# Project Partnership Proposal (Totally a Pitch!)
# 1. Proposal
- 1 year (max) collaboration between researcher and Hypha Worker Co-operative to form one of three sites as part of the researcher's PhD thesis
- Connected to Hypha project with distinct research outputs (example below)
# 2. Background
My PhD project centered on a set of linked concerns around emerging decentralization or "dweb" projects to **build alternatives rather than reform existing internet infratructure**. My research goals focus on issues around these emerging alternatives as they relate to the concept of **decentralization**:
- first, understanding the **contingent nature of "decentralization"** as a concept, tracing how it has become popularized and analysing what remains naturalized in its contemporary use;
- second, to thicken existing accounts of **how "decentralization" as a concept provides a sense-making frame** as they encode specific values through building and using these alternative structures; and
- third, **situate decentralization within broader conversations** of technological self-determination and autonomy (e.g., data sovereignty) and explore whether literature on transformation and commoning is productive for understanding those values arising around decentralization.
In order to do so I anticipate drawing on existing theoretical frameworks of infrastructure studies, values and design, commons, and (sustainable and social justice) transformations.
I have completed desk research on the history of a subset of alternative networks as well as early framing of decentralization in design documents of ARPANET, Internet, and Web. I've also identified and profiled contemporary dweb projects. I'm at the stage where I would like to move into discussion with folks active in the space and am about to approach other sites.
# 3. Scope of Collaboration
## 3.1 Activities
- Participant **observation** (online/offline) in Hypha public and member spaces
- Ethnographic **interviews**
- **Document analysis** of planning and design documents
## 3.2 Duration
- Research project and collaboration no longer than 10 months (March-December 2020), with target for end of prime field noting and "data collection" by August 2020
- Organization and individual members would always have the right to end the collaboration and withdraw at any time, for any reason
# 4. Outcomes and Benefits
- Help Dawn with her dissertation
- Help build a culture of research within Hypha?
- in particulare to think through community-based, ethnographic research models
- Document organization's early and emerging "cultural values," make those available* for future use:
- summary documents
- transcripts (only with consent)
- design artefacts
- Develop organizational profile toward research?
- co-authored publication?
- Research outputs to promote and encourage further relationships with desired organizations
*Note: Hypha would have
# 5 Communication
- Bi-monthly 30 minute check-in that all members are welcome to attend in order to ensure the success of the project collaboration and discuss any issues as they arise.
## 5.1 Consent
- Organizational consent to enable participant observation and documentary analysis as described above
- (need to clarify how to handle with my REB)
- Separate individual consent for any one-on-one interactions, for example, interviews.
- Retrospective consent for previously captured notes, audio, or video if not covered by organizational consent above
## 5.2 Confidentiality, Risks
Research data will be stored and backed up on an encrypted and password-protected volume for the length of time data is retained. Paper records will be stored in a locked filing cabinet or in a secured office.
Treated as confidential:
- Off-the-record spaces
- Information from one-on-one interactions and interviews
- Business and operating information e.g., financial, employee, client (?)
- Audio/video recordings (with destruction date)
- Anonymised Interview Transcripts
- Design artefacts (or photos thereof)
- Field notes
No records kept:
- Identified as sensitive data by participants
- Business and operating information e.g., financial, employee, client
Explicit consent for potentially identifying aspects:
- Risk of identification despite pseudonyms of participant names. Full anonymity may be difficult in the context of a relatively small community of individuals and organizations working on decentralized web
- Mitigated by no direct attribution of sensitive information in public reporting
- Mitigated by confirming with individuals before inclusion of quotes in reporting
- Data breach
- Mitigated by following UofT Research Ethics Board (REB) [Data Security Standards](http://www.research.utoronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/documents/2013/05/datasecurity1.pdf)
# Appendix - Sample Research Project
(from offline.systems proposal)
0. Guiding RQ or Problem Statements
- "What does it mean to be a neighbour on the decentralized web?"
- As a new user it is difficult to understand what the various p2p projects are and how they relate
e.g., from proposal:
- Better understand the challenges people face using various peer-to-peer and decentralized platforms and services
- Develop user stories of potential new practices of "being online" with peer-to-peer and offline networks
- Develop demonstrations that highlight novel possibilities of peer-to-peer and offline networks
2. Project outputs
e.g., from proposal:
- Field notes on peer-to-peer software challenges in offline networks
- User research, demos and documentation about peer-to-peer system interoperability
- Project website linking to all project materials
3. Plan of Work
Length: 8-10 months