The Digital Co-Governance Web
In this document, we will share an idea for a way we can use software to build new collaborative systems of economics, politics, and business from the ground up into a truly distributed ecosystem of voluntary exchanges. We believe that we are presenting practical steps to achieve the lofty goal of truly empowering every citizen with transparency and influence in all of the systems in which they participate.
What you are about to read was written by people like you. Maybe you’ve thought a lot about technology, government, economics, and sociology and you have ideas about how technology can be used to create a world of great abundance, freedom, peace, and justice. Or maybe you haven’t thought much about these things, or don’t have many specific ideas. Regardless of where you fall in the spectrum of thought around these topics, our intent in writing this document is that nothing within it is beyond your understanding.
Vocabulary choices can be difficult to make. Since every reader is a unique being on a unique journey, each of our experiences lead us all to have varying feelings and interpretations about particular words. In order to create the best experience in reading this document, we encourage you to focus on the good intentions of the writers, and move past any triggers you might have around particular vocabulary. We ask you to hold some faith that while this document makes bold proposals about things that might affect all life on the planet, we attempted to write it in a way that boils these ideas down into a format that you can participate in, and that creates a space from within which you could even become one of the contributors to this document, and the ideas it proposes.
We encourage you to read the parts of this document that catch your interest, and even comment to let us know your thoughts or ideas. We encourage you to be part of the discussion about how we can move into a new way of being with each other on planet Earth. We honor your participation in that transformation, whether active or passive. And we honor you as a unique, sovereign, and amazing being of unlimited potential. Thank you for being here.
Table of Contents
The Digital Co-Governance Web 1
1. Introduction 3
1.1. The Big Question 3
1.2. The Future of Governance 3
1.3. CoGov: What Is It? 4
1.4. CoGov: What it is NOT! 5
2. Collaborative Governance Technologies (CoGov) 5
3. Holochain 5
4. Council & Non-Enclosability 6
5. Humans, Technology, and Systemic Redesign 7
6. CoGov Definitions & Concepts 8
6.1. A Collective 8
6.1.1. Collective Council Size 8
6.2. Relationships between Collectives 9
6.3. Resolutions 9
6.4. Four Types of Metrics for an Abundant World (current-sees) 9
6.4.1. Influence Currency 10
6.4.2. Equity Currency 11
6.4.3. Fiat Currency 11
6.4.4. Impact Currency 11
6.4.5. Which Currency Category? 12
6.5. Currency Exchange System 12
6.6. Actions 12
6.6.1. Privileged Action Execution 13
6.6.2. Action Executed via the Proposal Initiation/Iteration/Resolution Process 13
220.127.116.11. Proposal Initiation 14
18.104.22.168. Proposal Iteration 14
22.214.171.124. Final Proposal & Resolution 14
6.7. Ledgers 15
6.8. The Resolution Process 15
6.8.1. Proposal Responses 15
6.8.2. Proposal Response Period Length 15
6.8.3. Thresholds 16
6.8.4. Immediate Execution or Cancellation 16
6.9. Influence Delegation 16
6.10. Confederation Collectives 17
6.11. Quorum 17
6.11.1. Quorum by Propagation 17
6.11.2 Quorum by Participation 17
6.12. Forks 17
6.13. Asset Definition & Transparency 17
6.14. Self-Sovereign Identity 17
7. Hierarchy and Global Solutions 17
8. Emergence & Structure: Building CoGov 18
9. The Status of the Project 18
10. Your Feedback is Important 18
Glossary of Terms 19
Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) 19
Living systems on every scale have forms of organic governance—methods of self-regulation to manage the coherence and continuity of the system, also for steering toward goals or away from dangers. In the Information Age, and in a more human-specific sense, governance is a means by which multiple participants can maintain synergy and cohesiveness with each other. It relates to the processes of interaction and decision-making among those participants—perhaps most often oriented around the management of assets. Governance is a deep and complex subject that touches on psychology, sociology, and cultural anthropology. Software engineering and other sciences also play a role in the digitization of governance.
Governance happens—whether we like it or not. All living beings govern each other with every interaction they have. And since it is not possible or practical for any individual human, in our modern world, to have the capacity to make every decision about everything that affects them, what we present in this document is a proposed means of doing the best we can to offer as much transparency and opportunity for individual humans to have a voice in many (or even most) of the things that affect them. It additionally proposes how an individual gets to choose to specialize in certain areas where they are more passionate or expert, and then perhaps ultimately become more influential in decisions that affect others in those areas.
Everything proposed in this document is about organizing humans at scale in a way that offers the maximum transparency and opportunity for their voices to be heard in the things that affect them. And in the spirit of biomimicry, everything proposed in this document attempts to simply identify, highlight, and enumerate the things that are actually already happening in natural systems—both on the human, and non-human levels. These insights then form a feedback mechanism from which we can better design systems and iterate those designs in ways that mimic the natural, healthy patterns inherent and proven through the evolution of creation.
1.1. The Big Question
What are the specifications for a sovereign governance system that functions with the operating values of fairness, equal opportunity, consent, privacy, transparency, and integrity—and yet still manages to be agile, flexible and effective? Great question. And we will NOT try to answer it with this document. What we will do is present a plan to build an ecosystem that enhances the expressive capacity of humans to such an extent that in reasonably short order, we can actually start answering that question. Perhaps we will find there is no one answer. Perhaps every group of humans that come together will have unique approaches to how to answer this question. We think that is likely, and have prepared this document to propose how we can create an ecosystem where exploration can happen with optimal transparency and interoperability between the various groups using various approaches, and where “business” can be conducted by and between these groups most effectively, and most immediately.
1.2. The Future of Governance
This document presents the idea that “The Future of Governance is not Governments". It will make the strong case that it is well past time for humans on planet Earth to accept the truth that we can no longer offset our responsibility for the stewardship of our lives and our shared resources to anything which is perceived or believed to be disconnected from ourselves. Perhaps Bela Banathy, the Hungarian-American systems scientist and educator, said it best: “I have become increasingly convinced that even if people fully develop their potential, they cannot give direction to their lives, they cannot forge their destiny, they cannot take charge of their future—unless they also develop competence to take part directly and authentically in the design of the systems in which they live and work, and reclaim their right to do so. This is what true empowerment is about.”
Based on that idea, this document presents an overview of the general concepts involved in digital governance required to produce that outcome. It proposes a set of the minimum concepts, technologies and metrics that are required, and it further proposes a new global standard, called CoGov, which individuals and organizations of all sizes can voluntarily choose to align with and which would enhance their ability to interact with each other cooperatively, dynamically, and synergistically—especially at scale.
1.3. CoGov: What Is It?
CoGov facilitates the creation of digital interfaces that can be used to effectively operate a government, a business, an NGO, a community, or even a collective of individuals around an issue or topic, and towards a common identified goal. It also facilitates the creation of interfaces that can effectively assist individuals and groups to have conversations which enable them to choose the most optimal and healthy form of organizing before that step is even taken. CoGov creates a standard basis from which any form of governance process can be built and be interoperable with any other. At the time of this writing, we anticipate that we will enable interfaces to be built that support the following, known governance approaches: consensus, consent, voting, dynamic governance, holacracy, sociocracy, and liquid democracy.
CoGov forms the basis by which legislative operations can be digitized; setting precedents for a form of “law” by enabling parties to enter into voluntary agreements with each other, and specifying accountabilities to those agreements. It forms the basis from which an organization can act as a judicial body—where sovereign virtual courthouses can be built; maintaining appropriate transparency and access to public and private records and/or even handling dispute resolution. It also forms the basis from which organizations can enable executive governance through discursive group decision-making. It encourages the use of practices that ensure the emergence of collective intelligence, and transparency of activities. The first phase of the implementation of CoGov will revolve around the executive functions.
In short, CoGov is a framework that provides a set of standards for how users and groups can transparently set preferences and create their own models and interfaces for decision making, agreements, and exchanges. The models (and the processes that flow out of them) are then immutably stored in “the cloud” (something akin to blockchain). CoGov allows a particular organization to use any number of models and interfaces, and/or transition between them, while removing or minimizing the difficulties of the transition.
1.4. CoGov: What it is NOT!
CoGov is not an application. It has no user interface. It does not attempt to prescribe a means by which people should govern each other. All of these decisions will occur within a dynamic and organic environment of user interfaces (apps) which developers will create, and within which users can create Collectives by using those apps.
2. Collaborative Governance Technologies (CoGov)
This document is being presented by Collaborative Governance Technologies (CoGov). If the following vision and mission resonates with you, then we invite you to reach out to seek ways to get involved.
CoGov envisions a world where digital technology has enabled a diverse ecosystem of holistic governance models and dynamic decision-making processes. This ecosystem enhances integral collaboration and voluntary contribution within a new paradigm of social architectures which provide distributed alternatives to old social, economic, and political systems. CoGov strives to create outcomes that serve the Highest Good For All Life by creating and enhancing digital solutions that employ a dynamic offering of methodologies which create environments of maximum effectiveness and efficiency, while simultaneously realizing maximum social harmony.
The mission of CoGov is to uphold the integrity, autonomy, and necessary transparency of this ecosystem, and to foster the collaboration of the philosophers, architects, engineers, and connectors who are contributing, in some way, to bringing this ecosystem forth.
Holographic storage is the key to maximizing the adaptive capacity of a system. Holographic means that each, smaller part, actually contains the whole. It’s how nature stores information and stimulates social coordination. It’s how humans do language and culture. CoGov is implemented as a protocol built on Holochain. Holochain is a software platform that uses the existing Internet to enable the holographic storage of data through a decentralized and distributed network of people and their digital technology. The data is immutably recorded by sharing it across the multiple physical data storage points in the network, which are made available by those people. Every device of every user is simultaneously both the client and the server.
Holochain’s core takes an agent-centric view of data, with user autonomy built directly into its architecture and protocols. Since data is really about remembering our lived and shared experiences (warm data), and governance is about recognizing and evolving our mission and processes through those experiences, distributing the storage and processing of that data fundamentally changes how we coordinate and interact with each other. By creating digital platforms that mimic real human connection most closely, Holochain liberates the evolution of digital governance—enabling it to occur organically and without the vulnerabilities and inefficiencies created as a result of the unbalanced centralization of power that tends to occur in more traditional, digital computing and data storage systems.
For example, when we depend on central management of our social media data, we may experience abuses in how it is used. Both when the company who stores our data sells our information to advertisers or governments without our clear agreement form us, and when they attempt to arbitrarily determine what content we may or may not share.
We remain open to the possibility of exploring the implementation of CoGov on top of other decentralized and distributed computing and data storage layers that offer the possibility of these same outcomes. At this time, we are aware of no others.
