Community Progress Update 007

By MATHEW MYTKA

Hi folks,

It’s been 3 months since the last update. But first just a big welcome to the new community members. Seeing people join has been a little light to keep me motivated. Thank you!

So what has been happening since the last update?

A year has gone by since Nathan and I launched the first version of the platform. What a journey it has been. A testament of resolve. A recognition and reinforcement that it is all about learning.

Here’s the short and sweet version on progress:

  • A new brand name and clearer proposition
  • Website refresh and improving the signup experience
  • Website migration to a new domain, faster server and greener hosting provider
  • A decentralised chat channel to keep the conversations going
  • Clearer ownership model and continuation on the transition to a platform cooperative
  • A strategy blueprint to work through strategic direction as a community
  • A community Trello board for you to see our roadmap and contribute to direction

Hungry for more of the detail? Keep reading…

What's the progress to update on now?

Well in my last update I shared a personal message from my head and heart. I touched on rethinking the how the platform proposition might be communicated. The intro to trust toolkit course, crowdsourcing curriculums. And working on a clear strategy.

In response to this there were some heartfelt emails from community members and some advice on what I should do.

Thank you to those that reached out, those small things matter.

Over the past months I’ve devoted my limited time to nurturing relationships. Ones that will be the basis for the future platform cooperative. I’ll be able to make an announcement on this in the next month. I’ve also had challenges with a death in the family amidst the pressure cooker of lockdown here in Australia. The fact my 2 kids have been out of school for over 3 months has been trying for sure. I have to laugh at it sometimes, otherwise I’d just cry. But I’ve done plenty of that too.

I remind myself I’m much more fortunate than many people in the world right now. I’m privileged in many ways.

I’ve also been sitting with lots of uncertainty and ambiguity. As uncomfortable as it has been it was important to embrace it. I was even tempted to give the whole platform to another organisation at one point. Many advised me against this, so thank you.

Through this period clarity emerged and I found energy to continue. So there’s been much progress as a result.

Continuity and change

Proposition and brand
I decided to narrow the proposition to focus on tech ethics. Trustworthiness will still be a core theme. It will also be implicit to the design and operation of the platform cooperative.

But why a transition to tech ethics?

People involved in designing and building digital technologies need support. Practitioners and teams. They need the mindset, skillset and toolkits to help them. The market is demanding up skilling. There are more organisations to partner with. It makes the messaging simpler. It makes the message more targeted. While super important, our previous focus on trustworthiness was broad and vague. The same might be said for tech ethics but I wont waste time going into the nuance here, that can be done in an upcoming blog post 🙂

The name and brand will change too. It’s actually a hard exercise to figure out a name, particularly with all the domain squatters to factor in. But I’ve landed on something that matches the shift in focus.

Tethix. Helping to close the ethical intent to action gap in tech. Our purpose is still the same just narrowed in on digital technology.

Funnily there was an episode of the HBO series Silicon Valley called “Tethics”. It is a bit of a laugh with some satire. I’ll spare the details because not everyone is familiar with that show.

Website redesign migration
Tethix will be a new brand. The effort required for the rebrand and migration is a big chunk of effort. But it makes sense to do it now before pushing forward with the content marketing and outreach activities being planned. The existing platform will be cleaned up. We’ll be stripping back features and simplifying the signup flow. Refining the proposition on the home page and making it easier for new community members to get started and realise value. A more powerful and compelling narrative to go with the new brand.

A migration to the new domain will take place later in October and there’ll be some downtime. You’ll all get an email about this a week before it happens.

Chat channel
The current chat functionality we have on wordpress sucks. The current theme developer (BuddyBoss) has improving this on the roadmap but I decided a decentralised chat was better aligned to our purpose. There’s now a Matrix chat channel for you to all join. It’s a decentralised and open source version of Slack where we as a community communicate, collaborate and coordinate. There’s a few hops to go through but you can join the matrix channel here

Commercial model
We played with different commercial models and pricing over the past year. But we were not rigorously collecting data in web analytics so it is hard to say exactly what worked and what didn’t. But the “Pay What You Can” for membership was and experiment that did not work out that well. Why? That’s harder to definitively say. While it was active out of the 30 new members that signed up only 2 people chose to pay something. There were a few people that paid for courses. And the the early community members have not been engaged for lots of reasons. I won’t make excuses. It’s on me to make sure all members get value. Especially if they are paying for something, no matter how small the cost.

We did some early validation of a paid membership model. We just needed to get the value delivery model consistent. Appropriating the value of a small monthly membership is about what you get for it. How it meets peoples social, personal and functional needs. Then commercially for creators of courses and learning experiences they need to be able to appropriate the value as well.

A model for commercial value delivery is the basis for a platform cooperative to be viable. This paid membership model will need input from you as a community member. A survey will be going out later this month on this.

Platform cooperative
The transition to a platform cooperative is still part of the mission. The intent to have it formalised by the second quarter of next year is still present. For new members you can read the community proposal here

I’m also rolling out the Slicing Pie model for equity distribution. It enables contributions from people to be tracked and represented as a slice of the overall equity. At the time of incorporation of the cooperative entity equity will be distributed according to this model. Getting paid for work will still happen when there is any revenue or cash flow to do so. If you are interested in learning more about this. You can check out the Slicing Pie website or reply to this email with your questions.

I created an Ownership Model Canvas recently which also gives you all a view of the baseline model for the cooperative. This is an great tool developed by the wonderful people at start.coop

But what’s the strategy?
I’ve created a strategy blueprint in Mural you can view. As this is a community journey your input over the October and November would be really valued. There is a matrix room set up specifically for this so please share your thoughts if you can.

Some of the tactical detail is now available in a Trello workspace. It’s there as a way show all the things being planned and worked on. Plus it’s a channel for any community member to get involved if they have the energy and expertise to devote. I’ll share some details of that next week. You can now view the public Stream Map (Roadmap)

What’s next?
October is going to be quiet as I get into making this all happen. The plans are all available in the Community Trello Board and you’ll be able to checkin on progress there at anytime.

As always thanks to all of you for your support over the past year.

Thanks for all your support!

With ❤️

Mat

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