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Reviving the Collective idea – from a free software community

In 2008 I came across Drupal in several ways, while working for Hyves I came across a highly intelligent guy telling me about how it’s possible to build websites without coding. Then after I quit that day job we were picked up by a guy running a small Drupal shop in Ghent while hitchhiking to Sweden.

In the meanwhile I’ve built tons of Drupal sites, and some CiviCRM sites. Now I’m very happy to see the idea of collectives show up in another part of my life: folks at a Massachusetts based Drupal consulting company are proposing to set up Drupal Work Collectives.

The Drupal commune would be open to whomever wanted to come join in for a period of time and help advance the cause. Every member of the community would provide a special skillset to the team, be it coding, theming, graphic design or documentation. Some people could be permanent residents at such places and others could come and go based on work available and projects being worked on. Of course at first, we think it would have to start as more of a couch-surfing type thing. People who have the space can offer it up, recruit and house a few drupalistas for the duration of a project, like contributed work, or payed client work. From there, teams could assemble all around the world, do the necessary work, and do it better than they could alone, all while being able to enjoy and explore the world. Then disband, these communes or colonies don’t have to be permanent, although that is the eventual goal.

I’m looking forward to participate!

6 Responses to “Reviving the Collective idea – from a free software community”

  • Yes it makes a lot of sense! I started organising something similar in barcelona, a couple of years back, but the recession took peoples focus away. I think this sort of thing is possible in CS, in any city or big town and desperately needed!

    I can give you some servers, you can get a sub domain on and get a CS drupal project started and supliment the CS online experiance?

    I think this describes the final destination that CSI ‘gestured’ in with the move to disband the collectives and even base camp. It would be great to see this type of community involvement in CSI, especially as i have talked about this approach before. Supporting, where such collectives and hackfests, can create benefit for the community and not just a few american egos. I strongly believe that the CSC project is the only way we will ever see large scale input from and for the community.

    There is no structure in CSI, for such a dynamic operation and i would not recommend anyone to donate anything to a dubious charity, with no accountability to anybody, evidently even state justice departments. Should i mention the NDA? Not to mention ownership. Who knows how much human effort, have already been wasted by the royal family, let alone, the 2+ million dollars, taken in the last few years or even just in the last twelve months, if some reports are to be believed.

    Fundamental top to bottom reform of CSI is needed, before it is capable of supporting, benefiting and interacting with the community, in such a way, as well as avoiding worrying, negative legal, moral and financial situations.

    Let me know if that server is any good for you. Maybe do something for the community local to you and or a specific community project for the whole community.

    Enjoy Participating!

  • I think this description of the Drupal commune is what CS intended to become, and could still become with folks like you, Kasper, and Tim…but the intrinsic assumption that anyone who shows up will be valuable as a contributing member, and not a parasitic wannabe, is problematic.

    There needs to be some way of vetting the folk who would live and work in the commune prior to their arrival…which was the undoing of the CS collective model: the vision of an open worksite with people sharing, exploring, living and creating together…collided with the reality of petty fighting, jealousy, egos, poverty, drug use, territoriality, slackerism, lack of accountability or professionalism.


    • “I think this description of the Drupal commune is what CS intended to become” Based on what? I’m interested in a serious answer. What, in concrete terms is there to think this was then intended direction?

      “, and could still become with folks like you, Kasper, and Tim”
      well it is not from a want of trying!! We have both been given a great deal of time and energy. And you know CSI have told me that if i try and communicate or co-operate with them, they will delete my profile. You make it sound like it is kasper an me, who obstruct, our helping the community!

      “the intrinsic assumption that anyone who shows up will be valuable as a contributing member, and not a parasitic wannabe” … in my experience is valid, on the whole. Especially in a tech rich community like ours. I do not believe in labelling people, especially with a dehumanising, negative one like, “parasitic wannabe”. We are each a unique answer to the question of life and i don’t believe that anyone can, fail, to be a valuable contributing member, if that’s what they wanabe. Wanabes are motivated! They wana do something. Cool, I can work with that. If they can learn something then that’s even better. :) Leave the “problem”s, to the problem solvers. ;)

      “There needs to be some way of vetting the folk who would live and work in the commune prior to their arrival” Its not a kibbutz or an eco friendly, self sustaining, vegan, hippy commune, although no reason why it couldn’t be. It seemed like the intention was more like a loose collective, distributed amongst multiple locations, within a local geographical area, but equally anywhere on the globe potentially, or more precisely anywhere on the internet. This is the area that CS have hinted they are going in, but i have seen zero evidence for it. I think this hint was more just cover for going further into hiding, not needing a fixed address.
      With regional based loose collectives you are using existing natural groups of skilled and able individuals, who are self sustaining, by leading a normal life and contributing say 10 hours a week to one or more projects. This sort of thing can never happen in CSI until casey lets go of blankie and is brave enough to realise that CS has gone off into the real world and to just accept it and not sitting there sulking, not letting anyone else play with ‘His’ toys.