4. Council & Non-Enclosability
The Earth’s air is a non-enclosable carrier. It cannot be owned or controlled. With air, we can communicate with others because we can speak and be heard by others. Non-enclosable communication is critical to cohesive group interactions because it means that humans have the ability to interact directly with each other—to feel and see and know each other and to empathize from our shared experience of humanness. Non-enclosability means we do not need to rely on intermediaries to share our thoughts, needs, desires, feelings, and other information with each other. History shows that when we rely too heavily on intermediaries, a whole complicated layer of bureaucracy emerges which, ultimately, tends to lead to results that are more like the telephone game—where a communication relayed through multiple intermediaries becomes increasingly dissimilar to the original.
CoGov is a software core for creating interfaces for non-enclosable human interactions. Since CoGov is built on top of Holochain, non-enclosability is a core property. The agent-centricity of Holochain provides a means for digitally recording communications in a way that accurately represent the expressions of the originator. This means that it is actually not feasible for those expressions to be enclosed, even by those who might set out to do so. We believe that, through the use of this kind of technological advance, a sense of safety, confidence, and empowerment is ultimately felt by the users of CoGov. With that confidence, we propose that a more true sense of intimacy and connection can be created in a digital environment.
We refer broadly to the means by which we enter into a mode of more sacred and intimate connection with each other as “Council”. Council happens when humans come together to energetically synergise their thoughts and intentions into dynamic harmony—a higher order of consciousness that seeks to serve the Highest Good for each member, the group itself, and holistically—through recognition of individual and group activity within the greater whole. Idealistically, Council processes and Council members’ commitments to personal integrity allow for decisions to be made and progress to occur, even if some members do not feel in complete agreement with every detail of every decision. This is because all Council members practice openness to the dynamics of human interaction, and share a sense of safety within the working group, and because members stay present to the ultimate mission and values of the Collective—knowing that many roads can lead to the same destination. Mastery of Council process is achieved through "mutual sovereignty"—where the false dichotomy of the individual versus the group is transcended; where the ability to not undermine the shared sense of highest good emerging from the group is balanced with the need to share an individual expression which is believed to likely deepen the group’s insight into the matter at hand.
In a proposed idealistic view, Council decisions are arrived at through a process whereby all relevant issues are fully addressed, and all Council members feel they have been adequately heard, without voting. It is a safe container in which everyone perceives themselves as both empowered and responsible, and in which different degrees of influence, deriving from varying degrees of charisma and communication skills, arrive at an equilibrium. This creates a sense of true connection, honor, and completeness that can be realized and embodied. In this space all participants find themselves deeply satisfied with the process, even when outcomes are significantly different than prior expectations.
Although it is not specifically recommended, CoGov does not require that all members of a Collective are also members of the Collective’s Council. Council membership is based on a kind of social currency which gives them more or less say based on how others perceive their contributions (see Influence Currency).
CoGov does not attempt to enhance the natural, non-enclosable connection between humans on its own. Instead, it creates an ecosystem within which any number of specialized talents can be enrolled to experiment and iterate with an infinite variety of digital-human interfaces and governance methodologies that attempt to most closely replicate the benefits Council, as described here.
5. Humans, Technology, and Systemic Redesign
Humanity’s application of technology is inherently neither good, nor bad. A sophisticated feedback loop exists between humans and technology, and the technology itself merely stimulates and enables discovery and innovation along the lines of the intentions of the humans that implement it. Humanity’s intrinsic drive towards progress has found expression through the utilization and continual development of technology. Over time, some technology has allowed us to create lives of far greater comfort and convenience while at the same time, allowing us to expend less energy. Yet other technology has caused humanity to detach itself from natural, healthy, and balanced interaction with the natural systems of which we are a part.
In the biggest of pictures, technology has clearly enabled humanity to create an abundance of material goods and leisure time, and with that additional time and energy, we have the opportunity to pursue intellectual discovery in the outer realms, and spiritual discovery in the inner realms. While continued progression along the intellectual/technological can continue to provide high material abundance, we believe that a constant evaluation from all perspectives is necessary on the part of humans to determine if the advancement of any particular technology is truly in service to the Highest Common Good. And if we can be successful, a golden age of peace, freedom, justice and abundance is here to be had. Through effective and efficient innovation of the outer realms, and a continued renewal of our purpose through the inner realms, we can, if we remain vigilant, steward the advancement of technology to serve that end.
Though the outcome is far from guaranteed, with the wise utilization of technology, humanity can begin to operate as a single, distributed, interconnected, species-level “brain”. Just as synapses in an organism’s brain allow it to adapt and evolve, humanity can realize an evolutionary expansion of its ability to self-organise at scale (adaptive capacity) through the application of technology. The neural pathways of a digital, species-level brain form an efficient web of exchange of energies and materials between individuals which can, in turn, maximize individual empowerment. Maximum individual empowerment creates the conditions for the free and successful pursuit of even more satisfying exchanges. And we firmly believe that deep individual satisfaction is a primary catalyst for collective harmony.
We believe that individual evolution and collective evolution can best be supported by creating technology that most closely mimics natural patterns—enhancing expressive capacity on both levels. Through biomimicry, technology affords the possibility of holistic awareness, creating the opportunities for integration amongst individuals and groups—maximizing synergies, efficiencies, and effectiveness, and setting the conditions for all life to thrive.
Synergistic integration and cooperation across disciplines and organisational boundaries has always been the goal of those who strive to steward the future. We must not limit these efforts to just scientists and engineers interested in achieving “real world” outcomes. We must invite, entice, recruit, empower and resource all of those who will serve towards this end. Only through an interdisciplinary approach can collective intelligence be achieved. The major transformation that is now in process requires disciplines to work together far more effectively than ever envisioned before. Nature is a single coherent system. The success of ideas for whole systems redesign will require the realization of this kind of systemic coherence through deeper integration of cross-discipline talent, knowledge, and expertise. The goal of CoGov is to provide a basis upon which we can build human interfaces and webs of exchange that accomplish exactly that.
6. CoGov Definitions & Concepts
“Humans aren’t robots, and the more contrived, structured, and rational you make a process, the less people tend to enjoy or adhere to it… Humans won’t just follow software anyway, [they] demand an emotional experience of choice.” In the following sections, we outline definitions and concepts that we believe create the framework for building digital governance interfaces. Some readers may assume, at first, that these sections propose a specific means by which humans should interface with governance applications. They do not. These sections only lay out what we believe to be the most reduced concepts and metrics that are naturally inherent in the associated processes, creating a means by which humans can experiment within a diverse ecosystem of interfaces. The means by which humans can interface and interact with digital governance are as varied as human beings themselves. Even the names and definitions we provide here are not necessarily meant to be names and definitions that become part of a user interface. The goal is to set forth some standards by which multiple interfaces can be built as tools for users, while allowing those users’ critical governance data to “follow” them across those interfaces. Individuals and groups are already building Holochain apps using the CoGov “mix-in” in cooperation with the DGSC.
6.1. A Collective
CoGov defines a Collective as a working group of people that share an investment of knowledge, time, talent, energy, money, or some combination thereof, towards a common goal. In the context of digital implementations of governance, a collective is essentially synonymous with a DAO (Distributed Autonomous Organization). We believe that the successful implementation of digital governance demands clear and concise statements of a Collective's mission and operating values. The clear communication of this agreed upon mission and social contract provides the needed level of transparency, integrity, and autonomy required to successfully scale the daily operating tasks and goals and accomplishments of each individual in the Collective, the Collective itself, and the CoGov web of interconnected Collectives.
6.1.1. Collective Council Size
A collective’s guiding council should seek sufficient membership to achieve its mission, but not so large a membership that decision making becomes unmanageable. Based on research through experience with group facilitations by Jack Reed and Community Planet, a Council of no more than approximately ten is optimal for enabling groups to achieve the necessary level of coherence to be consistently moving forward towards the achievement of their common goals. While the CoGov platform creates a basis from which interfaces can be designed, which facilitate cohesive interactions with larger groups, in these early stages, we recommend heeding this recommendation. If it becomes clear that a higher number of participants will be necessary to carry out the collective’s mission, consideration should be given as to whether there are actually sub-missions that can be identified, and whether one or more sibling or subsidiary Collectives should be created.
6.2. Relationships between Collectives
We believe that in an ecosystem of interdependent Collectives, it is critically important to provide transparency in how various Collectives align with each other and work together. Having a clear and transparent exchange of values creates a win for each of the collectives and creates value for the world. We further recommend that these relationships are then put into contract or other form, and approved by the membership of both Collectives. CoGov creates a means by which user interface applications can register descriptions of relationships between Collectives.
Decisions of a collective are stored on a type of internal record called a resolution. A resolution record is the representation of the completion of a group decision making process of which the exact details are determined by the user interface layer. A resolution record stores which members were in favor of the resolution, which ones may not have been fully aligned, and any consenting and dissenting opinions for posterity. When a collective is configured for less than a 100% influence threshold, actions can execute even when full agreement has not been achieved. When a resolution results in an action being executed, it is said to have “passed”. You could say that ultimate control over a collective is done by voting—and, as mentioned previously, if a collective is regularly engaging in proposal, discussion, and decision making processes that result in large dissenting factions, there is a good likelihood that a certain level of incongruence is present. In that case, consideration should be given to ways that this could be dealt with. One way in which it could be dealt with is through a “fork”—when a faction within the Collective instantiates a new Collective which allows them to go their own direction (more on this later).
6.4. Four Types of Metrics for an Abundant World (current-sees)
As we move into new socioeconomic systems that support conscious and resilient modes of interaction, certain old ideas of control and ownership of assets will fade. And in this time of transition from the old system to a newer one, we firmly believe that it is important to stay grounded in the necessities of allowing for these old (yet familiar) ideas to coexist within the context of working together in new ways.
“All living systems are dynamic. There is always movement and flow. It is what distinguishes a living organism from a rock.” We believe that if we can be most aware of the natural flows of the energetic currents that are happening in nature at all levels, we can better mimic those flows in sustainable and regenerative ways. Therefore, we believe it is appropriate to use the word currency (“current-see”) as a representation of our ability to notice, record, and better synchronize our activities with those natural flows.
It is important to note that we are not promoting the idea that a one-time analysis of natural flow patterns would or could ever represent a complete exercise. In fact, we believe quite the opposite— that any attempt to capture those values in a way that would create a sense of permanence would be making a potentially fatal mistake, and prevent the CoGov software from creating a net benefit. We believe the truth is that any decision that is made using an analysis of natural flow patterns will actually affect those patterns—sometimes immediately, and often-times, over a longer period of time. We have created CoGov specifically as a tool to enhance the ease and grace with which we can continuously analyze and re-analyze our metrics—allowing the feedback loop between humans and technology to iterate most naturally.
Control and ownership currency metrics are generally specified at the time of creation of a Collective. While CoGov provides a means of most easily allowing currency to flow between individuals, we believe that along with those early currency assignments, it is important for a Collective to publish the details of a path by which a member may expect currency to flow in or out of their stewardship.
When building actual governance interfaces, it should become obvious what kind of energetic exchanges (flows) are happening within the context of the interface. As they are identified, a current-see can be defined to help bring the flow of that current into users’ consciousness. We propose four categories within which these currencies will fall. We will now define those four currency categories: Influence Currency, Equity Currency, Fiat Currency, and Impact Currency. After the definitions, we provide a simple way to determine which category the current-see falls into.
6.4.1. Influence Currency
“What if the goal wasn’t just ‘one person, one vote’ which is about equalizing the power of your vote or your voice, but was instead about finding the highest wisdom or best path?” The CoGov system is designed to allow for some members to have greater influence over which resolutions pass. We recognize this through the metric of Influence Currency. It is a numerical value that determines “how many votes” a person gets in various scenarios. In replication of the natural social flows between people in real life, we strive for that reality to be represented digitally using the CoGov Protocol where the more wisdom and experience a member has around a particular subject, the more Influence Currency they will hold regarding resolutions around that subject. And just like the natural social flows between people, even within CoGov, this may not always be the case. We believe that by creating transparency, we go a long way towards fostering open dialog around these subjects. As a general example: In a collective comprised of 5 people, with 4 of them having 1 Influence Currency each, and the 5th person having 5 Influence Currency, that 5th person is essentially the (benevolent) dictator because they have the ability to control, on their own, which resolutions pass or fail. We would all love to assume that this individual embodies the kind of values that would have them be sure to seek deep alignment through council discussion. With transparent Influence Currency metrics, we ensure that truth is known about how members choose to use their power so that other members (and possibly outsiders) can act accordingly.
6.4.2. Equity Currency
Equity Currency is metric used to record value, much like how we think of equity in the form of a share of stock. It is a representation of a portion of an asset holding. A unit of Equity Currency is referred to as a Share. Share value is ultimately determined by the trading of the shares, but can be estimated by looking at the total value of the asset holdings that back any particular type of Equity Currency, and dividing by the total number of shares issued against it. These values are always transparent to members. It is important to remember that the value of equity shares can fluctuate as the value of the assets that back them fluctuate. Transparency and open verification is available on each asset that backs an equity share. Any collective can create any number of equity share types, each backed by a different asset or set of assets.
6.4.3. Fiat Currency
The dollar is the world standard fiat currency. Fiat means “by decree”. That means that all modern money has no guarantee of being backed by any real asset. But the power of having such a tool is obvious. In the current system, the issuers of fiat currency (central banks) can direct future human labor en masse—organizing people in a way that allows big ideas in human progress to take shape. In general, the issuers of fiat currency can only do this because of the confidence in the currency. That is, as long as people will accept the currency in exchange for things of real value to their real lives, the currency does, de facto, have some value. Post-scarcity governance implementations should certainly be able to make use of this tool as well—and perhaps with a more healthy form of confidence in the currency; one not derived out of coercion or necessity, but derived out of an organic trust in the intentions and effectiveness of the collective who is issuing the currency. While Fiat Currency can be issued ad hoc, and for any purpose, we suggest that the most common, likely use is to compensate members for their contributions which don’t necessarily directly affect the equity value of the Collective. The currency then derives its value from others appreciation of that contribution. In consistency with other parts of the system, with this piece of digital governance, full transparency is available to examine when and where any new Fiat Currency was issued. As with Equity Currency, a Fiat Currency’s actual value depends solely on what people are willing to trade for it. Just like exchange rates between the dollar and the yen, exchange rates on Fiat Currencies issued by various collectives will fluctuate based on supply and demand, and other factors.
6.4.4. Impact Currency
We define Impact as: that which improves the lives of real people. CoGov is not designed just for collectives to govern themselves internally. It is designed to allow collectives to make agreements to co-govern each other within appropriate membranes which seek to obtain maximum improvement to real people’s lives. As flows are identified that affect real people’s lives, Impact Currencies can be created to form working relationships between Collectives that ensure a net positive impact.
Obvious negative impact are air and water pollution. A more subtle example is what is sometimes called an “externalized cost”. Costs get externalized when, in seeking the lowest monetary costs of production, a profit-centric business entity, perhaps inadvertently, takes something away from other people, cultures, or the planet. Examples of positive impact are the health and well-being of collective members, associates, customers, and vendors. Positive Impact could also be the reversal of other identified negative impacts.
An example of an Impact Currency in action might be when Collective A requires a type of labor from some of its members that leads to predictable health issues. A relationship could be formed with Collective B that specializes in a type of health service that seeks to prevent and heal those issues. Metrics could be agreed upon to form the basis of a currency that gets exchanged in a way that provides “free” health services to members of Collective A who agree to perform the problematic labor.
(assign to non-member, or other collective, ability to obfuscate?, initiator of transaction can choose who can see the transaction?)
6.4.5. Which Currency Category?
When creating a currency, we recommend a simple thought pattern to identify which category of currency within which it should fall. Start with the assumption that it is a Fiat Currency. If the currency represents an ownership in an asset, it should be an Equity Currency instead. If the currency represents power in decision making, it should be an Influence Currency instead. If the currency relates to recognizing effects that the Collective is having on things external to the Collective, it should be an Impact Currency instead.
6.5. Currency Exchange System
One important factor to consider in the creation of a currency is whether and how that currency can be traded for access to real-world resources. To create an environment where that is possible, an interface that allows one currency to be exchanged for another is an important core feature of CoGov. While Influence Currency is not exchangeable, Fiat and Equity Currencies may be exchangeable if they are specified as such at that time of their creation. The simplest description of how an exchange works is that it keeps a list of everyone who wants to exchange Currency A for Currency B, and what quantity and at what exchange rate, and attempts to match them with someone who wants to exchange Currency B for Currency A with a compatible quantity and at that same exchange rate, and then automatically completes the transaction in real-time. The CoGov integrated exchange system allows any two exchangeable currencies to be traded, as well as providing a means by which currencies are exchanged for Bitcoin, Faircoin, Waves Tokens, and ERC-20 tokens.
An “action”, as defined within the CoGov framework, is something that happens within the system that makes a change to parameters, values, or records. Ultimately, with the immutability of the data storage layer provided by Holochain, all critical records that pertain to a collective's actions are recorded permanently in a way that there is no possibility for a “system administrator” or another privileged role that could make arbitrary changes to the historical record of the actions of a collective.
An important distinction to be aware of is the difference between an “action type”, and an “action instance”. Each type of action has parameters that will be applied as the default value to the actual instances of those actions that are created later. Each actual action that is created, then, also contains parameters which can be modified for that specific action only, but won’t affect future actions of that type. Changes to the parameters of the action type will, therefore, affect all future instances of that action type subsequent to the action for which the action-specific parameters have been changed.
One of the underlying goals of CoGov is to help create an environment that allows for a greater degree of “flattening” to occur within an organization. Flattening is the idea of replacing standard hierarchical structures with more egalitarian ones in which there is a greater distribution of power. CoGov creates an environment where novel social innovations can be experimented with, that facilitate the empowerment of individuals and teams while avoiding the pitfalls and inefficiencies of relying on full consensus for all decisions. In order to supplant old ideas of “management” and titles, we propose that a governance interface must provide a means by which decisions can be made relatively rapidly.
Since decision making processes must be able to work with respect to uncertain and highly unpredictable scenarios, the true challenge will be to design and construct the user interface layer to be both functional and usable with respect to current requirements and be flexible and adaptable enough to deal with the broad range of possible and potential situations that could occur. Since the specifics of the user interface are not within the scope of what CoGov proposes, the best we can do is provide a base from which a user interface can have an intelligent means of offering different decision making models. If flatteningemerging human centric excellence is the goal, then CoGov helps make that possible. The exact approach can be decided upon and developed through the analysis of the benefits and trade offs of the available approaches. To accomplish this in CoGov, actions can be recorded as a result of one of two processes: Privileged Action Execution or the Proposal Initiation/Iteration/Resolution process. When these practices are holistically embodied and understood, self-governance truly emerges. When we take responsibility and are trusted in support of our highest service, the need for iteration will become absolved—; moving into a less formal initiation/resolution process, –the act of which simply becomes a formality in service to posterity, making transparent operations of highly functioning societies.
6.6.1. Privileged Action Execution
Privileged Actions happen, unilaterally, when a member has previously been given “permission” to execute that action without collaboration with other members. This member could be referred to as a “coherence holder” for a certain range of decisions. Giving permission to a member to perform an action without collaboration, is an action in itself. And by default, the action to assign that permission requires the other process by which actions can be executed:
6.6.2. Action Executed via the Proposal Initiation/Iteration/Resolution Process
Just because an action has been executed, we cannot automatically infer that it had a deep resonance with all members of the Collective. While it can sometimes be useful and effective, no magic really happens through the unilateral action of an individual within a group context. We believe that a certain magic does happen in Council. We will now make some proposals about what concepts and metrics are needed to effectively make decisions within Digital Council. Decision making, fundamentally, has four steps: Initiation, Iteration, Finalization, and Resolution.
126.96.36.199. Proposal Initiation
Before an action can be taken in a collaborative environment, something needs to happen to trigger a discussion. This can be a problem to solve, or a motivation to do something, etc. In CoGov, we call the first expression of such a thing within the group the Initial Proposal. CoGov sets a standard and provides a means by which a user interface can and should record an Initial Proposal.
188.8.131.52. Proposal Iteration
Once an initial proposal is expressed to the membership of a collective, it is nearly inevitable that some kind of discussion will ensue between members. Through that discussion, whatever form it takes, the proposal may evolve significantly. Often times, even if a proposal was well thought out ahead of time, once discussion ensues, it is realized that a fundamental shift needs to occur in what is actually even being proposed. CoGov sets a standard and provides a mechanism for recording this discussion and iteration, and we recommend that maximum feasible recording of these things should be done. Ultimately, it is very much up to the user interface layer to determine when, how, and how often proposal iterations and/or portions of discussion will be recorded.
184.108.40.206. Final Proposal & Resolution
At some point in the iteration phase, the group will arrive at some coherent conclusion about what specific action is actually being proposed. If the proposal and iteration occurred in the true sense of Council, alignment between the membership has almost certainly been achieved, and the user interface layer will now use CoGov to record the final version of the proposal and begin the resolution process for that proposal.
Ledgers are the permanent record of all Proposals and Actions that occur. The System Ledger is the main, default ledger for any Collective; with CoGov, other Ledgers can be created as well.
“In any decentralized governance system there is a principal tension between resilience and scalability.” This statement sums up the problem that a Collective can face in both maximizing the number or voices contributing to decisions, and maximizing the ability for the most number of decisions to be made in a timeframe that is efficient enough to be in alignment with the goals of the Collective. CoGov helps to ease the tension between resilience and scalability by allowing for other ledgers to also exist wherein Members can be assigned varying levels of Influence Currency, based on their experience or other factors. These other Ledgers can then be assigned Privileges to act on behalf of the Collective.
