explanation-exploration for the proposed happening-hangout

Our current system favours the talker, the entertainer, the wilful person, the persuader, the extrovert and so on. Although we have come a long way, I am fairly convinced the amount of money that flows to those we really value is not high enough.

I have not heard anyone say anything that is outwith the current economic paradigm that isn’t literally about giving things away for free, eg freecycle, various share movements, and all sparked (at least in the last few decades) by programmers sharing code. But the current system can go on quite happily, money laundering its way through the degradation of the natural world, while a bunch of people “buck” the system. It tolerates sharing within the family, for example; it tolerates a certain amount of political and even economic dissension.

An alternative economics, one based on giving — and yet still using money we use nowadays — will produce a different social effect, which may enabling us to be generous, for example, and to value that which we hold dear to us the most: our loved ones, the environment; listeners, contemplators, quiet, loving, careful, open-minded, equanimous people.

designing the happening-hangout

If such an alternative economy exists, the way to prove it, is to test it. That’s the point of the ‘happening hangout’. So, if we set up the happening hangout to reflect us well, and the moneyflow ends up with those we individually and uniquely value; that is, the facilitators get ‘paid’, and more people want to take part. We need to get a result in one hour. I am going to give the experiment a test run of four happening-hangouts, with the end-goal that we have 1,000 people who are wanting to ‘play’ for £10-hour. That means, we are making a collective decision about £10,000 on a weekly basis.

Is this possible? And if so, how?

The question that may come to my mind is, which way does the money go? Does this sound like an odd question to you? It may be, but can we answer it anyway: does the money go outward or inward? Does it go out to the people who are joining it last, or inwards to the people who host, who have done this before?

Traditionally, money goes to the centre, it centralises to kings, governments, banks, companies. Does this suggest that in our alternative economy the money actually goes outwards to the periphery, branching to more and more people, that it becomes diluted…? If this moneyflow was to ever coallesce again, then it would be done by peripheral individuals redirecting the money to those people who they thought deserved it, people they valued. This, actually, is a variation of the Invitational-Protocol.

I am not sure at what stage we are at in the world, whether we can initiate such an IP with the first happening-hangouts. It may be more sensible to think of it as a trust game where participants are inviting the facilitators to play the game, like inviting a referee to steward a football game. Once an activity is decided on, the moneyflow goes to where it has been decided. The fact that it does indicates the trust we have in the facilitators. It is important that all MTTP flows onwards to other people, and the facilitators never take any out for themselves. Their payment must rely on the consequence of the social result of the event.

parameters of experimentation for ha-ha’s

Imagining a state where happening-hangouts are actively springing up with thousands of players, what will distinguish ha-ha’s will be the different flavours of experimentation, whether they are geo-local, what protocols the facilitators use in their engagement, the overal timing of the hangout, and the external apps used like quora, the direction of money-flow, the ‘objective’ of the ha-ha, and so on.

When inviting a bunch of people to a meal, we want to cater for different tastes. My brother had a rule-of-thumb, relying on a few stable dishes he knew how to cook, and add an experimental dish. A level of experimentation is encouraged for every hangout.

If there are enough of us playing these games, we will hone in on few distinct systems that enable different results in the real world. The important thing is that the feedback loop to determine what works is determined not by thinking, but by social impact. In this way, we do no try to ‘isolate parts’, specific people, specific protocols, specific numbers of people. It is very much a ‘wholeness’, and what solutions we evolve are systemic, not at the level of any individual part.

But this is jumping the gun. We definitely need to produce the first set of ha-ha’s that simply work — as good as, if not better than ‘working’ in a company structure.

phase development of ha^2 as interlocking s-curves

phases as interlocking s-curves

Phase zero is coming up with the idea.

Phase one is sharing it, and seeing what people say, who is interested, feedback, gentle awareness. Conversational. This is the stage we are at now. This attracts potential designers, facilitators and contributors, and is on-going in subsequent phases since the entire process is open.

Phase two is inviting the self-selecting team to design the basic DNA of the first ha^2. Who are into open design? Who independently see value in their vision of what the ha-ha could be? What is the basic DNA of the first ha^2? It’s dealing with the mechanics, the software, as well as provisional design of hangout engagement between facilitators, and so on. This will continue as an iterative cycle of evolution in subsequent phases, but we need to have a provisional first game fit for play.

