Membership, Structurally (What is "in" & "out" of the system)

Dimensions of Concern, Layers of Engagement:
What Is In and What is Out of the System

So Cosmos is a system that behaves according to certain specifications (see: Org Values & Ethics, which inform Design Principles: Community & Design Principles: Technology).

What is “within the system,” and what is outside the system? To explore this, it might be helpful to take an “organismic” view of Cosmos as a collective “body.” What are the boundaries, or skin, between who is “in” Cosmos, and who is external to it? How do people cross the threshhold, into and out of the body? What kinds of relationships does this body have?

First, any member or user of Cosmos is both outside Cosmos and in it, simultaneously. As a community, we fully recognize and endorse that everybody touched by Cosmos be also fully participating in their worlds, too, and that the benefits gleaned from Cosmos be real benefits that can warp the conditions of real, lived experience. We also respect that what each person needs looks very different at different times—sometimes, turning “off” or “away” from the platform to focus on personal needs is what’s best, and sometimes, diving in deeper to the platform brings the greatest reward.

Like an amphibian with “one foot in the world of water and of land,” we respect people’s multidimensionality and complexity. Cosmos has the complex challenge of empowering people to claim greater autonomy and sovereignty, while also fostering meaningful interweaving. This is constantly dynamic. Cosmos provides a complexity of benefits with overlapping domains, and users are encouraged to exercise creative freedom in how they choose to intersect with it. That being said, there’s one clear boundary worth speaking of—those in the body of Cosmos are members, and they are “in” because they have committed to a two-way, reciprocal relationship of mutual benefit.

For this model, what is outside of the system is things and beings that we can touch only indirectly or only in a one-way flow of information/influence. For example, marketing media that Cosmos “emits” would flow to a public audience, but people do not have the equal opportunity to (gain Cosmos’ attention to) respond to the media. This kind of one-way interaction, Americans are especially accustomed to, since the advent of pervasive advertisting, so everything I’m saying here might be so obvious or mundane as to not be worth bothering to articulate. That being acknowledged, consider just how deeply accustomed the average person in the U.S. is to one-way communications—as a cultural vanguard, Cosmos is especially concerned with propagating good conversations in and of the world. So, perhaps, Cosmos practices engaging in conversations as best it can, while acknowledging that the people who deserve its greatest affordances of attention and care are its members.

Naturally Cosmos has “concern for community” and cares about the impacts it has in the world–specifically, it seeks to catalyze the empowerment of the creative/dreaming aspect in every human being, as its own dream. However, it “releases” attachment to outcomes “outside” of the system–Cosmos releases media and hopes for the best. Simultaneously, though, Cosmos is always “open”–it welcomes any “outside” beings who resonate with what it is “putting out there” enough to want to come into more close relationship.

Thus, the membrane between inside and outside the system is a porous boundary, akin to human skin. For instance, free forum account holders are directly participating in and influencing an internal space maintained by Cosmos, though they are not actually members. They inhabit a kind of “liminal zone” with limited privileges and powers. The system is, perhaps, benignly indifferent to their presence: like a relationship of commensalism in biology.

Mutual needs & yields. By contrast, membership signifies a kind of mutual absorption or merging between an individual and Cosmos, the initiation of a mutualistic or symbiotic relationship of significance, involving meaningful mutual exchanges of vital elements. Like how mitochondria were adopted to form eukaryotic cells, thus enabling all the diversification of life on earth. Or how, when a body digests nutritious food (always comprised of the lives of other beings), the body transfers those nutrients into its own healthy continuance, upkeeping its biological structure and metabolizing the fuel to move through the world. Humans are as devoted to their food as mitochondria are to their eukaryotic cells, now–they are in a relationship so enduring that if one were to be annihilated, the other would too. Cosmos is as concerned with what is going on “in its system” as you are with your own body’s physical health: responding when it is hungry, resting when resting is needed, and seeking healing when imbalance arises.

This is the notion of “within the system”–something that is so integral to the organism’s attainment that, without it, the organism ceases to exist. By function of equity appreciation, the longer you remain in the system, the more you benefit. Thus long-term, intensifyingly gift-giving relationships may represent a kind of “peak” or “maxing out” of the potential depth of relationship (though there is no material horizon, of course, only ever deeper degrees of creativity in the commitment).

Outside the system:
● [“Everyone else”]
● Partners
● Audience
● Fans & followers

Within the System:
Forum account holders (negligible)

Yet what is in the system counts more (by definition): it receives more attention and care. What is within the system constitutes the system and its aspirations: the collection of inputs stays circulating regeneratively, and alters the trajectory of the meta-being’s “movements” through the world–including how, and what media, it promotes.

The meaningful threshhold of within or without is membership. At membership, a kind of commitment to relationship is made, consensually, and ideally between two self-aware, mature beings: the human participant, and Cosmos the network (network here meaning: semi-sentient web woven of participant nodes through social and technological linkages resulting in value creation).

Members contribute dues in exchange for the promise of Cosmos to meet the member’s needs and deliver benefits on multiple levels. At an initiation of gift-giving, good faith, and honest accounting, membership begins–and, too, the fractally growing behavioral pattern thus modeled is activated. Members, and their devotion of capital (including, and especially, their flow of attention) is what “breathes life” into the meta organism and gives it both intelligence and intrinsic value.

Continue reading about Membership in the next page, How Membership Works.