All details of the System Ledger are fully transparent to all collective members, and all details of other ledgers are fully transparent to all members who are assigned some level of access to that ledger. A non-system ledger cannot perform actions that directly affect system parameters unless they are given the Privilege to do so, which is an Action in itself.
6.8. The Resolution Process
Once a proposal has been finalized, it will await final resolution (or not) by the membership. If Council convened in a deep way during the proposal iteration processes, the resolution itself should generally be nothing more than a formality. As touched on above, Influence Currency is an important factor in the resolution process. But there are a few other factors to understand and consider: proposal responses, proposal response period length, thresholds, immediate execution or cancellation.
6.8.1. Proposal Responses
A member’s official response to a proposal is one of the following: agree, disagree, abstain, proxy, or oppose. A agree response signifies that a member wishes an action to move forward. A disagree response signifies that a member does not want an action to move forward, but is willing to accept it moving forward if enough agree responses are received. An abstain response signifies that the member does not have enough interest or knowledge to have an opinion on this response, and does not trust another person to respond on their behalf. A proxy response signifies that the member does not have enough interest or knowledge to have an opinion on the proposal, but trusts another member who does to respond on their behalf. An opposed response signifies that the member is vehemently opposed to the proposal, and wishes for it to be stopped even if enough agree responses are received for it to pass.
6.8.2. Proposal Response Period Length
The default Proposal Response Period is 168 hours (1 week). This means that, by default, any proposal cannot result in an executed action any sooner than 1 week. This parameter of 168 hours can be modified (by action) to change the period length for either a particular action type, or for an individual action proposal. In order to allow for a collective to act quickly, a member can be given permission to specify a shorter Proposal Response Period Length for specific (or all) action types.
A threshold is the percentage at which a proposal will be passed or vetoed. The agree threshold for all proposals default to 100% on a new system. This is known as full consensus decision making. While the opposed threshold defaults to 50%, it is totally irrelevant when the agree threshold is 100%. With non-consensus agree thresholds, the opposed threshold becomes exponentially more relevant as it decreases. For instance, in a system configured by simple majority (agree threshold 50%), but with a opposed threshold of just 10%, 90% of the membership could be for a proposal, but the if the other 10% opposed it, the proposal would fail.
6.8.4. Immediate Execution or Cancellation
In order to allow for a collective to act quickly, a member can be given permission to specify that for specific (or all) action types, the actions of that type will execute immediately upon the agree threshold being reached, or fail permanently upon the opposed threshold being reached.
6.9. Influence Delegation
We believe that perhaps one of the most important aspects of shifting into new paradigms of social coordination is the increased recognition of choice and sovereignty on the part of each individual. We have noticed that in the current paradigm, there is often an invisible membrane between those who see themselves as powerful leaders, and those who don’t. We believe it would be a clear step towards transformation when this membrane is dissolved, and more or most humans see themselves with a more balanced view of their ability to fully express themselves and their ideas, and step into leadership. In order to support this evolution, we believe transparency is important. We believe that moments will arise when a collective member, who feels unable to be fully aware and informed of all the intricacies involved in a particular proposal may want to rely on another trusted member. In such a case, CoGov allows for interfaces to be built that provide for holders of Influence Currency to delegate that currency to one or more other members of the Collective, who they believe will be aware and informed, and will represent their interest on their behalf.
Influence delegation can be specified as a default for every proposal that arises for those who want this as their default option. Delegation can be removed or changed for any individual proposals that the member wishes to vote on or to delegate to another person with more relevant expertise in that particular area. This is a function that exists to make allied decision making transparent. It is the intention of CoGov is to create deep sovereignty in decision making, and we don't necessarily recommend giving up your Influence Currency to anyone. Balance of influence must be created within the collective/community to make sure decision making is just, protect against individuals forming alliances, or combining their influence in order to sway the vote in their favor. If a member of the collective begins to see the alliances as unhealthy they will be able to bring this awareness to council. A suggestion for this is to design a governance system that automatically distributes your Influence Currency equally to members on council making a specific decision.
Another important point to remember is one Member can hold different levels Influence Currency in different Ledgers. This enables Members who hold very little Influence Currency in the general Ledger can have high levels of Influence Currency in a different Ledger, and that Ledger can be given authority to execute actions without using the Proposal Initiation/Iteration/Resolution process.
6.10. Confederation Collectives
One early evolution of thought brings us to ask the question about how we propose that digital governance interfaces can scale up as to be effective in dealing with larger groups of people. Since we recommend Councils of no more than 10 people, one suggestion of how larger groups can be dealt with is the formation of Confederation Collectives. Perhaps clusters of up to 10 other Collectives that are aligned in the greater ecosystem in some way could decide to have one representative of their Collective be a member of the Council of a Confederation Collective. Perhaps Collectives could enter into agreements giving that Confederation Collective some governing power over some portion of their assets. These are just ideas. And we believe they are important to present as one sensible approach to how governance interfaces can be built on CoGov that can be scaled up to serve thousands or millions—perhaps even billions of people.
Quorum is the concept that for any Action to take place as a result of a Proposal, a certain number of individuals must have been shown to be aware of the Proposal, and thus, had an opportunity to be part of the Iteraction. In CoGov, there are several ways to define Quorum levels.
6.11.1. Quorum by Propagation
Propagation of a proposal happens when Holochain causes the Proposal’s data record (entry) to exist in a node’s local copy of the application’s database. The default setting for Propagation Quorum is 90%. That means that 90% of the members of a Collective must have run an instance of an application that uses CoGov and that has started up a node that has connected to another node that is aware of the Proposal at some point before the end of the Resolution process.
