Provisioning and hosting

Introducing this section, in <Political economy>, the phrase ‘provisioning and hosting’ was used. Here is some expansion on that.

Updated: 19jul2021

When introducing this section, in Political economy, the phrase ‘provisioning and hosting’ was used. Here is some expansion on that.

In the world of ‘free libre’ software, hosting generally means administering a server that reliably runs a particular suite of software, ‘hosted’ by the sysadmins and accessible to subscribers or collaborators who have current logins; sometimes accessible to all on a ‘free beer’ all-comers basis. In this sense, is definitely in the hosting business: we run platforms.

However,’s culture of commoning, of solidarity and mutuality, and of building transformative capability across movement silos, means that we need to reserve ‘hosting’ in a different sense. This is pretty much like the sense the word has in ordinary language: holding a space, inviting people into it with goodwill and good intent, furnishing it with suitable means for the purposes people might gather, and carrying a responsibility for appropriate outcomes, careful and appropriate conduct, and safety and mutual respect, when the space is occupied or mobilised.

This is the sense, for example, in ‘Art of hosting’, and in other facilitative traditions and formations in civil-society movement organising. The politics of facilitation is central in the commitment of to the ‘solidarity’ dimension of its wider community agenda. Facilitation does include some degree of responsibility for moderation, in a sense that is familiar in digital media spaces like forums, or in wikis. But in a sense we are less concerned with moderating (thus, inclined to trust to the self-moderating of our members) and more concerned with facilitating (including facilitating that self-moderating capability and intention in our venue spaces and media spaces).

For these reasons, we try to use ‘provisioning’ when we want to refer to our FLOSS ‘hosting’ practice; that is, we provision our platform spaces with suites of FLOSS software, making them reliably accessible to members. The use of that term makes a connection that we wish to emphasise, with the general, historically pivotal challenge of provisioning material means of subsistence and wellbeing, which characterises the transformed coop-commons economy which - alongside movement solidarity and mutuality - is another of our core dimensions of commitment in the larger community. Our intention is to provision our user communities with material (digital) means of building wellbeing, as ‘tools for conviviality’ in practices of radical remaking of local, municipal, regional and global economy.

Alongside that, we also host media spaces and venue spaces: text-chat forum threads, handbooks, assemblies, commons.hour and commons.hour specials. Over and above simply provisioning with digital tools (as many FLOSS enthusiasts have done, with ‘free beer’ tool-repository portals, or 'digital food-banks'), what we’re concerned with here is facilitating exchanges, and well-founded alliances and affiliations, across diverse cultural formations and world regions. This combination of aims is why we make the distinction, elaborated here, between our use of ‘provisioning’ and our use of ‘hosting’.

Note: Derive protocols

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