The founding meeting for One Click Organisations was held on Monday 29 December at the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin, attended by Jef, Emma, Martin, Jan and myself. We went through the draft constitution clause by clause making sure everyone understood how it worked and considering any revisions. The founding vote was passed unanimously at 8:26pm, at which point One Click Organisations came into being as a legal entity (specifically an unincorporated association).
We were careful to observe established practice in convening and running the founding meeting, conscious that beyond this point we’d have few conventions on which to grasp. One of the nice things about unincorporated associations is that they are governed by the law of contract which means the members can collectively agree to adopt whatever rules they wish. So long as there is a clear paper trail leading up to the founding vote the courts will adjudicate that the constitution adopted at that point (with any subsequent modifications) is the legitimate basis on which the members have agreed to come together.
One of the most important characteristics of the Themis Constitutions is the complete absence of machinery for convening and running meetings. Therefore it was distinctly ironic to find ourselves going to such lengths in connection with the founding meeting. As the platform matures we’ll be able to streamline even this part of the process (though this first meeting will still be necessary) by providing a “wizard” which automates the production and circulation of the agenda, guides the convenor step by step through the workflow then circulates minutes at the end of the process.
From the moment of the founding vote One Click Organisations was irreversibly locked to the decision-making tools hosted on the system. Every decision registered there is binding on the organisation. As far as we can tell this is the first time anyone’s done anything like this. Whilst the system remains at such an early stage of development it’s slightly nerve-wracking. Day by day we’re thinking of more edge cases. What’s the legal situation if the server fails? Or if a bug leads to spurious decisions? Gradually we’ll add cover for cases like this in the constitution, but this definitely feels like terra incognita.
We’ve had a lot of offers of help and advice which have been gratefully received. 2009 promises to be an exciting year for One Click!