[Noisebridge-discuss] Keeping associate members in their place

Danny O'Brien danny at spesh.com
Thu Dec 19 05:34:43 UTC 2013

On Wed, Dec 18, 2013 at 8:18 PM, Al Sweigart <asweigart at gmail.com> wrote:
> Every other time I've proposed this? I've never proposed this before, Danny.
> And checking the Consensus Items History wiki page which goes back three
> years, no one else has either.

You got me! I sort of meant more "proposed" in the sense of talking a
lot about how consensus is the death knell of Noisebridge.

You also stood for the board on the platform that you thought the
board should do things (as opposed to the default board position,
which is to cede its power to the meeting's consensus). I have always
seen you as the main proponent of solutions to Noisebridge that
involve doing everything the way everyone else does it. i hope that's
flattering rather than damning.

> People have been grumbling about consensus for a long time, but no one has
> ever actually brought up the issue.
> I did write one email to you and Mitch and couple others like two years ago
> about this, and you replied that you didn't think getting rid of consensus
> would solve any of Noisebridge's problem.
> Actually, I'm still unsure what
> your position on this is to begin with: Would you yourself block replacing
> consensus with majority voting?

Christ, I don't know. Maybe? Like I said earlier, I'd rather
Noisebridge try some other radical experimental system instead of just
doing what everybody else does. I'd rather we had some mad condorcet
voting system tied to liquid democracy with a future's market
denominated in bitcoins than Robert's Rules of Order. My interest in
Noisebridge is to hack on interesting things, and that includes its
operational structure.

One of the things I like about Noisebridge's current set-up is that it
attracts all the political dweebs like me and Tom and you and Johny
Radio, who would otherwise potentially turn it into some sort of of
high-school debating society, and ties them so much in consensus-based
knots that they can't get anything rule-based done  apart from honk on
to each other at Meeting -- in theory leaving everyone else to just
hack, and maintain the place. The *theory* is that this encourages
everyone else (like to do-acractically do whatever they want, without
suddenly the political dweebs coming down from on high and going "uhh
excuse me I don't think you've filled in the lasercutting chit form
32ZB! Membership demerit point!"

I think people like Jim and Maestro would say that our current system
hasn't really been effective enough at preventing that from happening,
so I don't know. I don't see your current proposal as fixing *that*
problem, or even seeing it as a problem, opening up the risk that  you
would end up with the election of the board going to a bunch of
political dweebs who would also be too asocially dysfunctional to
*not* put in a bunch of overarching rules, but maybe I'm wrong about
that. I also note that every time we've set up anything like a power
structure like the redshirts or the rooster brigade, the creepy people
that everyone else is freaked by make an absolute beeline for it, and
I'm a little worried about that too. The intersection of "people who
like alternative hackerspaces" and "people who think they might be
quite good at running things" seems me much more full of
organizational incompetence and creepiness than in other sectors.

Again I guess I would prefer to experiment with something more
hackerish before putting on our grown-up NGO trousers.

Also, to be consistent with what I told you a million years ago, I see
fixing consensus as being a distraction from the main challenge, which
is shifting the present culture from being a dark mildly smelly room
full of slightly shifty looking unshaven young men reading youtube
between naps and stealing copper, to a laughing clean space cubicle
full of people riding robot unicorns showing each other the wonders of
the 21st century.

In conclusion, as I said in the meeting, I would not be the last
holdout on a consensus proposal to remove consensus. That therefore
makes my opinion, like everyone apart from the voter who shifts a
majority, rather irrelevant. It's other people you have to convince.
(And I do mean convince, as opposed to "write them an email saying BUT
WILL YOU BLOCK" and then bemoaning their intransigence when they say


> On Wed, Dec 18, 2013 at 7:58 PM, Danny O'Brien <danny at spesh.com> wrote:
>> On Wed, Dec 18, 2013 at 7:06 PM, Al Sweigart <asweigart at gmail.com> wrote:
>> > It's in the meeting notes:
>> > https://noisebridge.net/wiki/Meeting_Notes_2013_12_17
>> >
>> > Basically, Danny blocks because other people would block. Kevin blocks
>> > because Noisebridge is a collaborative space and majority voting would
>> > undo
>> > or impinge on that. I encourage them (or anyone else) to correct this
>> > description, but it's what I came away from the meeting with. (And, of
>> > course, if Danny and Kevin don't have time to reply to the list, that
>> > doesn't mean they implicitly agree with my description.)
>> >
>> Al, I didn't block. It's the first week. You can't block then. You're
>> just supposed to mull things around a bit, and chew a hay stalk while
>> you do so. I am, however, allowed to express my opinion that this
>> would not go anywhere. I may be wrong.
>> > The "other people who would block" I can only take a guess at, and half
>> > of
>> > them aren't even living in SF anymore. If I try to read people's minds
>> > about
>> > this issue I'm going to fail; I'd rather have them chime in on the
>> > mailing
>> > list or show up at a meeting if they have strong feelings about this.
>> Maybe a good way of finding out people's feelings is by going through
>> the mailing list and reading people's replies every other time you've
>> proposed this?
>> d.
>> >
>> > -Al
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> > On Wed, Dec 18, 2013 at 6:49 PM, Rubin Abdi <rubin at starset.net> wrote:
>> >>
>> >> Al Sweigart wrote, On 2013-12-18 18:44:
>> >> > The most common tactic in Noisebridge politics is to get people to
>> >> > stop
>> >> > speaking up about issues.
>> >>
>> >> Then that sounds like an entirely different issue that needs attention.
>> >> Don't cut off the finger when all that is needed is a bandage.
>> >>
>> >> If I were you I would call out those members.
>> >>
>> >> --
>> >> Rubin
>> >> rubin at starset.net
>> >>
>> >
>> >
>> > _______________________________________________
>> > Noisebridge-discuss mailing list
>> > Noisebridge-discuss at lists.noisebridge.net
>> > https://www.noisebridge.net/mailman/listinfo/noisebridge-discuss
>> >

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