)
Casual DisCO LABS



See also DisCO LAB Development in the Events section below.

Research lines

The various research lines described below are being developed through fieldwork and ongoing dialogue with the DisCO Federated LABS (ie: pilot projects)

Distributed Cooperativism in action

Participatory action research on the DisCO LABS, including extensive fieldwork and ethnographies on group process, culture and challenges. Will include comparative qualitative and quantitative studies among the different LABS and DisCO cooperative vis a vis Platform Cooperatives, "regular" cooperatives, Social Solidarity economy enterprises and general SMEs.

Designing whole-community governance

Building on the CommunityRule prototype, we would explore strategies for enabling DisCOs and other communities to craft and share their community designs in intuitive, collaborative ways. What is the role of governance design in the DisCO toolkit? How can governance break out of the incentive-based models common in DAOs toward more relational forms? What are best practices for governance that we can responsibly share among DisCOs as models?

Intra DisCO value flows

Overview of possible mutual solidarity mechanisms and funds between different DisCOs both within national and legislations and fiat currencies, or transnational and through crypto-assets. These mechanisms will prioritize the ongoing development of the DisCO project beyond its initial scope and its sustainability. It will also explore solidarity, mutualization and decommodified mechanisms for mutual support, including the creation of physical, digital and knowledge commons

Legal frameworks (on-chain and off)

A comparative review of suitable legal frameworks for DisCO value accounting and member control. Will include regional, national and (in the case of the EU) continental and international cooperative legislation. Initially based on the DisCO LABS the research will focus on best practices and legal templates for other DisCOs operating within the same legislation while providing a research framework for other legislations to be explored at a later date. This component will also include an investigation of other legal structures beyond cooperatives currently used in DAO space, how to embed ICA's current values onchain, while seeking legal recognition for such structures to be recognized as distributed cooperative. Finally, the role of CopyFair and other forms of P2P Licensing will be analyzed, along with license mediated reciprocity and solidarity mechanisms.

Feminist economic theory and practice

A comparative review of feminist economic literature vis a vis real-world practices of the DisCO LABS, including the definition and practice of Carework as practiced in DisCOs, the pros and cons of reproductive work accounting and relative tokenization. Tokenization in different mediums will also be analyzed for its effects on social relationships. Will also include an examination of care and reproductive work beyond the cooperative structure, i.e. in the household, and how this affects work performed within the DisCO. This last point will explore varying boundaries between work and home life, as well as possible multiconstituent mechanisms to make some of those boundaries permeable if so decided.

Commons-oriented, feminist critique of DAOs

A comparative study of DisCOs vs DAOs framed within existing academic literature on the common, feminist economics and the blockchain/DAO/DLT world. The study will focus on the different understanding of values, intrinsic and extrinsic motivations and resources in both fields, as well as mutual and differing characteristics of each.

DisCOin: Cryptocurrencies

Research and development into two DisCO-specific cryptocurrencies:

  1. DisCOin.st (Stablecoin)
  2. DisCOin.vol (Volatile)


This component will explore the possibility of DisCO members choosing what proportion of the payments they want divested as fiat currencies vs any of the two DisCOin architectures. DisCOins can then be used, among other things, to divest pro-bono payments (ie, not subjecting them to taxation for salaried work), convert into social currencies or other cryptocurrencies and, at the DisCO network level, make payments among DisCOs for b2b goods and services. An investment fund can also be created. Once the research phase has been carried out, it can be decided whether to build these crypto-currencies and add these options to the DisCO Deck platform above.

Commons-public partnerships

Study of documented commons-public partnerships, as well as public-cooperative frameworks (such as the Evergreen/Preston model) and how DisCOs could lower the costs of public provision by encouraging redistributive strategies. This would include policy recommendations for public organisms interested in working with DisCOs and supporting the growth of the DisCO ecosystem.

Events and Outreach

Despite originating out of the experience of a mainly online group (Guerrilla Media Collective) our experience has led us to appreciate the importance of in-person contact and creative development through a variety of events and exercises. Trust building among supposedly trustless architectures is an essential part of the DisCO vision and, whenever possible, DisCO project members and sympathizers can significantly increase the added value and outputs of the project through a variety of in-person meetings.

Another benefit to this approach is to leverage the network and location-based resources of all DisCO project partners to create an affinity network around DisCO development. This would involve an intensive touring calendar by project participants to foster in-person connections and explore and challenge the possibilities of the DisCO framework. Event documentation (articles, images, and video if possible) of all these interactions can then be added to the DisCO knowledge base ongoing.

Introductory talks and workshops:

Aimed at all publics, but with a special focus on those most likely to be attracted by the DisCO framework (see Impact Section below) these events can include appearances at conferences and panels, as well as dedicated keynote presentations on DisCO — to be documented through DisCO Stories and the DisCO Ball Knowledge base.

Introductory workshops can take place over one or several days to provide a more thorough overview of the framework and include audiovisual materials, short lectures, games and interactive prototyping of DisCOs.

DisCO LAB development

Hands-on accompaniment through workshops and DisCO Project to Individual DisCO agreed-on Community Rhythms. This component will focus on co-mentoring emergent DisCO_LABS in the development of their own governance models, prioritizing the cultural and structural aspects of DisCO creation while documenting and systematizing new pattern approaches to the DisCO Framework

Pilot work will also focus on the customization of each DisCO LABS's Community Algorithmic Trust and associated DisCO Deck value tracking platform, as well as training on work collaboration tools and best practices, ethical business models and outreach and diffusion strategies. DisCO LABS development will take place online and through quarterly, week-long DisCO retreats. See also sections above for DisCO_LABS related documentation, written and audiovisual outputs.

DisCOthons

DisCOthons are envisioned as public hackathons combining tech and human-centered educational and collaborative resources. They occupy a middle ground between the more expository introductory talks and workshops described above and the more involved mentoring of the DisCO LABS.

Webinars and AMAs

Public webinars and online "Ask me anything" sessions facilitated by the DisCO development team (including LABS) to showcase the framework and answer questions.

Impact

DisCO offers unique, actionable alternatives for specific audiences eager to engage with new economic models, such as:

    • Freelancers and "the precariat"
    • Legislators in municipalist and P2P Politics
    • P2P movement activists and Commoners
    • The Cooperative, Social Solidarity and "New" Economy sectors
    • The Open Source Community
    • The more inclusivity-conscious sectors of the blockchain space
    • Trade unions
    • Activists from the post Arab Spring/Occupy/15-M and anti-austerity movements
  • Complementary movements: Buen Vivir, Just Transition, Degrowth, Makers and Permaculture
  • Intersectional feminism/feminist economics advocates

The DisCO model spotlights a new political subject apart from "the worker" or "the precariat": the Commoner, who co-manages their resources in a community and according to its norms. The sustenance of roughly 2.5 billion people worldwide depend on some form of natural resource commons, mainly in the global south, yet many commons remain unprotected and vulnerable to predation through privatization.

As large amounts of digital resources are being co-created online, the number of people relying on knowledge commons is also increasing. These potentially massive affinity networks lack a common identifier or unifying vision, which DisCOs are designed to provide. With 2.6 million cooperative societies, over 1 billion members and a combined turnover of 3 trillion US$ — similar to the market capitalization of Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook combined — the cooperative movement has the potential to radically reshape economies and overturn inequality. Compared with conventional business models, cooperatives are a more inclusive and fair form of business, offering more equality to members. Recent research shows that this more egalitarian approach to employee-ownership provides a workplace that is more stable, more efficiently productive, retaining a larger share of profit and with much narrower executive/non-executive pay differentials. When combined with digitally networked solidarity strategies supported by Distributed Ledger Technologies and the large scale governance seen in P2P/Commons networks, DisCOs could coalesce the economic potential of cooperatives.

Through its focus on inclusivity and diversity of outputs in several languages, DiSCOs take a design-level approach to addressing gender, racial and geographic inequalities in organizations. The project will engage target audiences with narratives suited to their contexts. Once synergies are established, the DisCO framework can provide a flexible, collaborative roadmap for these potentially huge and distinct audiences to mutually recognize each other and operate under a complementary narrative while maintaining their individual hallmarks and strengths.

Partnerships and Support

The DisCO project team is exploring partnerships with value-aligned entities to a) mature, codify and open source cultural practices for DisCOs practising contributive accounting, and b) co-develop an attractive, modular legal/technical infrastructure, easily adapted for other commons-oriented collectives, businesses and DisCOs. We believe that this combination of off-chain (cultural) and on-chain (structural) qualities is essential for any serious distributed project to tackle inequality with tangible impacts.

As a longer-term aspiration, we see this as the seed form of a distributed institution providing peer-to-peer mentorship for self-organised workers, individual or collective levels, and as a prototype for existing cooperatives to federate the model and its digital infrastructure. Combining hybrid pro-bono, paid and Carework value streams, DisCOs can support more activists to work in ways that align with their own values.

