[Noisebridge-discuss] In Defense of Consensus

Naomi Most pnaomi at gmail.com
Thu Mar 27 21:39:08 UTC 2014

Thank you for all of this, Matt.

You and I agree about 99%.  The part where we diverge is what Johny
brought up: that it would be nice if things could Just Get Fixed.

I submit that we have a minor scaling problem (things get broken and
it's very hard to hold anyone responsible, toilet paper is out, people
are sleeping in the space, etc).

We can solve these problems by assigning the elected board with
certain power and responsibilities that fill in these "tragedy of the
commons" types of gaps.

But this minor scaling problem has been escalated in importance to an
"OMG EVERYTHING IS ON FIRE" problem in which, suddenly, we need to
have an authoritarian oligarchy.

The majority of the board is now wasting no time in claiming powers
that override the membership in every possible way, and which assign
to the membership a merely symbolic gesture of deciding its own fate.
Because if the board can always decide, by fiat, to rewrite everything
about how Noisebridge works, what real power does the membership have?

We should be getting on to fixing the oscilloscopes.


On Thu, Mar 27, 2014 at 2:03 PM, Matthew Senate <mattsenate at gmail.com> wrote:
> First and very important: What is "Noisebridge"? What is "Sudo Room"? What
> is a community? Is it the same as the mandated corporate structure that
> allows one to receive certain designated benefits and constraints from the
> state as a corporate entity or for that matter a non-profit corporation or
> further a 501(c)3 or other specific form of education-focused or similar
> federal tax-exempt entity? Or does this corporate entity exist in order to
> protect a community from liability? What is a "mission" versus a dynamic,
> reinventing, practical reality grounded in interpersonal interactions,
> physical infrastructure, social webs, cultural protocol, documentation,
> bureaucracy (both good and bad), institutional knowledge, etc? Is every
> action grounded in some abstract "mission" or does the "mission" rather try
> to capture and explain to particular audiences what a community is generally
> about that could never really fully be captured?
> Also critical: Why was the Noisebridge mission written? Why were the By-Laws
> made, and the board of directors formed? I can tell you that the board
> exists because it was a hack--a necessary hack in order to continue existing
> in the current dominant system. To incorporate. To file paper work. To
> become a federal 501(c)3. There are benefits, and there are costs, risks,
> liabilities, protections, opportunities. Trade-offs. Sudo Room is using this
> hack too given the constraints and the current state of affairs. There are
> other options, but we've chosen this path and are accepting the risks, with
> resolve to counter negative effects.
> Your responses are provocative along several very different assumptions
> about my arguments, fun! Perhaps you should read sudo room's Articles of
> Association first and get back to me after that:
> https://sudoroom.org/wiki/Articles_of_Association Especially read our values
> section, including "do-ocracy over bureaucracy" pasted below as well.
> Any participant who contributed to breaking an oscilloscope should be held
> accountable and there should be an easy system to replace infrastructure
> speedly--not everything needs to be a centralized decision. Purchase order
> wiki page? Reimbursements for low-cost items? Internal insurance process for
> high-cost items? However, in my opinion, for those things that could not
> easily be sorted on their own, if all else fails, an ultimately democratic
> consensus process should be used.
> sudo room is an open, collaborative community of creators and practitioners
> working toward positive social change. sudo room chooses to:
> Value open, public discourses over closed, proprietary processes.
> Value access and transparency over exclusivity.
> Value solving real problems over hypotheticals, while respecting visions of
> the future.
> Value community and collaboration over isolation and competition.
> Value human judgment over automation and efficiency.
> Value do-ocracy over bureaucracy.
> Value safe space over ideology.
> On Thu, Mar 27, 2014 at 1:35 PM, Johny Radio <johnyradio at gmail.com> wrote:
>> ------ Original Message ------
>> From: "Matthew Senate" <mattsenate at gmail.com>
>> By making decisions more "effective", I mean hacks to more accurately
>> represent the interests and sentiments of the individual participants
>> I think you're saying that your priority is to make sure everyone has a
>> "voice". For me, effective means creating a project that fulfills it's
>> Mission. If NB's Mission is to provide technical infrastructure, and it
>> fails at that, then the process is not "effective"-- even if everyone has a
>> "voice."
>> Otherwise decisions can be hasty, rough around the edges, and misfitting.
>> Well, we already have "rough around the edges, and misfitting" at
>> Noisebridge-- if we're talking about technical infrastructure. I sense you
>> don't much care about that.
>> I personally contend that efficiency and speed are not always the most
>> important aspect of a decision-making process
>> i contend that if an oscilloscope is broken, i'm very comfortable
>> delegating the authority to get it fixed or replaced to someone else. I
>> don't need a "voice" in that. What i need is an oscilloscope.
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Naomi Theora Most
naomi at nthmost.com

skype: nthmost


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