Behold, an ecosystem!
Table of Contents
What is the
The FujoVerse™1–previously known as The BobaVerse™2–is “an eclectic collection of projects related to coding, community and fandom3 on the web”. In this series, I want to give an eagle-eye-view of this ecosystem, and how it works to accomplish its goal: turn the web back into a place of fun, joy, and connection, where people build and nurture their own communities and software.
The Pillars: Community, Software Ownership, and Technical Education
The FujoVerse™ projects evolved over time, based on what I learned building each piece, making friends and allies, and reading anything I could find on related topics. While ambituous goals that tackle complex systems cannot have too-tight roadmaps, these efforts have hovered around a few fundamental pillars:
There’s many issues that come together to make the modern web feel like a “joyless landscape”, but a core and often-underestimated problem is the abscence of true communities. Indeed, while the hyper-connectedness of contemporary social online spaces may trick us into seeing these as such, their shape makes it hard (if not impossible) to build the necessary group identity, shared norms, and mutual concern between their members4.
Research shows that the lack of true community heavily contributes to loneliness and social isolation we feel in the modern days, even in the online world. This adds to the disenfranchisement felt by many users, and keeps them disempowered and stuck in a loop of helplessness and often-misdirected anger at one another. (Re)building communities is required to change how we feel and interact on the web.
Software Ownership and Collaboration
The needs of niche online communities are, well, niche. While software built by big tech companies is increasingly at odds even with mainstream users, the current dynamics disproportionately impact marginalized groups and communities. To build software that responds to their own needs, members of niche communities must be able to shape this software themselves.
As we know, however, this challenge is not only technical5: solving it means building structures and processes for constructive collaboration, both within each community and accross different ones. Unfortunately, effective collaboration requires both trust and psychological safety. As communities erode, and the web and social systems break down, building safe, stable spaces for collaborative work (an already-difficult problem) becomes more and more complex.
Education (Technical and Beyond)
Once again, the need for education goes beyond the technical realm: from community building to conflict resolution, from negotiation to effective (and kind) communication, from marketing to business to project management, niche communities need many different skills to build a better future for themselves and the web. In a world that doesn’t equip many of us with these skills, we must build approachable and trusted resources to learn them from.
Note: In more than one way, these pillars also intersect with open source software and decentralized protocols.
The Future: Help Build the FujoVerse™
Despite all that we’ve already built, The FujoVerse™ is still in its inception. We have a long road ahead of us to support the collaborators that make our project possible, and to continue making an impact in 2024 and beyond. To this end, this year I’m focused on building a larger public to find new supporters and sponsors. If you believe that a better web is worth fighting for, you can support our work on Patreon or by subscribing through my own alternative. If you wish to donate more, you can reach out to set up a custom sponsorship.
In the long term, given the opportunity and finances to do so, we believe we can build profitable projects that will be able to independently sustain our mission. After all, the people who contribute to The FujoVerse™ have a unique perspective that speaks to the needs of the web and its netizens in a way that no mainstream company can replicate. While the road to manifesting and harnessing their power will be difficult, nothing ambitious has ever looked easy from the starting line.
Not a real trademark ↩
Also not a real trademark ↩
“Fandom” should be considered a stand-in for ”niche online community”. While my work centers around “transformational/shipping fandom” (because that’s my own online niche), the projects, principles and lessons are applicable beyond it. ↩
This will be an article at some point. For now I suggest reading The Art of Community, or (if you can stomach business speak) the excellent Building Brand Communities, from the same author. ↩
The challenge is not only technical, but it is (alas) also technical. A baseline of technical skills and understanding empowers people in other roles to become more active and informed partecipants. It’s important that we nurture these skills, just like we must nurture non-technical skills in tech-oriented folks. ↩
Sometimes people push against this point by listing various existing resources. However, after spending three years and counting mentoring hobbyist coders and nurturing a community dedicated to their growth, I continue being confident in this assessment. ↩