Analysis of the communication workflows and tools of the degrowth network
*A document to support evaluation and decision on the ICT at the Support Group Meeting in Paris*
## Main issues identified
1. **Duplication of channels**
Different mailing lists, web sites, discourse groups and other informal channels separate participants in the degrowth communities into informational silos.
2. **Unclear entry points**
degrowth.info has a prominent **Groups** link that goes to [a page about the **map**](https://www.degrowth.info/en/map/). Groups are visible behind one of its links.
They are presented as [International working **groups** | degrowth.info](https://www.degrowth.info/en/groups/). The list is passive, incomplete and not up to date.
3. **Uncoordinated digital participation**
Multiple groups publish degrowth subjects to target audiences online, e.g. degrowth.info, degrowth.net and degrowth.org, but do not coordinate their actions.
4. **Unstructured survey, mapping and working groups**
produce parallel and disconnected forms that produce more confusion than clarity.
5. **Neoliberalised software development processes**
are reduced to project and product narratives, and lack patience to be thought in a holistic way for inclusion of community, scientific or engineering knowledge.
6. **Static dissemination strategies**
used for digital publication and communication do not distinguish between one-to-many (top-down) and many-to-many (bottom-up) distribution channels, which an interactive medium provides. This implies uncontrolled growth of information architectures.
## Proposed actions
To increase participation, direct and clear entry points are encouraged.
These proposals aim at answering the issues above. Please refer to the case studies below for analysis and rationale of these resolution paths.
### :one: rename [Agora](https://agora.degrowth.net/) to [Groups](https://groups.degrowth.net) and move groups one level up
The site agora.degrowth.net is primarily used for working groups. Those can also be reached with `@groups.degrowth.net` email aliases. For simplification, the whole site can be renamed to groups.degrowth.net - try it out now!
This would be a much less pathetic, but much more functional approach to naming things. A permanent redirect may solidify conditions in the near future.
### :two: improve UX for interacting with the community
The community understands itself as self-moderated and provides distinct communication spaces for exchange and coordination. Suggested main improvements are:
- Provide a more friendly and inviting degrowth.net entrance page that is primarily guiding the user to the entry points with the community, not to its tools.
- Provide a comprehensive, simple, and unambiguous description of what is the network, which groups exist, where and how people can join, both on degrowth.info/groups and degrowth.net
For Agora/Groups this means:
- Set groups to (semi-)public so users can join freely, e.g. via [the groups overview](https://agora.degrowth.net/groups), or a group's page.
- Group and Category pages are actively curated, with description texts and images.
Good examples to structure a public discourse:
* [Open Source Circular Economy Days](https://community.oscedays.org/)
* [Open Knowledge Forums](https://discuss.okfn.org/)
* [Nextcloud community](https://help.nextcloud.com/)
* [Mozilla Discourse](https://discourse.mozilla.org/)
### :three: Publish and communicate through [events](https://agora.degrowth.net/c/events)
The groups space is a place to do work, not to talk about work. We coordinate our interactions in time and space. Publishing events in your working group helps people find you and your peers. They come with
- an [agenda](https://agora.degrowth.net/c/events/l/agenda) view
- an *optional* calendar view
- allows subscription of calendars via webcal, RSS into calendar applications, e.g. in the cloud
- a [map](https://agora.degrowth.net/c/events/l/map) view for locations
### :four: Publish and communicate about [realities](https://agora.degrowth.net/c/realities)
This can help to reduce the confusion between what is the mapping of realities and are the groups. What happens currently in the presentations on the map process on degrowth.info. It works similar to the events above and displays a [map](https://agora.degrowth.net/c/realities/l/map).
The points :three: and :four: can be supported by using *wiki posts*, *tagging* and *topic templates* to attempt a semi-structured, participatory survey.
## Case studies
### I 09.01.2019
After facts had been produced, [question regading a website on degrowth.info](https://agora.degrowth.net/t/question-regading-a-website-on-degrowth-info/178) arose around **communicating the Global Degrowth Day and Picnick**. With sensibility to open data, the use of Google for mapping was criticised and OpenStreetMap alternatives asked.
Another blog and another map were set up in commercial infrastructure (`.wordpress.com`, `google.com`) plus another degrowth.info page and another survey were designed, all which increase the commercial dependance, diversity and disconnectedness of degrowth presentations.
- [Global Degrowth Day – Good Life for All | degrowth.info](https://www.degrowth.info/en/globalday/)
- [Participate | degrowth.info](https://www.degrowth.info/en/globalday/participate/)
- [Picnic 4 Degrowth Map | Picnic 4 Degrowth](https://picnic4degrowth.wordpress.com/picnic-4-degrowth-map/)
### II 21.12.2018
We refocus our view along these directions:
[quote="yala, post:1, topic:169"]
* Which are the exchange needs that :busts_in_silhouette: individual users and :busts_in_silhouette: user groups bring into the conversation?
* How can we as users and need-providers in the same time make use of an interactive medium in which communication happens bi-directionally, where participants in the exchange do not only consume :repeat:, but also contribute :repeat: at the same time?
* What are the means :building_construction: available to provide a consistent experience for users?
and reenforce the understanding of the need to cross-polute political with media activism, as we read in the degrowth.info [Reflections on "Bits & Bäume" (Bits and trees)](https://agora.degrowth.net/t/a-conference-for-digitalization-and-sustainability-reflections-on-bits-baume-bits-and-trees/167).
We find the difference between degrowth.info/map and degrowth.info/groups and begin to ask questions about the usefulness of their presentation. Subsequently we provide a transparent view on still unused publication and education channels, reflect upon the agora./groups. duality and suggest simplifications derived from these observations.
* [Networking between different Degrowth groups - Group Assembly Process / Communication & Networking - Degrowth Agora](https://agora.degrowth.net/t/networking-between-different-degrowth-groups/169)
* [Next up on degrowth.net for early 2019 - Group Assembly Process / Communication & Networking - Degrowth Agora](https://agora.degrowth.net/t/next-up-on-degrowth-net-for-early-2019/170)
### III 20.12.2018, 22:34 CET
This email message referred to a series of messages
and marks a point in time of diverging off topic strings of the original conversation.
It was used to coordinate around **Building page of working groups on degrowth.info**, yet this may have failed and diverged into other subjects.
Next to bringing up detail observations and questions about the groups process, the map survey and means of participation with degrowth.info, its main argument was that email alone is not a useful medium for coordinating low hierarchies. Already the choice of recipients is a mean of power, and a single person is easily forgotten to be included.
### IV 22.08.2018
This analysis discusses the layout of [existing degrowth online communication channels](https://hack.allmende.io/s/degrowth-2018-gap-communication-and-networking#Existing-sitesdomains). It is the first group meeting about *communication & networking* and subsumes small [design principles](https://hack.allmende.io/s/degrowth-2018-gap-communication-and-networking#Design-principles) under an overarching aim:
> Increase horizontal collaboration between different degrowth groups