Recalibration

Preface

I don’t want anyone to be alarmed because of the length of this (forgive me lol). While it was/is sparked by exchanges in the forum the other week, it is not only about that, but broader issues I’ve felt in/with Resonate for some time as well.

I also want to say, I would imagine some are going to have feelings about me expressing some of what is here given my lack of activity, consistency, and/or involvement with Resonate recently, but with periodic swing-backs that perhaps come across as inconsiderate or ill-informed. I hope to (through this writing) more clearly articulate to people 1) what I am shouldering currently as one person (so that people can truly understand and empathize with my limits despite my desire to see this project succeed; if I could clone myself multiple times, one of these clones would be involved with Resonate directly full time, but I can’t do this), and 2) how I can best relate to what’s going on with Resonate based off of the (in my opinion, crucially related) work I’m doing elsewhere, and without getting in the way, but while also being understood and trusted as it relates to discussion around any opportunities I may be bringing or offering to this organization with others.

Again, this is a particularly long writing (text?) because I am trying to address a backlog of issues I see and feel at once, and in an important/crucial moment for the co-op that I feel calls for it. And I invite any and all feedback (here, or through private channels).

Brevity can be my strong suit, but not when I feel like there are social tensions lying dormant and/or being avoided within social spaces I am connected to or actively in. I feel like there was some honest and understandable misunderstanding around the Digital Zion conversation being started in a DSP meeting the other week, but expression of this misunderstanding, to me, has revealed some deeper issues around the power dynamics (and organizational processes) at play within Resonate. I also think this misunderstanding is directly tied to a cultural disconnect I’ve felt within Resonate since (basically) the very beginning.

Understanding that misunderstanding is a normal part of democratic and cooperative process, is unavoidable to a certain degree, and that I also have not been as involved in Resonate happenings within this last year or so (so I may be introducing redundancies with some of my thoughts and not know what I’m talking about; for that, I apologize in advance)…

I’d still like to be frank and “difficult” (instead of silent and “easy”) here and say that I initially wasn’t going to respond to anything in the thread from the other week, because I have very little time and energy these days (stretched thin between maybe 7 organizations now), and it honestly frustrated me. To the point that my instinct was (and is) to – for the sake of the future of this entire co-op effort, and my own relationship to this effort, now and in the future – propose that everyone here (or reading these exchanges) maybe pause conversations around all of the technical and “procedural” aspects of what we are discussing at the moment, and zoom out for collective recalibration around at least three points:

1) History.

2) Intention.

3) Culture.

I’m not sure how other people interpreted the back and forth about Digital Zion in the forum the other week, but it largely felt like (to me) an expression of not only remaining misunderstandings and miscommunication, but assumptions as well (on all sides, including the 400M one). I have thoughts related to this that I do not want to sweep under the rug for convenience purposes.

I’ve broken this thing up into three (big) parts, with Part 1 adding to clarifications from both @richjensen and @replygirl in the Digital Zion thread (please feel free to SKIP this if you already feel you have a sense of what this effort comes out of and is about), Part 2 getting into “history, intention, and culture” (in addition to multiple elephants in this room that I’m not seeing anyone here address), and Part 3 concluding everything with some broader strategical suggestions and closing thoughts.

Hoping these are all things we can carry into an upcoming conversational assembly.

Part 1: The Digital Zion Forum Discussion

Again, I realize that much of what I’m about to respond to now came out of an initial misunderstanding, but even in this being clear, folks felt impelled to express certain thoughts and feelings that I feel should be addressed a bit more. I think much of this can and will be addressed via calls in the future, but I’d also like much of what I’m expressing here to be in a written form for the record and future reference. Saying all of this (very) gently, and with love, especially understanding how much work everyone has put in to get Resonate to where it is now.

I will begin by saying that there is (and has been) work being undertaken in another (non-Resonate) context (through 400M) that does not and did not have to include Resonate at all, even if collaboration would make certain things easier. I’ll also add here that, given how this work and the orgs this work has sprouted from developed, I feel that no one here at Resonate is entitled to be included in it either.

