Trust group

De Organic Design
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A trust group is a group of people, called members, who all trust each other to a certain degree across a particular spectrum of resource access and responsibility. This division of responsibility will often divide membership into distinct categories which get given names like roles, departments or divisions and gives and overall organisational structure to the group. The most fundamental distinction between kinds of members is into those who are engaged in the groups governance aspects and those who are involved in a passive observational sense such as subscribers of a newsletter or RSS feed.

A trust group can engage in organisational activity by the members working to an agreed upon system, and it can form into a formal entity which can own or access resource, contain private and public information and trade with other entities. People can be members of many trust-groups, and trust groups can be arranged into a hierarchy of sub-groups, for example by organising the trust group into departments and roles, or by creating sub-groups to manage particular projects that are of interest to or supported by only certain members.


The foundation of all the groups is the active pursuing of the goals of freedom and self-governance as outlined in the Organic Design manifesto and the New Libertarian Manifesto that will ultimately lead to an agorist society independent of the corrupt and coercive state. The following is from the New Libertarian Manifesto and defines the way groups work in an agorist society which is an excellent description of what should constitute the foundation of a trust group.

In an agorist society, division of labor and self-respect of each worker-capitalist-entrepreneur will probably eliminate the traditional business organization - especially the corporate hierarchy, an imitation of the State and not the Market. Most companies will be associations of independent contractors, consultants, and other companies. Many may be just one entrepreneur and all his services, computers, suppliers and customers. This mode of operation is already around and growing in the freer segments of Western economies.

Thus an association of entrepreneurs of liberty for the purpose of specializing, coordinating and delivering libertarian activities is no violation of the market and may well be optimal. The traditional name for a handling together of sovereign units for a goal and then disbanding is an alliance. Hence the basic organization for New Libertarian activists is the New Libertarian Alliance.

The organization of NLA (or NLAs) is simple and should avoid turning into a political organ or even an authoritarian organization. Rather than officers, what are needed are tacticians (local coordinators with competency in tactical planning) and strategists (regional coordinators with competency in strategic thinking). A New Libertarian Ally does not follow a tactician or strategist but rather "buys" their argument and expertise. Anyone offering a better plan can replace the previous planner. Tactics and strategy should be "bought and sold" by the Allies like any other commodity in consistent agorist fashion.

Trust & Contracts

Trust: In a social context, trust has several connotations. The typical definition of trust follows the general intuition about trust and contains such elements as:
  • the willingness of one party (trustor) to rely on the actions of another party (trustee);
  • reasonable expectation (confidence) of the trustor that the trustee will behave in a way beneficial to the trustor;
  • risk of harm to the trustor if the trustee will not behave accordingly; and
  • the absence of trustor's enforcement or control over actions performed by the trustee. [more]
Contract: Contracts are based on the principle expressed in the Latin phrase pacta sunt servanda, which means "agreements to be kept" ("Agreement" also links to this article). A contract is said to come into existence when acceptance of an offer (agreement to the terms in it) has been communicated to an offeror by an offeree and there has been consideration bargained-for induced by promises or a promise and performance. The offer and acceptance formula, developed in the 19th century, identifies a moment of formation when the parties are of one mind (unified). The bottom line purpose of contracts is really about ensuring that there is a stable operating environment on to which we can build systems and organisations. As with trading, governance or any other aspect of the social mechanism, this stable operating environment can be achieved without the need of trusted third-parties. This stability can also be provided in a bottom-up peer-to-peer way by making assurance the foundation of contractual binding between members of a Platform. [more]

All the trust-groups together comprise an important aspect of the platform network, which is a network formed from bottom-up organisations that incorporate trust relationships and allows the members to leverage their potential in a reliable way. All the trust groups listed in this site are aligned with OrganicDesign.

Trust-groups can be formalised into single entities that can trade, own property or control accounts. The type of entity best suited to such a group is a trust. Trusts can be created purely out of contracts formed between the members of the trust-group.

Dimensions of trust

There can be many different forms that relationships of trust can take, for example trusting that financial balance held with another party can be repaid at any time, trusting that another party can perform a task they've said they're capable of, trusting that they can be punctual etc. Making these relationships explicit allows a group to see what potential it has available, and from that what larger projects could be worked on together.


Assurance: By members of a trust group working within contracts together as a Platform, the group a a whole can absorb losses or failures of it's members allowing them all to more easily maintain a good trust rating. This is group assurance, and is the foundation of a stable operating environment onto which systems can be built in the Platform network.