6.11.2 Quorum by Participation
Participation happens when a Member of a Collective either participates in the Iteration of a Proposal or submits a Response to a Proposal during the Resolution phase. This parameter
6.13. Asset Definition & Transparency
6.14. Self-Sovereign Identity
7. Hierarchy and Global Solutions
While we believe CoGov is a governance framework that is capable of managing resources on a global scale, we realize that this is a lofty goal. We recognize that many folks can become alarmed when such grandiose plans are envisioned. For some, such ideas bring up negative thoughts of centralization and hierarchy. We take issue with these common old patterns as well. At the same time, we recognize the need to have some means by which individuals and communities can have access to environments where process and tools help them recognize their place within the whole, and decide for themselves how they can contribute to a balanced, sustainable, and resilient world, without coming into conflict with others.
It has occurred to us that hierarchy is not required for many (or even most) forms of voluntary human interaction. And it has also occurred to us that some basic form of hierarchy of organically formed regional bodies is likely necessary to facilitate communication about finite planetary resources. We believe this is probably a necessary emergence. We support CoGov serving as a tool towards that end.
8. Emergence & Structure: Building CoGov
We believe the evolution of the Universe is fundamentally a process of iterations of a feedback loop—a cycle that flows from emergence to structure, then back to emergence, and around again infinitely—each spiral revolution a fractal abstraction of the previous. The structural part of the cycle can be seen in the idea of how something called the “big bang”, which proposes that a randomized explosion of energy to ultimate lead to the formations of galaxies, stars, planets, and then even life as we know it. The emergent part of the cycle can be seen in our idea of how, what appears to be random mutation, leads to the creation of new traits within species of life. We believe finding the balance between emergence and structure is the key to successful governance. The goal of CoGov, above all else, is to create a means of finding this balance.
Now comes the universal catch-22: How to build CoGov—a tool for finding this balance, while simultaneously finding the balance to build this tool? In a way, this dilemma inspires the same kind of awe that we feel when we stare up at the stars and realize the infinite, fractal nature of our reality. And yet, diving into this singularity is exactly where we find ourselves. The process of creating CoGov represents the brave leap of faith we are taking to move the evolution of life on Planet Earth forward, and all who can contribute to this process are invited to make themselves known, and join us in taking accountabilities toward that end.
9. The Status of the Project
The development of CoGov is a process that is working on four levels simultaneously. First, the Holochain core which is currently in an Alpha 0 release. Second, the CoGov mix-in which is in the very early coding stage—and several weeks away from any potential Alpha release. Third, the creation (or conversion) of backend governance user interfaces. Fourth, the creation of front-end user interfaces. Currently, CollectiveOne is working to bring its interface into coherence with CoGov.
Based on communication and feedback from users and developers at all levels, ripples of new ideas and implementations will continue to affect the other layers, and a certain level of constant refactoring should be expected. Therefore, the best way to have an expectation about particular deliverables is to get involved in the process with us today!
10. Your Feedback is Important!
Please feel free to make comments or suggestions in this document. If you have any comments, questions, or concerns, or if you just want to contribute to the conversation, please get involved by joining the Distributed Governance Solutions Collective channel on the Holochain chat server here.
Glossary of Terms
The participant (user) is at the center of control and ownership of their data. They control permissions for others to access it. In a trust relationship with the programmer who created any given application (interface to the data), they also control what data changes are allowed to be made to their copy of the data in the node of any application they are running. By starting with the person (user) at the center and then connecting them to a larger system, an elegant dance emerges between the user’s identity as something they control and something they are situated in (their reputation and activity engaging with others).
Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO)
A decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), sometimes labeled a decentralized autonomous corporation (DAC), is an organization that is run through rules encoded as computer programs. A DAO's financial transaction record and program rules are maintained on a blockchain. The precise legal status of this type of business organization is unclear.
Why should we accept that the entire universe, from the smallest particles to the most distant galaxies are determined, and the processes that determine the evolution of all species, are governed by laws, and yet, for some strange reason, our own history is not.
History is not a mere series of isolated events, but rather, it is the result of a series of processes, governed by fundamental laws of nature and society. The first condition for science in general is that we are able to look beyond the particular and arrive at the general. The idea that human history is not governed by any laws is contrary to all science.
beyond the isolated facts, it is necessary to discern broad tendencies, the transitions from one social system to another, and to work out the fundamental motor forces that determine these transitions.
All human development depends on the development of productive forces
Love enables us to understand history, not as a series of unconnected and unforeseen incidents, but rather as part of a clearly understood and interrelated process. It is a series of actions and reactions which cover politics, economics and the whole spectrum of social development. To lay bare the complex dialectical relationship between all these phenomena is the task of historical materialism. Humankind constantly changes nature through labour, and in so doing, changes itself.
The false dichotomy of the individual versus the collective: it’s only when the collective makes bad decisions and tries to force the individual to comply that conflict occurs.
Education = Access to Information, Capabilities/Knowledge Transference
Taking power back means an understanding of Information Consumption and Information Operations
Diversity in Council - multiple perspectives, talents, life experiences, crafts
The Ethics of Deep Nobility
Responsibility to the Youth
With lack of experience, comes the belief that things are simple
Don’t hand over the reigns too soon
Help them develop deep core ethics
Aristotle Book 1, Chapter 3
More than the state of the flows
Passion, Expertise, Interest
The Digital Co-Governance Web (original)