Since the summer of last year a number of ideas have been thrown around. While there is still much work to be done we have developed the following basic structure.
Members: these can be academics, activists or community organisers – anyone interested working with others to further the aims of the RTT. To join this collective/network you simply have to fill in the form on the website stating your agreement with organisation’s aims and giving and details of your background and of what areas who are interested in researching. This information will be put on a members page and people can then contact each other. At the moment membership is free and involves no set commitments but this may change as the organisation evolves over the coming year.
Research projects: Any member can start up or suggest a research project. They can ask for support for this project and attract commitments to it from other members. This could just a small data collection exercise, help with a specific design intervention proposal, or a larger research idea. If they get the level of commitment needed they can then start the project. They can report on it on their own page on the website and via the facebook page. The idea is there not any central control of projects – RTT is an “open source” organisation. Anyone can initiate ideas. This connects with the idea that research data can be crowd-sourced – drawing in many people from academia and/or social movements to contribute their own data and do their own research (see more on this below).
Publications and Collaborations: The results of research will be put on the website and freely promoted. The main format will be “how to do it” documents – advice on how to do specific areas of social change work backed up by research undertaken by RTT and other sources. This might take the form of one page bullet point sheets, or small booklets which go into more detail, and eventually books length publications. We will actively seek to collaborate with other networks and organisations on specific projects so as to engage with a wider audience and combine our credibility and resources.
Administration: the organisation is presently being coordinated by Roger, with Guin and Graham admining the website and facebook page. As the organisation grows we will formalise these roles and create an admin group which is accountable to the rest of the organisation. In order to push forward the aims RTT we plan to attract funding to create waged positions and finance its promotion etc.
Meetings/Get-togethers: We are starting to have regular get togethers – evening socials in London where we can share food and throw around ideas. Decisions about structure and resources can be made at these meetings. These meetings will evolve into more formal decision-making processes in the future but the main aim at present is to create a lively network of people thinking the same thing- radical change needs research and education.
So this then is the general organisation form as of January 2016. We will continually add to it and make it more concrete over the coming year.
The organisation then is centered around the development of projects and an evolving set of ways of working. Here is the outline we have so far:
RTT comprises of a number of research projects. People commit to these for the duration of the project but not necessarily need to have any ongoing RTT commitment after the completion of them. However this commitment would be clear and solid for the duration of the project. As long as the research project is within the general aims of RTT any member can initiate a project and make a commitment to joining in a project’s research team or network. This way the organisation has an open structure aiming to engage the maximum number of people in finding out and contributing data. This works a bit like the crowd-sourced models used in areas such as astronomy where people can given some data to collect and analyse. So for example a RTT project might want to collect data on how empowering people find meetings. A standard questionnaire could be produced online which can be downloaded and people anywhere can join the project, use the questionnaire to get data at the end of campaign meetings and then enter the data onto a aggregating openly accessible programme they can access directly. This then is the future of open source collaborative research – getting lots of data from many people and sharing it freely rather than the old model of the “expert” researcher trying to do it all by themselves and hiding and restricting access to the results.
Ways of Working.
Open networks only work well if they have clear rules and norms. And these need to be rooted in and reflect the ethical and political values of the network. Here is a summary of what we have so far:
- RTT is a participatory organisation which aims to encourage involvement and give respect to all its members regardless of background.
- Its meetings and organisation will make decisions by consensus and aim to use creative methods to come to the best collective decisions
- Its projects will have clear aims and the commitment of those working on the project will be well spelled out. People will then be expected to fulfil their commitments.
- RTT will set achieveable short term aims which are attainable so it is clear where the organisation is headed. Such aims with be set at full meetings of the organisation using an outside facilitator if needed.
- Any major conflict or disagreement in the collective will be dealt with by using mediation techniques and members will be expected to participate in such processes if the need arises.
- RTT will aim to make all its activities enjoyable and fun. These involve ways to create good will and support between members such as sharing food, social events – and generally keeping it light!
Of course developing and improving on these ways of working is a project in itself and as RTT learns about good and creative practice in other organisations and networks it would wish to incorporate these ideas into its own ways of working.
Last but not least there’s the tricky issue of money. RTT is hopefully going to grasp the nettle that if the organisation is going to become a significant political and educational force then it needs to pay people to do run the operation and to fund the research. So at the beginning of 2016 we plan to start raising money. The ideal situation is to have a large network of supporters and to be able to fund the organisation from many small donations (like 38 degrees). This might be more possible if we link up with radical media organisations and political networks and engage in joint crowdsourcing ventures. In the meantime an idea is to raise around £5-10,000 from immediate supporters, radical charities and individuals. Another idea is to ask for donations from our work with campaign groups – their ability to pay might vary greatly so a donation would round the problem of having a set rate. Asking for money from rich people can be very effective but raises of the problem of independence so an idea is to have a blind trust – if people want to give above a certain level it is donated through a third party and so we do not know who it is from. Lastly there is the possibility of getting money from public funds such as via university research bids. Of course again there is the problem of independence but this could be assessed on a case by case basis and it seems that it is certainly possible to get funding for radical research project via this route.