I had a little thought experiment on using mastodon to map the civil society network.

So, why does civil society need a robust and resilient network?

Because civil society organizations play critical role in protecting democracy, human rights, and social justice. Being part of a robust and resilient network allows these organizations to share resources, knowledge, and best practices,

In addition, a network can provide support and protection for individual organizations and their members, especially in challenging environments where freedom of expression and association may be restricted.

#civilsociety #network #hardproblems


On Mastodon, I shared the hard problems that I carry in my pocket:

Next on my list is to build out those problems with greater description.

And, then taking my riff on the Fenyman technique build on this based on the new things I've learned.

Here's a start.

Creating a resilient and accessible network of civil society groups and actors.

In order for civil society to be resilient it needs to be connected. Connected to each other. Connected to funders. Connected to community members with a variety of capital. Connected to the people they serve? How do we visualize the network and make sure it is well connected, diverse, and health?

That's a very basic — maybe too basic? — view of the hard problem. But that's okay. I'm willing to start there.

So, how might we visual that. Very much like a network graph. You've seen it. Bubbles and lines connecting in a mass. Like this or this or [this}(

So the first step is getting that network graph is getting the data. How do we get the data?

I've been noodling on this and noodling on it on Mastodon. So stay with me for a minute or two.

Let's say we set up a series of mastodon servers and we match them to the SDGs. We have a server called “” and “” and so on.

And further imagine that for a group to get an account one of those servers they need show that they do work in that area. We can give them a variety of ways to demonstrate it:

  • via a Candid or TechSoup log on
  • via a reference from an existing group on the server
  • via a reference from a group of funders or donors
  • via a reference from a group of their clients

There can be other ways for sure but the point is we want more than one way for them to be able to validate that they do work in a particular area.

So they get through this hurdle, and they have a mastodon account on the appropriate mastodon server. Now, we ask them to follow the other groups — no matter the server — with whom they have a relationship. It might be a funder. It might be group with whom they have partnered for grant projects. It might be a group to whom they refer their clients.

In this way, we can start to build a map.

  • It has 17 centers, the SDGs.
  • It shows how groups are linked to each other.
  • We can find groups who have very few links (and so might be less reslient).

Further, we can recent our network map around a group by clicking on it and put it at the center of our map.

There are a lot of problems with this approach but it does demonstrate how we could use federated technology and group governance to start to build a map of civil society and then build out from there.

#civilsociety #network #hardproblems