DIsCO Governance Reading List and Inspirations

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This is a non-exhaustive list of the many influences leading to the DisCO Governance Model(s).

The first version of this list was compiled in 2018 as part of Guerrilla Media Collective Governance Model. It has since been added to, with the bibliographies from the DisCO Manifesto and DisCO Elements.

Apart from their influence on DisCO governance and values, these articles, papers and videos also explore some of the tensions we have tried to reconcile: between metrics and the immeasurable, system design and lived experience, and productive and reproductive work.

DisCO Governance is anything but static, so this is a living list reflecting our own reflections and influences. Although some of these are more reflective of the DisCO Mothership's work, there is no hard fast distinction between DisCO-generated and "outside" materials. To us they are all part of a growing knowledge commons on Distributed Cooperativism.

How to use this page

The following list will lead you to articles, books and other resources relavant to DisCO Governance. Each entry contains the following information:

  • Direct link to the resource in question
  • Authorship (with a link)
  • Aditional info, inc.
    • Type of resource (article, research paper, book, video, etc)
    • Length and reading time (only for articles, videos and podcasts, not papers or books)
    • Whether it's an direct DisCO Mothership (MS) or Extended Community (EC) resource
  • A short description or extract from the resource in question

Suggested Reading List

The current order for the reading list is exploratory and continually in flux.


Punk Elegance: How Guerrilla Translation reimagined itself for Open Cooperativism

A summary article of Guerrilla Translation's GT Reloaded event in 2018. It documents the main discussions and takeaways from the encounter, where the GT team and a group of experts in governance picked apart and reimagined the governance model.

"The future of the project seems really bright because of the clarity of vision. Doing meaningful social and political work for groups and projects isn't just an afterthought. The determination to build that into the org structure speaks volumes to the wisdom of the group: that investment of time is powerful, that translators and editors should be able to openly do passion work, following their hearts together, and that collective prioritization teaches everyone involved, and nurtures and hones shared values."

See also the Guerrilla Translation Reloaded Full Workshop Report for a more detailed account.

Patterns for Decentralised Governance and why Blockchain Doesn't Decentralise Power... Unless You Design It To'

"There is a lot of anticipation for how blockchain and other decentralising technologies are going to drastically reshape society, but do they address power? "If you take a step back from the technology, if you look at the challenges we face in wider society, and you look at the history of social change, if you step back and just consider for a minute: “how can we decentralise power?”, then “build a better database” feels like a pretty weak answer. To me, it seems obvious that some of the most urgent power imbalances fall on gender, race, and class lines."

Patterns for Decentralised Organising

"I’m not so interested in what you’re working on together, I’m just going to focus on how you do it. To my way of thinking, it doesn’t matter if you’re trying to build a better electric vehicle, or develop government policy, or blockade a pipeline; whenever you work with a group of people on a shared objective, there’s some stuff you’re going to deal with, some challenges. How do we decide what we’re working on? who does what? who can join our team? what are our expectations for each other? what happens when someone doesn’t fulfill those expectations? what do we do with disagreement? how do decisions get made?"

The Financialization of Life

"Do we want everything in life to be a transaction, as the market totalitarians propose? Or do we want to be citizen-commoners, co-creating shared value in freely associating communities? These differences matter, and Salvatore Iaconesi has written a brilliant analysis of the potential dangers of uncritically applying the blockchain to human life."

Re-imagining Value: Insights from the Care Economy, Commons, Cyberspace and Nature

"What is "value" and how shall we protect it? It's a simple question for which we don't have a satisfactory answer. For conventional economists and politicians, the answer is simple: value is essentially the same as price. This report explains that how we define value says a lot about what we care about and how we make sense of things — and the political agendas we pursue."

There is an alternative: participatory economics

In this interview, Michael Albert — co-founder of Znet — reflects on the vision of participatory economics, and how it could take us beyond capitalism.

"For the Occupy movements, and for other projects and movements which are rousing and continuing all around the world, to all together merge into a massive project that is truly oriented to engender a classless, feminist, inter-communalist, participatory future — I think their membership will have to be in command, not some elite at the helm. And I think those memberships will have to know the broad defining attributes of where they are trying to go, so they use tactics and strategies consistent with getting there."

From Platform to Open Cooperativism

"Two cooperative movements are important in this discussion: Platform Cooperativism, and Open Cooperativism. One may be more publicly visible right now, but they have much in common. These movements marry the power of digital networks with the rich history of the cooperative movement. How do these approaches compare? Are they redundant, complementary, mutually exclusive? What exact problems do they solve, and what outcome do they seek? In this article, we explain their origins and characteristics, and see how the actions proposed by these movements can work together, helping us form resilient livelihoods in our networked age."

Why do we need a contribution accounting system?

"With the advent of the Internet and the development of new digital technologies, the economy is following a trend of decentralization. The most innovative environments are open source communities and peer production is on the rise. The crowd innovates and produces. But the crowd is organized in loose networks, it is geographically dispersed, and contributions to projects follow a long tail distribution. What are the possible reward mechanisms in this new economy?"

Blockchain technology: toward a decentralized governance of digital platforms?

"In the same way, blockchain technology has enabled the emergence of new projects and initiatives designed around to the principles of decentralization and disintermediation, providing a new platform for large-scale experimentation in the design of new economic and organisational structures. Yet, to be really transformative, these initiatives need to transcend the current models of protocol-based governance and game-theoretical incentives, which can easily be co-opted by powerful actors, and come up with new governance models combining both on-chain and off-chain governance rules. The former can be used to support new mechanisms of regulation by code, novel incentivization schemes and a new sense of ownership over digital assets, whereas the latter are necessary to promote the vision, and facilitate the interaction of commons-based projects and initiatives with the existing legal and societal framework."

Holo: The evolution of cloud computing

"This is an attempt to communicate Holo in simple, clear language (with a bit of playfulness to keep it entertaining)"

Here's A Futurist's View on Holochain, The Evolution Of Blockchain, (video), an easy to understand video walk-through on Holo's architecture and potential.

Blockchain Just Isn't As Radical As You Want It To Be

"Today, Silicon Valley appropriates so many of the ideas of the left —anarchism, mobility, and cooperation— even limited forms of welfare. This can create the sense that technical fixes like the blockchain are part of some broader shift to a post-capitalist society, when this shift has not taken place. Indeed, the blockchain applications that are really gaining traction are those developed by large banks in collaboration with tech startups — applications to build private blockchains for greater asset management or automatic credit clearing between banks, or to allow cultural industries to combat piracy in a distributed network and manage the sale and ownership of digital goods more efficiently."