D-CENT: Technical Design of Open Social Web for Crowdsourced Democracy

D4.3The latest deliverable of D-CENT project has been released: D4.3 Technical Design of Open Social Web for Crowdsourced Democracy. The file contains the technical architecture of the D-CENT nodes, each with its own social data store, in order to allow D-CENT to be used for the direct democratic decision-making pilots.


Disclaimer: This report is currently awaiting approval from the EC and as such cannot be not considered as final version.

Executive Summary:

The overall objective of Work Package 4 is to design the technical specifications for a standards-based, privacy-aware and decentralized D-CENT platform for open democracy. In this deliverable, we present here the technical architecture of the D-CENT nodes, each with its own social data store, in order to allow D-CENT to be used for the direct democratic decision-making pilots. In particular we will describe: (i) the federated and privacy-aware social networking architecture for the core D-CENT platform that allows communities to own their social data (“data portability”), and crowd-source a data-driven “map” of their social relationships and environment (ii) design of participatory democratic decision-making modules (which include publishing articles and contents, collaborative text writing for instance in crowdsourced legislation, share annotations, debate and voting) for D-CENT that enables these communities to self-organise and make decisions, keeping a collective memory of their activity. The capabilities needed by each pilot will be mapped to a set of requirements that result in a gap-analysis of the core social-networking codebase of D-CENT. A number of core features, such as easy-to-use group access control, collaborative writing and voting mechanisms, and multi-media objects will be factored into features to be added to the D-CENT platform. Equally importantly, the integration of the crowd-sourcing PyBossa platform and the open social datastore (with export to RDF and the ability to use CKAN for human-produced metadata about data-stores) will be included as part of the work led by the OKFN as D-CENT enabled applications.

Advanced capacities such as the ability for communities to discover resources from sensor data-streams and mapping data other and resources may also become requirements coming from the use cases. Each of the direct democratic decision-making tools will be analysed for functionality. This functionality will include posting new Articles, comments and annotations on articles based on the Democracy OS codebase, discussion and deliberation; Voting on a text with series of options, including weighted voting and blockchain voting; Collaborative bottom-up editing; Notification engine with users preferences (Sending reminders out and decision results using Twitter). Core D-CENT features will be also included such as strong authentication; Single sign-on; Identity Management; Access Control for Groups, Secure Messaging, and the implementation of standards led by the W3C Social Web Working Group such as ActivityStreams, Federation, and Data Portability. Each pilot will run whatever tools, possibly different, necessary to solve their local problem from a combination of D-CENT core features and D-CENT application.

The output of this deliverable is the production a technical design for implementers that is strongly linked to the social requirements coming from the pilots (see D1.2 and D1.2 for a detailed description of our lean UX development methodology). This Deliverable will outline the technical details of the crowd-sourcing, open-data, and democratic decision-making tools capabilities of the federated social networking platform. eco-system that could then be generalized to address needs throughout Europe and beyond. The inputs for the technical design come from the ongoing and iterative social design that is happening with the D-CENT communities on the ground. This results in diverse pilots and experiments that constitute an open decentralised democracy ecosystem that will communicate via standards (as outlined in D4.1 and D 4.2) and factor out, from each successful application, a common decentralized social data platform for democracy, the D-CENT platform, whose open-source components can then be shared and build future applications. This modular, open and standard-based characteristic of the DCENT platform will make it easier to integrate in the future the digital social currency design based on the Bitcoin block-chain (D4.4) and its implementation (D 5.5) of the second pilots through JSON API.

Following the “lean” process outlined in D1.1 and D1.2, the ultimate target of the D-CENT development process to build software that users actually want, while taking into account what technical aspects of current applications are currently addressing real social needs, as well as a “gap analysis” of where existing solutions fall short. Furthermore, across all three pilots common needs will be taken into account, as well as fundamental design principles around data protection, security, open source, and decentralization. Thus, what is necessary is given the social requirements given by each of the pilots and explained in detail in D1.2, to essentially “map” these social requirements to technical features that we believe may fulfil the needs of users. Of course, through experimentation it may be possible that these needs are not actually fulfilled by the technical features, and thus further iteration is required. Just like the technical recommendations in D4.1 and D 4.2, the recommendations in this deliverable are non-binding, but nonetheless provide a valuable map with dependencies and open decisions to help coders navigate the features needed for the decentralized social networking and direct democracy DCENT applications. The features here described will be then prioritised within WP 5 (D5.1: D5.2: D5.3) and each application of the D-CENT platform will then be built integrating users feedback and requirements coming from the pilots during the testing phases.

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