I viewed the opening of the Digital Zion convo as some 400M folks taking the first step to not only invite the Resonate community into discussion about any synergies that there could be in an open way, but to suggest a rough (yet concrete) path for collaboration as well (which has been time-consuming labor done, largely, by @replygirl based upon hours of Digital Zion meetings, first grounded in our own speculative projects, to make the discussion clearer and easier upon opening, not more complicated).

If the invitation for (and the initial opening of) discussion just didn’t happen in the right place and/or time, that is one thing, but I have felt more issues are at play than this. Especially because I reviewed the Miro board and listened to the entire video meeting and heard/interpreted humble suggestions from @replygirl based upon Digital Zion meetings, and expressions of alignment from @piper, while others felt left out. I think it’s worth all of us trying to understand where these feelings could come from in our communications and processes so that we can figure out how to unpack them and address them beyond what has already been suggested around democratic practice and transparency.

I also sense deeper cultural issues and divides at Resonate tied to dynamics around individual commitment, communication, and power between different people involved here (myself included); people also simultaneously not being open and honest with each other; people not communicating difficult truths in a respectful and patient way with each other; compartmentalization and cliquishness between different working groups, etc. This is just my instinct. And I’d even like for the passive-aggressive undertones in communications between folks (publicly and privately) to be unpacked a bit more by everyone here.

I understood the opening discussion around Digital Zion as 400M folks presenting a pathway for collaboration based off of not only work myself and others are putting in elsewhere (not involving or contingent upon Resonate’s work or involvement), but work we ourselves have put into Resonate too, even if not all technical/dev work (or work that is very recent). (I will get into what some of this work has been later on.)

I noticed @richjensen brought elements of this last bit up in the aforementioned thread, and received very little engagement or acknowledgement on it. He is referring to real history and events that shaped this entire effort too, and that even set the stage for more transformative work to be done for/with Resonate on the technical side. I would hope that folks beyond Rich are actually acknowledging this history.

This was the first time Digital Zion was brought up within Resonate, and although the best venue may have not been chosen, there is indeed a first time for everything. I tried to ask both @brndnkng and @richjensen what the best venue was multiple times in advance; I checked in with them as delegates/reps because I trusted they would know the right venue and way to open up this convo with devs (in essence, the best way to communicate it), but regardless of the venue, I still feel there are power dynamics within the co-op that would’ve forced the conversation I’m attempting to initiate here (one way or another).

I’m sorry I was not and could not be as embedded in this forum (or Mattermost) and asking everyone everything more directly around this (as I have with things in the past). I operate best with delegates/reps from different projects at this point because of how many things I’m involved with (and people I’m accountable to; way more than is normal or healthy for one human being, and certain things need to go, frankly).

By the way, I’d advise we maybe all establish a more clear, accessible, formal, and thorough standard/protocol for when big, high-level discussions (not proposals) related to Resonate as a whole are being proposed moving forward, assuming we haven’t already?

This Digital Zion conversation is happening now (as opposed to earlier) because, under 400,000,000, which is now a provisional federation of worker co-ops (400M: Productions and, now, 400M: D+D), we have been taking the long and necessary time to first (and actually) understand who we are as human individuals, unpack our traumas, share where we want to go in life as individuals, and discuss how each of us would like to find a better way for ourselves as individuals through our collective labor and the institutions we’re developing together (this process actually started before folks got involved with the co-ops, and as a part of an onboarding process, which we are still working to formalize and refine around alignment and trust). Members of our co-ops have cried together, laughed together, played together, shared dreams with each other, and struggled with each other in deeply personal and vulnerable ways (just in 2022 alone). And on the D+D side, this has been prioritized before us discussing collaborations with other groups and organizations (even ones that I am a part of), even though we’ve seen the technical and organizational room for collaboration for a long time now. And to be transparent with everyone here, @brndnkng encouraged me to begin opening up this discussion months ago (particularly with the Resonate devs) when I first shared (exciting) technical charting and developments with him around Digital Zion privately. I am pretty sure I expressed to him that I felt we had to 1) continue certain processes of community-building within 400M first, and 2) formalize partnerships/processes within/under 400M before trying to take certain propositions to Resonate, especially given the more complicated (and, frankly, disjointed) social and cultural dynamics that are currently here (people clearly have issues and disconnects with others in here that have not been resolved, which is a huge part of why I’ve not felt interested in spending more time embedded here, if I’m being completely honest; the ground doesn’t even feel entirely fertile for certain types of discussions to be had yet either, due to people’s heads seemingly being in so many different places, but I could be very off on this, as I haven’t been as active lately; just the feelings I’m having watching people interact with each other here and elsewhere, and also seeing how people are referring and even not referring to me, directly and indirectly).