Phase three is the actual embodied experiment. This will require the designers and the facilitators to commit to one or all of the first run of happening-hangouts. Provisionally, it will be a run of four ha-ha’s.  We will need some people who are connected enough within a network that by their invitation, we get plenty of people to trial the system. We can not enter into this phase unless we have all the necessary players.

Phase four, what to do if it works? In order for us to enable this, the first website design must have a provisional plan for growth. That is, for example, the ability for participants to start hosting their own ha-ha’s and allow their networks to crowd-fund them. This may even involve ‘companies’ at some stage using this platform.


The first phase arose over a few weeks, engagement with people like John Kellden, Gregory Esau, Joris Claeys, Bert-Ola Bergstrand. The second was sparked inadvertently a week ago with Michael Maranda which has led to an open, though not particularly well-crafted, invitation. Some incredible engagements with people, like Alex Gagnon, Alexandre Enkerli, Willi Schroll, Anna Blume, Joe BreskinGrizwald Grim, Susan Cox, and Michael Layne Hartsell. As usual, this is piece-meal. Those who happen upon it, who recommend, who are interested. I will give this period a couple of more weeks. I will be calling for phase two mid-July, and the actual trial to start in August. However, this may all slide since it is summer, so that the experiment is conducted in September. We’ll see, depends on whether there are enough open-designers (which reminds me of meta-designer John Wood) who catch the vibe.

animation of mttp social contract

OK, this is rough, but it is amusing to think that I have actually done this — walked into businesses and presented ideas framed in the MTTP (Money-Time-Trust-Protocol) contract.

At the end of the meeting, the person is usually amazed. They have received a new idea they may use in their business, have had a super-interesting discussion, and they end up with more money than they came with.

I tried this with advertising companies and got very close to money-flow. Nobody I spoke to, however, saw the potential for using this methodology when approaching their potential new clients. Not yet at least. The idea of giving away your ideas seems to go counter ‘pitching’ and competing and owning. Once people get it though, it may turn the business world upside down, just like open-source half-did on the internet. This time, it is in the real world with anything.

fourth iteration — a viable hangout

Coming to the end of the book, and I am fairly certain it is not going to be a big page-turner. I have started to pull together ideas for generating a hangout game show which crosses crowd-sourcing with social impact. Like a social version of kickstarter.

the niche

Currently, someone comes up with an idea or a prototype and they find partners, form a company, seek funding from start-up capital or angel investors or crowd-funding. This fits the competitive model of development.

Many people who are into world change use various online services to gather and share information, from dedicated website, newsletter posts and social media sites. A rising phenomena are ‘conversations’, g+ communities or fb groups curated by a suitably enlightened instigator. Some contributors use the space to connect people, to learn, and then use this information in their offline work, such as consultants. They value these communities, most in the same way we had the ‘water-cooler’ effect in businesses. There is no moneyflow, and yet the space is considered very valuable.

How about producing a hangout show that does both? Here’s a mock-up. An engagement so rich that participants not only reach consensus but commitment to produce a social impact within a short period of time. Social impact is the means by which the hangout is evaluated, and money follows. It allows a network of strangers to make decisions as if they were in charge of a company. It is active use of trust.

the hangout game

Screen Shot 2013-06-28 at 18.23.53

Appropriate a crowd-funding WP site, like the one above. By investing say £10, participants are invited to a hangout game. There are a number of games run at different times and facilitated by different people with different flavours of activity.

The hangout game itself consists of a few facilitators and everyone else watching live. Imagine this is running successfully with 100 people. The name of the game is answering the following question (which is similar to the question in action cycles):

What is the greatest social impact that up to 100 of us do with up to £1000 in the following week?

Participants use quora.com to put in their submissions, and everyone votes up and down the best options. The facilitator’s job is draw attention to those suggestions that may be added late or simply deserve more attention; namely to avoid that phenomenon where the top few listings end up escalating simply because they are highlighted (you know, top videos or articles put at the front of a website like youtube, evident in comments in youtube for example). The trick of the game is to reach consensus and commitment within the hour.

For example, someone may have an idea that could be converted into a kickstarter with a few people’s help. Perhaps within that week a handful of people help turn an idea, or a prototype, into a kick-starter programme and everyone else of the 100 people are the seed funders and recommenders of the project. Perhaps at the end of the following week, the project is funded $80,000. Some of this money is redistributed back to the ‘marketing’ team, the 100 people who participated, say $100 each. That’s a conversion of £10 for entry to $100 return.

Not all projects will have a financial return, but it depends very much on the ‘flavour’ of the hangout game show. Some will be more oriented to getting a financial return, but what matters is how people respond to suggestions that catch their attention enough to add to it, offering their skills, and helping it become a more realistic venture. The point is, we are realising the power of the collective to overcome what halts most of our open source projects — the difficulty of finding followers and securing marketing. Collectively, we have the resources to produce incredible results socially on a regular basis, if we are freed from the usual constraints imposed by company boundaries. Networks working with money flow.

deepening hangouts and ecosquared protocols

Not all the hangouts are in the form of this game. There are others which have a flavour of deepening engagement, learning how to reach consensus faster, how to confront differences and arrive at consilience. These hangouts are run along similar principles, where people who are interested fund the hangout and watch and perhaps participate, from one-to-ones to one-to-many’s, and ideally we will work out protocols to have many-to-many. The objective of these deepening hangouts is to learn what are the protocols which we need to adopt to make best use of our time when we meet collectively on line. Think intense and meaningful. Think of the equivalent to global summits, when potentates meet and need to make decisions about the direction of their governments, or CEOs making decisions as to the direction of their company.

As the fourth iteration of ecosquared, this is an attempt to get real results in the real world. With all our virtuality, our obsession with information and opinion, we do tend to lose the substance. The intention of these hangouts is to bring to the fore what we really value. The ecosquared protocols set up a game where money becomes ‘well-behaved’ mathematically speaking (MTTP), while opening up an economy that is based on subjective enumeration (SEA).

The direction of money is interesting. It appears that participants are paying for a ticket to be able to play the game and the money is going towards the centre, collecting as a ‘capital’. It would be nice to have a gift-it-forward in action, where the money generated from one hangout-game actually is carried over to another. One option is to initiate the Invitation-Protocol where the direction of the moneyflow is outwards. People are invited to play. People are showing trust by inviting people they know to the game-show, and even when they suggest activities to perform over the week, the decision actually hangs on those they have invited. That is, the centre is financially powerless, and the periphery is the collective decision-maker. A good thing for communities.

This may constitute the minimal set-up for us to test the protocols, including SEA, once the system gets up and running. The money that is attracted to the value the network produce, $10k in the example, is distributed by the values that people give one another. Those who contribute more actively are recognised by their peers collectively, and thus end up with more moneyflow. In our example, the team of which produced the video and wrote up the copy for the prototype pitch will naturally end up with more money-flow.

invitation for partners

I am looking for partners to set up the technical system, which looks relatively easy since there are templates for crowd-funding already available, and more importantly seed the game-show with their communities. That is, I am looking for people who would like to host one of these shows.

As a team, our collective input will produce a comprehensively appealing design, as we cover for each other’s blindspots. A team effort will produce a better invitation than this.

Auditions are now open 🙂

p2p economics

The peer-2-peer structure drastically contrasts with standard centralised organisations, and consequently the fundamental practices and underlying methodology of participants. The only reason p2p practices has got as far as it has, arguably, is because of Berners-Lee’s pivotal gift of html and www. For all our talk, it is this new infrastructure that has been instrumental in our social evolution. However, it has been slowly brought into line with the traditional, centralised economic system.


Despite wonderful developments like wikipedia, firefox and linux, p2p requires a supporting economics of its own. Otherwise it will fall back into the attractor of capitalist-monetary-politics as did the so-called movements of the Renaissance, the scientific, industrial  and communist/cultural revolutions. Pundits of the p2p movement may see their best efforts collapse, ironically the same pundits who applaud its successes as measured against their incorporation within the traditional economic system, as business+ (down-scaling and crowd-sourcing) or capitalism 2.0 (micro-finance and alternative currencies). The opportunity for a true p2p economy may pass us by, as new protocols are associated with dubious historical break-outs like the Ponzi scheme and then made subsequently illegal. After all, the legal institution is based on the same methodology as the political, the same as the military and business. The more radical analysts know this hegemony or powerbase, but they decry powerlessly beyond the city walls or from safe enclaves within Universities.

have we learned anything in terms of social organisation?

