Reading Group: Impact Networks - June 27th/Community Call June 30th

Description

We’re organizing the first of what I’m calling the ‘How to SCRF Better’ Reading Group. The goal here is to delve into some content that can help us think about how to more effectively achieve our mission. The first book we’re getting into is Impact Networks by David Ehrlichman on June 27th, which will then be followed by David joining us during our community call on June 30th.

Some more info

Book: Impact Networks by David Ehrlichman

Date: June 27th 11a MST for 60 minutes

Goal: Discuss Impact Networks in the context of SCRF and our mission

Rationale for picking this: This book has been very influential on my thinking of what SCRF is trying to accomplish in terms of systematically supporting research. I believe that applying this lens on what we are doing and what we want to do will help crystalize a different way of looking at our mission and will help us understand the first steps to take to accomplish our core mission. I also think that this framework of impact networks will help think through what value we could be providing the web3 research ecosystem as a whole as we experiment with the idea of Decentralized Research Centers.

Additional content:

I’m also putting together some notes on the book. I’m shooting for these to be ready by June 20th. Contributors at SCRF are welcome to request access to this doc, which will be replaced with a public link (or I’ll add it to this post) once the notes are ready.

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@eleventh This is an excellent idea for the latest event of the Reading Group on SCRF. I wonder if there is a session for the APAC team like the SCRFers in Taiwan to join the discussion. (11 am MST is quite late in Taiwan).

By the way, @Tony_Siu, Are you interested in this Reading Group? We have some experience in GDSC and SQAI as well, and maybe it will help with the discussion.

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I’d be happy to host another session that’s more timezone friendly for APAC. Happy to do a morning or evening in early July. I’ll email you and Twan to get it planned

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I have the book and I am reading it before the talk! Do we have a list of questions for discussion?

This post contains three parts. The first is a short summary of the book, Impact Networks, by David Ehrlichman. In the second part, there is an accounting of a SCRF discussion about the book and how the ideas contained therein may apply to or be useful to SCRF. Finally, in part three, there are highlights from a discussion with Mr. Ehrlichman in which he discusses his ideas about network organizational models and specifically how he sees they may apply to the SCRF and other decentralized efforts taking place.

Part I : Book Summary

Impact Networks presents an alternative organizational model to the seemingly default hierarchical approach so many of us are familiar with from typical work or schooling experiences. While recognizing the value of the hierarchical approach, David Ehrlichman instead leverages his experience working with impactful networks of organizers and leaders in land use, government, schooling, social causes and his Converge Network, to illustrate and offer a path away from a single dominant figure who plans, directs, and organizes a group to achieve a particular goal. Instead David Ehrlichman outlines the benefits, stages, and methods to develop a network of collaborators based around a shared purpose, mutual respect, and trust. And he provides a model for how many figures within a network can enter and exit leadership roles as the network’s efforts require.

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Part II: Summary of Impact Networks Discussion Group Meeting 6/27/2022

Introductory Context

Eugene was very impressed by Impact Networks by David Ehrlichman. He invited the author to speak to SCRF and suggested the creation of a reading group to discuss it. From the preface of the book, Impact Networks is about how to cultivate “networks that enable diverse groups of people to connect, coordinate, and collaborate within and across organizations to do more together than is possible alone”. As an aspirationally decentralized organization focused on decentralized activities and technologies, Eugene felt SCRF should take a strong look at Mr. Ehrlichman’s ideas.

On June 27th, the reading group Eugene initiated convened to discuss the first three chapters of the book as they lay out the main ideas advocated by the author. Below is a summary of the discussion that took place.

Participants:

Eugene Leventhal (Host), Muhammad Abdurrahman, Chris Bates, Richard Brown, Hazel Dev, Umar Khan, Anna Kryukova, Ralph Lombreglia, Faith Obafemi, Ivan Plazacic, Junxi Song, Valerie Spina, Tolu Togundele, Maria Vinokurov, Paul Zube, et al. (let me know if you were in the group and I missed you)

Names of people who contributed ideas immediately follow contributions in parentheses.

Eugene Leventhal led the discussion several questions; those are marked at the start with his name in parentheses.

Meeting Recap

  • (Eugene) Where do you see networks alive within your life and work?

Examples included:

  • Educational networks - such as the spread of new ideas or in-group words across a network of people. (Muhammad Abdurrahman)
  • Acquaintance networks - such as people who are loose associations one might know from a coffee shop/coworking space. (Paul Zube)
  • Interest or Experience based networks - crypto, co-workers, classmates, political parties, etc. (Valerie Spina)

Picking up on a common theme of the three examples above, Eugene drew attention to how each of them could be almost by accident versus intentional. For example, few of us get to choose our classmates or our coffee shop table neighbors.

  • (Eugene) What are some of the other binding factors of a network? For example, chosen versus non-chosen networks?

This question led us into the three biggest discussion points of the session: Virality, Intention, Trust, Stickiness, Structure, and SCRF.

Virality

Umar Khan shared an experience in elementary school of children wanting to play a really big game of Freeze Tag during recess, so each kid in the starter group went out and asked two other kids to join in. This demonstrated how easily a network could maximally scale around a common purpose, play. The benefits of scaling and the consequences of empowering members of the network persisted as a background feature throughout the rest of the conversation.

Intention

  • I’m in lots of communities, but when does a community become a network? (Hazel Dev)

Eugene copied and pasted this answer from his notes, quoting page 8 of the book, into the chat, an excerpt is abbreviated below:

“We think of impact networks as a combination of a vibrant community and healthy organization. At the core they are relational, yet they are also structured… Impact networks build on …community–shared principles, resilience, self-organization, and trust–while leveraging… a common aim, an operational backbone, and a bias for action….”

  • (Eugene) When does a network become a community? A Twitter page isn’t a DAO. So what are the differences between semantic labels for groups of humans, when is there a meaningful difference?

A community seems to imply something like a purpose, a goal, a product, etc. It may also imply hierarchy and structure. (Hazel Dev)

Communities have more intention than networks. Specifically, Learning Networks and Impact Networks go beyond merely collecting around a subject area and move toward intentional learning and intentional acting. So there is a scale between intention and lack of intention in groups. Proximity alone is different from purposeful, intentional connection. (Chris Bates)

Trust, Purpose, and Social Norms

Trust

Trust which appeared earlier in conversation with its relationship to community and intention, became a rallying point as the conversation continued.

  • (Eugene) Focusing on the Stickiness of Trust, the depth of trust really glues a network, enabling it to be more than a network. How does trust change a network?

Purpose

David Ehrlichman heavily referenced Purpose as a catalyst for moving away from being merely an unintentional network. It seems that having a clear and shared purpose, they can diverge in their considerations of how to achieve a goal, but because they are clear on their purpose other members of the network can maintain trust in their fellow network-members. (Muhammad Abdurrahman)

  • (Eugene) Yes, if we have a strong binding factor around collective purpose, we can have trust which may allow for greater divergence because we have the same overall purpose.

Social Norms

Social Norms may also make a network very sticky. One may not necessarily want to attend a meeting, but due to social norms built around a purpose one believes in, s/he is still often likely to comply and attend either out of social conformity or for knowing that s/he is and remains through attending a meaningful part of the network. (Paul Zube)

  • (Eugene) Great point: Does anyone have reading suggestions on the relationship between Social Norms and Impact Networks. How do co-creating norms, rituals, lore play into norms and culture? Organizational culture seems like it magically emerges, but how do we intentionally cultivate it without one person driving it forward.

In Chat Recommends: Emergent Organization by Taylor and Van Every (Paul Zube) and Durkheim

(Chris Bates)

  • (Eugene): Moving to the idea of Hierarchy vs a Leaderless Flat Environment, How do you create a culture wherein one can take the position of leader for a moment, without letting ego drive attempts to continue to hold onto power?

Stickiness of Social Norms

The conversation about purpose and norms in an organization can be related to durable institutions, such as the institution of marriage (governed by shared customs as much as or more than by laws). Given that, we can ask what kind of social institutions we want to create that align with values /exist in our lives that support this? (Anna Kryukova)

(Eugene) Great point! Regardless of one’s opinion on the topic, clearly the general idea of religion has persisted as an institution in societies across the world. What can we learn from such sticky institutions?

Burning Man is something of an institution; it may be the largest most successful participatory network in the world. It’s been running for decades. People join around a common purpose emphasizing anti-consumer, self-expression, and temporary living. Many networks and events around the world have sprung from it. Many principles or characteristics are assumed of others when they are known to be a member of the burner community. That makes Burning Man and its off-shoots worth considering in the discussion. (Maria Vinokurov)

It’s also interesting how many people in crypto are burners. Turning back to religion, there is a large Orthodox Jewish community in NYC. They dress the same and have a tight knit network that strongly enforces conformity to socio-religious norms. This is very different from the divergence and diversity discussed earlier as being part of a network’s strengths. Inclusivity vs Exclusivity. It’s an interesting contrast for a question about social norms of whether you have hightrust in inclusive and exclusivity communities. (Umar Khan)

(Eugene): There are interesting points in psychology the thoughts that may relate to greater tolerance for diversity. Maximizing for diversity requires a differrent mindset from maximizing for conformity. That said, I don’t want to derail us.

In the chat: Hazel Dev and Anna Krykova added messages about the “fresh syllabus” on the “Indigenous Protocol” and the kernel community (URL): Converse | Kernel

Eugene also shared a link on Governance (URL): https://www.usp.nus.edu.sg/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/UHB2209_Polycentric_Governance_Course_Overview.pdf

The Digital vs Physical Connection Divide

There are different kinds of networks, physical and digital. Consider that a League of Legends (LoL) Tournament is now a bigger draw than the Super Bowl, but you wouldn’t know it without looking it up. LoL has both an in-person and digital component making the border between networks interested in it more fluid than might have been for previous generations. In fact, sometimes the digital relationships seem to be stronger, perhaps because only the positive sides of its members are filtered into the experiences of others in the network. Even though tradition makes it seem that the physical connections should be more valuable. It’s not clear cut. The digital ones may be stronger, and there seems to be a struggle for supremacy emerging between the two.(Chris Bates)

In the chat: Yes, there is something called the Hyperpersonal Effect (URL): Hyperpersonal model - Wikipedia

  • (Eugene): The move from a physicist only community at the start of the internet to our much better tools may indeed result in stronger relationships over time. The difference between email and Facetime is massive. As AR/VR/XR come online that could accelerate. It is interesting to see how that changes overtime. How do you use both to your advantage, the geographic and the virtual? How do we balance them to make sure everyone feels included with modes of interaction and connection over time?

Hierarchy vs Flatter Approaches

  • (Eugene) New Topic: What do you see as strengths and limitations of hierarchies? Of networks?

The Author did something a lot of authors might not do. He made space for hierarchy and when it’s appropriate. Rather than maligning an organizational structure that didn’t fit his ideal, David Ehrlichman clearly acknowledged the value of a hierarchical organization when there is a clear technical goal to accomplish. (Muhammad Abdurrahman)

Emergence takes time. If you don’t have a lot of time, a hierarchical organizational structure might be a better approach.(Ralph Lombreglia)

  • (Eugene) A leader in a traditional hierarchical environment, generally ends up being the person who pushes forward, and the group follows. Transisitoning to decentralized leadership environments doesn’t mean that can’t happen, but the leaders goal should be to push everyone else forward so that one person doesn’t always have to be the sole leader. It’s a kind of consistent sheep herding. The truth is, unless someone takes charge, even the decision on what a group of friends decides to get for dinner easily ends up floating in indecision.

In chat: Talking about hierarchy, is SCRF an hierarchy or a network? (Faith Obafemi)

Good news, Faith. A little of both I think. (Paul Zube)

I feel like SCRF is an hierarchy building networks. (Faith Obafemi)

One of the points made in the book is that the best leaders understand when to diverge and when to converge to create emergence. The good leader understands what is required when. Right now the direction of what is needed is divergence, and now SCRF is playing the role of enabling divergence as well as convergence . Understanding which time requires which direction can facilitate emergence, which is what SCRF’s trying to do. (Chris Bates)

  • (Eugene): What leadership should look like and across networks is discussed later (beyond the first few chapters meant to be covered in this online discussion group) in the book. With regard to impact networks and research networks…Is SCRF a hierarchy or a network? “I will not pretend it’s a fully decentralized system”.

But if you look at so many organizations, SCRF is much less centralized. Of course, there is some hierarchy with me and Rich, but the fact that just about everyone here is working in multiple parts of the org, it’s way less hierarchical than many orgs. We’re trying to have minimal hierarchy as much as a net of networks can have. And working toward the goal of full decentralization. ”What is the minimal structure needed to build a community that doesn’t fall flat on its face very quickly?” Removing the ambiguity, and giving a sense of who’s good at the ambiguity vs process.

Piggybacking on the issue of fragility, “how robust are these network approaches?” There’s evidence to suggest decentralization is really robust; however, we have seen small hierarchical groups shatter robust decentralized networks. How robust is the network against strong man approaches, the power of one voice that moves the needle? (Paul Zube)

Network resilience should be strongly influenced by redundancy. The author discussed a situation with an immigrant group of parents at a school. The school only had one person as the point of contact for the entire Hmong community, remove that node / person, and the whole community would be cut off from information and influence. If we consider the value of mesh networks for things like energy, edge devices (IoT), communication networks etc. as well as blockchain, redundancy appears to play a significant role in network resilience. To piggyback on Paul’s piggybacking, SCRF may be able to use its experience with non-human object networks to develop better network performance and resilience. (Muhammad Abdurrahman)

In the chat: Muhammad, in the Hmong example, the need for redundant connections is obvious; one person is clearly insufficient. But more connections alone might not be a great thing. What if the connections were police, or people who wanted to do surveillance on the Hmong? (Ralph Lobreglia)

That is where “trust” is an important element that keeps being discussed (Chris Bates)

The way I took the Hmong example is also the reality of how many networks work, which is that they overly rely on a single person who is massively under-resourced. To scale networks, we have to create a culture and process where those individuals are identified and supported (Eugene)

Good point, Chris. (Ralph Lombreglia)

Having more than one facilitator, source of literature and information to ensure continuity of the network could be helpful in helping communities last longer than if they just have one node.(Chris Bates)

  • (Eugene): For anyone who’s interested or listens to it, Lex Friedman’s recent podcast on Marxian theory discusses elements of redundancy in decentralized systems.

In chat: Kernel Syllabus Module 4 is a FANTASTIC resource on governance, rough consensus (as imagined by IETF), and institutions for anyone to dig into later https://www.kernel.community/en/learn/module-4/governance

(Anna Kryukova)

I don’t want to circle back too far, but strong leadership and action is part of my background. “I’m not in crypto to get rich.” It’s about creating structures, facilitating emergent structure has pros and cons, including the work to get it going. Bootstrapping collective action, human will and organization, aligning them and ensuring reasonably equitable distribution of responsibility is challenging. The other path is to strictly enforce it and bake in the decentralization after words. Ninjas and cult-leaders will make it happen at all costs, and then worry about it after. It’s hard to do it without a structured hierarchy. I mean have you seen a group make it longer than 6 months without some hierarchy and reach a steady state. (Richard Brown)

No, not in crypto, but in game design, it’s funny you mention 6 months, because that is about the limit for those teams. But if they make it past 6 months they tend to find some success. But usually, it does end up falling apart without money as fuel. (Chris Bates)

Conclusion

The key aspects of David Ehrlichman’s book, particularly the first three chapters, were discussed by the group. The conversation’s focus was primarily on issues of trust, purpose, intention, and how to build and maintain a community. Applicability of the Ehrlichman’s model was considered for SCRF and there was discussion of how best to achieve a goal of making SCRF fully decentralized in the future.

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Part III: Chat with David Ehrlichman

Our Chat with Mr. Ehrlichman had three parts. First he introduced his background and how he became excited about impact networks and his current activities in them. Next he discusses his reasoning for advocating for impact networks and the special activities that help them thrive. Then he discusses some of the core ideas of the network approach, and finally he takes questions from SCRFers about his ideas and how they may apply to SCRF and the emerging decentralized communities.

I: Background

Fifteen years ago, Mr. Ehrlichman was working with a non-profit that helped people without shelter get on their feet and get jobs in the food industry. He noticed the organization wasn’t just addressing symptoms of a broken system. It also became focused on its own sustainability and growth issues. He wondered, “How can we work across boundaries, with other organizations” to address complex social challenges. In his journey to explore this idea, he ended up working in Fresno with education activists and institutional players. There he found success by focusing people on their common ground/common purpose, mutual respect, and better understanding of the larger issues. Later he worked on land use issues involving local, state, and federal leaders. In 2013, he launched Converge, a network that supports other networks. Since then he and the Converge network have worked with 50 different impact networks on social / environmental issues all around the world. Through that work, Mr. Ehrlichman and Converge saw common patterns emerge in impact network movements. So he wrote his book to bring attention to and advocate for these network based approaches.

II: Why This Book Exists:

Mr. Ehrlichman emphasizes that our world is complex and requires collaboration, including across boundaries. “To address systemic issues requires working systemically.” He recognized that “collaboration fatigue is real”, and it arises due structures conducive to such fatigue, eg: hierarchical structures. Planning everything out well in advance, top down isn’t conducive to addressing complex issues which can not be planned out unilaterally, without information and leadership sharing.

People have always used collaborative networks to achieve change, Ehrlichman is only advocating greater appreciation of that approach versus the currently dominant top-down hierarchical structure approach. He’s bringing together traditional approaches to community building, social movements and network science to scale these collaborative systemic approaches to change.

Impact Networks is about answering his question from years ago: “How can we move beyond this paradigm of command and control and top down decision making to address complex issues by cultivating these vibrant, self-organizing, and decentralized networks?” In his book, he hopes to help others attempting to break out of the command and control mindset and structure.

In wrapping up why he wrote the book, Ehrichman notes that networks are everywhere because they are simply webs of relationships. Examples include the internet, social networks, neural networks - like the ones in our brains for instance, and even fungal networks. But he notes that what’s often missed is that networks can be deliberately organized and harnessed to do a lot more than just create connection. Ehrlichman believes that with deliberate steps, we can foster them for learning, for action, and for social movements.

III: Key Concepts

Stage of growth for a “Web of Change”

  • The Fragmented Nodes Change - lots of disparate groups doing their own things.
  • The Hub & Spoke Stage - when a central Hub emerges where with groups can meet
  • The Multi-Hub Networks Stage - when multiple hubs facilitate enhanced activity
  • The Core / Periphery Stage - when a dense core of activity and much larger periphery of activity develop. Healthy networks don’t require and needn’t shoot for 100% of heavy engagement all the time. At any given time, 20% tend to be in the core, to be the most active (eg: always on Slack, deep in the forum posting, replying, etc.) 40% are following what’s going on, but are not hyper active. And 40% are on the periphery, not engaged. It’s normal for people to move in and out of those areas. That said, one way to encourage this healthy stable 20/40/40 pattern is to engage people at the middle and periphery to recommit every so often, (annual, semi-annual, etc.) to engage at a leadership level, or follow more closely the network.

The Necessary Shift to a Network Mindset:

A key factor is moving away from thinking of one’s own organization as being the center of the network and instead considering the shared purpose or aim as the center of the network. By strengthening the flows and connections around a shared purpose, you build a network rather than a hierarchy oriented around a person, company, or other organization.

Additionally, the more you can bind the focus of a particular network, the easier it’s going to be to find the right people to foster those connections. Your network shouldn’t let everyone in. Binding issues can be anything. For example, you can bond over a topic / social issue, a geography, a commonality, a combination of such factors, or something else. But it’s important to have boundaries, because without boundaries (something that includes and excludes) there are no communities.

IV: Implications of Web of Change to SCRF

SCRF has multiple missions, so it’s still figuring out how to provide different points of value, and opportunity. There appears to be a bit of a chicken and egg challenge given the multiple fronts it’s acting on. SCRF is evolving as a hub, facilitating both learning and action in different phases. Ultimately, SCRF is working to connect multiple networks with different forms and aims to ultimately facilitate a network of networks.

How do networks move from the hub and spoke model to the multi-hub phase?

It’s really important to move beyond the hub and spoke, because if we stop at that stage, we’re really just creating another hierarchy. It centralizes control and makes the network weaker and less able to contribute, less resilient too if the central hub is not available. There are a few key ingredients needed to achieve this. There are the core activities in the network, the network’s leadership, and the enabling structures that support the network’s growth.

