What is Cosmos?

(aka Executive Summary, Treatment)

Cosmos is a community, a platform, and a radical cooperative that aims to be a collaborative engine for collective genius. Specifically we seek greater realization of our intelligence and creativity in the world; we seek enhanced wellness and influence to affect social, economic, and cultural impacts. And in acting on such purpose, we seek to bring about (or enhance the chances of/conditions for) a more beautiful future, thoughtfully constructed from our finest visions and best processes.

These will-to-actions take the form of developing a community culture and an online platform founded on participatory, mindful engagement of the full capacities (mind, heart, spirit and body) of our user-members. From the outset, we aim to pattern the platform and the community culture on the “best of” our collectively-developed ethics, norms, structures and protocols. (Indeed, we are designing the platform and community culture from awareness of best practices in fields of open software development, cooperative business, and design, while also daring to experiment/innovate as needed.)

Cosmos’ value proposition is unique and deep in that seeks to combine the best values, ethics and methods from various cultures worldwide into a functional, autonomous organization that thrives through the fulfillment of the values embedded in its cultural norms, structures, functions and activities. The same cultural values expressed by patterns and rituals of interpersonal behavior among community members are also reflected in the prioritization, testing and building out of various platform technological features and utilities.

See our Organizational Values & Ethics page for a list of our core values.

These values/ethics are not neutral. For the integrity of the effort, members must resonate and honor these values in Cosmos, even while participating in creatively interpreting and designing rules and frameworks derived from those values. Failing to launch the initiative without these basic alternative 

patterns or premises intact, their human-animated systems and structures won’t have sufficient integrity to functionally enact these essential aspirations for the platform. On some minimal common ground, much can be accomplished and attained by the member-users. (Nothing, however, is fundamentally out-of-reach to the members of Cosmos to modify or amend; Cosmos will employ various “protective layers” and mechanisms to constrain members’ access to domains of decision-making based on various combinations of factors like trust, influence, participation, network size and position, etc. thus enabling the organization to stretch without unraveling the integrity of the functional systems in place.)

Cosmos is designed to serve people(‘s actualization processes). Thus, the cooperative platform’s ultimate value is its “use value,” or how much people are benefiting from using the platform utilities and social framework to meet their various needs. Capital is employed in service to people, and not the other way around. At its inception, Cosmos focuses on the generative circulation of creative, cultural, intellectual and social capital. As products and services are developed by member participation, Cosmos will increasingly serve the economic empowerment of its members, as well.

As Cosmos internally (and externally with respect to partnerships) seeks to combine people’s competencies and aspirations in such a way as to continuously hone and embolden the creative/visionary potential in each person, so, too, will the organization iteratively and conditionally realize its fullest potential through the ongoing application of people’s attention and creativity to the difficulties that arise. Thus will Cosmos be like a living process, effectively constituted by its members’ interactions and efforts in the direction of their aspirations. Cosmos proposes a more elegant variation on what a formal cooperative organization is: it is autonomously empowered into functional existence by the human-given consent, attention and manifest energy injecting it. Its cultural, organizational and technological codes will represent the collective’s best efforts at organizing and structuring the necessary information and capital flows in the system. And, as with a body and a brain: the more we practice self-awareness and skillful means, the more appropriately we will respond to difficulties.

In providing a platform suited to responding holistically/recursively to the needs of its user base, we aim to reverse/confront dominant patterns underway in society that result in suboptimal outcomes, and champion patterns that we see as optimal to holistic thriving. Without the ability to meaningfully, collectively act and innovate on different values, we are stymied. Cosmos’ holistic framework and its unique provision of internal control mechanisms/algorithms allow for a dynamically responsive, even meaning-making cooperative organization, community & platform. (See also: Co-Production.)

In this way, we allow our members to have creative power in digesting, interpreting, & shaping their experiences across all the scales they’re enmeshed in: individual, small group, and broad-collective; while enabling accountability and transparency across the whole for actions/choices that affect the integrity of the entire system. We want a living, healthy, forever imperfect, forever changing cooperative: a creatively-co-constituted frame in which our works mesh, our minds play, and our hearts and spirits grow lush. In contrast to a one-way extraction of capital/power/life, Cosmos models a more organic and mutual way: The platform and its membership are in responsive relationship with one another, each shaping what is possible and desirable for the other.

Cosmos is the most profoundly empowering platform out there because it isn’t founded on the cunning of clever entrepreneurs backed by hordes of venture capitalist remoras attempting to capture and exploit a “virgin market”… Cosmos seeks a world (you can read that futuristically or as a metaphor for the platform) where exploiting others is deeply taboo and is transmuted or sublimated into seeking for all beings to realize their dreams, and where harm is actively mitigated/composted. It affords trust and power to its members to effectively constitute the organization, in a structured way reflecting layers of trust, participation (patronage), and by a sophisticated, thoughtful set of interconnected algorithms.

Fundamentally, we are concerned with:

  1. Honoring and empowering people to realize more of their aspirations and creative potential (through platform interfaces, utilities, “mindful AI” assistance, and social norms of sponsorship, etc.)
  2. Honing/developing members’ skills for critical, deep and effectual engagement with their communities (through providing the platform as “a praxis playground”, through discourse/forums, etc.)
  3. Repairing the harm done by dominant socioeconomic systems to people’s hearts, minds and bodies (through mutual-benefit systems generating interpersonal/collective trust, gift-economy-based rewards, and other “spirals of abundance.”)

As important as it is for Cosmos to capture and circulate positive energy internally, Cosmos’ ultimate, long-view aim is to enhance the development of a decentralized web of autonomous, connected and refined human actors and their locally-adapted tools who are resoundingly equipped to respond thoughtfully and creatively to their local situations (and can leverage their networks and platform-connected tools to swiftly undertake transformational acts).

A human body has the benefit of millions of years of evolution, encoded into its genes: the experiential human life is the “software” run atop of the platform of the body, a relatively stable structure (for most of us) whose blueprint is preserved in the genes carried in every cell. A gigantic but not unworthy task: human agents, acting collectively and cooperatively, will need to develop awareness and synthesis of at least several thousands of years of human social, cultural and perceptual development to successfully “write the code” of the organization–if they can make intelligent sense and derive apt patterns from the noise (of many perspectives and experiences). Like in the case of our genes, the common foundation of our human condition subtly underpins the apparent diversity of our life expressions: this “platform” contains the knowable patterns of our minds, our emotions, our selves, our biologies, and our environments. If merged, this power could remake the world brilliantly. Fortunately, we have the advantage of Internet and software technologies to efficiently exchange salient viewpoints and information, empowering the ability to rapidly and robustly problem-solve among local groups of actors, and fostering a rich diversity of perspectives to be exchanged (although we acknowledge a deliberate commitment to diversifying our membership and distributing power will be required for success). On an intentional, empowering platform such as Cosmos, comprised of creative, thoughtful, inclusively-minded/open-minded individuals enmeshed in a mutually-reinforcing culture, we have the collective power to be incredibly adaptive, compassionate and inquiring.

Could we develop a cultural and technological ecosystem atop and compatible with our planetary ecosystem, toward a dynamic optimal “meshing” of humans within their co-constitutive networks of other beings? Although this is a fantastic goal, we feel equanimity as to whether “we” achieve it–because what we are doing includes as well as transcends our particular lives. The success of these aims, under the banner of Cosmos or otherwise, will be determined by whether we can effectively synthesize and integrate/combine diverse experiences and expressions into one harmonious, inclusive, adaptive and life-affirming meta-system, one that embraces the difficult and continuous work of being in partnership with all other beings. Which is, in fact, exactly analogous to the nature of humans’ dependence for survival on the relationship webs of intact ecosystems. We need a highly coordinated form of communion—just like ants to their colony, or your cells to your body.

Developing a thriving ecosystem will involve two essential tensions: 1) the ever-growing synthesis and integration required for the coordinated action and attainment of collective goals, and 2) the diversification of strategies, ideas, methods, and, indeed, ways of framing the goals themselves.

  1. Integration. This has to do with the integrity of information and the distribution and linkage of information across the network. Our broad success relies on integration—that we move toward coordinated, consensual action (like an ant or a bee colony “mind”) in the prototyping, constructing, and evaluating of better ways that we can all benefit from. This is how humanity could participate in the accelerated evolution of the design of our common structures, interactions and resource flows.
  2. Diversification. Unlike appropriating, colonizing forces in the world, whose effect is to homogenize and deplete the lands, creatures and cultures they encompass, we seek to encompass the edges of what is culturally and holistically regenerative in a time of declining cultural and environmental diversity. Although we share a common reality, appropriate technologies and cultural solutions will look different everywhere conditions are different. We must accelerate the diversification of locally-based creative responses through rapid and well-resourced experimentation, which is made possible through open collaborative resourcing of initiatives. (See Cosmos’ project and team fundraising possibilities via Open Collective.)

While Cosmos is a cooperative business and must function successfully in that regard, it is also an open-ended collective response to redesigning the systems in which we live. Cosmos is a convening and a utilizing of visionary people. Whether and how we can weave the disparate bits into a symphonic, life-affirming body (i.e., organization)—this is the challenge we dive into. We are like a laboratory—willing to try and experiment, willing to fail, grateful for feedback and willing to engage with conflict as a generative force, willing to tolerate confusion, disagreement and the unknown… joined together by a love for creation and the enchantment of life’s unfolding.

These are the seeds we are planting at launch, and we intend and hope they will become more realized and mature over time through intensifying participation.