Part 1: Thoughts on transparency, association and Farm Hack Culture
On recent Farm Hack organizing calls, we (the Farm Hack facilitators) have been talking a lot about how to make Farm Hack’s organizing processes more collaborative and transparent. Farm Hack is first and foremost a community of peer production and open-source exchange, better conceived of as an association of collaborators than a traditional non-profit organization. The human and technical infrastructure that supports the community—in-person events, the sharing of documentation, discussion in the online forums, and the platform itself—were created by people motivated by a shared belief in the Farm Hack mission and the desire to create something useful. Many, if not most, of these people have been volunteers; paid work and the exchange of money have not been the drivers behind Farm Hack’s growth. And we think that makes for a richer, more diverse, and more resilient community that can build and sustain itself according to the vision, skills and efforts of many people.
Cooperation, association, and mutual aid are foundational to how we think and talk about who we are. But talk has its limits. It’s vital that our practice demonstrates our thinking. As Farm Hack matures and gets bigger, we need to update our processes accordingly. Based on lots of conversation in organizing calls and elsewhere, we think it’s important to put more practices and structures in place to allow everyone, both those newly discovering Farm Hack and the old hats, to: see what is happening across the community; feel warmly invited, and encouraged, to participate; and understand how to go about participating. It’s natural that there will continue to be a diverse mix of interests and capacities for participation within the community. But we hope that many will continue to participate actively however suits them best. Our community’s commitment to our values has brought Farm Hack to the place it is today, with thousands of registered Farm Hack users and hundreds of tools documented. There’s so much more we’re still excited to accomplish.
Truly collaborative work can also feel (or be) slow. I am sure many of you have encountered a broken link or a disappointingly incomplete tool page on the Farm Hack site and perhaps wondered whose job it was to fix that. It’s not really anyone’s, and its also everyone’s – possibly yours. You, other platform users, casual visitors to the site, and contributors to in-person activities are all community members. The organizers and moderators of the community will work hard to make sure you’re empowered to contribute effectively. If you’re moved to do so, read the planning wikis; join the weekly organizers call; jump into Culture conversations in the forum (more are coming!); submit some blog content; or, make that Farm Hack build event happen that you’ve been thinking about for the past year. Because that’s truly how this whole thing has been built so far.
To this end, we (again, the Farm Hack facilitators) are going to start posting various strategic and planning documents in wiki format with associated Forum discussions. Because we want your feedback, and we want to spark more thought and conversation about what our community is, what it means and where it’s headed.
Here is a mockup of the coming soon Farm Hack homepage, with a Culture and Getting Started section:
Introducing the Farm Hack Culture Page
This week we are also launching a Culture page to better discuss our thoughts on the “why” of Farm Hack–we aren’t just posting some cool tools in a vacuum, we are doing it for specific reasons and it means things. Important things. A lively and engaging discussion of those things is the purpose of starting a Culture page – so check out the working wiki, make some comments.
Also living on the Culture Page is the Farm Hack Design Principles wiki.
A working guide: the Farm Hack Method for Documentation
Documentation is our bedrock. Without it, Farm Hack wouldn’t exist. Knowledge sharing begins with the creation and dissemination of documentation. That’s why it’s so important to develop educational resources that empower our community members and help them produce high-quality documentation. That’s the main objective of this resource: to offer a how-to guide by illustrating the documentation process in the context of different sorts of tools and environments, including farms, events, and formal education.
Check out the Farm Hack Method Version .01
How to Jump In
To start things off, we’ve put some work into the Getting Started Page, which discusses entry points into the Farm Hack community and how to navigate it. Go there to learn how to join organizer calls, contribute to the blog, or put on a Farm Hack event. More to come there.
Follow us to the Forum
We are hoping to use the Farm Hack Forum to continue these conversations. We’ve started a couple, so jump on or create a new thread.
Follow up on the SARE-funded redesign process we have been undergoing in partnership with UVM.
Working on universal logins and rich profile development with Public Labs.
Farm Hack facilitators:
Kristen Loria, Nathaniel Levy, Dorn Cox, Daniel Grover