Did We Get It Right? A Look Back at Our 2021 Digital Organising Predictions

Contributor: Weronika Paszewska

As humans, we like to be right - sometimes we are, and sometimes we’re not. At the beginning of last year, we made some predictions on What to expect in the field of digital organising in 2021. Today we want to reflect on which of them came true, and in which of the areas we still need to wait to see things happening.

We made four specific predictions: that the year would see a development of digital organising metrics, a development of tech tailored for organising, that movements and organisations would develop a mindset of letting go, and that community-care would be prioritised. Check out below what we think did and did not happen. 

Developing digital organising metrics

This past year definitely saw progress in this area. “Prisms of the People: Power & Organizing in Twenty-First-Century America”, an excellent new book by Hahrie Han, Elizabeth McKenna, and Michelle Oyakawa, brings us much closer to understanding how to operationalise people’s power and helps us to be more specific about elements that need to be measured. In the area of digital organising metrics, the book was joined by an amazing and very practical tool Assessing Your Organization’s Strategic Capacity, as well as the report An Approach to Understanding and Measuring People Power

We were also watching the Orbit model that was created by a community of developers who advocate for engagement of the community in the development of software. We believe that the main takeaway from this model to our movement building is the concept of activity decay. 

Additionally, we think of Britanny Bennet’s work to implement the Orbit model into Sunrise Analytics - work she generously shared here. We found the timeline added to the engagement metric especially important! Her previous piece called A Practitioner's Guide for Measuring Movements also proposed different ranks for activities depending if they are low, medium, or high-bar actions. If you are not already using it for your CRM, we highly recommend introducing it this year.

We, at Tectonica, have also gone further in our thinking around measuring movement power by developing the Organising Equation


Having tech tailored for organising 

With the pandemic continuing to rage throughout the year, 2021 encouraged all of us to rely even more on tech tools for our campaigning and organising activities. Although we still have lots to do in this area, we want to highlight that tools like Discord and Slack have grown in popularity. In 2021, Slack doubled its publicly-accessible instances (installations) and Discord saw a 50% increase. Discord moved beyond just gaming communities, and progressive organising has made use of it - Tectonica specifically recommended using this platform to a few of our clients in 2021.

Virtual events became the standard format of meetings for communities, and we’ve seen important developments in this area (here you can check out the latest review on a few tools by Alonso from our team at Tectonica). We also welcomed with excitement that ControlShift brought a data-locality option for European-based customers by creating a European Data Center.

It has been a big year for union organising, we’ve also looked closely at union organising taking off across the US to learn more from them and how they implement tech tools into their work. 

2021 was not a year where we saw much in the way of new tailored tools for organising. We observed instead growing attention to integration of various existing tools, and today we feel that the trend is toward movements and organisations using a growing number of tools and increasingly demanding more flexible integrations between them to keep data neat and consistent.


Adopting a mindset of letting go

This prediction is not an easy one to verify, as these kinds of changes are happening deep in the organisational structures. We did observe that the interest in decentralised activities is greater than in the previous years, and continuing to grow. This is certainly a sign of organisations adopting a more flexible approach towards control. Do you want to share your point of view on the mindset of letting go with the TON community? Please do so by joining our conversation on Slack!


Prioritising community-care

As the second year of the ongoing COVID pandemic, 2021 definitely pushed us to think and do more to promote care and balance work. This was a year in which lots of movements and organisations had to re-think and re-assess their efforts. It is not possible to continue activities on the same level and in the same way as pre-pandemic. We observe that there has been much more reflection directed internally in the teams. At the end of 2021 we shared practices for self-care with you. You can review them here: Sharing is caring. Team Tectonica’s self-care practices for inspiration.

We want to also share with you the Washington Post summary of protests over the world in 2021 as a New Years gift. We found it very visually attractive (they use amazing photos) and also a good occasion to reflect on the moments when people stood up for themselves and took to the streets.