We are committed to working with our present and future partners to harness the potentials of the digital economy for viable socio-economic outcomes.

Fluid Funding Partnerships

We are critical of, and even uncomfortable with, the typical asymmetrical power relationship between funders and beneficiaries. We want to extend the ideals of our contribution-based and care-oriented economic model to our supporting peers by suggesting a different type of proposal: rather than initial lump-sum funding, we propose to follow a fluid funding agreement.

Here is our vision: the various partners in the DisCO Project development team (including LABS) works to meet all milestones described above working as DisCO clusters and value tracking their contributions. We seek regular fulfilment for these tracked contributions, which can be divested through traditional or onchain payment structures. Importantly, this would prefigure the qualities of DisCO's governance models and platforms.

Total project allocated funds can be held in a trust, but only divested on a monthly basis according to hours worked/tokens met (or projected budgeted expenses for events or non DisCO-contracted services, when unavoidable).

Based on this model we believe that the milestones can very likely be met in an earlier time frame and at a lower cost that the projected maximum. The results from this joint work could immediately be put to use on other commons oriented, feminist or cooperative projects, validated by the lived experience and expertise of those involved with DisCO's development. Our commitment to transparency and clear communications also ensures a responsible and holoptical use of resources.

Project Status

As of 2020, the DisCO team is in conversation with several partners in philantrophy, academia, technology and cooperative, feminist and political advocacy groups. Check this page for updates. If you are interested in supporting or collaborating with the DisCO project, please get in touch.







  1. If you are reading this document, we assume that you are already familiar with DisCO. If that's not the case, please head over our List of DisCO Resources to get caught up.
  2. From the DisCO Manifesto

    While the blockchain aims to strip the power of "trusted" institutions and give it to decentralised nodes, DisCOs propose to examine where trust is placed at the smaller commons or organizational nodes.

    Similar to how a Community Land Trust (CLT) helps maintain specific social values through shared ownership structures, a DisCO's on-chain design structures help the collective carry out its self-organised rules. In DisCOs, Carework includes caring for the collective as a "living entity," but beyond a collectively imagined ideal, the digital heart of the DisCO is that living entity. Like an opening gambit in centaur chess (where machines are used to finesse and amplify the existing chess talents of humans), a DisCO's algorithms, whether encoded on a blockchain or not, support the collective in overseeing, simplifying and carrying out the human level agreements and rules. Earlier we mentioned the fluid dialectic between culture and structure that defines all commons. If a DisCO's care orientation is an example of the former, how can we encode this into technological and legal structures to ensure that the culture thrives?

    What we propose for the information and value tracking in a DisCO is a platform that acts as a shared information repository for the cooperative, which we’ll call a “community algorithmic trust” (CAT). In fact, why not just call it the DisCO CAT in honor of the only non-human creature on this planet that has colonized the internet completely. We’ll refrain from trying too hard here, but the CAT might be the most important structural part of the DisCO, and we bow down to our feline overlords.

    The CAT platform is where members can input and review information about work done in the cooperative, including managing workflow; updating team documentation (e.g., quarterly review timelines, commitment statements); accounting for their Love, Livelihood and Carework credits for work performed; creating client invoices and tracking payments; and most importantly, looking at visualizations drawn from the data for these metrics, which show the health of the collective displayed on each member’s individual dashboard.

  3. Extracted from Guerrilla Translation, Guerrilla Media Collective and DisCOs - how do they fit together?: "Similarly to how a Community Land Trust (CLT) perpetuates specific social values through shared ownership structures, Guerrilla Translation's on-chain dimension upholds and enables the collective’s consent to a set of voluntary, self-organized rules. But beyond a collectively imagined ideal, the algorithmic heart of a DisCO like Guerrilla Translation is the entity described earlier. A DisCO's algorithms (whether encoded on a blockchain or not) support the collective in overseeing, simplifying and carrying out the human-level agreements and rules. Once the community's care-orientation is entrusted to the on-chain entity, it is described as a Community Algorithmic Trust (or CAT) which oversees the health of the collective. A DisCO is considered healthy when its administrative and human requirements are taken care of, i.e., all members ensure that both Livelihood and Lovework are getting done at the agreed-upon ratios, that payments are received, relationships kept, websites updated, etc. — a lot of what is traditionally considered "admin" work."