I will be very blunt in saying (with no judgement on, or resentment towards, any one person) that I do not feel or sense that Resonate is sufficiently couched in necessary trust, understanding, intentionality, and friendship (that I feel efforts like 400M are beginning with), and for more reasons than I could list out here (some of which I know @Hakanto and others have brought up in different ways throughout the past, though I’d say there is crucial context I want to bring up at the intersection of class, race, gender, and more on this point eventually; would like to hear @ode12’s fresh thoughts on this as well as someone who has been more active recently, unlike me, and along with @brndnkng; I will also say, I think 400M has had the advantages of starting fresh with insights/lessons already garnered from cooperative experiences and study of centuries of revolutionary struggle, as well as what I’d call “organic cultural cohesion”).

To me, a part of the challenge is 100% tied to the terms on which we connect with other humans around “work” (and especially of the “volunteer” variety). Another part of it is related to locality (most of the people in 400M live in NYC, and can spend time working and playing with each other in person; we are grounded in local community; Resonate does not have this). But I will digress on this for now.

Just want to say, I do not think it’s too late for us to recalibrate around some of the things I’ve just brought up here (I’m sure most others feel the same, and have even said the same already; I hope Part Two of this can create an opening on this front).

Without a sense of who we are (and culture), the activity that happens here feels increasingly performative, mechanistic, and rigidly procedural (which is alienating to not only potential newcomers, but people who have been involved already and just want to “get to it” too; I think there’s a way to cultivate democratic practices and instincts without shooting down momentum and excitement).

Another thing I’d like to address is a deeper skepticism and doubt I sense (and that actually feels/reads like fear) around democratic process and transparency, which I’d argue folks at 400M know a good amount about, and have quite a bit of experience around (will share more about our history later).

I’m actually wondering where exactly this fear is coming from, especially given what has been communicated, and the amount of free (open, and democratic) time and labor Imogen and I (along with others) have already given to this organization for years now. I say this understanding that some within Resonate do not have certain time and experiences with me, and I am not trying to merely appeal to authority and call it a day. But I think the history of Resonate before each of us arrived here (respectively) should be more deeply communicated, considered, and contemplated.

This all, to me, frankly, feels like a lack of trust, perhaps coming from a lack of communication, actually.

I don’t think it’s a secret that Resonate as an organization has a lot of issues, and I know that for me, personally, part of the issue at Resonate has felt like people creating issues where there are none based upon their own interpretations of others and how they relate to this project (their own interests and intentions). This is not something exclusive to Resonate, but rather something common in organizations where people lack trust, intimacy, and transparency in everyday decision-making (in my knowledge and experience).

I understand lack of trust when it comes to new ideas, because I’ve seen folks put hours of labor into countless organizations and projects, only to have seemingly new people (perhaps with more sway) come around and begin suggesting things that folks have little point of reference for. My thoughts at this juncture, however, are that I think we should all reach out directly to try and understand who people are and where they are coming from instead of leaving things at big assumptions about what they do or do not understand (or account for) in how they interface with broader community, let alone organizational process. I understand wanting to make things clear for people, but I also think we should be mindful about who has shown up where, where people come from and in what contexts (past and present), and I think those of us who have been around longer and are more active here in their commitments have a responsibility to pass along information to others over time (just as we all have to listen and receive information). I also think that this is partially a matter of human dignity and respect.

