John says

@joKingMob on twitter

Spacetube is a communication tool that groups use to talk to other groups. A group installs it on their chat platform, and can then open tubes to other groups by sharing a code through an existing communication channel.

The first version of spacetube has been built and I am currently in the process of selecting the best place to focus my attention in the next phase of development. The aim is to get Spacetube into a position where it’s used by real groups for a real purpose, then adjusted to suit their needs over time.

At the end of 2023, I conducted a user research exercise where participants played a game using Spacetube. Their feedback was collected in a set of user interviews (interview output here).

Current status of Spacetube Analysis of User Research Feature Priorities Feature Candidates Documentation Richer Events Group Interaction Refined User Testing Grouptalk Modes Web Interface Security Self-hosting Support Tube Settings Immediate Needs Explanation Simpler Spacetube Set-up Grouptalk Affordances Summary Appendix Pseudo-Users Group Preparation Technical Debt Platform Integrations

Current status of Spacetube Spacetube consists of: * A Matrix appservice that can be self-hosted as an appservice on a group’s matrix homeserver. * A web application that displays a visual interface of a spacetube connection. * An API that supports the web application and basic bridges to Discord and WhatsApp. * A website with links to the instructions on the github repository and an early introduction post.

The appservice has the ability to connect 2 or more Matrix rooms to each other and forwards messages from one Matrix room to the other room(s) on behalf of the entire group. Analysis of User Research This feedback came from the user interviews (interview output here) and discussions with other domain experts and stakeholders.

What came up most often was the need for more guidance on how to think about spacetube and how to use it. I’ve labeled this as the need for more effective explanation.

It also came up that spacetubes could be easier to set-up, that they were still in the domain of the “technical user”. I’ve labeled this as the need for simpler setting up of spacetubes.

Finally, the dynamics of group communication came up, and the necessity for some kind of sense of how the group was “supposed” to interact using the new tool. This could require a mixture of mimicking the existing ways of producing group statements and investigating other modes of grouptalk (the composing of messages sent from a group). I’ve labeled this as grouptalk affordances. Feature Priorities The first long list of feature candidates are all the possible improvements and additions that have been suggested so far, as best as I can recall and compile from my notes. After the long list, I expand three pieces of work that relate most closely to the needs identified in the user research. Feature Candidates These features are grouped by category, but aren’t ordered by priority in any sense. Documentation * Diagrams, videos, start-up guides * Demonstration groups that users can join to experiment with the tool

Richer Events * Images, including profile pictures for bot interactions * Polls and proposals for many-group spacetubes. Group Interaction * Pseudo-users as a tool for user experience evolution * Social techniques to ready a group for spacetube. * Visualising masks and choruses for group personas. Refined User Testing * Alter the game played with the synthetic groups. * Trial the group formation exercises. Grouptalk Modes * Speaking stick * Quorum for approval * Designated ambassadors * Designated drafters and approvers Web Interface * Manage invites and tube creation * View all spacetubes you have access to * View the connections of the spacetube * Visual signifiers of grouptalk mode * Change tube settings Security * End to end encryption support. Currently spacetubes can only use private matrix rooms, rather than encrypted ones. Self-hosting Support * Docker image for those using docker for matrix hosting * AppService installation guide Tube Settings * Spacetube help command * Assigning pseudo-identities to connected groups * Tube behaviour e.g. “Forward all”, “forward using command” * Selecting grouptalk mode Immediate Needs Of the above list, I’ve identified the pieces of work that could best address the immediate needs as outlined in the user research analysis.

To recap those three needs were: * Explanation of what spacetube is and what it does * Simpler and clearer group setup * Grouptalk affordances that are close to what users are familiar with. Explanation This involves diagrams, analogies, videos, examples and any other way to explain what the problem is that spacetube sets out to solve, and the way that spacetube accomplishes it.

I have a set of diagrams already drawn on paper that I used in the development of spacetube to keep track of where messages were and what the various appservice-controlled users were supposed to have access to. I can adapt these drawings for the documentation.

The output of this will be comprehensive instructions and user information on the spacetube website. Simpler Spacetube Set-up The current system of setting up a spacetube, while less involved than it used to be, could still be simpler and easier.

The web interface has the most potential to be user friendly, because it has the most latitude for customisation i.e. there can be buttons and labels for specific functionality. This piece of work is defined as enabling a user to go through the web interface to create tubes and invite other users into the rooms.

The interface can also create a link for a user in a different group to minimise the amount of set-up on their end.

The initial user can also have the option to send invites via matrix user id. Grouptalk Affordances From the user research a few options for how to manage the grouptalk came up.

  • A role system with “drafter” and “approver” roles for sending messages on behalf of a group.

  • “Speaking stick” method, where one user has the ability to send at any one time, and then this ability is rotated through the group.

  • Quorum of approval, where any user can suggest a message, but some number of other users approving the message is required before it’s sent.

These modes can be selected from when a group is first created and switched between by a group admin in the tube settings. Summary The user analysis and domain expert interviews were very helpful in determining the next pieces of work that spacetube should engage in. Documentation, enabling less technical set-up and developing the grouptalk system further were identified as the priority pieces of work.

Once this work has been completed, I will return to the question of what would best serve the users and potential users of Spacetube. Appendix Some other items that came out of the user interviews or development experience that could be expanded on. Pseudo-Users Necessity for single-threaded groups. Many chat groups are single-threaded for whatever reason.

Can also make it easier to understand what’s going on, if you can address the pseudo-users, or predict how they’ll act on your behalf. “Ambassador” rather than “tube-service-bot”. Or sending a message that starts with @groupname rather than !spacetube send Group Preparation The group formation interview was very interesting. This is a new way of communicating and people need some guidance on how to proceed, especially if they’re mindful of their status within a group.

Group formation techniques, set-up instructions for the human element of spacetube i.e. developing group voice and personas. This is mostly informed by the interview with Chris, which I can summarise as: * Sharing individual starting point * Building the habit of listening * Discussing the group dynamic * Agreeing a communication plan

A template could be provided of what to talk about as two groups, with prompts to suggest avenues the conversation could go down. Group conversation being somewhat new, I will look into existing ways groups interact, most of which are formal agreements or co-signing statements and partnerships.

Group Formation and Preparation * What is our group? How does our group speak? Who wants to be a spokesperson? How do people feel about having a spokesperson? * What is the happy version of our group? What is the servile version of our group? How does our group act when it’s energised? How does it act when it’s depressed?

This system is intriguing but also socially innovative as well as technically innovative, making it riskier to pursue at the same time. Technical Debt There’s two ways I can identify that the actual software could be improved, making the developer experience faster and less error-prone: * Rewrite the app service and web application using TypeScript and React * Add unit tests Platform Integrations There has been existing work on platform integrations, namely discord and whatsapp. With spacetube currently an experimental system, it makes more sense to focus on the core features within the matrix ecosystem. It also aids the development of open source systems more to add features to them, rather than closed systems.

This season, after much experience with logistics, the commanders of armies can see further into the future, and know what the turn orders will be. Here are the turn orders for the game of war for the Winter Season.

game of war hq The warmaster and his assistants generating the turn order

order of turn 26:

Guibert Rabble Michiel Optimistic Nihilists Ragnar Umbrella Haltwhistle Eyeballs

order of turn 27

Umbrella Corps The Rabble The Eyeballs Michiel de Ruyter House of Haltwhistle Ragnar the Fearless Optimistic Nihilists Count Guibert

order of turn 28

Count Guibert Optimistic Nihilists Ragnar the Fearless House of Haltwhistle Michiel de Ruyter The Eyeballs The Rabble Umbrella Corps

order of turn 29

House of Haltwhistle The Rabble Umbrella Corps Ragnar the Fearless Count Guibert The Eyeballs Michiel de Ruyter Optimistic Nihilists

order of turn 30

Optimistic Nihilists Michiel de Ruyter The Eyeballs Count Guibert Ragnar the Fearless Umbrella Corps The Rabble House of Haltwhistle

order of turn 31

Count Guibert Umbrella Corps The Rabble Michiel de Ruyter Ragnar the Fearless House of Haltwhistle The Eyeballs Optimistic Nihilists

order of turn 32

Optimistic Nihilists The Eyeballs House of Haltwhistle Ragnar the Fearless Michiel de Ruyter The Rabble Umbrella Corps Count Guibert

order of turn 33

Umbrella Corps The Eyeballs Count Guibert Michiel de Ruyter House of Haltwhistle Ragnar the Fearless Optimistic Nihilists The Rabble

order of turn 34

The Rabble Optimistic Nihilists Ragnar the Fearless House of Haltwhistle Michiel de Ruyter Count Guibert The Eyeballs Umbrella Corps

order of turn 35

Count Guibert House of Haltwhistle The Rabble Michiel de Ruyter Umbrella Corps The Eyeballs Optimistic Nihilists Ragnar the Fearless

order of turn 36

Ragnar the Fearless Optimistic Nihilists The Eyeballs Umbrella Corps Michiel de Ruyter The Rabble House of Haltwhistle Count Guibert

Welcome back to the Situationist Winter Mega-Game of War!

As ever, check out the board here then enjoy the rest of the report.

Turn Order, Turn Order, Turn Order, it's all you people care about

First up, the turn order. For the winter season (i.e. the next 12 turns), i'll be randomly generating a turn order, and then the next week we'll play the reverse of that. So here's the turn that we just played:

Turn Order for Turn 25

Eyeballs House of Haltwhistle Umbrella Corps Ragnar Southern Snowcones Michiel Rabble Guibert

And here's the turn you're about to play:

Turn Order for Turn 26

Guibert Rabble Michiel Optimistic Nihilists Ragnar Umbrella Corps House of Haltwhistle Eyeballs

Now, you might notice a new faction name in that turn order, which brings me to the next piece of news.

The Return Of The Yellows

The yellow army, once scattered by the loss of its base, has risen again under a new leader, with a new outlook on life that most befits a world at war.

rising from dirt The Optimistic Nihilists Rising From The Dirt

The ONs have built a makeshift city atop a mountain in the South and put out a call to all ex-yellow troops that previously melted away in the absence of their leader and arsenals.

They will start marching from their city next turn. Some say they have already started marching and could be 4 squares from their city by now...

Watch out for General Winter

And a general warning that a winter campaign comes with its own set of hardships. Who can say where the cold North wind doth blow, leaving an icy trail impassable to any army, no matter their iron will?

Next turn deadline is 11th February!

See you there!

Welcome back to the Situationist Autumn Mega-Game of War!

As ever, check out the board here then enjoy the rest of the report.

I will edit this soon to add a video, but the turn order is important.

Turn Order for turn 23, Next Turn

Ragnar the Fearless House of Haltwhistle Count Guibert Michiel de Ruyter Southern Snowcones The Rabble Umbrella Corps The Eyeballs

Turn Order for turn 24, Final Turn of the Year

Umbrella Corps Southern Snowcones Count Guibert Michiel de Ruyter The Eyeballs The Rabble House of Haltwhistle Ragnar the Fearless

Expect a change

There will be a phase change in the new year, so expect the unexpected.

Welcome back to the Situationist Autumn Mega-Game of War!

As ever, check out the board here then enjoy the rest of the report.

I will edit this soon to add a video, but the turn order is important.

Turn Order for turn 21, Next Turn

Count Guibert Umbrella Corps House of Haltwhistle Southern Snowcones The Eyeballs The Rabble Ragnar the Fearless Michiel de Ruyter

Deadline

Get the moves in by 26th November

Welcome back to the Situationist Autumn Mega-Game of War!

As ever, check out the board here then enjoy the rest of the report.

I will edit this soon to add a video, but the turn order is important.

Order for Turn 20

This is the order for the turn you're currently playing!

House of Haltwhistle Count Guibert Umbrella Corps Ragnar the Fearless The Eyeballs Southern Snowcones The Rabble Michiel de Ruyter

There is a known turn order for the 2 turns after this as well. But turn 23 and 24 are going to be random, as there was no turn order in turn 1 and 2 of the game.

Name those arsenals!

To make it easier to refer to areas of the board, I'd like to request that players give names to their remaining arsenals (and those you've lost so far, if you'd like).

Particularly this is relevant for Michiel De Ruyter whose central arsenal does look like it will be quite important to the game sooner rather than later.

Next turn ends 12th November!

I strongly recommend that all players send communiques to each other in this turn, to at least sound out where they're at.

Welcome back to the Situationist Autumn Mega-Game of War!

I will edit this soon to add a video, but the turn order is important

Order for Turn 19

This is the order for the turn you're currently playing!

Ragnar the Fearless House of Haltwhistle The Eyeballs Count Guibert Umbrella Corps Southern Snowcones The Rabble Michiel de Ruyter

Next turn ends 6th November!

Get the moves in, it's heating up!

Welcome back to the Situationist Autumn Mega-Game of War!

Following from the success of last week, the bulk of the report is a video I recorded of me reviewing the current board: here is the video.

The important stuff is in there, check it out.

Order for Turn 18

This is the order for the turn you're currently playing!

Southern Snowcones Count Guibert The Rabble Umbrella Corps Ragnar the Fearless House of Haltwhistle The Eyeballs Michiel de Ruyter

Next turn ends 29th October!

Get the moves in, it's heating up!

Welcome back to the Situationist Autumn Mega-Game of War!

This time we're trying something new, the bulk of the report is a video I recorded of me reviewing the current board: here is the video.

The important stuff is in there, check it out.

Order for Turn 17

This is the order for the turn you're currently playing!

Ragnar Rabble Eyeballs Count Guibert Southern Snowcones House of Haltwhistle Michiel de Ruyter Umbrella Corps

Next turn ends 22nd October!

Get the moves in, I predict a pretty spicy review!

You are cordially invited to play a new imitation game! Alan Turing’s imitation game was a way to explore the difference between humans and machines. This game is a way to explore the difference between collective and individual communication. It’s an online chat game with real people, mediated by some new technology. Sign up to play here!

invite pic The invitation is just inside this swirling ball of light, just reach out and grab it.

How does one play?

The players are assigned to play either as groups or individuals. They join different discord servers (or element groups for the open source purists), and on there are channels they use to communicate with the other servers/groups using a tool called SpaceTube (it’s a tube that connects spaces together). The players have a week to talk to the other servers to put together a guess as to whether the channels they’re talking to represent individuals or groups.

If you're in a group, your group has to convince the other players you're one individual. If you're one individual, you want to convince the other players you're a group.

You do this by sending messages to the other players without leaving your discord server/element group. This is the magical new technology part.

After a week, I'll collect guesses from all the players about the nature of the other teams and reveal who was right and who was wrong.

Each teams gets 1 point for every correct guess they make about other players and 1 point for every incorrect guess made about them.

A very special prize goes to the winner(s)!

And how do I play?

Put your email address in the sign-up form, and I’ll contact you when there’s enough people to start the game.

On the form you can say whether you’d prefer to use discord or element, and whether you’d like to play by yourself or in a group. And there’s even a little extra space at the end if you want to ask some questions.

It’ll be fun! Click and fill it in! Go for it!

Here's the link again, you don't even have to read up the page!

game feel This is how incredible playing the game feels.

Why does this game exist?

I’m the developer of SpaceTube, the tool enabling the group to group communication, and I want to explore its potential uses. I need people to use it and talk to me about how they found it. The idea is that using a game, people can find the edges of what’s there and what could be there in the future.

To be a little earnest for a moment, we’re going to need some form of collective intelligence to make it through the current challenges facing our societies and the hope is that this tool can make that easier to create.

If you're interested in using SpaceTube outside of the game, let me know, I’d love to assist you in doing that. You can contact me using the end of the sign-up form, or you can message me directly over matrix here: @john:spacetu.be

See you soon!