An experience of self-management of computational infrastructure, that allows organizations to embed digital sovereignty into their thinking on transition and take action!
Together with other individuals and organizations, and in collaboration with Koumbit, Remix the commons is developing a collective response to the need for digital tools and infrastructures. The idea is to ensure full digital sovereignty over our work, exchanges and data in coherence with the vision set out in the Charter for Building a Data Commons for a Free, Fair and Sustainable Future.
After having tested with Koumbit, an independent and solidary hosting company in Montreal, our ability to set up and manage some tools based on open source and the commons on a shared server, we designed a cooperation system based on a model similar to that of AMAPs, which we call the “Konbit numerique”, in reference to the konbit of Haitian farmers. Konbit numerique is a prototype of “computational commons” for commoners’ projects. It proposes a working infrastructure that makes it possible to gradually achieve the objectives of independence and sovereignty on information and communication technology.
Our Konbit numerique consists of a group of identified users and a server administrator, Koumbit cooperator. It is based on a 6 TB server hosted by Koumbit in Montreal (https://nuage.en-commun.net), in which are installed the applications we need, tools based on open source and commons: file sharing, calendars, task management, online editing of text documents, table, email,… and most importantly for us a wiki farm. This is coverering a large part of the current digital uses of our organizations.
Users are involved in the governance, and as much as possible in maintenance. The work of the server administrator is handled by the collective through a monthly intervention time credit system. This includes, in addition to the time dedicated to server maintenance, time reserved for future technical developments that will be allocated according to the Konbit’s needs. The idea is therefore to jointly pre-finance a digital infrastructure dedicated to the collective. This infrastructure is not based on capitalist logic. It does not seek to make more profit in the perspective of extraction, but to satisfy the needs of the collective. It allows us to start a process to degoogling our digital practices.
Each person involved in the projects of the partners, stakeholders of this initiative, has access to this space and uses it within the framework of their activities in relation to the commons. Each partner can contribute to the life and development of the konbit by subscribing one or more shares of solidarity support (suggested amount: 15 € – 20 $CAD per month, or according to the budgets and needs of the projects), and according to the principle which aims to decouple use and trade (principle 3 of the Charter mentioned above). We have set ourselves the objective of gradually expanding the first collective to a balance between technical need/capacity and finance/governance. It is estimated that about 20 members would be an interesting size of the collective. Then other Konbits could be created and allow a federated type of operation.
The konbit numerique is not an open structure like a Chaton (online service open to all), or an alternative hoster, but an experience of self-management of computational infrastructure by its users. It is still a little early to draw lessons from this approach, but it is likely that this initiative allows organizations to embed digital sovereignty into their thinking on transition and take action. We hope that accompanying such processes could be a challenge of interest to free software activists.