Not being grounded in the history of your organizations and/or having deeper communication around intention can reinforce fears around potential for dishonesty, manipulation, and authoritarian power plays from others (even when there is no actual evidence of such a thing).

These are all concerns that I’d like us all to explore beyond the bounds of “process and procedure,” and into territory I’d call “the unspoken.” Though, there are issues around “process and procedure” that I sense at Resonate too (I feel the current, somewhat compartmentalized, and even hierarchical structure of Resonate doesn’t help in a few different areas, which I can elaborate on at another time; I think we should be actively moving away from “leadership” even more, in my view, and understanding the legal positions and structures as nothing more than less-than-ideal formalities instead of leaning into them as it relates to process; this, however, is contingent upon there being actual trust within Resonate).

Everyone who has been involved in spearheading what was presented the other week has done work with this organization and supported this organization in different ways for years. Some (like myself) have done this for free the entire time. And I don’t think anyone is anymore entitled than anyone else to whatever because of that amongst dedicated membership, of course. I feel everyone involved in opening this discussion has put in enough work both inside and outside of Resonate to illustrate their commitment to democratic values and principles (not just on paper, or in the abstract, but in practice as well). But this is all related to trust, isn’t it? And while I think all of us taking ownership in collective projects is important, I do feel like sometimes we can end up using this in tandem with “procedure” to try and act on a defensive instinct (stemming, perhaps, from trauma and/or past betrayals) when we’re too locked in around our own immediate experiences and even work (social and labor investments), and not actively refreshing our own minds and human connections around what it is that we’re doing. Just my two cents there (informed by my own lived experiences in, and observations of, this org and others)…

What was initially presented here around the Digital Zion campaign came out of zero decisions made for or on behalf of Resonate. If there was not a trust and understanding around this (for whatever reason), and we don’t currently have trust amongst our membership when it comes to basic democratic process and transparency within broader community, then I think this just goes to a point I will elaborate on in a bit about how we all perhaps need to initiate a deeper dialogue around how we can build trust and rapport with one another with respect to both everyone’s respective boundaries (because some of us might not be ready or have the time and energy right now; I know I don’t; just being honest), and the larger (shared) goals at hand, so that we can actually understand who everyone is, where everyone is coming from, and how they operate in trying to do something transformative (it would’ve been better if Resonate had established a more thorough onboarding process that addressed this earlier on, and yes, even for volunteers, but the past is the past).

As of now, to me, it feels like there could still be fear and misunderstanding bubbling that is tied to both culture and power dynamics at play, in addition to what I’ve mentioned about trust (i.e., folks not knowing who I am, or who @replygirl is, or who others are, but feeling like we could be trying to impose something by cutting corners, for whatever reason).

And I think we can handle this (together).

I do have more thoughts on the idea of “ownership” in labor under global capitalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy; and the implications of this (specifically) in trying to steward projects that are truly for the “commons” instead of culturally exclusionary towards forces that are actually aligned (intentionally or not), but I will save that for another time.

Regarding certain technical elements related to Digital Zion (and Spex) that were discussed last week, Imogen provided some great (and succinct) insights, but I wanted to reiterate and elaborate on some things in saying that what we are proposing via Digital Zion is a broader systems architecture that both organizational and individual entities could build their own respective “nodes” on.

I also want to mention that, from the 400M side that is stewarding Digital Zion projects, the eco-community is something that has been discussed as a “North-Star goal” since the very beginning, as most of the founding members are Social Ecologists who see both technology and culture as creatively (and socially) fulfilling vehicles for systems change. But there are others within 400M who are excited by the idea while not as familiar with the reasoning or concepts behind this idea, and wanting to learn and understand more about how this sort of “end” could serve them, the co-ops, and society more broadly at the same time. The through-line is that we all want to live without bosses and landlords in 400M, and to open up space for more dope people to do dope things and live without bosses and landlords through 400M and aligned organizations (until, maybe, one day, there is a critical mass of people living in this way within North America and elsewhere as systems continue to collapse around us).

