Munnecke at sign csli.stanford.edu
June 30, 2003
This is a summary of my
activities as a fellow in the Reuters Digital Visions Program at Stanford
University, 2002-2003. A journal of my activities is located at
www.munnecke.com/blog, and a letter to future fellows is presented at the
end of this report and on the web at
In February, 2003,
GivingSpace was given a grant by the
Omidyar Foundation to test "whether intra- and extra-community network
dynamics can be enhanced by the creation of an Internet-based system for
collaboration, complementary currency, and focus on areas of "uplift" as opposed
to more typical media-driven discourse of problems and emergencies. At the
completion of the project, The Foundation will have a living example of network
dynamics and Inform, Inspire, and Engage through a technical foundation. The
source code will be released under an open-source license for others to build
This paper reports on the
activities of the group to date, as well as plans for future activities.
This phase of the project
culminated in a
three day workshop in the redwoods north of Santa Cruz. One idea which
emerged was to send gift packages of school supplies to the children of Iraq, to
be handed out by US Marines. Following the philosophy of connecting people at
their positive core values, we were able to get people to cooperate from a wide
variety of roles, including an anti-war protestor, a group supporting US
Marines, an Iraqi Imam and former UN diplomat, and a former US Navy Admiral.
Love to Iraq project is more than just a project to deliver packages to
children, but rather an exercise in trustraising in even the most difficult and
emotional situations. Similarly the HIV/AIDS orphan support program will be
used to Uplift Scholars in Africa, which will teach us how to communicate with
and learn from people across the world via the Internet.
As a tool for collaboration, we
have begun the use of a pattern language to describe patterns of uplift. This
will facilitate both interpersonal and computer-mediated discussion of uplift.
In order to make sense of the wide diversity of information, we are employing
topic map technology.
We are pleased to present our
progress on this task, and our plans for the next few months.
- We launched a web site
www.upspace.org as a prototype of the Uplift Academy model. This web site
models ways of connecting uplift communities, people, and patterns together.
- We held four design workshops at Stanford and at
a lodge in Ben Lommond, Ca. These events were each attended by about 20-30
people, including attendees from Japan, Canada, Lithuania, India, Kenya, and
Holland. These workshops included the following speakers:
February workshop had a presentation by
Toshio Yamagishi Senior Fellow at Stanford’s Center for Advanced
Behavioral Studies, on the role of reputation systems in the quality of
Internet auctions. He implied that a larger body of people with persistent
identity, involving both positive and negative reputation systems maximizes
the quality of the auction.
March workshop featured Larry Harvey of the Burning Man arts
organization, discussing the dynamics of self-organization coupled to a gift
economy which allows them to build a city of 30,000 in the Nevada desert
each summer, then tear it down without leaving a trace. He also spoke of
the organizational value of having a specific project to work towards.
April workshop featured Sergio Lub of
Friendly Favors, describing their approach towards building social
networks and a complementary currency based on the notion of a “thank you.”
It also had a session on the technology of pattern languages as a way of
discussing and building reputations for patterns of uplift. This meeting
also marked a shift in interest to adopt specific projects as case studies
for applying the theories we have been discussing. HIV/AIDS orphans in
Africa was selected as one of the first areas to work on. We began using
software based on Stanford’s Open Knowledge Base Connectivity (OKBC)
standards as a basis for representing patterns as knowledge bases based on
May workshop was held May 6-8 at Ben Lomond, Ca. The meeting was
facilitated by Mac Odell, a leading practitioner in the
Appreciative Inquiry method, particularly in Imagine Nepal. The
workshop continued the transition from the theoretical to the applied, (from
a “Think tank” to a “Do tank”) with two major interest areas emerging for
initial application. In addition to the HIV/AIDS Orphans in Africa group, a
strong interest developed to create an “Uplift Connect with Iraq” project.
Both of these will be used as “use cases” for further development of the
GivingSpace approach and technology. This workshop spawned a great deal of
activity, as shown in Appendix A.
- We have been developing software in three areas.
All software is open source and is operating on Linux:
- The basic web site
www.upspace.org using the
Zope content management framework in the Python language. This
technology provides a framework for user registration, workflow, content
management as well as internationalization. This has been integrated with
Friendly Favors system for authentication.
- A pattern language manager using the OKBC knowledge
base standard, currently hosted at
www.nooron.org written in Python. These patterns could then be used to
collect a reputation, allowing users to understand which patterns of uplift
have had the greatest success. It could be used in a graphics program,
perhaps creating an “Uplift Tapestry” showing where patterns of uplift have
been successfully used, coupled with other areas where they have not been
- A topic map-based federation system which aggregates
RSS feeds into a common topic map. This would allow users to collect
information from news sources, blogs, and other RSS syndication sources and
view them according to topic map indexing technologies. This technology
would allow sources eventually to mark up there information with specific
tags which could then be used for a loosely coupled mechanism to collect
stories and patterns of uplift according to a knowledge base.
- The most significant and surprising aspect of this
project is the emergence of a very enthusiastic community of people. These
people have taken days of their time to participate in workshops and
contribute their ideas to the advancement of the project. They provide a
unique mix of technological and humanist perspectives, and while each has
their own particular area of interest, have also come together to seek common
technology and approaches for a broader segment. We have also learned the
power of balancing both the theoretical and the practical, by way of forming
specific projects which then serve as a driver for the theoretical issues we
are dealing with.
