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


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!


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

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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.

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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.

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.


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.


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.

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.

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?

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.

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?


@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 "

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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…

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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!

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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:

Hello folks! I am a friend of Ray - we spent some time together a year ago when he and I were both in Germany - and am interested in supporting this project in some capacity or other. I enjoy proof-reading and offering editorial suggestions and did this for CoGov over the last couple of months of last year. I have recently had a catch-up call with Ray and would like to be kept in the loop and informed of any and all future online meetings, etc, which I will attend if I am able. We are on the cusp of something amazing folks - and transformation in human consciousness, self-organisation and social awareness, and it truly is an honor to share this journey with such amazing people.


Hi @AdamNextGen. Nice to see you here. Let’s you and I talk about your interest in supporting and being involved. Much appreciated, and reciprocal (IMO) wrt and Holochain.

Regarding your interest in “proof-reading and offering editorial suggestions,” I’d invite you to check out the voluminous Key Docs, which are like the conceptual code outlining a comprehension vision of There’s the table of contents which provides a whole overview, and I’ve further linked some Key Docs in this comment that I believe may intersect with this thread here.

Regarding collaboration: we’re currently (somewhat clunkily) using the forum as the interface to enable a “praxis process” (meaning: a way to let Cosmos members begin to autonomously engage with influencing and iterating Cosmos’ development priorities/plans through taking part in a procedure outlined here). I wonder if it might be possible to initiate a prototype for some or all parts of “praxis process” using Holochain & CoGov–perhaps requiring a different interface entirely, but just throwing that out there as one immediate potential.

Though it was recorded two months ago, I just watched this video for the first time today all the way through. Here are my notes/commentary:

  • It seems like, in enabling greater agent-centricity and having a structure where individual distinct interfaces on individual units of hardware are the operational backbone of the system, implies the need for much more intensive training in individuals/agents as to how to set up, manage, and maintain their software & configure their interfaces. Would there be an open, user-generated set of templates for how users configure their interface? How does this relate to Cosmos’ desire for a highly-user-customized “dashboard”? How could we adequately resource and attend to this need to educate and train users in tandem with developing the technological capacity for greater user-centricity?

  • The distributed structure illustrated mid-way in video (and supposedly representative of what Holochain intends) looks like a web. Let me jump to the outrageously visionary for a moment: I would love if, in a more-intelligent, ecological next-iteration of society, all sentient beings could be meaningfully linked in exactly this kind of web-like structure (that honors their equity by design), and then… could you imagine… the WEB of beings surging and warping, shifting and pulsing, responsively to what was needed, like a sensitive membrane, a macro bacterium, a “body humanity,” in which all of our particular intelligences are merged into a joint intelligence (like cells in a coordinated body) which is often quite perceptive, but never perfectly accurate in its interpretations and executions? More stable as in, more highly ordered and of a higher order, so that more of its constituent components are thriving (than we are now), but also–just another perceiving and judging body, making efforts and errors too (this perhaps addresses Johnny’s concern about the distributed model maybe appearing “too stable”).

  • “Membranes (between governance realms) need to be about assets and resources, in my experience.” Love this line and it feels like something I want to explore more meaningfully into Cosmos’ architectural design at the governance level. This is loosely described in Key Docs by statements (paraphrasing) like “Constitutional rules (rules affecting ALL) have a much higher threshhold of approval needed in order to be changed” and describing Holacracy-style stacking of sovereignty/decision-making within Cosmos by groups, but would love to dive in further.

“Decision-making comes down a resolution, the means of which is a vote on an individual proposal of how to resolve something… but if we shift from voting to iteration on proposals through collaborative engagement, and get results that way, that may be reflective of degree of community harmony.” I’m paraphrasing circa minute 57, but I really like this as a potential measure of the integration/integrality of the community–objectively, how cooperative are we behaving? Not: how many votes result in decisions. You know? Making it more liquid and focused on idea development and iteration. This emphasis on process & product in one (versus formal protocols of decision-making) seems more aligned with Cosmos’ ethics as a co-creative co-incubator. Yet at levels involving significant collectively-owned resources, there’s still very much utility for and room to decision-make formally.

  • Minute 103 about multiple forms of currency and what each represents… e.g. equity currency, influence currency, etc. I’d love to dive in more on this too! Again, this is crudely reflected in Key Docs already, but could be differentiated/deepened further through discussion, exploration and prototyping/iteration.

  • “A higher level of consciousness is a deeper understanding of patterns” and “each being ‘governs’ each other with each interaction’” and “you can grow your influence to affect other beings” (the quotes johnny highlighted) are REALLY interesting to me, too! Thanks for extracting those highlights and so thoughtfully investigating deeper questions, @johnnydavis54. Re: expertness, you shine as an expert question-generator and question-poser, IMO. :wink:

  • Yay feedback loops and dynamic/organic “stable” shapes. Very ecologically minded… I have some more connections to make to ecological systems design, but the ideas aren’t ready just yet… Final comment: the idea that our forms (material, behavioral, socio-cultural [norms & shared values], etc.) could reach a point where they holistically reflect a desire for any collective of humans (or, “the body humanity”) to be fully integrated, self-conscious (transparent), and self-organizing (ala ecological systems), is greatly exhilirating and very much reflective of the “world I want to live in,” wherein we’d have such a high degree of faith and love for our own intelligence, creativity, adaptability, capacities, and ineffable being-ness.

:fireworks: :heavy_heart_exclamation:

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@care_save Wow! I must admit that I was seriously blown away and impressed by the quality of this response! I am just so happy for Ray that he has managed to establish cocreative relations with people like you and I feel that you/he/we really deserve each other as we are all totally genuine in our commitment to creating a better world and it is just so exciting that we are finding each other and coming together in this way.

Okay… I’ve now spent the last hour or so watching your film and checking out your website and I’m less surprised but no less impressed. I would love to have a video call with you to discuss the possibility of involvement but will require a bit of time to gain some familiarity with all of the concepts and terminology in order to be able to talk with you without feeling like a bit of a dummy! I am starting a new full-time job and will probably require a month or so to go through all of this material and make sense of this all to my satisfaction. I’m finding that some of the links in the Key Docs Table of Contents are telling me “Sorry, you do not have access to that topic!” Is this and issue and if so can I be granted access as I would like to take a look through everything? Could we arrange a video call for 4 to 6 weeks time which will give me adequate time to get up to speed with all this whilst also keeping it on the radar?

Also, are there any other sources that you would particularly recommend to me in terms of understanding key concepts? If so could you please send me relevant links or files? I am living in the UK so we’ll need to factor in time-zones if we want to have a video call. Late for you is likely to be too late for me as we’re between 5 and 8 hours ahead of you - depending upon where you are in the states. So nice to “meet you” in this way - let’s work together to create the better world that our hearts know is possible (as Charles Eisenstein says).


Hey Adam, welcome! I’ve added you to the @corealizers group here in the forum, which will give you access to the all the material you could ever want to read about Cosmos. The forum has multiple channels, which all mix in together on the home / latest posts page: Infinite Conversations. However, by going to the channels page you can get an overview of how everything is organized: Infinite Conversations - cooperative forum for creative discourse

Please do fill in your profile info so we can learn more about you! If you need technical help, just message @Douggins and or I (@madrush) and we’ll be glad to help out. Otherwise, I look forward to connecting more deeply in the future.

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