      I’m going to edit your words on this next one
      “which was the undoing of the CS collective model: … lack of professionalism”!!
      Running any organisation of any size like a tree house club, will fail! Even just running a tree house can be complicated enough. But in the real world, we would like to expect some maturity, understanding and professionalism from an organisation, with 2 million members, worldwide. Maybe even, just the basics for legally forming and running a complete organisation?

      CSI have behaved and acted with a mental age of about 9+3/4, so it is no wonder you feel you need to mum them. Your post sounds like it could be to a group of children or young teens. But momma, this ain’t no business for kiddies. Accepting their immaturity and playing to it, is not the answer or they will never grow up! These people are old enough to be parents themselves and maybe even are! You are doing them and the community, a disservice by allowing them to maintain their childlike sulk. I think, if they don’t come out from under the stairs and play with the other children like normal boys and girls, soon, momma is going to have to get all dusty and go in there and drag them out by their arm, put them across her knee and give them a good spanking! And you know how mad momma gets, when she has to get all dusty! So com’on out now children! Ok?!

      Professionalism, is not about nice watch and shiny shoes, it about getting the job done, quickly and efficiently and then getting down the pub or even better, the beach.

      The undoing of the collectives and the whole organisation, from what i can see has been a complete lack of direction from ‘our leader’(ROFL SMSL PMSL Oh please! Someone call a doctor!) combined with not allowing anyone else to lead. In fact shooting a good many great leaders and doers, precisely for taking charge and perceived by the great bringer of unoriginal ideas, as a threat and sent for a quick cs re-education! This is where you will find the undoing.

      Sod balance! “go over to the window, open it, stick your head out and shout ‘I’m mad as hell and i aint gona take it anymore!’!”!

      Finally. I just want to acknowledge the random irony and contrast of “it would have to start as more of a couch-surfing type thing” the universe is a beautiful, complicated, place.


      2+2=4 !

  • Along with the comments on group dynamics and “how and who input what” into the project vs. what is produced… stumbled upon this link recently, and though it’s not exactly the same topic, I thought it was still very interesting.

    The similarity being, that with “open groups” you can also have the problem of the raft taking on too many bodies that don’t help keep it afloat, but instead only push it farther down into the waves, consume more of the food, etc.

  • thank you so much for sharing this interesting blog, BB:

    I like the idea that quality can form its own form of gated elitism…as in the spelling and 3-hour discussion examples….and help slow the socially deadly evaporative cooling trend. I’m psyched to share this link with members on the Brainstorm~Redefined group; thanks.

  • Yes, thank you from me also. It is a very interesting ‘warren’.

    It is refreshing to read such an intelligent view on such a key dynamic of social networks. Whilst much of the demographic of the discussed networks and not reprehensive of most networks, the concept seems fairly obvious and preventable.

    I feel that gating is a useful way to filter the memberbase, but i feel that on a project like CS needs to be open to everyone. Openness is after all, part of the essence of hospitality. But an understanding of this effect can reduce it and any negative impact on a community.

    I feel this topic could really could do with its own thread, as there are many interesting points in the related pages.

    To come back to topic. I love the idea of a dedicated site for productive creative activities. I like the depicted building. I wish them luck with this dream. with CS’s history, i think costly collectives, should be avoided, in favour of a more distributed model.

    And finally, a topic branch. I am not too familiar with Drupal, although i understand its principles. I would be interested in what possibilities Drupal could offer the Couch Surfing Community Project.

    Will a Drupal based site scale well?

    Is a very large site practical on Drupal? In terms of maintainability and modifications.

    What level of interoperability is possible with other non drupal systems, ie other sites?

    I have started to think about the structure of the CSC site and planning the initial sub projects and feel that Drupal may be a good candidate for the core site. I will start a threat in CSC technology, when I get a chance and welcome your views. If you want to start one on this subject, before i can get round to it, please do so.

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