- A web site
www.upspace.org which allows user registration, interface to Friendly
Favors, Wikis for pattern definition, news events, syndication, and
multi-lingual access. The user interface to this site is based on the Plone
system, which is not user-intuitive, and in need of improvement if we choose
to continue using this platform. We have had an
expert review of the user interface by Dr. Clark Quinn. We chose to use
Zope and Plone for the demonstration based on claims that it was a powerful
“glue” technology to bring together different forms of content. However, we
have discovered that the learning curve for the technology is quite steep and
long, and that there are relatively few programmers using it. We are
evaluating its applicability for the next stage of development.
system to support pattern language collection in an open knowledge data
base format. This allows us to collect patterns in a manner which opens them
up to future manipulation. This system is for internal software developer use
at the moment, and will be used in conjunction with the Pattern Language
workshop in July.
- A new organization has been formed, Love to Iraq
www.lovetoiraq.org, which emerged as an idea from the May workshop to ship
gifts to school children of Iraq, delivered by US troops. The first shipment
of 100 gifts was sent out May 12 as a beta test of the process to see how it
is received and if there are any unexpected consequences.
- The seeds of a new organization, Imagine Santa Cruz,
have been discussed as a side activity to the GivingSpace workshop in May.
GivingSpace workshop served as a catalyst for this activity.
- Continue to support and grow the GivingSpace community.
The caliber of the people and their generosity and passion for humanitarian
uplift indicates that there is great demand for meaningful opportunities to
give. We will continue this development via electronic mail, mailing lists,
teleconferences, and workshops. We will be using the collaboration technology
Blue Oxen Associates to support our collaboration efforts, focusing on
mailing lists and Wikis as basic tools.
- Participate in the
PlaNetwork Forum in San Francisco, Jun 4-6. Tom Munnecke will be giving a
presentation; we are also trying to organize a “birds of a feather” session to
discuss issues relating to a shared, open identity system.
- Hold a
three day workshop July 20-23 by Richard Gabriel on the subject of an
Uplift Pattern Language. Dr. Gabriel is a world-class expert on the subject
of Pattern Languages. The output of this workshop will be the “seed” system
for an uplift pattern language which we hope to embed in our other efforts.
- Continue software development in the context of working
communities of uplift. We will review the technical foundation of the
software, and use the other activities such as Love to Iraq and HIV/AIDS
orphans in Africa as drivers for the definition of new features.
- Continue the Love to Iraq uplift community, using
feedback from the May shipment as a guide as to how to proceed. Dr. Amer
Araim, imam of the Concord mosque, is a former Iraqi Diplomat and UN
secretariat official, has volunteered to assist us with the launch. This is
being supported by the
Larson Family Foundation.
- Define an Uplift Scholar program to be discussed at the
July workshop, and initiate a pilot program for HIV/AIDS orphans in Africa
- Continue to refine the GivingSpace organization and
- Participate in the “Business as an Agent of a Better
World” colloquium at Case Western Reserve University, Weatherhead School of
Management, September 17-20, and prepare chapter to be published in a book by
Stanford University Press. Presentation is “Triggering a Cascade of Uplift
with the Internet,” co-authored with futurist David Brin
I am grateful to following people have attended
the workshops or otherwise contributed to GivingSpace activities during this
Aldo de Moor; Amer Araim, Amy Sanger, Allan Saxon; Andrius
Kulikauskas; Bernard Lietaer; Bliss Browne; Brian Johnson; Bruce Baumrucker;
Bruce Seely; Chris Cook; Chris Eyre; Chris Dent; Clare Hedin; Clark Quinn; David
Brin; Dorai Thodla; Doug Engelbart; Eric Eugene Kim; Erin Pond; Gary Gunderson;
George Donnelly; Harold Koenig; Heather Wood Ion; Henri Poole; Inne ten Have;
Jack Park, Jan Hauser; Jane LaPointe; Jean LeVaux; Jeffrey Ashe; Jim Fournier;
Jim Lord; Joan Condon, Jon Larson, John Graham; John Cocoran; Jon Haidt; Joy
Tang; Keith Devlin; Keshab Thapaliya; Liza Behrendt; Mac Odell; Mark Watson;
Margaret Chambers; Marian Goodell; Matt Hamilton; Mei Lin Fung; Mercy Wambui;
Michael Mitchell; Murray Gell-Mann; Nancy Glock-Grueneich; Nic Fulton; Nipun
Mehta; Owen Davis; Pat Jordan; Paul Chaffee; Paul Andrews; Ralf Muehlen; Richard
P. Gabriel; Richard Stallman; Rita Cleary; Rob Miller; Roberta Baskin; Robert
Stephenson, Ron Lichty; Rupert Douglas-Bate; Russ Hall; Ruth Mota, Saadia Sabah,
Sam Bowles; Sam Hunting; Sandy Shaw; Sergio Lub; Shawn Murphy; Steven Foster;
Stuart Gannes, Suresh Subramanian; Thomas George; Tony Christopher; Toshio
Yamagishi; Victor Grey, and my fellow fellows at the Reuters Digital Visions
I am grateful to Stuart Gannes, Amy Sanger and the
Reuters Foundation for providing a wonderful fellowship program. My work
was sponsored in part by the
Stanford University Digital Visions Program,
Visions of a Better World Foundation, the
Jon and Karen Larson Family Foundation as well as many volunteer