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Puzzled . . @mako makes a clear pitch on "Free software production needs free tools"
And is very clear on and (though says most code comes from solo not collaboration!). Yet not a hint of coop ownership of to keep tools honest & open (GitHub!). Surely tools today become platforms? And platforms require collaboration even if code doesn't? So why doesn't follow automatically, as we talk tools? How does libre not equal coop in FLOSS world?

@mike_hales Because FLOSS world is a meritocracy and not a democracy?

@Graham_Mitchell @mike_hales

Might be worth remembering that the coiner of the term "meritocracy" meant it as a criticism.

(But I am seeing a lot more cooperative dev teams these days...)

@bhaugen @mike_hales And it is a criticism of sorts. For a FLOSS project, or indeed any sort of project, meritocracy is a very sensible and obvious place to start, but it's not sustainable. As the project matures, more voices need to be heard, and governance needs to broadened and become inclusive - hence a democratic cooperative approach fits well. But project owners rarely have the knowledge or interest to to pursue this option.

@Graham_Mitchell @mike_hales

We ( ) have worked with a lot of projects. One conclusion is that a sustainable project is like a cell and needs both a nucleus (a tight set of core contributors) and a membrane (an onboarding gate and process).

But then if it is to stay alive and be healthy it needs to welcome and mentor new people, move them ever closer to joining the core. And if the core gets too big, divide, spawn another cell.

@mike_hales @Graham_Mitchell

The need for a core seems to go along with @mako 's research, although he seems to think it leads to the core benefiting themselves from their positions to the detriment of the project's mission, which can definitely happen. Is it inevitable?

Scuttlebutt may be an instructive counter-example. They welcome new people all the time, and one member of the core is also an active and visible mentor of new developers. And they have spawned several new projects.

bhaugen @bhaugen

@mako @Graham_Mitchell @mike_hales

None of this stuff is easy. I wish I had a recipe for a healthy organization that does only good. Eternal vigilance?

@mike_hales @Graham_Mitchell @mako

One principle I like, from the P2PFoundation, is equipotentiality.

I think that page is missing a necessary part of the principle, which is that if you take it seriously, it requires that the organization provide help and resources for each member to develop their full potential. Applies especially to the young.

Jorge Ferrer's quote on that page gets close.

@bhaugen @mako @mike_hales I guess in terms of cooperative values and principles, I've always taken the principle of member education as critical in this respect. An informed and educated membership is much less likely to allow the organisation to be captured.

@Graham_Mitchell @mike_hales @mako

I totally agree about member education, especially education in how to participate in internal democracy. near us has done a pretty good job at that, helped by a couple of people in the early core who believed in and practiced and exemplified internal democracy.

@mako @mike_hales @Graham_Mitchell

The other need is actively helping people migrate into the core, and then dividing the cell when the core gets too big.

Bringing people into the core, and dividing the cell, has been more difficult for Organic Valley because they have become a successful business and have hired a management layer from capitalist businesses.

@Graham_Mitchell @mike_hales @mako

This is also part of the contradiction of cooperatives embedded in a capitalist system.

@bhaugen @mike_hales @mako And therein lies the seed of its own demise. Look at the big dairy in NZ and AUS for good examples of ag coops growing to become dominant players, which leads to a weakening of the internal democracy, growth in power of executive management, and eventual capture and demutualisation as the individual farmer members see more value in getting the cash than in continuing to cooperate.

@Graham_Mitchell @mako @mike_hales

Some of the people I know at Organic Valley are very aware of those problems. We'll see if they can deal.

@bhaugen @mike_hales @mako Dividing the cell is - for me - the critical piece to learn. And I think that this is very hard to do well, probably even when it is designed in from the outset.

@mako @mike_hales @bhaugen Maybe the best approach in terms of cell division is to do it much earlier in the life cycle, giving time to nurture and grow the mycelial networks that will in turn nourish and internetwork between the cells/nodes, before division becomes critical to growth. This approach also makes the whole less attractive to malicious oligarchs as it is much harder to take power.

Perhaps the motto needs to be "divide early, divide often" like an embryo.

@Graham_Mitchell @mako @mike_hales

To some extent, Organic Valley did this when they helped a couple of other local cooperatives get started with both technical aid and money. One of them was a partial competitor which a strictly capitalist business would not have helped:

But FifthSeason specialized in fresh produce, while Organic Calley's specialty has become dairy, so that might have made it easier.