For example, if two untrusted parties traded a service and then at some point the seller called in payment of the resulting account but the buyer was unable to come up with the money at that point in time, the loss of that failure would be temporarily distributed amongst his trust group. This way his rating in the financial dimension of trust is maintained, but has the potential to drop within the context of his own trust group if he can't repay his members in accord with their own internal agreements. If he were continually badly behaved he may be rejected from his trust group, and then his trust rating would be affected making it more difficult to become a member in other trust groups.

Having assurance as the foundation allows individuals to only be required to form contracts with those they know and trust, and it's based on supporting our peers when they're unable to meet their obligations, rather than treating contracts as rules involving punishments for violations. In such a system, obligations solidly met because people don't want to let down those they're closely associated with.

Such agreements allow the creation of assurances which can then act as axioms for functionality on higher levels of abstraction in the system. Sets of simple agreements between members of trust groups can also form a foundation for alignment with the common vision. [more]

Group direction and governance

For the group to be able to achieve the goals stated in its shared vision, there must be a system in place. The foundation of a system is to define the direction and management roles and the methods and tools of governance.

In groups that make use of crowd-sourcing of skills and resources it can become difficult to ascertain which members are involved in the collaboration and to what extent. This becomes of particular concern when it concerns the allocation equity, and can be extremely difficult to assess when some of the roles contributions are intangibles. In general this can be made a lot clearer and tidier by all members maintaining good logging of activities and relationships consistently.

Physical network (notes to merge here)

A physical network is a network consisting of people, venues and schedules and forms part of the platform specification. Modern groupware software allows schedules to be associated not only with people, but also with groups of people, venues or other bookable resources to organise things like car-pooling or book borrowing.

By combining such a scheduling/booking solution with basic routing technology used in networking and with a basic organisation/workflow system makes it possible to add the bookable resources into the schedules of people or venues. For example a meeting of a group of people may be organised on their group schedule at a particular venue and time along with some other resources such as a projector and some specified documentaries on DVD. Since the network knows in advance what resources need to be present at what locations and when they need to be there, it can advise participants of the meeting and owners of the resources of what they should take with them and give to whom as they move between the various venues in the network.

If exchange of memory sticks and other removable media are included in this physical networking layer, then the idea can be applied further to form an automated system of distributed backup and updating of knowledge and software packages.

Ideally the interface for this functionality would be a simple case of dragging and dropping resources into a venues schedule, or visa versa, dropping a venue into a resource's schedule.

In some cases there are conflicts or ambiguities such as when a resource is already booked our for the time-slot you drop it into a venue at, or there are a number of instances of a given resource available for the time-slot. In such cases a group decision is required which is another aspect of the platform specification

Notes to merge from Organic Group

The group hierarchy is always changing (hence the term "organic"), because although many of the groupings are very static like the departments and roles, some of them are constantly changing such as members of particular projects or people sharing a common interest. We use the term "ontology" instead of just "hierarchy" because this structure of groups reflects the high-level reality of the organisation at any given time.

Each group has it's own home page, or "portal" which is tailored specifically to the needs of its members, firstly by being based on a template that matches the type of group it is (such as a department or a project), and secondly because it's members can collaborate together on how their portal should look and what tools and resources should be available to them.

Some common tools used by such groups are blogs, forums, wiki pages, mailing lists, group decision-making tools (such as polls), project management tools, shared schedules, resource booking systems and online chat systems.

Group types

There should be different types of Organic Group which all work the same way, but have specific layouts and collections of tools. Such types represent the major concepts such as Organisation, Role, Project or Campaign. As well as acting as a container for tools and resources and exhibiting various members, these groups should also have their own data fields and views so that they can be searched for and accessed from various contexts.


The tools that are selected and the way they're laid out should be able to be published as a template option so that it's an available option for others to use. These options should be able to be searched by popularity and other properties so that people can see which portal methodologies are being most widely used in within particular contexts. Publishers should be able to includes notes about their decisions so that others can make informed decisions about their choices.

Splitting and merging

Groups should be able to divide in separate groups, or merge multiple groups into a single group, as well as be able to create sub-groups. For example if a group decision is unable to be resolved, the group could split into two, or an group representing an organisation may wish to create sub-groups representing various departments and further into projects or roles. Note that Roles are a separate concept, but roles may like to have an Organic Group for themselves as a common portal catering to their specific needs.


Trust groups could use something like WASTEagain as their basic connectivity layer which allows groups to connect together privately within an insecure environment like the Internet. All members of the mesh can view all traffic, but it's encrypted to all viewing the traffic outside the mesh group.

See also