Guild Theory: Brainstorming questions and topics to flesh out

Some of us, particularly me and @elimisteve, are keen on getting Noisebridge Applied Philosophy down into a recorded format.

Here are some questions we want to explore in audio, writing, or both. Replies to this post should also be suggestions for topics to cover.

  • What is a Guild?

  • How is it different from a team?

  • Why Guilds? In what context were they conceived of?What problem are Guilds meant to solve?How should someone get started using the Guild system? [Link listeners to tips?]

INTERHACK: The Intergalactic Hacker(space?) Network, aka MetaMetaGuild or MMG for short

  • What it is
  • How to join
  • Steve’s many ideas for globe-spanning inter-hackerspace projects
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In general, let us progress the “theory of hackerspaces”.

AFAIK this began in Germany, then spread to the US thanks to Mitch Altman, whose initial vision for Noisebridge was recently found by x on the Noisebridge wiki: Noisebridge Vision - Noisebridge .

I was totally inspired by Chaos Camp in Berlin this summer (2007). There were so many incredibly beautiful projects that people showed at the Camp, and many of them came out of hacker spaces that exist all over Germany and Austria (in big cities, but also in lots of small towns). Since I’ve been back from Berlin, I’ve been talking to lots of people about starting a hacker space here.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a space that is open to members 24/7, a place to work on projects both solo and collaborative, a place to support and be supported in your projects, easily accessible to mass transit, safe to get to night or day, a place with a kitchen and a shower, a place to hang out with other geeks? Excitement has been building to create such a space! It turns out that there are several other people who have been independently thinking about starting a hacker space here. There are probably lots of people that none of us know that are also thinking about this as well. This all tells me that it is really is time for a hacker space here!

When I co-founded Santa Barbara Hackerspace in 2010, my conception of what a hackerspace was came directly from what I head read about Noisebridge online. We even copied its 501(c)(3) application pretty much verbatim :smiley: ; we’re lucky NB open-sourced them!

Fast forward to today: @nthmost has laid out a Guild model that I love and that has a lot in common with the structure of how I came to conclude that volunteers and groups of volunteers should work together to be most effective, based on my work at Pursuance (with Barrett Brown) and now EffectiveAF.

I am excited to help develop these ideas further, experiment with them, put them out into the world (via podcasts and the written word), and apply them ourselves!

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Yes, plus it was immediately clear to me that your Guild design basically changed Noisebridge into a structure that could route information dramatically more efficiently.

In particular, a hackerspace made out of Guilds can route new people to existing like-minded people pretty much instantly (O(1), where each Guild is easy to find) instead of really slowly (O(n), where each of the n people are not so easy to find; even enumerating them is basically impossible).

It is so much more feasible to create a functioning organism using organs as building blocks rather than atoms.

I’m sure it was ideas like these and others that led you to design this exciting structure!

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Well If we’re talking motivations:

I’m driven more by seeing people suffer needlessly than anything else. It’s hard for me to get excited about O(1) versus O(n).

Because, who’s to say that O(n) journey isn’t fun and interesting? I don’t want to take that away from anybody.

But if I learn that people are getting hurt from it, then I start working very hard to figure out how to improve things. I don’t like to see people suffer.

What I saw in 2018 was that the failure to ensure that systems and information were inherited smoothly from one set of folks to the next made people distrustful of each other. I had in-person conversations with people at Noisebridge during this time where I could only respond to some rather paranoid Us versus Them rhetoric by going “nahhh… I think we just lost the password to that server, brah… no conspirac-y required…”

If you don’t like my geeky way to talk about a profound improvement in Noisebridge’s executive function, as you’ve put it, and in NB’s ability to be really valuable to its participants and the broader world, so be it. But better harnessing human potential is A Big Deal, and that’s ultimately what we’re really talking about here when it comes to what excites me about all this :slightly_smiling_face: . Routing newcomers to those they can do important things with is a means to that end.

As you know, the Guild model presently in place at Noisebridge is opt-in, not opt-out. Furthermore, if someone wants to wander around randomly talking to individual people about what they’re working on, of course that’s still possible. So Guilds don’t “take that away” from anyone, and could not possibly do so even if they became the fundamental organizing structure for a hackerspace.

Me neither, and the suffering caused in 2018 was pretty huge. But I don’t see how the Guild model can help prevent the problems we had in 2018.

In this case, solving malice requires self-defense. When selfish, power-hungry, tribalistic people are the problem, how can Guilds help reduce the suffering they cause? Again, I love the idea of Guilds and what they could become, but I can imagine them sometimes making people more tribalistic.

Theory question: what’s preventing Guilds from devolving into mutually-distrustful tribes? The MetaGuild? Shared values?

Oh cool, I didn’t realize you were finding the Guild ideas concordant with stuff you’d already been doing. That makes a lot more sense now. :smiley: