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Unlocking The Power of Onchain Libraries
How leaders of the cooperative movement created a book and library in seven days
Several People Are Typing is an experimental magazine about the wild future of decentralized media & creative collaboration. It was co-created by Foster, Seed Club, and Metalabel, along with dozens of writers and dreamers. You can collect a free NFT version, or purchase the physical magazine, from Metalabel.
This piece was co-authored by Alana Podrx, Joy Souligny, 0xAlexandria, G2 Editorial & Coinvise
Throughout history, libraries have been at the center of revolutionary ideas and movements. Libraries empowered individuals and communities to challenge established norms and work toward social, political and intellectual change. Today, the growing polarity, resource inequality and crisis within and among human beings calls for revolutionary ideas. This call is likely why you are here — an intuitive knowing that blockchain transparency, community cooperation and disruption in information through AI are worth exploring in the adventure to create new paradigms.
From the Great Library of Alexandria, a beacon of enlightenment in the ancient world, to the modern, digitally-connected libraries of the 21st century, the power of libraries spans millennia. During ETHDenver 2023, a group of leaders in the cooperative creativity movement came together to share ideas and propose an on-chain library to exchange information and ideas that can help foster cooperative revolutionary change. This project became 0xalexandria.com. 0xAlexandria is an onchain library curating content on the vision for a cooperative economy — one that is communal and for the benefit of all.
Like the Library of Alexandria in ancient Egypt, this community is an intellectual powerhouse that brings together scholars, scientists and philosophers from all over the world. Members get first-look access to new publications, access to private chats with contributors and exclusive invitations to shape the narrative. The goal of this piece is to give a preview into the inspiration, process and key ideas that are emerging so that other community leaders and resource networks can benefit from the practical strategies presented.
Inspired by Great Libraries of the Past
First, the idea of a library fostering revolutionary change is not new. They have long provided a safe haven for the exchange of information and ideas, even when those ideas challenged the status quo or threatened established power structures. An informal network of European scholars, writers and philosophers in the 17th and 18th centuries, called The Republic of Letters, helped give rise to the Enlightenment period — a philosophical movement that championed reason, individualism and skepticism and laid the groundwork for the American and French Revolutions. Public libraries and private book collections in the American colonies allowed colonists to access works by European Enlightenment thinkers such as John Locke and Montesquieu, as well as those by American revolutionaries like Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense,” in the years leading up to the American Revolution. In 2011, the Occupy Wall Street movement took root in New York City’s Zuccotti Park, protesting against economic inequality and corporate greed. During this time, a makeshift collection called “The People’s Library” emerged within the park, providing free access to books and information for protesters and the general public. The People’s Library served as a symbol of the power of knowledge and education in fighting against social and economic injustices.
As we venture forth into an increasingly digital and interconnected future, 0xAlexandria imagines the libraries of tomorrow — a testament to information access, transparency and the enduring power of ideas to enlighten, inspire and transform the world.
The Process — Making of a Manifesto
The goal of the writing team was to gather a group of influential leaders during a salon where we could share those ideas with the world versus keeping them in a closed network. This group not only produced a manifesto that outlines a set of principles but also practiced them through the creation process of the manifesto itself. As we wrote the book containing the manifesto, we challenged ourselves to apply the tools, tactics and strategies below.
This book is AI augmented. We used AI language models to summarize the collective works of over 20 experts, projects and ideologies to provide a curated perspective that expands on a number of complex topics. Given the role and future AI has in our cooperation, curation and propagation of narratives, we included its use to showcase its role in the future of the cooperative economy.
This book is decentralized. The historical Alexandria Library contained some of the most significant collections of human knowledge in the ancient world. It also exemplifies a critical issue with centralization — it can be lost, manipulated or destroyed. Today, blockchain technology and cloud-based storage provides a pathway for the future decentralization of knowledge across multiple nodes on earth and in space. We used the collaborative tooling platform, Notion, as a content management system (CMS) to store the metadata about the manifesto and the actual contents of the books in the library on the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS). IPFS powers the distributed web; it is a peer-to-peer protocol that allows for distributed file storage.
This book uses blockchain. Each membership tier has a non-fungible token (NFT) minted through Coinvise as a way to access the different benefits of each tier and to create trust and transparency around the decision-making process within the ecosystem. In the future, we plan to leverage the limited cooperative association (LCA) models discussed as an experimental means to think about patronage for the membership.
This book is an experiment. While volumes of its length are typically the products of months or years of research, composition and revision, Cooperative Creativity was written over the course of a single week in a “content hackathon” during ETHDenver 2023. While the issues it explores are ones that its writers have spent years considering, the core principles and frameworks presented are inspired by conversations held at a small gathering of developers, entrepreneurs, creatives and other thinkers on March 1, 2023, during ETHDenver. The following five days were spent on its composition and two days were dedicated to compositing and editing the manifesto through a decentralized editing process using Foster. Foster is a collective of 150+ writers and editors who collaboratively bid, work and transform editorial pieces through a Google Chrome extension. We anticipate this draft to grow and evolve — just like its community, contributors and macro environment will.
Key Ideas Covered
This volume is curated for seekers, by seekers. Seekers are curious people searching to understand and embrace the future — policy makers and activists, artists and engineers, technological innovators and thought leaders of all ages and identities. There are more and more seekers every day, more people on a journey to higher levels of consciousness who are seeking inspiration in their vision of a better future as well as practical steps to get there. Transmission of knowledge and inspiration is the greatest gift we can offer to each other.
We curate, define and explore emerging economic, technological and narrative structures in a way that seeks to inform rather than advise the reader. We pose questions, share examples and illustrate practical applications of these concepts for anyone to independently evaluate for their own unique contexts.
The ingredients and ethics of narrative
The history of debt and credit
The distributed state: tokenized ownership, smart contracts for management, decentralized record-keeping and access to funding
Cooperatives and new digital cooperative movement (LCAs & DAOs)
Credit unions, resource networks and blockchain credit
Open Source projects and Public Goods
Quadratic funding, Public Banking and other alternative financing
Treasury as Social Security (UBI, participatory budgeting, social wealth funds)
Exploration of other ideologies including:
Anarcho-syndicalism: a political and economic theory that advocates for the establishment of a society based on self-managed worker associations. In this system, workers would organize into federations and control the means of production and distribution of goods and services through direct democratic decision-making processes. Anarcho-syndicalism also emphasizes the importance of mutual aid and solidarity among workers, and seeks to eliminate hierarchies and all forms of oppression.
Participatory economics: an alternative economic system aiming for a more egalitarian and democratic society. Its four main principles are self-management, equity, solidarity and diversity. Key components include decentralized worker and consumer councils for decision-making, balanced job complexes to distribute tasks fairly, and remuneration based on effort and sacrifice. Participatory planning replaces markets and central planning with a cooperative, democratic process.
Solidarity economics: an alternative economic framework prioritizing cooperation, mutual aid and social well-being over competition and profit. It is based on principles of democracy, sustainability and social justice. This approach includes diverse initiatives such as cooperatives, community-supported agriculture, fair trade, social enterprises and time banks.
Call to Adventure
Be in conversation. Evolution happens when a critical mass of human consciousness comes to consensus. Consensus happens from individual belief in the narratives that spread most widely. Become part of this curated collection of narratives by joining 0xAlexandria.com. In sharing these open design systems with the world and creating a community around it, we take one step closer to defining that next narrative – together.