Flow Systems

This is the top level design document for an evolving system of applications to support collective action. The name connects to new thinking about currencies; currents of action connected across scales, but we will focus on the needs of collective actions first, and allow the connections to alternative currencies to emerge when needed. Intention and the formation of intention is the necessary starting place, because declared or infered from observed actions, it is intention that defines the action and measures the result.

Simple enough if I'm forming my intentions for lunch today or planning my next week's work tasks or personal time for excercise and home maintenance. As soon as I start to add other people and their intentions and choices, it isn't so simple. Most organizational approaches to collective aciton depend on hierarchy for any action that involves more than a small team of individuals. We want a design the makes it possible for collective actions to form from the bottom up, where any hierarchies are the natural ones of fractal unity. At each scale from the individual up to all living humans, we will find groups within groups, but the social media generation is no longer restricted much by physical distance. Traditionally, it is money and financial systems that are used to track organizational activity.  In terms of profit and loss or gifts given and results achieved, the final reconing is financial solvency.  Our solution will need to relate to traditional finance, but it will also need to go beyond them to also track wealth in all its multidimensional splendor.

The way I would describe this idea of fractal unity is in terms of another idea I want to introduce: Open Stewardship.  It is what we see in the history of the development of human knowledge.  Ultimately, the exploration for knowledge is not constrained by any authoritative body, but by the collective will and intentions of the historical participants.  At any point in history, and by extension the present, we can create a map of human knowledge and it will be distributed among a number of fields, and each field will have one or more communities of participants.  There is also quite considerable institutional power involved in the academic and political structure of any current map, but at the most inclusive level and the largest scales the power of particular institutions to constrain possibility is limited.  Open stewardship represents an intention that the leadership and direction of all fields be open.  An intention that dialog and rigorous examination of the ideas and evidence are the basis for sound collective decisions.

In considering a particular field on the current map, what makes it a field is that there is something that unifies all the work in that field, something that unites all the parts whether atoms or individuals into a knowable whole.  If I pick the field of a science, say Physics, although there work concerns everything and everyone in the universe, it doesn't really involve all of us.  If the field is Housing, that is a different story.  I am at least concerned that I and my family and friends have safe and secure housing, and there is a lot of politics that is about what is the right policy.  With either of these fields, I can place myself on the fractal of the field.  That is on the map of the field from the unified level down to the individual level.  I am a homeowner in Chicago, IL, Great Lakes Region, USA, North America, and I am an advocate for fair afordable housing.  In my city and region, there are many organizations, government programs and housing units that contribute to the problems and solutions in housing.  In physics, I'm an amatuer enthusiast who supports broad support of basic and applied research.

We took the short tangent from our main topic to give a bit of context to the kind of structure we want for our most important system object, an intention.  The point is that no intention stands alone, but is part of a whole network of related intentions and actions.  In forming an intention for lunch, I can also make an action on my intention of healthy eating and sustainable food webs.

For sure, we'll need to be able to link intentions in a number of ways.  We'll want to have different kinds of relationships, some explicit, some implied by other links and contexts.  One of the most important groups of user stories for intentions will be to support navigation for engagement.  So that users can find other users with related intentions and connect to and participate in ongoing actions.

Between the formation of intention and the completion of an action we can call conversations for action.  Making requests and promises, adjusting commitments, acknowledging completion, viewing a commitment calendar and so on.

+Wagn Prototype

Contributors to Wagn/Decko prototype projects are invited to read and contribute to this community book on the platform It's Cards all the Way Down.

There are few things that the card representation is better at than tracking complex relationships.  The fractal structure of a field, of what intentions are inclusive and contain others, and what are individual items contained in, as well as the interconnection across fields of complementary purposes.  Abstractly, this is a labelled link.  In Wagn, a tag pointing to one or more cards is almost the defining pattern even if there are many ways to represent these in cards.  So, to represent the <i>parent</i> relationship, I can have cards tagged with <b>+parent</b> (i.e. A_card has A_card+parent as a related "tag" card), which is a pointer that should contain one other card.  In Wagn we often have a complementary search to represent the arrow in the reversed direction, so I can search for all the cards with Another_card as a parent to find Another_card+children.  It is an area of active interest and improvement to make this sort of bi-directional link into a first class feature and make using them even easier.

Thinking about this further, we may want to de-emphasize the hierarchy even more in favor of networked model basis. We may still want some scale based hierarchy represented, but maybe that should be more emergent in any case. Center on human scale and empowering distributed agents through their networked connections. See A visual history of human knowledge.

We will begin to build a roughed out prototype within this wagn.  So, we'll start by defining some types:

Flow Types
expand_more Intention
The starting node for the Wealing Cycle.  All action starts with a declaration of intention, and ends with the ...
expand_more Agent
An agent is an entity capable of forming Intention and acting on them. In economic orthodoxy, ...
expand_more Offer
An offer to do something.  This can be specific to a proposed Action/Promise, or represent a ...
expand_more Request
Solicitation of Promise or Offer to further an Intention.   ...
expand_more Action
Specifies all the details of value delivered.  The what, where, when, who and how much of it.   add Action card ...
expand_more Promise
The commitments of Agent to complete Action.   add card  


expand_more Acknowledgement
Completion of the Wealing Cycle where gratitude is expessed and outcomes are quantified and qualified. These may also be ...
expand_more Field
A space of coordination and action as in a field of inquiry or the field of play for a game.  In Open Stewardship, the ...