Empowering grassroots in DiEM25 by using Mastodon.

If you already know what this post is about, you may want to jump to the “How to” section.

The question of “tools for democracy” needs an answer with respect to both which tools to choose and how to actually use them to map and support the topology of the movement. Not long ago Aral Balkan installed a Mastodon server to be used by DieEM 25 members as a movement wide communication tool. For reasons that scape my understanding this tool has not been properly advertised or featured in the DiEM-wide media, which has resulted in a very low usage of Mastodon (99 not very active users) and, why not mention it, has to a great extent resulted in the lost of a great asset for our community.

As with other initiatives taken by other diemistas, such as the diem-connect forum or the Diem Café, the effect of all this work, put by members into the organic growth of DiEM25, could be multiplied with very little support by the CC, from whom I think it is fair to expect at least one system-wide e-mail notifying that these tools are now available to the community. Official, unofficial tools… those words are not very meaningful until we are actually using them to make decisions. The validity of the tools must be proven by the tools themselves, only then can they be adopted as part of the “aparatus” but they cannot prove their use unless they are given a chance, unless they are properly advertised. So here is my plead to the CC: please do advertise our Mastodon instance, the DiEM Café and the diem-connect forum, thank you.

With or without support of the CC, most active DiEM25 members can actually be reached by means of the DSC distribution lists and Aral will be keeping the Mastodon server for the time being. Let us jump in and take the chance. Carpe diem. If the user volume increase, we will eventually have to take responsibility over its financial and labour costs but I believe he would be more than happy to see other people taking ownership of the tools. It is not his baby. It was a present we should appreciate in its full value and play with until it’s broken.

Without making an in depth analysis of the current situation, and above all, stating quite clearly that I do not believe there was any ill intent in the choice of the present structure and tools, it can be stated without hesitation that the use of restricted e-mail and slack groups as the main means of communication has resulted so far in lack of transparency, formation of “islands” inside the community and multiple bottle necks resulting in inefficiencies, all of which have hindered the healthy development of the grassroots spirits within DiEM25.

Things are the way they are and the only question that we have to ask ourselves is how to improve them. Soon I will try to describe a complete information architecture for DiEM25 as proposed by Aral in the Passau event (Aug 26th 2017) but right now I would like to concentrate in Mastodon because it is already there, because is has been offered to us for free and because I believe it could change the way we deal with each other and the way that DiEM25 works.

First of all, Mastodon is an improved free software version of Twitter. If you already use Twitter, the only thing you need to know is that you can type 500 characters instead of 140. The rest is self explanatory. If you think it can help, please read this short guide, I have tried to explain the mains aspects in easy to understand terms. I hope I succeeded.

One last remark before I jump into the details: Tools can be used in many ways and, not surprisingly, I will describe how to use Mastodon in order to give support to the grassroots, self organising topology that was previously described in previous posts: here, here and here.

The methodology proposed below can be automated by means of bots, or it can be supported by a human adminsitrator. The first solution is now being implemente, but until then we can start working already with the caveat that things requests may take a bit longer to be processed. The most important issue, however, is that we DO use it, en masse, all of us, to break barriers, to seek transparency, to make of DiEM25 a real grassroots movement. So please, if you are unsure do make your mind up, decide to take the risk, to try thing. Open your Mastodon account and push for your DSC to move to Mastodon.

Here is the proposal of how to use Mastodon in the context of DiEM25

Salud, Paz y Democracia

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