Given the deeper cooperative and communal values and goals informing the 400M effort, I think it’s also worth mentioning here that any collaboration with Resonate would actually be about making things both easier for those in Resonate, and simultaneously better for the Resonate project as a whole by “feeding multiple birds with one piece of bread” off of labor and resources coming from 400M: D+D and Digital Zion campaigns. When I look at most “leadership” in Resonate right now, I see folks who are very burnt out and can, frankly, barely show up at a certain level. With 400M and the Digital Zion campaign, I think we have some truly generative opportunities at our fingertips that could provide the Resonate project with more energy and initiative than it currently has (as it would be “forces” pooling together). I also think this collaboration (and the tech Digital Zion provides) could be a central component to Resonate continuing to exist, and in a manner both structured and relevant for any long-term, cooperative future on the web. The real “case” for this is perhaps made strongest in our own technical documentation and writings, which I hope we can share with everyone in great detail sooner rather than later. For now, though, I feel we’ve just tried to begin the conversation, grounded in the actionable and practical instead of just the abstract.

I think the intentions of everyone who has started this discussion have been grounded in a desire to move at the speed of community, and in a both democratic and transparent way, even if we’ve gotten off to a rocky start. Others have already pointed this out, but I do believe this was/is the start of a longer discussion (with real planning and thought behind its contents, most of which do not actually rely on Resonate’s involvement, as much as I might hope there is coalescence in the end).

While no formal propositions have technically been made yet, I think we are hoping (and will be formally proposing) that we all work together with this aforementioned “systems architecture” in mind if (and only if) there is actually alignment based upon discussion and expressed commitment in/through the community.

Thank you for being mindful, attentive, and expressive the other week, @psi. Your initial comments have opened up much wider and deeper discussion for Resonate, in my view. Hoping there can be more trust in the context of discussions for collaboration between 400M: D+D and Resonate devs moving forward. Not just for the sake of Resonate, but for the sake of ourselves (and our futures) as individuals too.

Part 2: Recalibration

I invite everyone to share within each of the respective categories outlined below.

On My History:

Hi. My name is Z. Based in NYC. Call Tokyo a second home as well. I joined Resonate efforts some years ago. Memory is fuzzy. Maybe 2018 or 2019? Was introduced to @richjensen by @nati. @richjensen kept asking me to join the board for months, and I eventually did. Was heavily involved in meetings and plans around both short-term and long-term strategy, social media work and campaigns, writing and copyediting for the main site, graphic design, conducting interviews for the blog, helping to write technical documents, being a liaison and ambassador around artist relations, and generating buzz for us so that we could reach new people and find volunteers (I helped grow our social media base by the thousands). Have helped bring on consultants, volunteers, and even staffers directly. I’m also co-founder of an organization called Black Socialists in America, and was involved in the early formation of the Symbiosis federation. A lot of labor contributed to the Resonate project has come from volunteers out of BSA and Symbiosis networks, who found their way here through my labor both directly and indirectly (example: some people came here and contributed over the years after I boosted this project through BSA’s public and private channels, and others heard about Resonate and ended up getting involved because it somehow got on their radar due to comms labor I did through various channels and word of mouth). I’m also co-founder of 400M (and its respective co-op efforts), and the Jaded collective here in NYC (prospectively involved in all kinds of media production). “Digital Zion” is a campaign and “banner” that comes out of this collective. I’ve been helping artists (both big, and underground) try to organize themselves cooperatively and do something different for years now; a good chunk of them are interested in supporting Resonate at various levels, but have various needs. I’m involved with other things (related to the arts and entertainment more specifically), but I’ll leave it here for now.

@replygirl can speak for herself, but I’ll say that she’s been the core coordinator for BSA’s Open Tech Development (OTD) group for some time, and has been key to organizational and design labor for radically democratic project management software and applications over the course of years (along with me). This work will be informing a lot of other work happening under Digital Zion, and could enhance things around democratic governance and process online for Resonate’s current and future members, in my view. Imogen has also done lots of important work (with me and others) for Resonate (namely, redesign around the main site).

Hoping Rick and others from 400M: D+D can hop in here and introduce themselves eventually. I think @rorororo technically has before(?), but a refresher from him too would be nice.

What’s your story? Anyone who feels inclined to share with us.

We can, of course, share more over calls too, when schedules align for everyone.

On My Intentions:

I’m trying to get free.

“Freedom,” to me, is the equality of unequals and the maximization of both liberty and autonomy under a system of governance directly and democratically decided by the people in a place.

I also understand it as “a world where many worlds fit.”

I’m also trying to create. As a human being. I am an artist.

Therefore, I am trying to create in a way that allows me to get free (both socially and materially), and help as many others as possible get free too (all around the world, with priority and focus on poor and working-class Black and indigenous people in North America first).

As an artist, I understand that I can’t use my art and my creations to get free and help others get free without a means of distributing this art in a way that allows me to actually be secure (in control) and sustained (safe, and comfortable) under a transition out of capitalism. I also understand that, through technology, what can allow me to distribute art in this way can also allow many others to distribute art in this way too (in a way that generates and sustains culture), and it is at this juncture that I zero in (and focus) on platform co-op efforts that create room for this to be explored and developed (in ways that are initially tailored to the mediums of expression that I care about most – music and film – and that ultimately extend beyond that).

I didn’t come to Resonate to find a “home” or “community,” for what it is worth. I came to help support a community in service to a platform that can transform systems for artists. And I’d like to ultimately plug in as nothing more than an “artist member” some day.

Beyond Resonate, I also see room for resource generation in art production that can ultimately sustain new systems of distribution that center the humans who help steward systems and keep them running, not just in the sense of keeping “good wages” going for wage-workers, but in opening up decommodified (physical, material) space for humans to no longer live under individual scarcity too, and to live in broader communities filled with “cultural workers” and “technologists” looking to open up more decommodified space for others in perpetuity (while doing things they love), in service to a global commons that is both physical and digital.

This is the level we are thinking about things at through the Digital Zion campaign, as well as 400M’s co-op production company (now 11 active people, including myself, with more being onboarded) and (blossoming) co-op design and development agency (around 5 people, including myself).

I do not care (or intend) to make money from Resonate work now or in the future, and never have made money from Resonate work (not a dime). I also don’t see myself embedded here (in its stewarding/coordinating community) long term, beyond the baseline role of “artist member.” I do, however, want Resonate to become a self-sustaining platform/service that offers many things the other streaming platforms can’t and won’t (in not only its features, but its governance and governance UI/UX as well). And in a holistic way conducive to cross-integration and interoperability with other cooperative media distribution platforms, also grounded in directly democratic values and processes that center the human needs and desires of those sustaining the platforms (in tandem with the needs and desires of trusted communities and democratic cultures).

I also do not care to be a part of organizations and social processes that make humans feel shitty because of hierarchical and authoritarian social relations (formal and/or informal), or that aren’t committed to making the humans that sustain them (and who have clearly defined, shared values and cultivated trust) feel less shitty (i.e., actively deconstructing and interrogating hierarchical and authoritarian social relations, formal and/or informal). I do not play games around power or intimidation, and I am sensitive to people who try to manipulate others in spaces around power any which way (those with more power trying to intimidate those with less for various reasons, or those with less power looking to take others out so that they can have more power with which they can manipulate others for personal gain and control).

What are your intentions? Anyone who feels inclined to share with us.

On Resonate’s Culture:

In my personal assessment (and I could be wrong; open to correction), I feel that 1) Resonate was not started on a note (see what I did there? :smirk:) that made much of the intentions and values I expressed above very explicit and/or clear, even if instincts were ultimately geared towards (or have gestured towards) these things.

I also feel that 2) Resonate has not fully recalibrated itself around much of the intentions and values expressed above, and through practice, even though I believe efforts around some of the values mentioned (namely, a more procedural form of "democracy”) have been initiated and zeroed in on by those in this community with the time and energy to focus on them (I cannot speak to each person’s actual, human motivations behind these efforts, however).

