– The Digital Co-Governance Web [CCafe 8/7]

(Marco V Morelli) #1


The Café crew welcomes Raymond Powell, a Holochain community builder and principal author and developer of, to talk about how distributed systems of digital governance could change the way we operate in the world. We explore how could potentially use this new tech, as well as wider possibilities. What would collaboration look like in a living system designed for ‘agent-centric,’ ‘non-enclosable’ communications and identity among peers?

Other questions we explore: What are the differences between centralized, decentralized, and distributed systems? How does governance relate to influence? And, how can we expand our concept of ‘currency’ to account for the many different kinds of flows of value in a social system?

We hope this conversation contributes to greater collaboration among the various communities and initiatives that share a desire to grow our individual, collective, and planetary intelligences in service of the highest good for all.

Read Raymond’s CoGov proposal, and learn more about Holochain and Cosmos:


  • Raymond D. Powell (guest)
  • Marco V Morelli
  • Geoffrey Edwards
  • Doug Duff
  • John Davis


Continuing the discussion from Democracy Earth: Cryptopolitics and Blockchain:

At a recent Holochain hackathon in Denver, I met one of the architects and core developers of—an application layer being developed on Holochain (alternative to ‘Blockchain’) which is dedicated to creating a digital governance framework that can scale from local to planetary collectives. The developer was interested in what we’re up to with Cosmos Co-op, and we discussed potentially using the CoGov framework in a future version of Cosmos, as well as developing LitCoin as a Holochain app.

I’m currently reading the CoGov overview paper, which asks, but does not directly answer, this 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?

—and I wonder if anyone here would like to read it with me, and invite Raymond Powell (the dev) to a talk, perhaps a future Café session, following up on the previous talk we did on the Democracy.Earth proposal.

Here is a direct link to the CoGov piece. If you are interested in studying and discussing this topic, please reply below!

How Do We Decide? The Ontology of Self-Governance [CCafe 7/24]
How Do We Decide? The Ontology of Self-Governance [CCafe 7/24]
(Geoffrey Edwards) #2

I am definitely interested @madrush. Have downloaded the article to read.

(john davis) #3

This looks like a reasonable document. I am wondering about how the micro meets the macro? This is not obvious and being informed about nuts and bolts is a huge undertaking. As a layperson I would welcome this discussion, just so that I can get an update on the depths of our collective ignorance.

(Durwin Foster) #4

I am interested, although already committed to supporting MiVote, which is a blockchain and smartphone based direct democracy approach that is getting traction in India, U.S. (Iowa). It supports independents, and they will train anyone who is committed to run. Perhaps MiVote is more macro then, whereas this is more about governance at the scale of the co-op? MiVote has crafted in depth policy and governance frameworks that have been endorsed at the global level as well. Here is theUSA site.

(Geoffrey Edwards) #5

I read the paper, Marco. I have two major issues to launch a discussion, as well as a lot of minor points. It would be great to have the developer on board so we could discuss it with him directly.

  1. I had the same issue with this paper I did with the last one - a certain « idealism » that could lean towards « naivety » about people’s capacity to use technology for unintended ends. On paper it all looks great, but any such system has to have weaknesses that could be exploited.
  2. My second point is one I mentionned before in a different context. The authors use the term « ecosystem » in a kind of metaphorical sense. They imply they are doing something more « organic », but their actual use of the ecosystem idea neglects the real dynamics that actual ecosystems incorporate, and it weakens their argument overall, in my opinion.

I do understand that this is a kind of « metagovernance » proposal rather than governance per se, but my concerns remain valid I believe.

I am happy to take part in any discussions on this issue.

A note to @DurwinFoster, I think all these experimental efforts deserve support. That said, blockchain has built-in limitations (it is an extreme energy hog over the long term) and is probably unsustainable, whereas holochain appears to avoid these problems, albeit at the price of giving ground on the issue of absolute integrity. But holochain is still under development, while blockchain is a stable environment. So things developed with blockchain might be eventually adapted for holochain and its successors. The unsustainability of blockchain is ethically problematic, however, for me, especially given the vast resources being devoted to it.

(Marco V Morelli) #6

Geoffrey, I’ve invited Raymond to join us for an upcoming Café, so it’s good we have some initial discussion points.

MiVote looks really interesting, Durwin, but I think it means to operate within the current representative system. They say:

MiVote is a platform for community decision-making that connects your community with your elected representatives.

Whereas CoGov, which I think Geoffrey put it well, is a ‘metagovernance’ framework for various kinds of decision making processes. They seem to be addressing different contexts or levels of engagement.

I am imagining certain use cases for CoGov, for example, deciding on topic for an upcoming Café. We might have proposals which are discussed, refined, and ultimately voted on with some custom rules around what kind of support is required to get a new topic on the schedule. That would be a relatively simple scenario and maybe a good small test case. But co-op working groups, or a council for the co-op as a whole, might use similar processes to make transparent decisions on bigger questions. (Various principles for this are already articulated in Caroline’s Key Docs.)

For me, the key would be that the app is woven organically into what we’re already doing—not an abstract system we must all conform to, but a flexible set of tools for facilitating interactions that are already happening, or want to happen, making them open and woven into the whole.

I hope Raymond can join us. The CoGov doc seems pretty reasonable to me…on paper, of course. Either way, I’m glad to continue working toward our own model for a cosmic cooperative.

(Durwin Foster) #7

you are greatly simplifying MiVote to fit within your current trajectory, Marco, which is fine, but that very brief quote you are giving doesn’t do it justice, at all. Just saying.

(Durwin Foster) #8

Yes, holochain is better for the long run and at some point I might explore that with Adam. I notice that this platform is very devoted to a kind of idealism, whereas I support practical action. What I see on this site is that there is an implicit ranking of values without the courage to make them explicit by realizing that levels of development exist. This means a “no way out” of the culture wars. I will leave you to it, as I have a different focus, while still supporting the platform with my small monthly fee and being interested to explore a “tech and society” blog or podcast with Cosmos in conjunction with Kasatu. and @madrush.

(Marco V Morelli) #9

Hi Durwin, I didn’t simplify, they did! Based on their website, they seem to be focusing on electoral politics, which is great. I imagine there are other use cases the platform can enable, but I don’t see this on their website. I am a newbie to this tech and learning based on what I see. If there is a potential application of MiVote to Cosmos, why don’t we/you create a thread to discuss it?

(Durwin Foster) #10

I feel that Cosmos is a leader in aesthetic development, but not necessarily in ethics or “ethos” at this point, in comparison to other initiatives I am seeing and am participating in. I think we will have to deal with the “calculus of uncomfort” that Ken speaks about in Vol. 2, with respect to assessing lines/levels, in a careful and compassionate manner.

(Marco V Morelli) #11

You’ve mentioned this elsewhere, Durwin, and I and others replied there. We also spoke with a developmental psychologist (Terri) and learned about her system of assessment. I am also pretty deeply familiar with Wilber’s integral psychology, and some of the various developmental systems he correlates there.

Whether “developmental levels exist” is not a question I (not speaking for all) haven’t thought about. I have also very closely seen and studied the dynamics when a group of people decides that they are ‘at’ or ‘about’ a certain level, then decides to associate with others who they perceive to be operating ‘from’ the same stage (which is labelled conveniently: integral this, integral that)—everyone else is “met where they’re at.” Has it occurred to you that insisting on a certain view of ‘levels’ is itself is indicative of a ‘level,’ as well as potentially a way of avoiding certain kinds of discomfort?

I’m not clear what this has to do with CoGov or MiVote, though. Would you be willing to start a separate thread on the topic? Or apply what you’re thinking in context?

(Durwin Foster) #12

@hfester’s way of saying it in another context is better, but with respect to Cosmos for me: "Sri Aurobindo and the Mother advocated that we be guided by the Psychic Being (one can’t not be, I guess, in a certain sense or at a certain point of listening to it). They also saw this world as the destination of yogic practice, something I resonate with from my Zen practice origins. That the way Sri Aurobindo is writing about things isn’t mediating for me is something I wanted to listen to, question, and learn from. And, the answers he’s offering are actually very aligned with my questions, but I can’t seem to access them as such or very fluidly. I’m patient. Maybe this is a lived question that will keep unfolding with time. But, I don’t want to just read it because I would hate to miss out on practice with a fantastic group of people if there are things that are being coughed up in my path. If I felt less alive and engaged, I might need to search for more transcendent answers. But, as it is, my life is giving me a steady diet. Still, I wonder if there is a hole or gap where the spiritual is concerned and how that will take shape–and whether the Life Divine could midwife that part of myself "

(Marco V Morelli) #13

Just confirmed with Raymond for next week (8/7). Hope everyone on this thread can make it, as well as a couple others (@care_save, @ellenkdance?).

Please add your questions if you have any. Looking forward to a fruitful convo…

(Douglas Duff) #14

I plan on attending. Quick note that @annroberts showed interest at one point and contributed towards our “elder council” philosophy, which seems closely related to the paper’s section 4 on Council and later sections discussing actions, resolutions and influence. Hope you can attend too, Ann, though on such short notice!

(Marco V Morelli) #15

(Caroline Savery) #16

Folks, I botched this! Just a sheer mix-up on my part, I got today mixed up with tomorrow and am bummed I missed this. Looking forward to watching the video and trying to catch up. :frowning: