Specularity — a powerful concept to explain why SnowDrift works better at raising money


I wanted to introduce you to the concept of specularity because I think it’s a great concept to understand (and thus explain) why SnowDrift works better at raising money for public good(s).

Specularity is a concept I read about in Yves Cochet’s postscript of Pablo Servigne’s and Raphaël Stevens’ book How Everything Can Collapse: A Manual for our Times and I have been obsessed with it since.

Quoting Yves Cochet’s postscript:

Specularity and “specular interaction” were introduced in 1989 by Jean-Louis Vullierme in his book Le concept de système politique.

The idea is that people watch each other to decide whether to act or not.

I’m ready to make an effort if I know other people are ready to make an effort.”

Specularity is a term borrowed from opics (specularize is synonym to “hold a mirror to”).

I think the fact that “everyone watches what everyone else is doing” is the reason fundraising events like Z Event or Telethon are so efficient at raising money.

And SnowDrift is a big innovation in that regard, because thanks to SnowDrift, we probably won’t need to bother organizing such events to raise large sums of money.

I’m not saying SnowDrift would benefit in using the word “specularity” in its marketing (hell no ^^).

But I do think people understand psychology and sociology better than maths. And since everyone, I think, can empathize with the idea that “I’m ready to make an effort if I know other people are ready to make an effort”, SnowDrift might make more sense to them presented this way when, sometimes, from what I have read on this forum, they might be perplexed when presented with the counter-intuitive system where
more people ⇒ more money spent per person

I’ve started reading Vullierme’s book and it’s fascinating. Some parts where he talks about specular interactions reminded me of mutually recursive acronyms:

  • HURD = HIRD of Unix-Replacing Daemons
  • HIRD = HURD of Interfaces Representing Depth

He says people’s minds (their representations of the world) are kind of like that, except they don’t create in an infinite loop (hopefully).

1 Appreciation

Yes yes yes, this is so obviously the phenomenon we experience everywhere — endless examples.

The meta-irony here is that in all my years trying to get Snowdrift.coop fully functioning, the primary attitudes I tend to encounter in people look something like these caricatures:

  • “That sounds good, but if people wanted to do things that way, they’d already be doing it.”
  • “That way of organizing is not what I’m already doing, so it’s not what I want.”
  • “This looks like it would totally work and be revolutionary, but most people out there seem skeptical and want to wait and see how it goes after you folks make it happen. So I’ll do that too, I’ll stay skeptical yet hopeful and wait rather than get involved in making it happen.”
  • “Our grant funds things that are the types of things that already get funded, and crowdmatching at Snowdrift.coop is outside that scope, so we’re not going to give you a grant to support working on it.”

Basically, all these folks want to use crowdmatching and see it succeed, but they want to see social-validation of it first, and even the portion that get the irony still don’t usually change from this specularity approach to things. And, of course, this all makes sense. We don’t have robust crowdmatching fully working to fund its own development.

1 Appreciation

I hear you.

As you can imagine, we see the same problem with the adoption of Ğ1.

Oh the lack of courage. Oh the conformity. Oh the laziness.

That’s sad :rofl:

PS :

I’m adding this one to my vocabulary :+1: