for discussion at “The Affect-o-Meeting,” Weimar, Germany, 24-27 August 2017
To avoid the traditional connotations of the word “contract” (a transaction between two individuals creating a bond of obligation), it is proposed to use the term self-organizing proposition (SOP). Our propositions will be designed to move the SenseLab’s collective ethos of self-organizing participation into the way in which the 3E Process Seed Bank online platform is fundamentally structured. They are intended to operate as much as possible along the lines of a gift economy. Their aim is to open up lures or dangle affective attractors rather than clamping down obligations.
The SOPs are different from the POTs (processual operator thingies). SOPs create a minimal structure for repetitive, core operations. They take the place of the traditional “governance” structure built into blockchain and beyond-blockchain distributed systems, attempting to fulfill the need for some kind of regulatory framework, but in a non-normative way. They are less contracts, regulations, or norms than enabling channels for the collective process’s takings-form to flow through. They are channels for the self-modulating of the process, rather than rules to mold into a certain form. They regulate flow of interactions rather the form of transactions. They function at thresholds: between the 3E space and comings and goings with the outside; and within the 3E space at thresholds across which propositions for activities pass as they take form. POTs are code-creatures operating within the 3E space as tweakers and tricksters. They are catalyzers that add a nonhuman element of surprise to incite or induce unexpected turns in the taking-form of propositions.
Together, SOPs and POTs replace traditional administrative and decision-making structures. Administrative duties that are traditionally ensured through a hierarchy of offices, and formal decision-making through voting or delegated responsibility, are replaced by self-organizing work- and play-flow. Affirmative affective operators — lures and attractors –replace authority structure, normative responsibility, and obligation. The model is not the “social contract” but the Spinozist “pact.”
SOPs are conditional propositions. They have an “if-then” structure. The “if” is a set of enabling conditions that sets the stage for a proposition to move toward actualization. The “then” marks the fulfillment of the conditions, which is less an endpoint than a forwarding: a passage-point to another stage of the proposition’s taking-form. In between is an interval of invention. What is important is the interval, more so than the endpoint (which is not one).
The following hypotheses are starting points for discussion (including the labels). These can be modified or developed, and others added.
(proposition: the gift of process)
The entryway responds to the need to have a way of inviting people to cross the threshold into our space that conveys something of the ethos of the project, and familiarizes them with some of the activities under way. The usual method of crossing the threshold into a dedicated online space is individualizing and transactional: the person identifies themselves, often accepts formal conditions, and sometimes provides a fee or service in return for gaining entry. Our entryway smart contract, on the other hand, is designed to be relational, and to be part of a gift economy. The presence of the person entering is not immediately be registered in a way that is visible on the platform. They are invited basically to lurk: to look around and see what is going on, and then to “shadow” a part of the process that interests them. Whenever they are ready and feel they have a sense of the process and might have something to contribute, they give a gift to the process. This could be anything: a comment, a proposition, a concept, a poem, an image, a link, a file upload, etc. Once they have made the gift and it is registered by the system, their passage across the threshold is complete and their presence is made visible.
2. Welcome Wagon
Once someone’s Entryway gift is made and is registered in the system, the Welcome Wagon SOP self-activates. It signals the presence of the new person, and existing members welcome them to the project. Questions: should it signal the new presence to everyone (that might feel intrusive or overwhelming – the right to lurk is important)? Or to a single person who will then take it upon him/herself greet the newcomer, or respond to the gift? Or a small group? If a small group, would it be a standing list of greeters, a revolving list, or a randomly generated list that is different each time? Are there POTs that might help with this, in addition to the human touch? The system would also register that the greeting has been made, and resend a call if it hasn’t.
3. Cat Herder
(proposition: move into collaboration around the practicalities necessary to carry out a proposition for an activity, or take care of the logistics necessary to move an existing proposition to a new stage)
This SOP would be for setting in place enabling contraints necessary for a proposition to come to fruition. This could be especially useful for logistics (a kind of glorified to-do ist and task tracker). For example, if an event is planned, the needs of the event in terms of housing, food, travel arrangements, materials sourcing, space needs, could be set forth. Affinity groups might be suggested for each kind of need, or it could be left to individuals to jump in. If affinity groups are suggested, a Cat Herder would be set up for each one, and these would take over from the originating SOP. They might recruit members for the affinity group by sending out a call for participation, make a list of who is on which, perhaps start a writeboard, track what has been done, and give progress reports at regular intervals. The event in question might have a set date, in which case the SOP would give the all-clear that the basic requirements would need to be met by a certain deadline in advance of that date. If it didn’t have a specific date, the SOP would signal when everything is in place and a date can be set. The enabling contraints would have to be totally customizable, so they could be adapted to all kinds of activities, big and small, for example reading group organization, sourcing of materials for a specific activity, ensuring administrative functions, journal issue development, etc. Playful or celebratory elements could be integrated. If there is a proposition that requires a minimum number of participants, the SOP could signal when that number is met. Basically, the idea of the SOP is to distribute the logisitcal work that currently falls on Erin’s shoulders, and in the long run to self-organize administration. A decentralized logistics system is necessary for true self-organizing. It is around logistics that anarchist-inspired endeavors often run aground
(proposition: move a creative proposition over a tipping point toward actualization)
This is to respond to the “stopping problem.” When we are brainstorming and improvising around the conceptual and creative problems for exploration, trying to move into the specific design of platforms for relation, ways of crossing the threshold into an event, or other enabling constraints for creative relation, things tend to proliferate. The problem is often an excess of good ideas rather than a scarcity of them. That proliferation is a value in itself, but if the goal is to actualize somethings, it can be hard to push over the tipping point where something definite takes shape. Things can keep moving indefinitely and refuse to gel. A Creative-Cut Call is a way of trying to move over the tipping point. When, after an appropriately long and involved period of propagation of ideas, someone thinks it’s time to leap into action and bring the proposition to fruition, the Cut Call is made. This could take the form of pop-up proposition following up on a certain direction or set of ideas that had emerged. The Call might set a time, place, and maybe be accompanied by a Cat Herder for logistics. It would function as a kind of self-organizing decison-maker, or lure toward taking-form: if the Call is heard and taken up, it happens. If not, it dies. This is in effect a kind of affect-o-meter: the success or failure of the pop-up proposition is a event-based measure of its affective force.
5 Regroup Call
(proposition: regroup around a failure and try again)
Failure has always been an integral part of our process. This SOP is for making a virtue of failure. If a Creative Cut Call doesn’t happen, or if it happens and doesn’t work, a Regroup Call can be made suggesting what conditions might need to be made for it work, preparing the way for a follow-up Creative Cut Call pop-up proposition. The Regroup Call might be worked by an individual, in whole-group discussion, or by a self-formed affinity group.
6. Goddess of Anarchy
(proposition: replace deliberative decision-making with a limited but dramatic decisional-cut making power)
Deliberative decision-making procedures, whether voting based or consensus based, end up subordinating creative movements to rule-based negotiations that tend to favor compromise formations, yielding normative results that tend toward the mean, or a least-common denomator solution that satisfies no one. This tames the very movements of excess and potential that the 3E project is meant to faciliate. Anomalous or aberrant movements (and every inventive move is just that) are sifted out. Deliberative decision-making procedures also fold the process back onto individuals, who are addressed from the point of view of the positions they take as individuals. This undoes the emergent collectivity, folding it back down onto the personal, each individual acting on behalf of their own interests, and figuring themselves as a shareholder or stakeholder (rather than a dividual in an intensive process). This occurs nowhere more quickly and brutally than when money is involved. The Goddess of Anarchy SOP is a way of avoiding overlaying or underwriting collective creative process with individualizing deliberative decision-making. It does this by introducing a quantum of dictatorship at precisely those critical points where a “democratic” procedure would normally be appealed to (such as the allocation of funds for a project). Paradoxically, it tries to save the truly democratic movement of self-organizing emergent collectivity by disabling the “democratic” procedures we are all accustomed to (and the mediocracy of whose results we all live with every day). This is not so different from how we have functioned since we received grant money. Erin has functioned as the Goddess of Anarchy (GOA) with her hands on the purse strings. This occurred because there was an instinctive aversion on the part of the collective to smothering its creativity in the bureaucratic mentality that comes with formal deliberative decision-making procedures (imagine the SenseLab functioning according to Robert’s Rules of Order – it wouldn’t be the SenseLab anymore). The GOA SOP is a distributed Erin. It would be invoked when decisions have to be made that are necessary to the creative process but are not themselves creative, and are therefore not candidates for the emergent decision-making facilitated by the Cat Herder, Creative-Cut, and Regroup SOPs. For example, when it comes to financing an event, decisions have to be made about how much money is allocated to travel vs. food and accommodation, who receives travel funding, etc. When a proposition is taking form and needs input of resources, decisions have to be make about how much can be allocated to that project. When decisions of this kind have to be made, the GOA SOP would be activated. There would be a pre-phase of discussion of what the issues, implications, stakes, and priorities are – evaluated in terms of what the creative process needs rather than what individuals want. This might include suggestions for what might be an appropriate upper and lower limit. The discussion would then close, and one person would be selected by the system at random from a Pool of Aspirants to be the Goddess of Anarchy empowered to make the final decision. This would introduce a performativce cut of sovereign decision into the flow of creative process, but only for this one intervention. This injection of sovereign decision would be treated as an enabling constraint for the process’s continuing after the cut, rather than as a power-over. Thought would have to be put into how the Pool of Aspirants would be designated. Would it consist of everyone? Of members of an affinity group working on that project? Of a core group accredited as GOA-in-Waiting? Would the identity of the sovereign decision-maker be known, or would it be anonymous? If it worked, this procedure could be extended to cases where the collective process breaks down because of discord and the formation of semergent collectivity has stalled. In those cases, the Goddess of Anarchy’s decision would be a process restarter – a kick from behind to move the process forward and back into its self-organizing further down the road. The GOA SOP would make the anarchism of the 3E a “crowned anarchy” (to use a phrase of Artaud’s). There would have to be a consciously tended ethos attached ot this. The role of the GOA would have to be concertedly affirmative: to figure out how to say yes as intensely as possible, given the circumstances, not to say no. This could only work to the extent that the collective has absorbed into its ethos the meaning of affirmation (as developed by Nietzsche and Deleuze), and constantly renews its working understanding of it. In this, its function is the opposite of the usual decision-making procedures, whose purpose is to secure, to safeguard against risk by cleaving to the mean. In using the GOA SOP, the collective would be agreeing to risk itself. Each GOA decision would be a challenge to its ethos, which would would have to affirm the decision, and in so doing affirm its own future, or risk falling apart.
(proposition: quantify quality of process)
This SOP would be a mathematical formula for quantifying the ebbs and flows of affective intensity, as registered by the affect-o-meter’s reading of the movements of the anarchival “magma.” Based on that quantification, a certain number of Occurrency tokens would be minted at regular intervals. There are many difficult questions related to this, which cannot be answered before the affect-o-meter is designed. The Monetizer might also factor in the movements through the SOPs. The completion of a SOP indicates that a productive pulse of the creative rhythm has been completed, meaning that we have succeeded in producing “surplus-value of life.” This could form a strong basis for a quantification of value, or at least one prong of it. The Cat Herder, Creative-Cut Call, and Regroup Call actually have a structure that is not unlike options in the finance world, in that they speculate on future events. This might enable them to be treated by the monetizer as financial-instrument analogues, providing another dimension of monetization potential, in addition to the proto-money mass of the anarchival magma.
(proposition: regulate the interoperability of Occurrency with Space and Gravity)
The Turnstile SOP would operate the protocols of Occurrency’s convertibility to the surrounding ECSA currency, Space, and the specific currencies of the other ECSA economic spaces. We will need help from economists to understand by what metric this might be done. It would also manage the transfers that the 3E economic space will make to other spaces and to ECSA itself (as required as a condition of membership in the ECSA environment). This presupposes that the 3E would have collectively owned cryptocurrency wallets. How would these be managed?
(proposition: receive financial donations and do traditional fundraising)
An idea was discussed in Working Paper 3 to have a variation on the Entryway SOP where someone would give a cash gift, and then go through the same process-gift and greeting procedure as with the normal Entryway. This would tie financial contribution to participation in the process, so that there would be no dichotomy between funders and doers. The donator’s tie to the money would be cut. They would retain no special influence over how it was used. It would be go into the collective pot. How this would work would have to be strategized. Would the money remain in fiat currency? If so, where would it be held and who would control the account? Would it instead be translated immediately into Occurrency (or Space or Gravity)? Similar questions arise around traditional philanthropic fundraising or crowdfunding. Who would manage the money, and how would we prevent a hierarchy from regrowing around its control?