But even with this, I still (after all of these years) lack a clear feeling for where each individual person involved in this effort is with these things (beyond the work they’ve done for the project). And there has never been enough of a cultural and/or ideological consensus amongst individuals within Resonate for me to just “trust” everything going on here, perhaps not too dissimilar from how others have felt. Part of this is on me, as I have not given the same time and energy that I used to to this project in the last year or so (I can only do so much). But another part of me feels that the community (and membership) itself is still not actually on the same page about a lot of things as it relates to this platform and how it relates to them and the broader world (i.e., a “North Star”), even in folks doing so much work together.

I don’t actually feel that the most active people here share and hold a holistic (not taxonomic) picture of Resonate that they’re actively painting together within their own hearts and minds (beyond very abstract words and ideas and values around process that are on paper), and I don’t think difference in skills and/or focus is a satisfactory excuse for this disconnect, as this disconnect, in my view, lies at the center of what informs how much people are willing and able to give here, how much hope they put into this effort, how they relate to others here, and the ultimate “success” of this effort.

Part Three: Conclusion

So my first general (closing) question to everyone is:

Who are you, and why are you really here? If you’re being honest with yourself and others?

Is it to find community and connection with others here, in addition to all of the “grander” things related to the “service” and the “platform?” Is it to learn or pick up some stuff that can be used elsewhere? Is it to feel a sense of belonging and ownership somewhere for a change? Is it to one day have a gig here that helps pay your bills? A mix of any of these things? Other things?

I think these sorts of (basic) questions are absolutely pivotal right now, even in the context of discussing Digital Zion and collaboration long term.

And in the context of us building trust with each other.

And I am aware that most of us have discussed or expressed some of the answers to these questions at different moments in time throughout the years, but I think we all need to repeat ourselves right now if so. And even remind ourselves (and others) right now, if so. I think some of us desperately need a refresh (perhaps rooted in how we have each grown and changed since starting here).

Also worth stating: I know that some of you are relatively new to me, and that what I’ve expressed here must therefore be new to you, coming from me.

My second (last) question is:

What are new, ongoing practices and processes folks can cultivate amongst membership to acknowledge ongoing and ever-changing power dynamics and hierarchies (formal and informal), as well as issues and baggage folks have with each other? So we can work against these things? Not just in service to a “smoothening” of labor processes and “bettering” of “service” or “output” at Resonate, but in service to the building of genuine friendship and community here as well (for whoever really wants this here), maybe even grounded in some of the deeper (more macro) “intentions” I expressed (one day)?

If you’re interested in a part of what we’re doing (and have done) at 400M, please see this post:

There is one final thing that I’d like to emphasize too…

I think we have been caught in a general, unproductive cycle that consists of:

1) Relying on mostly a mix of outside grants and volunteer dev work to move most of the back-end tech forward (vs. putting more dev and comms/marketing resources and energy into setting up Resonate for long-term, sustained, equity crowdfunding campaigns on the front end that bring us more resources and volunteers for the back end, and more, in a more grassroots way).

2) Overemphasizing legal and procedural processes within our digital spaces despite an extremely small (and relatively inactive) membership (vs. stimulating organic engagement and development of community practices and discussions around the platform that can energize and galvanize not only those who are already here, but people on the outside looking in and intrigued as well).

3) Focusing on everything but the music and culture that is supposed to make a “DSP” like this go, and in the process of trying to build it up (vs. listening to and actively engaging the artists who have shown interest in supporting what is here and/or expressed what they feel they need beyond the uploading features in order to hop on board, and making it easier for them to support us in terms of getting more volunteer dev support and/or resources).

Re: #1, I obviously think we should be gearing to set ourselves up for self-reliance in revenue generation via a proper streaming service, but in the short term, I really think we need to focus more on self-reliance in “support stimulation and reception.” As a matter of fact, I think that until we are able to more clearly, specifically, and accessibly articulate what we need via the main site and a mobile app, I don’t think self-reliance in terms of “revenue generation” is in the cards for us. I think we need to create different campaigns and find a way to create “progress meter” tracking for these campaigns through our platform in order to incentivize (via design) people to give towards different areas. This has worked very well for organizations I’ve co-founded and that run off of donations, and I think it could work well for Resonate too.

