Relational Highlights: Issue #2

In the weeks following our squad’s reunion in Austin, the Relational team dispersed to celebrate summer’s end. Some of us traveled to Ireland and England for family weddings; others to Burning Man to remind us of our inherent, deep connections with nature and each other; some took to the road for adventure, exploring Colorado and Arizona; and the rest of us settled back into home life as the cooler fall weather slowly creeps in.

We’ve continued using Discord as a prototype for processing and publishing our collective intelligence. Capturing and sharing our research, reflections, resources, and insights with the local Relational community. The patterns of practice we’re developing are the basis for a software toolkit we’re calling Ourlog.

This publication is an early example of the type of thinking Ourlog can output—currently we’re: pipelining original content from Ourlog to Notion for formatting, editorial, and review; and finally to Mirror for publication. The successful bits of these experiments are to be encoded in a blockchain-compatible, public goods protocol we’re calling rlog.

Most of our work since the last edition has focused on rlog/Ourlog, though we did get into other projects as well. Here’s some highlights:

  • built and deployed iOS and MacOS apps of Ourlog - no bells and whistles, but functional

  • launched a Gitcoin grant for Ourlog—if you’d like to support us, donate to the project through our grant! Every little bit counts as donations are matched by additional funds in the Gitcoin ecosystem

  • pulled together an Ourlog website

  • hosted a handful of Exquisite Land dev sessions—getting close to launching the 2nd canvas soon! Slime is coming…

Thanks for reading, let’s dive into this issue of Relational Highlights!

Ourlog: Emerging a Decentralized Communications Tool

Ourlog's Gitcoin banner image, crafted by Dave
Ourlog's Gitcoin banner image, crafted by Dave

As the Relational squad focused on creating a Gitcoin grant for Ourlog, and building out the iOS and MacOS apps, we began to see more clearly what Ourlog is, and what role it plays in a decentralized comms network. This is the joy (and challenge!) of working emergently—there’s a leap of faith required to jump in and experiment, and when we do, we’re rewarded with an experiential understanding of what we’re building.

We’re gaining clarity on what our next steps can be, and we’re feeling energized about what’s possible. Lastly, we’re beginning to contextualize Ourlog in the broader Ethereum and blockchain ecosystem; it’s starting to click and it feels good.

What makes creation extra powerful in Ourlog is when you create under a context — are you creating something just for yourself, a hyper object, with a team, for a project, or a group of friends? Capturing context through tags, metadata, and shared creation sessions are what make interacting with Ourlog invaluable.

Interaction with Ourlog can take a couple different forms:
- The first is simply viewing a feed of creations from contexts you care about.
- The second way to interact is to apply contexts to Ourlog. Filter by time, media types, hyper objects, groups, and more to get the information you need to understand the world -Tony

Kristen’s response: I’m excited about creating a context in Ourlog through relationships. weaving your own web of relationships to view the world through different lenses; experience the world in new ways

While in Ireland, I saw the book of Kells and Trinity’s old library—physical books and places stored and preserved over time. An expensive task, which also has time fragility. Deterioration or an unfortunate event could destroy them. A blockchain on the other hand feels like an anti-fragile library, and rlog is the media. -Tony

Ourlog as a media ecosystem for community. to be in better relationship with a community of people, to share and read what other people are experiencing at some level of depth.

fundamentally, blockchain as a medium facilitates this kind of comms/media ecosystem - the term, or principle, we're playing with is subsidiarity- the idea that in social systems, local decision making, local interactions are key. we can interpret this as "community-level" interface. -Kristen

Community Publishing → Local Media

Relational loves local media. The Big Bend Sentinel out of Marfa, Presidio County, Texas.
Relational loves local media. The Big Bend Sentinel out of Marfa, Presidio County, Texas.

CJ and Jon drove through Marfa, Texas after leaving Austin, and stumbled upon a local newspaper: The Big Bend Sentinel. They were struck by the rich detail of the writing, the specificity of the content to a local geographic environment—it was by and for the people who live in and around Marfa. They found it nice to be able to share the newspaper, pull out pieces to pass along, write in the margins, or tear pieces of it to read later.

As we explore local media in a networked information age, how do we create community spaces to produce something as lovely as The Big Bend Sentinel? Relational is exploring group publishing in the blockchain ecosystem, a new form of self-organized journalism.

There is perhaps something to a new generation of journalism. A model premised on small-group coherence practices and communal publishing. The tools and individual practices which emerged in the early web era of blogging brought into an intentional communal format. Tightly coordinated groups, working to make sense of the world. Now plausible due to new styles of validation protocols afforded by blockchains. Transparent, peer reputation systems fueled by tokenized economies.

We have the pieces to form network-validating, interdependently self-supporting, and well-tooled group journalism labs; oriented toward exploring new forms of self-organizing journalism. Localities (digital and geographic) must have coherent self-governed means of communicating with and about themselves. A democracy is only as healthy as its local media. -Dave

Kristen’s response: at its root, Ourlog affords the ability to surface what's important to your community, and this varies by community

Jon’s response: "group journaling" vs "group journalism" is a really interesting frame. to me the connotations/implications are:
- group journaling = ephemeral, capturing of personal or within-group information, relating self to past/future self or the group, spontaneous
- group journalism = permanent, more focused/directed, writing about period of time or about things beyond the group, relating the group to other groups

Being able to share a physical copy of a book with notes is powerful. Exactly what I hope for digitally as well. Seems odd that we don’t have a similar kind of native surface. I would love to be able to see friends “notes in the margins” when reading an article online if they happened to also read it - CJ

What is Relational? Reflections on Vision, Principles, and Org Design

Jon and Kristen have been feeling into the emerging structure of Relational, where we’re headed, and how we’re getting there. It’s still fresh, but we’re envisioning Relational as an organization which supports member organizations (or projects) in a network. Relational creates a space for member organizations to grow through social supports and other shared resources so people and their projects in the ecosystem can thrive.

Relational lives in the Ethereum ecosystem, and in many ways is a fractal of Ethereum itself. As an entity, we are similar to the Ethereum Foundation in that our main purpose is to support and nurture the growth of our members orgs.

Most often, this looks like supporting member orgs in the design, development, implementation, and stewardship of their projects. Much of our efforts are in creating and nurturing a community space which affords our member orgs a place to grow as individuals, teams, and as a place to develop comms infrastructure for the broader world.

These efforts are more “social” in nature, as opposed to building tooling (which is more technical in nature). For example, we’re currently focusing on applying for a Gitcoin grant for the Ourlog tool. This group effort feels like a social resource, and one that can be shared in in the future across other Relational projects/member organizations.-Kristen

Relational is:
- an exchange of practice and learning
- a high-trust, good-faith communication exchange
- a support network for resources and practicing for building interoperable communication and governance tooling
- predicated on invitational, peer-based, practice-oriented participation -Jon

encountering challenges, issues, as they arise and figuring out the best way to address at that point in time (not prior) is an emergent strategy tool

i believe this is one of Relational's principles/practices—this feels like it underpins an aspect of our work -Kristen

noticing a bit of meta-coordination consistency around each technical session.

there’s a replicability to the process, which means it can be documented and repeated by others in the future; this is important for the Relational network, for the propagation of rituals and practices—it allows for experimentation in other localities/communities -Jon + Kristen

Cover photo featuring Jon and Dave hiking in Forest Park, Portland OR, August 2021. 📸 by Kristen.

Peninsula Park Rose Garden: Portland, OR. Late August 2021, another year with summer fading into fall. Last year, Relational convened and we emerged Exquisite Land. The seasons change, our work evolves, and we continue to explore co-creation in the digital era. 📸 by Kristen
Peninsula Park Rose Garden: Portland, OR. Late August 2021, another year with summer fading into fall. Last year, Relational convened and we emerged Exquisite Land. The seasons change, our work evolves, and we continue to explore co-creation in the digital era. 📸 by Kristen
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