The @NetSquared vision: Don’t You (Forget About Us)!

Following up from the post about community engagement last week, I wanted to focus a bit more on the general vision of NetSquared, currently posted in draft format.  Specifically, I wanted to pick up on something I mentioned in the last Global Leadership Council (GLC) call about the fluid nature of our network…

(Why) Are We Building The Brain?


(Image of Z3 computer on wikimedia)

My impression so far is that this vision is a centralised idea.  Of course, the notions of showcasing, linking and facilitation do feature, but I have concerns that we are trying to over engineer.  Equally, this vision seems to suggest what a central team would do, rather than how the wider network could engage.

It’s true, that a call amongst the GLC was that we didn’t have a common vision, or unifying set of aims and objectives.  Without these, we reckoned, it would be hard to mobilise.  

On reflection however, I think we’ve sent ourselves down the wrong path… why not let chaos be the order of the day?

NetSquared = Local Spaces, Loosely Joined, Globally…


(Image of the Raspberry Pi from wikimedia)

So – that isn’t the most catchy slogan, but bear with me!

This is how I see NetSquared:

Local organisers will all have their own networks and circles or influence.  Around once a month some of these configure and pull together, at various scales.  Some of these may continue during the month, but the cyclical nature of our organising means that we will inevitably have to pay attention to other things.  

It’s the connections that we make and foster in these moments that are important.  These are not hardwired, or short-term – they require ongoing cultivation.  But – they often take place as conversations or discussions.  Our nodes on the network flash on and off.  Just as the web is a huge mass of interconnected documents, we’re adding links and annotations to our network – but at various speeds, intensities and focal points.  

So, could NetSquared facilitate a flow of signals rather than a repository of content?

A shiny and unified vision across “non-profit technology” is a rabbit hole we might want to sidestep.  The people organising, attending and discussing these issues are far more important – let’s embrace the lack of rulebook or grand theory! 


I’m aware that such conversations inevitably get trapped into a focus on tools and platforms, so I’ll try and rally against that in the next post :)


Apologies if you stumbled here looking for a 1980s band

5 thoughts on “The @NetSquared vision: Don’t You (Forget About Us)!

  1. ClaireSale

    Love this post. Here’s my two cents:I think that there is a balance to be made. if it’s too fluid, too open then there is no guiding theme to bring people in. But I don’t think it necessarily needs to be as cohesive as some would like.What works in manchester won’t necessarily work in guatemala city, and it’s important to design for that.

  2. aseemkthakur

    And of course as Claire mentioned, we have to recognize and design for the Net2 program to be such that organizers around the world are going to have different answers to those questions. Net2 GLC meetup gave us a glimpse of that for sure!

  3. Steven Flower

    Thanks both for your comments.I’d certainly agree that we need to design for flexibility and local contexts. We should also bear in mind that what takes place in a meetup in Manchester in March, may be very different from one in May!For me, this is the point. We do "get it", otherwise we wouldn’t still be doing it. But – our request for a centrally binding vision may not be what we *really* want..@aseem – I just say I’m off to a party/picinc/protest/parade :)

  4. ClaireSale

    I just drew a picture in my mind of a party/picnic/protest/parade…. And you know what? It looks pretty badass!It sounds to me like there is a vision coming together, but that that vision is very much about local organizer empowerment and trust.


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