Modeling the Social Benefit of Organizations

I have written a short blog on how Solid can address social issues. It is just a start of talking about a quite complex subject and I’ve, of course, left much out.

I would very much value feedback and this forum is probably the best avenue for that. Thanks in advance!

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Hi,

Its a great start. Thanks for asking for feedback.

I like that everything should come down to democracy.

Of course not all organizations in Solid will be corporations, but organizations will be central to Solid and many of them will be corporations of one kind or another. For the sake of democracy, its worth regarding corporations with a healthy skepticism.

In the early days of America, corporate charters were granted for a limited time, corporations could only engage in activities to fulfill their charter, they could not own non-essential property or stock in other corporations, they were terminated if they exceeded their authority or caused harm, owners and managers were responsible for criminal acts of the corporation, and they could not make political or charitable contributions. (Our Hidden History of Corporations in the U.S. ⋆ Reclaim Democracy!)

Solid can’t impose legal conditions on organizations, of course. But it should enable a healthy skepticism of corporations and organizations in general, more so than that of individuals.

Regarding the social benefit of organizations, some organizations might want to associate some statements with provenance. They might want to include the source of the statement. They might want to or may be required to produce verifiable credentials. It might be more useful to people to see that an organization has a verifiable claim not to have harmed anyone, rather than it professes in an unverifiable way to be beneficent.

In the context of democracy, unapproved profiles may also be useful in regulatory and news contexts. Statements not approved by an organization might also be made about them, in profiles not approved by them. In some cases it could be argued that the most useful profiles will be external to the organization. Of course, those profiles would most likely be found in places external to the organization. The format of a critical profile could still be important if the profile is shared widely and does not constitute just the views of a single person.

I think profiles should not just be seen as the self-image of an organization. Of course the same could be said for personal profiles, but there are privacy and rights issues there and I don’t see personal profiles as nearly as important for democracy as organizational profiles and the standards for privacy and transparency should be very different.

I don’t intend by any of these statements to be critical of Solid, but am talking about organizations in general.

Just my always humble opinion :slight_smile:

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@tag42git - I think that we are pretty much on the same wavelength. The reason I put emphasis on “coreActionOrProdcut” is that it shows what an organization does, not just what it says it does. And the impact of each action or product would hopefully be the subject of scrutiny. I personally think that enterprises, government agencies, and NGOs should all be viewed with skepticism since wanting to help in a certain situation doesn’t mean you are necessarily doing anything helpful. OTOH, I believe it is a failing of our society that we put more emphasis on organizations whose purpose it to make money than we do on organizations who are working for a better world. I believe the Solid Project is an organization working for a better world and I’d like to be able to express that right up front and to support other organizations in a similar position.

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Slightly off topic, and probably wrong place to ask, but would Inrupt consider becoming a

??

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I really love :heart: this, @jeffz and I feel it is a very inspiring example of how linked data can be applied in new and interesting ways (so that’s a nice follow-up to what I just wrote in topic Is RDF “hard”?).

There’s a very broad applicability to this model, that goes beyond “organizations” (though it depends what semantic meaning you attach to that term, I guess). Thinking more general about the social benefit of any Actor (ActivityPub terminology) or Agent (Valueflows terminology) that touch on my interest areas.

I’m involved in preparing a new (crowdsourced) initiative called Social Coding Movement (not yet launched, will be somewhere later this year) that focuses on the social aspects throughout the entire Free Software Development Lifecycle. Software that focuses on real human needs is an important aspect, but considering the social benefit of a project organization that delivers the software is equally important.

So I will take this into consideration for that effort. These kinds of models come into play when building supportive tools for social coding, and where we want to wield the Fediverse to roll them out. Another potential Fediverse application applies more universally: the Fediverse consists of 1,000’s of servers, called Instances, where the member base of an instance forms an implicit community. Instances may have a specific theme, but more importantly they have their own Code of Conduct and moderation policies.

I am advocating to decouple “Community” as a ‘fediverse-native’ concept from artificial server boundaries, by having communities be represented by Group-type Actors and also be able to better represent the intricate ‘social fabric’ of real life by letting them have meaningful Relationship objects to other Actors. The Social Benefit model may play a role in that too, by defining Code of Conduct and ‘purpose’ in general in machine-readable fashion. Apart from that, and as something to be modeled on top I am interested in a concise “Governance” so you’d be able to shape ‘democratical community governance’ on the Fediverse.

Will post your article to some other people whom I know will be interested in it (like Bonfire and aforementioned Valueflows teams).

Jeff your blog post reminds me of the LinkedSDG project a friend of mine worked on. Basically, all SDG goals and subgoals are part of a taxonomy (in RDF) and used for document annotation. It is not so much about the profile of an organization as it is about annotation of the textual content of an organization to automate the process of creating the profile maybe.

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