We’re thrilled to present to you the very first issue of COMPOST!
COMPOST is short for commons post, and it’s a magazine that publishes creative works reflecting on the web as a digital commons. This publication comes out of a year and a half of scheming, discussing, and organizing. It came out of our desire to create a piece of the web that embodied our dreams. We were tired of platforms making us bitter, angry, and afraid to connect online. We were also tired of being cynical. From the beginning, this was about building a space for us to be honest and creative.
Our theme, Fertile Grounds, was an invitation for peers to take stock of what the web has offered us — from the tools we use to the people we meet and become online. We were curious to unearth the ways that our failing web can still be trustful, healthy, and fun. The pieces in this issue were selected for their stylistic breadth, as well as for the care and vulnerability they promised.
The people featured in Issue One show us that the web can be a place of personal growth and intense feeling. They challenge universalist views of technology, revealing how locally situated networks give voice and agency to marginalized communities. They show the web’s potential to redistribute power and interoperate with other regenerative human systems. They explore how the internet is things. They point to ways the web’s physical infrastructures weave into our ecosystems and how the living have adapted to this reality. They remind us that even while we’re digitally fatigued, art can be a dose of sacred magic that recreates the web as an intimate place.
This magazine isn’t a product, it’s an artefact of a process that we feel is even more valuable than the issue itself. Through COMPOST, we’re adding to an existing network of people, tools, experiences, and knowledge systems. Our team of contributors and collaborators work in and for solidarity economics, co-operatives, community networks, copyleft, free and open source development, IndieWeb, and DWeb. By creating the magazine and evolving tools, we are metabolizing the structures that are failing us. We use what’s remaining — designs, protocols, and organizational practices — to build trustful networks of digital commoning.
Each issue is itself an experiment: a lab where creators, organizers, and technologists support each other to build new spaces for dialogue and creativity. Together we test boundaries of governance, collaboration, and publishing online. We challenge the dominant, often exploitative, ways of building with others: instead of prioritizing profit, we center the humans involved in this project. We document the ways we work to respect each others’ time and labor, while making this a financially sustainable project. It’s an iterative process of learning and sharing because we want others to take what we’ve done and adapt it to their collective needs. COMPOST is a fruiting body of people who come from intersecting networks, and our deepest hope is that the ideas contained here scatter like spores in the wind.
In the coming issues we’re going to keep experimenting organizationally, creatively, and technically. This first issue inspires us to dig deeper into some of the themes that surfaced across the nine pieces. We imagine future issues will explore themes of accessibility, intimacy, materiality, identity, health, and their intersections with the web. As we traverse these topics, we will continue to look beyond the nostalgia of the old web and imagine new possibilities to find thoughtful, authentic connections on the fledgling webs that are spinning into existence.
We want to thank our contributors for all the care and attentiveness they put into their works, as well as for their willingness to work with a scrappy team to get this publication off the ground. Huge thank you to Hanami, Jasmine, and Benny — our talented, thoughtful, and most of all patient group of designers and developers for joining us on this ride and making this publication a reality. And a final big thanks to the organizations that sponsored and backed this project: Grant for the Web, Hypha Worker Co-operative, Made By Super, Open Collective, Gitcoin, Simply Secure, and last but not least, the Distributed Press.
If you enjoy this issue, please consider supporting us by becoming a subscriber or sending us a one-time donation (we offer several ways to do this, including through crypto payment). We also encourage you to share this issue via the World Wide Web or DWeb. You can follow us on Twitter (@COMPOSTmag), Mastodon (social.coop/@COMPOST), Are.na (are.na/compost), or join our very low traffic mailing list, to hear about any upcoming events and announcements — including when we make our GIF stickers into actual stickers.
Thanks for checking us out. (.❛ ᴗ ❛.)
Mai Ishikawa Sutton