Core Activities

There are five core activities of Impact Networks:

  • Clarify Purpose and Principles - purpose inspires people to join; principles cohere us.
  • Convene the People - create opportunities to get and stay connected for co-creation
  • Cultivate Trust - take time to understand each other. It’s not about liking or personal information; it’s about understanding each other’s underlying motivations. This enables us to get past our disagreements via a shared baseline of mutual respect, aka trust.
  • Coordinate Actions - build on what’s already happening, accelerate flows of information
  • Collaborate for Systems Change - identify what we can do together that we can not do alone

Network Leadership

Another factor is Network Leadership. This is a different form from what we see in hierarchical environments. It’s not about procedures and rules. Network Leadership is about nurturing a culture of trust, connecting and collaborating people, fostering self-organization, and cultivating conditions for action around a shared purpose.

There are four key leadership roles, often played by different people, that recur in Network-based leadership:

  • Catalyzing - act of bringing network together and starting conversations
  • Facilitation - act of facilitating meetings, combining and moving to an outcome
  • Weaving - connecting people across the network, understanding their values, objectives
  • Coordination - infrastructure, support development of teams, etc.

Emergent Structures

Networks need structure, but only a Minimum Viable Structure, just enough to provide support without stifling emergence and growth. Think of it like a scaffold built as the organization grows. The form of the structure follows the function.

The Role of Funding in Impact Networks

Some degree of funding early on is helpful in generating the spark that gets things started. It will likely take for the network to generate enough value to motivate participants in it to pay membership dues or otherwise fund it.

What’s important is that whoever the funders are, they should understand early on that they do not have an outsized weight in deciding what happens, who can join or other issues as the network grows and matures. It’s critical that decision making power go to the network as soon as possible.

How does a leader transition from hierarchical to network leadership?

You can either just give it a try or join a network that’s already practicing it. In both ways, you’ll have an opportunity to see the benefits. Reading about it isn’t likely enough. You must practice.

Some may already have some practice at it and not know it. For example, many of the ideas of Impact Network Leadership are know by other names such as Facilitative leadership, Servant Leadership, and Level Five Leadership.

Unfortunately, people who often excel at this kind of leadership are usually quick to share credit for success. They are typically behind the scenes and don’t get the recognition or financial resources they need to sustain this type of work.

What role does Measurement for a Network and at What Stages?

Measuring the network itself is important from early on. This is because it may not have the ability to adequately measure its own impact at the start. You can use participant surveys like the ones Converge uses to understand the connections being made, and that can help the network better understand its own growth and emerging impact.

How do we avoid the allure of hierarchy and prevent ourselves from imposing it on a network?

There are a few major tensions that exist in any organization, and they are dynamic.

Dynamic Tensions

  • Building Trust vs Taking Action - both are important, people will have different orientations
  • Self-Interest vs Shared Interest - we have a common purpose but we also should acknowledge people have joined the network for their own self-interest too.
  • Move Fast vs Share Participation

The key role of Network leaders is to understand that these tensions exist, openly name them, and have conversations about them. They must acknowledge that these tensions are not black and white. Once they do, they can then facilitate a conversation about how to come to a balance that moves the network beyond the tension toward achieving its shared purpose.

Notably, hierarchies are great for achieving specific goals with a well understood and well defined path to achieve them. Additionally, unitary hierarchies are not the only hierarchical option. You can create non-power hierarchies, heterarchies based in influence or relative context where leaders can be delegated the authority by the larger community to have different types of decision rights and leadership. So, it’s important to find the intersection of hierarchies and networks and apply them appropriately. It’s also possible to have hierarchies build networks to work alongside them depending on the purpose and goals they seek to achieve.

Financial Incentives

Financial interest may motivate new entrants to a network who otherwise may never have joined. This somewhat unique aspect of DAOs is what got Ehrlichman to pay more attention to the decentralized community space.

Financial incentives as a basis for a network or intertwined in a network may make it more fragile because people may only be in it for financial gain. Building genuine trust and care for one another may suffer if the only thing you’re connecting around is financial returns.

Conversely, in socially focused networks, even if people don’t trust each other, they can trust the care they have for addressing some social concern. A deeper sense of purpose also tends to motivate better than money.

Evolving Networks and Emergence

It is very possible for an organization to plan for and nurture emergence and plan for its results. It’s generally better to be a vibrant learning network rather than a middling action network. So, it’s fine to be patient and use the simplest form and add more structures later. There’s no need to rush through the stages.

The book focuses on the notion of trust. Do trust-less systems have a hurdle for adoption?

There are benefits of both trust-based and trustless. Trustless systems can support coordination at much larger scales, beyond Dunbar’s Number. Ehrlichman has experience with networks of between 20 and 300 people, ones in which each person can still feel a sense of community. That’s much harder when you scale to a point where people have no sense or understanding of other people in the network. It’s at those levels that trustless systems really become useful and necessary.

At the start of a network, how do you facilitate relationships between people?

Check out the Network Toolkit which has a variety of activities. One is called “rapid coordination”, it’s about supporting people’s self-interest; immediately get people supporting each other’s existing work and getting value out of it and offering it to the community. Converge also has a network leadership series, an 8-week course, starting in September. It’s the fourth time they are running it. So you learn more there as well.

This concludes a summary of the events involving Mr. Ehrlichman and his book. There are a lot of ideas presented and many appear to have strong applicability to SCRF, so by all means take a look if you have an interest in the continued development of SCRF or the broader decentralized ecosystem. If Mr. Ehrlichman’s experience applies, we are still just at the start of an emerging system of networks that may be hard to recognize from where it stand right now.

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Thank you @Muhammad for these really great notes. We dug into a lot of details in our conversations and they’re very well-represented here. It’s clear there is a lot to talk about when it comes to Impact Networks.

Our first discussion session (on June 27th) focused on Part 1 of the book and was at an inconvenient time for APAC residents. We’re having two more reading group sessions, at friendlier times, with a goal of continuing our earlier discussion and finishing the book.

Thank you to @Ines_Santos_Silva @eleventh @zube.paul for putting these sessions together

Upcoming Reading Group Sessions

Date: August 11th at 9am EST for 60 minutes

Goal: Discuss Part 1 (Chapters 1 to 4) of Impact Networks in the context of SCRF and our mission

Date: August 24th at 11am EST for 60 minutes

Goal: Discuss Part 2 (Chapters 5 to 10) of Impact Networks in the context of SCRF and our mission

Register Here for a Calendar Invite

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I picked the audiobook version up a week ago, after seeing it mentioned here. I’ve still got two chapters left, but I’m really enjoying it so far. I signed up for the meeting, but it’s being held at 1am my time, and the second one is at 3am. I’m interested in the discussion, and will try to attend the first meeting, but I won’t be able to make the second. Even if I do attend, I won’t be able to speak much as I’ll wake people up. Given that, I’ll jot down a few thoughts here instead.

I am inspired to find SCRF adopting this approach. I’ve read a lot of the foundational literature this book draws upon over the last few years, on topics such as resilience/systems thinking, emergence, networks etc, and the sources the author references are familiar. I am just about to submit another paper for publication which outlines the importance of these networks in disaster management contexts in NZ and proposes a framework that can be used to account for them in institutional decision-making structures. I’m very impressed with the book, it’s one of the best articulations of the concepts within I’ve come across so far.

My PhD focused on the drivers of social resilience in a disaster context – during my fieldwork I spent a lot of time talking to communities affected by adverse events, as well as government and private institutions that responded to them. A theme that was present throughout the results was the importance of social networks, of both the learning and impact variety. However, what was most striking to me is that governments often failed to account for the networks during responses, and in some cases actively attacked them or degraded their capacity to function.

It is very difficult to measure/quantify these networks, which is a key problem and means their benefits are invisible to bureaucracies. I talked about this a bit in one of my previous posts:

Additionally, some of the aims of networks can challenge existing power structures and make them targets for attack. My motivation to take part in the crypto community, despite a seemingly unrelated background, is because I see potential here for the creation of trustless underlying support infrastructure which can be used for more decentralized and less fragile versions of these networks, and more importantly, the networks themselves can become more visible. Quantifying these networks is difficult because the number of connections is less important than their quality – this was a key point CS Holling (1973) made in his seminal paper on resilience which is reflected in the book. Coupling onchain identity with cryptography should make it much easier to collect reliable qualitative data in a privacy preserving manner (ZKPs) which gives insight into the quality of connections. This is potentially revolutionary in a lot of ways.

More specifically, I am excited that SCRF is pursuing this approach, and I would be very interested in participating in the process and helping however possible.

I’d also like to thank @Muhammad for the detailed notes from the first meeting. I appreciate being able to see what was discussed, and where I might fit in.

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