How have our social dynamics changed in the last few decades? Sadly, people still think of ‘joining’ discrete ‘groups’ to effect change. The internet did not grow that way. With a bit of hardware, some software and a little intention and boom, the internet was made one node larger with your addition. The internet grew, this was its strength. Its boundary was receptive to engagement. Most social movements still rely on joining discrete, bounded groups, and even those movements that are open-source or based on the commons become stagnant with the more established personages, a kind of informal ‘old boys’ network, making it progressively harder for new voices to be heard, apart from the voices of youth when they are backed up with new tech-savvy.

Occupy formed differently, growing at such a rate as it did. But it was far too much too soon. We simply do not have the skills to self-organise at scale. We must first learn to realise the social power between small groups, a handful, before we can even pretend to think we can organise ourselves at larger polities and ultimately at the global level. But such solutions are small-scale and without the security of money-flow, such experiments are limited to all but the tightest like-minded groups.

Money would make things easier — if it was a proper p2p system. Ecological economics proposes a pure p2p protocol. No centralisation, no organisation, no superstructure. It is a god-send, potentially. But we are talking about money here. The stuff we use every day. It is a chronic ‘mental delusion’ and powerfully backed up by all, civilised institutions. Its history goes back further than 3,000 years. To alter its basic DNA is conceptually tricky, but more importantly, it requires a level of engagement that borders on belief, or at least a mind that is familiar with being open. Eco^2 protocols are easy enough for children to use, and yet beyond adult comprehension.

what are the problems that inhibit adoption?

First, the expert-trap. Those who have invested their life time and their personal identities on studying how economics works, may be reluctant to consider all their knowledge is based on the parameters of a specific game. Changing the rules of that game, creates an alternative economics. Their knowledge may have limited use. Few experts have the courage to admit this, and so alternatives are ‘below the radar’, not seen, dismissed.

Second, the success-trap. Those who have proven to be successful in the traditional money-game have little interest in playing another game, especially one which is based on giving rather than taking, collaboration rather than competition, openness rather than closedness. Why consider another game when they are winning the current one? So, alternatives are rejected.

Third, and more damning, the understanding-trap. Most adults want to understand something before they participate in it. However, because we are dealing with a paradigm shift, understanding does not come theoretically but experientially. That is, the methodology to learn about ecological economics is to give it a go, experiment, and see what the results are.

Nevertheless, a group did gather around eco^2 protocols and tried to ‘birth’ the new economic entity a year ago. We failed, so then I approached the front-line of business, advertising agencies, which came  very close but didn’t convert into money-flow. Finally I turned to writing a book, a fictional narrative about how the financial protocols may evolve over the next two decade; not being a writer I am far from confident it shall find a readership.

from understanding to experimentation (or at least the math)

The problem of adoption is less to do with understanding, and more to do with methodology. Children, of course, are primed to try things out. They are familiar with the world of not-understanding, they thrive in the world of experimentation. Most normal people with a little coaxing will give things a go. Experts, or world-changers, are paradoxically the worst to give things a go because they are committed to certain theories and practices. Because they must contend with being outsiders to the system, they exhibit the same quality of exaggeration that expatriates do when in a foreign land.

I will continue to work out what the minimal set-up could be for the protocols to take off, which currently is taking shape as a hangout show. It would be useful to get serious engagement of ecosquared in order to get validation mathematically. This hasn’t happened so far though I have started to get more in-depth engagement with people like Willi Schroll and Michael Maranda which has a chance of verging into the mathematical domain, and I am looking forward to a conversation with Tiberius of the p2p Foundation network later this week (see slide-show at Sensorica for a good overview of what Tiberius is up to). Talking about things only enters into a word-game at which I am definitely ill-matched, and indeed contravenes the methodology of direct primary experience — but there is a chance of getting validation mathematically, especially with the Subjective-Enumeration-Algorithm. And as a fall back option, I have the book which will take years to percolate through the system if at all.

Michel lived in the wilderness for years with p2p. My journey has not been as long and I am no Michel, but if ever we find ecosquared protocols or those like them find wide-spread use, then hopefully the living edge of our culture shall be in the state of receptivity. If p2p fulfils its promise, each one of us is responsible for the receptivity of humanity, whether welcoming children into adulthood or listening to the unique insight of those approaching the ending of their lives. The real test is that we are equally receptive to the innocence of youth as to the wisdom of age, not to mention the abundance of the natural world and the nurturing care of motherhood, aspects which our current economics simply pays lip-service to. We need a more human economy, one based on person-to-person trust.