Re: #2, I think we need to open up space within the forum for high-level music discussion and analysis amongst all different kinds of genres, alongside all of the technical and procedural talk going on. If we have good music discussions and (sub)culture(s), in tandem with some of what I’m going to outline below, I am confident that we can attract more people and, in turn, more bottom-up (grassroots) support. @HipHop78 is someone I’ve brought to Resonate who might have lots of thoughts and ideas on/for this in the interim. Imagine if Resonate could provide just some of what Letterboxd does at some point, but for music?

Re: #3, a very popular artist (reach in the millions) and I are doing a podcast together. We want to host it here exclusively. But not if people can’t listen through a mobile app. This artist, as I just mentioned, has a lot of reach. If we did this show as an exclusive for Resonate (which we would both like to do), it would undoubtedly be the biggest exposure Resonate has literally ever received. I think we need to be set up to let people at least listen on our platform via their devices (comfortably), and develop all of the right channels (from a UI/UX standpoint) to allow them to a) see what Resonate can ultimately be (via fleshed out UI/UX wireframes/presentations and promotional ads), and b) support Resonate (via money or volunteer labor). And by the way, this podcast thing is just one thing. There are many other things we could come up with to get Resonate out there in a broader way (in order to then solicit more support of all sorts), but I think we need more cultural folks (not just tech folks) with their “heads in the game” and conspiring within Resonate to come up with more impactful strategies.

I really think we all need to make it a habit to step out of our own respective, categorical “buckets” within Resonate in order to assess and consider how the digital spaces we’ve opened up are 1) drawing people in, and 2) pushing people away. And I think we need to remind ourselves just how many more people are probably out there in the world who would love to support a project like this if they only a) knew it existed, and b) could easily see all of the ways in which they can support directly (on this point, I think it’s important that some folks here remember how they found out about and, ultimately, came to Resonate too, by the way).

In addition to this, I think we really need to think about how Resonate can cultivate an internal co-op culture and “voice” (within the constraints/limitations of the web) via our forum and socials in order to attract more people (beyond devs) who not only have the skills that we need, but who are aligned as humans in the deepest and broadest ways too (beyond just wanting to support a music streaming alternative that seems better).

Lastly: I am extremely busy!

I will really try to circle back to discussion here (directly) as soon as I can (probably sometime late next week), but please be patient with me; this statement and engagement is well beyond my capacity and personal limits already.

I’m “going there” out of respect for those fighting for this project, for the sake of my relationship to/with this project, and for the sake of whatever working relationship might be able to blossom between 400M: D+D and Resonate’s team.

Tell me who you are and what you’re about (your history, your intentions, and your thoughts on what Resonate’s culture can and should be)?

And tell me what you think about my strategical suggestions?

And feel free to respond to any particular thoughts and ideas mentioned in this long text as well?

And we can carry whatever is written by membership in response to this into the conversational assembly?

Love and struggle.

4 Likes

Reading this over and will join the convo when I’ve put some words together :evergreen_tree::evergreen_tree:

1 Like

Takes guts (and love) to write this. My respect.

Speaking strictly as someone who has been on the outside looking in, one point you bring up resonated (for lack of a better word): that there was momentum and buy-in from artists like me. Reading this, it feels so big and complex that i hope it hasn’t lost its original intention.

1 Like

I really appreciate your kind words and feedback, @orangefizz.

I echo your exact sentiments here (if I’m understanding you correctly, as I would assume you’re referring to Resonate?).

The main thing I’d stress (and I think @richjensen tends to break it down best) is that there are just different focuses amongst people within this co-op.

The “tech” focus is the one that naturally seems to get the most attention, next to the “process and governance” one.

What I feel has been neglected (collectively, and unintentionally) is the “cultural” focus (community culture, co-op culture, engagement with broader cultures in external comms, etc.), which is (ironically) the thing that is supposed to sustain all of this and make it “go” at the end of the day.

This is why I’ve suggested some of what I’ve suggested above.

Thank you.