- CES has been providing community currency software-as-a-service since 2002
- Community Forge has been providing free web sites for LETS and timebanks since 2009
- CES Australia became independent from CES in 2011, to run its own local web server.
Despite their social impact, these networks find it very hard to engage software developers, to keep up to date, to embrace recent technologies, to be visible to donors. We see the froth of innovation all around us, beautiful new software galore but with zero users, while our networks which have outgrown what any single developer could support, are stagnating.
We want to transition to a new software architecture which
- uses new languages and approaches and hence has a ready pool of volunteers.
- allows our different local communities more ways to interact
- is comprised of smaller, more modular components for ease of maintenance and ownership by many parties
- has re-usable components so we don't have to reinvent the wheel.
- allows members to be identifiable within the group, but private from the outside.
- supports non-community currency groups with tools not tied to a particular ideology.
This probably needs to be done gradually, delivering benefits to users at each stage. So I'm going to describe the series of initiatives which we have in mind.
- 1. Mobile phone app.
- Our platforms and other community currency platforms are way behind when it comes to mobile app development and we are surely failing to reach the young and the poor. However since the functions of community exchange are very similar in all platforms, we should all be able to use the same mobile app. It is a relatively simple matter to extend each platform to serve the same API, and much progress has been made on this. But we need app developers to finish it!
- 2a. Standardised noticeboard index
- There are many, many advertising spaces on various web platforms from facebook.com to streetbank.com. But with different networks competing in the same spaces, users unable to see their next-door neighbours on different platforms are not being well served. We want to create a web service for indexing member ads accross platforms, with a REST interface to interrogate it. Ads should be geolocated and the host platforms should forward messages to the ad owners in order to restrict their identities only to the respective groups of which they are members. We want the ads themselves to be in a politically neutral space (like a blockchain) and to choose which sources of ads to index for our users. We think this tech would be widely useful, and if we had it right now we could migrate off CES ancient platform.
- 2b. App for searching indexed ads
- Once the index service is available, we can populate it but we need an HMTL5/ajax search interface to query and display the results. This could be packaged as a standalone app, and we would want to use the same code in our existing platforms.
- 3. Standardised ledger service (becoming Credit commons service)
- Each community and each platform currently does its own accounting in its own database. This works if you think a community currency is so specialised as to justify its own platform, but if you want to add a currency to an existing community it is less useful. We need therefore a REST service for community currency accounting, so that app developers do not have to build a back end - they can just plug in. Another reason for standardising the accounting function is to make transactions interoperable, as described in our Credit Commons white paper
We imagine other standardised REST services for group applications, for example savings pools accounting, forums, news & events, ridesharing, governance/decision-making. They would serve equally well both the outdated web platforms we now use and the more modern app-only approach.
The collective exists to offer software and coordination not only for complementary currency projects but for, broadly speaking, the rather dispersed relocalisation movement. We believe decentralisation is an important political goal, but not an absolute Good; coordination is critical within decentralised structures.
Will you help us? We are seeking long term volunteers to commit of course to writing and maintaining software, and also to spreading the word, building relationships, seeking funding, translating.