Welcome to the web-blog of Mayo Fuster Morell postdoctoral fellow at the Berkman center for Internet & Society (Harvard University) and the Institute of Goverment and Public Policies (Autonomous University of Barcelona), and promotor of Building Digital Commons (www.digital-commons.net). Here you can find my CV, my research works and blog posts on issues such as common-base peer production, online communities governance, techno-political tools, social movements, and on my social justice and digital rights activism. I hope you find it useful!.

¿Abramos (el debate en) Podemos? Menos Plaza Podemos y más Wiki Podemos

Viva el disenso y el debate, y viva también el disenso y el debate del disenso.El Manifiestos «Abramos Podemos» http://abriendopodemos.org/ tiene aciertos y desaciertos.

1) Se refiere al debate que estamos teniendo ahora, sobre que lecciones se extraen del 24M de cara a las próximas elecciones. Dado que es el debate que estamos teniendo ahora y dado que hay sectores del partido que de hecho no estan a favor de confluencias, tiene pleno sentido movilizarse para que el debate se decante por la opción de confluencia. Así, bienvenidas sean las acciones para intervenir en el debate. En este sentido el Manifiesto es una señal más de las muchas ganas que hay!

2) Pero la cuestión de Abrirse – en términos de confluir para las próximas elecciones – no es una visión minoritaria, sino que representa bastante la reflexión colectiva post 24M en los entornos Podemos, incluso también la de Pablo Iglesias o Gemma Ubasart cuando apuntan a candidaturas de confluencia social y política en Catalunya. El contenido en términos de línea de programa al que apunta también en su gran medida es ya parte del programa Podemos o está en proceso de elaboración. En este estado de cosas, el Manifiesto tiene un efecto contrario, es una escenificación que pone en una posicion periférica a una posicion – confluir – que en realidad es bastante extendida, haciéndola parecer más débil de lo que en realidad es.

3) El problema que encuentro en «Abrimos Podemos» son las formas, que contradicen en varios sentidos la lógica organizativa que de hecho está tratando de reforzar. En ciertos aspectos, es como cuando un «espejo» se devuelve parte de tus debilidades aumentadas.
3.1) La opción de «subjetivizar» al Manifiesto con lista de individuos proponentes que vendrían a «representar»/ personificar su valor, no se cuanto es la más acertada en una propuesta que llama a opciones mas aglutinadoras, però es que ademas, en la composición de la lista se caen en varias contradicciones.

3.1.1) El equilibrio de género entre los proponentes (72% masculino) es peor que lo que suele caracterizar a Podemos. Y recordemos de unas propuesta que en realidad hay mucha mucha gente, y muchas mujeres, que apoyan. Asi se pide inclusión y pluralismo, desde un gesto en el que se ha excluido aún más a las mujeres.

3.1.2) Y no solo mujeres, sino que se apoya y refuerza una cada vez más preocupante falta de equilibrio entre las dos almas de Podemos (activistas de clase media y centro ciudad versos nuevas generaciones políticas de la periferia o distribuidos por el territorio y integrantes de los círculos).

3.2) Otra cosa que parece contradictoria es optar por la prensa (desde fuera) como canal, cuando se pide menos peso a la dinámica mediática representacional. Contradicción a lo que se une el precio de alimentar titulares de prensa ávida de atacar a Podemos. En lugar de «Abrirse» a Podemos y hacerlo desde los propios medios de participación del Partido, o de medios aglutinantes más allá del partido.
Dicho muy rudamente: a momentos suena a gesto épico de liderazgos y sectores de camaradería alternativos a los oficiales, que una acción con propuestas con las que se avance en posiciones que ya estan en el debate y que en sus formas de hecho abra y se abra al Partido.

4) Pero con sus desaciertos acierta, pues nos pone delante una evidencia: la falta de fluidez del proceso para articular mejor el debate (sin necesidad de sentir la necesidad de hacer tantos marcajes, sin sentir que hay que ir a fuera para que se te escuche dentro), para fluir entre los que ya somos, más allá de cuanto más confluir.

5) No comparto tanto énfasis en que se trata de posiciones encontradas, en que lo que hay que abrir son las posiciones. El tema no es que no estemos bastante de acuerdo en que hay que confluir y por ello hay que hacer llamadas de atención, el tema es que hay que construir la confluencia (de hecho, reforzar la confluencia actual y confluir aún más), y eso es mucho trabajo, mucha organización. Y no hay «bastante engranaje» para canalizar «tantas ganas». Ganar, no solo requiere confluir en posiciones, requiere construir capacidad organizativa, capacidad de hacer que teje confianza.

A Podemos le hace falta mas engranaje colaborativo que potenciaría lo que ya se hace y canalizaria su escalabilidad. Confluir desde colaborar en el hacer (aún incluso con posiciones contrapuestas). Menos «Plaza Podemos» y más «Wiki Podemos». Cultura y infraestructura colaborativa y abierta que haga fluir la información en el proceso y potencie la acción desde suficiente autónoma. Apertura que potencie la colaboración, el hacer. No solo por mas democracia, sino también por más eficacia. Colaboración y apertura no son solo principios políticos, es un modelo productivo más eficaz (que se lo pregunten a la nueva economía). No solo para ganar, porque un proyecto politico que quiere poner la vida en el centro comporta mucha organizacion (que se lo digan a las madres y padres). ¿Quizás a esto también se querían referir algunos de los proponentes del Manifiesto?, en todo caso, ante esta situación, pienso que más que gestos y marcar posiciones contrapuestas via medios, lo que mas falta hace es colaborar haciendo (sin esperar), porque somos ya parte, ponernos a hacer desde, con, para, porque podemos (sea tanto con p minúscula como mayúscula)!

Mayo

Commons conquer Barcelona! A victory for David over Goliath

Commons conquer Barcelona! A victory for David over Goliath

Yesterday (May 24th) the candidature “Barcelona in common” won the municipal elections (the option of 1 of each 4 people voting). “Now Madrid”- a candidature also connected to commons ethos – became a key force for the governance of Madrid city. Those are only two of the many surprises from yesterday municipal and regional elections in Spain. Cities might be the departing point of a larger political change. Electoral results opened up an optimist scenario for the attempt to win also the national elections at the end of this year, or even in a larger run, a South European coalition against austerity.

Popular Party and Socialist Party remain the main parties, as since the country transition to democracy in late 70s, but usual politics power suffered an important blow. Bipartidism drooping from 65% at the last elections 4 years ago to 52% of the nationwide vote. The renewal of power forces, instead of its change, are also promoted by status quo interests as by the creation of new parties: the case of “Citizens”, which also emerged with force as a new political protagonist. Still the irruption of citizens candidature is impressive for its dimension and its speed. It also favored the increase of at least 5 points electoral participation.

Only four years after Indignados / 15M rise up for “real democracy now” in opposition to politicians “who don’t represent us” and the “dictatorship of the markets”, its impact has become so evident that cannot be any more denied. The composition of the new candidatures are populated by the social movement fabric. To give a taste of it, Ada Colau direct action anti-eviction activist and squatter is going to be the next major of Barcelona. A joke from history: an activist against housing evictions “evicts” usual politicians from the city hall. Considering leaders trajectory, it could also be said that the cycle started with the anti-Globalization Movement (the background of Colau or Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos/Yes we can), but also succeeded to mobilized once again the generation that fought to bring back democracy in Spain against Franco regime (background of Manuela Carmena of “Now Madrid”, a retired judge and the mos probable next major of Madrid).

From the programs, the first thing to hightlight is the centrality of urgent plans to rescue citizens suffocating from the austerity policies, such as with the implementation of several modalities of basic income, and the revision of public services privatization. An ethical code to regulate politicians regarding transparency and the abolition of politician privileges (i.e. limits wages for politicians ($29,000 a year)) and the commitment to support citizens iniciatives.

A part of its political importance, it is fascinating from an organizational perspective. In less than one year and without connections with political, economical, judicial and traditional media power, ordinary citizens coming together have been able to gain important positions in the political system.  A victory for David over Goliath. Combining among its means crowd funding, crowdsourced programs, neighbourhood assemblies, and networked online voting. But also, as in the case of Podemos leader, building on popularity gained by his own TV program.

How was the song? First we take Barcelona, and then we take Manhattan? Indeed, some are working for it. There has been a delegation of activist from NYC visiting Spain during the campaign in order to learn from the experience and “export” such people raising in their own cities. There are many lessons and insights to extract. I try to suggest you just a few hoping inspirational to start similar process in other countries.

The CC effect – One of the – mainly young – citizens struggle that immediately preceded and afterward fed the emergence of the 15M mobilization was provoked by a reaction to a law promoted by the Government, repressive of the online sharing and the free culture (Sinde Law in December 2010). To a large extent this movement of collaborative cultures on the web reacted like Lessig did in 2008, shifting from “Creative Commons” to “Change Congress”. It moved from focusing on sectorial politics connected to intellectual property and Internet regulation to the understanding that to defend these freedoms it is necessary to change the political system as a whole. In this move, the free culture and peer production model became the inspirational organizational form to organize political protest. I explained in detail that move in my luncheon presentation at Berkman center and at this article. The Spanish translation of Yochai Benkler’s “The Wealth of networks” in this 2015 is not a coincidence, as a resource to understand those organizational models. In sum, the sectors holding the expertises around methodologies of co-creation and to engage with new forms of collaboration supported by online means has great political potential.

The Wikipedia “hidden innovation” model – Even if there are large organizational innovations, the discourse should be “plain”, or “austere”. Mako Hill studied why Wikipedia was able to success in 2001, and other attemps to built an online encyclopedia did not. One of its conclusion is that Wikipedia was the case adopting a more easy to understand concept, even if being innovative in its method. It held firm on the traditional notion of an encyclopedia: an idea old few centuries is easy to understand. Similarly, it could be argue here. The discourse able to raise votes for a political deep change in Spain is not vanguardist or particularly innovative, but popular, accessible to everyone, connected to basic needs. Some point to radical populism reinterpreting Laclau and Mouffe. It is a “battle” around the common sense, around gaining the hegemony. While, more vanguardist models, such as new parties connected to “innovative” discourse and Internet identity, such as Pirate Party or X Party, have been relevant providing organizational ideas, but did not work out obtaining general population votes (X Party obtained 0.64 % at last year European elections). In sum, innovative methods, but popular discourse connected to an agenda of basic common needs.

Top and Down – These organizational processes are neither Top down not Bottom up, but “Top and Down”. Perhaps, more precisely: “A visually recognizable top working for a distributed down“. These forces rely on strong leaders, but also on the raise of a collaborative and free to operate base. A key concept is “overflow”. It refers to the capacity of losing control over the process, and to the freedom to operate in the engagement in the mobilization process. The raising of creativity of actions of support not under the control of the “parties” seems to be a relevant aspect for the success of these processes (this is the case of the movement of graphical liberation around the candidatures). Furthermore, there are not clear boundaries about who is part of the “parties” or who is not, there are not rituals that establish who is part or who is not, but self activation though participation is the way to become part of it. Still leaders have strong presence, their face became one of the key symbols of the process (i.e. the symbol at the voting ballots is not the candidature logo, but the leader face). Visual symbols in the visual Internet, where TV though Internet became again a key channel. Particularly, TV and leadership remains a key channel to engage with popular sectors of population, that early middle class social movements adopters of Internet were not able to connect with. Leaders credibility is built over communication capacity and long social commitment. Candidatures lead by women – not matter their age – (women leaders at main cities such as Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia) are better able to increase vote by transmitting change and having a more democratic leadership style. As Ada Colau Barcelona next major (and originally zapatist put it): “lead by obeying people’s orders”. Leaders positions are based on power “for“ the base, not “over”. In sum, a visually recognizable social leadership, but an uncontrolled distributed form of engagement.

Again, these are just three “impressionist” insights from the current people raising process in Spain. More to come. 2015 is the year of change, so it will continue. Now, time to celebrate. I left you with the “rumba” music of the “run run” singed by our next Barcelona major:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wB6NDWKDyKg

Mayo from Barcelona

Where to put your energies? Evidence on Gender as Collective Intelligence key factor

I have been working or part of many institutions or collective processes. I would say every 2 years I have experienced a new institutional settings at least during the past 15 years. There are institutions who care about the people working on them, who has a soul that connects with yours, and make you feel loved, supported and appreciated. And there are institutions in which the moments of frustration are very frequent, as well as the occasions to feel to be discriminated, or that there is lack of understanding of your values. I would say some of this has to do with the connection with you (and what you represent (being young, women, regarding your origins, etc), but also with the stage of the collective process and the “personality” of the community as a whole. I arrived to the conclusion that gender policy is of great relevance in explaining this, not only regarding women situation, but in setting up the overall community caring framework/personality. However, the importance of gender policy is not pointed out frequently, while the level of resources, or presence of key individuals is to me overrated.

Recently Science and PLOS published a couple of studies (links below) that in certain degree point to similar directions. Groups which are more participative, dialogue oriented and with more women (linked to great empathy capacity) result in higher collective intelligence. Plus, this no matter if the groups engages online or offline.

So, when choosing where to put your energies considering the atmosphere of collective caring and participation, and the gender approach might be good criteria – for everyone not only for women -. Others and you might feel more appreciated and the whole process might be more intelligent and effective.

What others think about these results?

Mayo

Authors reporting at NYT

Studies:

Evidence for a Collective Intelligence Factor in the Performance of Human Groups. By Anita Williams Woolley, Christopher F. Chabris, Alex Pentland, Nada Hashmi, Thomas W. Malone. Science 29 October 2010 http://www.sciencemag.org/content/330/6004/686

Reading the Mind in the Eyes or Reading between the Lines? Theory of Mind Predicts Collective Intelligence Equally Well Online and Face-To-Face. By David Engel, Anita Williams Woolley, Lisa X. Jing, Christopher F. Chabris, Thomas W. Malone. PLOS One Dec 2014 http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0115212