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What can you build on the Murmurations protocol?

[NB We published an updated version of this post in June 2024]

The Murmurations protocol is designed to enable decentralised data sharing. The most obvious examples of how it can be used are maps and directories but these are only the beginning. In this blog post we explore some of the other concepts which could be built on Murmurations.

Local maps and directories drawing data from multiple sources

One of the advantages of Murmurations is the ability to combine data from multiple data sources. For example, one of the demonstration aggregators on our ‘to build’ list is a map of ‘Alternative Berlin’, featuring information on shops, venues and businesses that are working on, or in, the alternative economy in Berlin. Murmurations enables rich data sharing for these types of local maps and directories by splicing data from multiple sources. For example, an ‘Alternative Berlin’ map could feature a mix of co-ops, using data from German Cooperative and Raiffeisen Association (filtered by location), other green initiatives and social enterprises from the Karte von Morgen data set (filtered by topic tags), plus bespoke data from local research and organisations that have added their profiles to the Murmurations network directly. The ability to select and automatically merge specific slices of data from multiple sources makes it possible to aggregate all the organisations onto a single, more effective map.

Local, or sector specific, news sites

Murmurations profiles can include links to RSS feeds – making them very useful for building regional, or sector specific news sites by aggregating blog posts from a specific region, or on a certain topic. The Murmurations WordPress Aggregator only needs a little more development to enable it to pull in RSS feeds and convert the individual feed items into WordPress posts, which include the tags the original publisher assigned. This will enable aggregators to provide sector, or regionally specific news, which could be filtered for one or more tags. For example, a network organisation, like the Global Ecovillage Network could use the Murmurations WordPress Aggregator to set up an automatically updated news site showing news from all of their members, which viewers could filter by country, region, or tags – for example, to show the latest news or information from all eco villages which are working on (have tagged their posts with) “solar PV” and/or “biodiversity”, providing a rich source of highly focused news, devoid of corporate greenwash and advertising!

Open Projects Hub

The Open Projects Hub is a concept for a market-place of open development projects which anyone can contribute to, sponsor or even invest in, to help accelerate progress towards a collaborative, regenerative economy. Organisations and other teams looking to promote their Projects, attract collaborators and solicit funding would complete a Project profile, with fields defined by a ‘Projects’ schema, including: Name, Description, Tags, Needs (what they are looking for), Rewards (what they can offer in return for contributions – if anything), Location and Website – so that the Projects could be listed (on one or more sites – by anyone who wanted to set up an Open Projects Hub aggregator site), searched and discovered. This would provide a useful reference point for anyone thinking of starting a new project by revealing similar projects, overlaps and, ideally reducing ‘wheel reinvention’. People that were interested in discovering and contributing to could also ‘join’ the Open Projects Hub, by creating an ‘Individual’ Profile on Murmurations, or adding additional info to their existing Profile, which would list their: Name, Bio, Skills (which they are offering to contribute to Projects), Languages (to help matching), Tags (to match them with projects in the sectors they are most interested in), Location, and Web links (for example, to their Git or portfolio etc).

With details of both Projects and People an Open Projects Hub aggregator could be set up to list, or map, both entities, allowing others to browse and filter these to discover and connect with potential collaborators, and, with just a little bit of matching (as per the Offers and Wants matching we built for The Open Credit Network) the site could also notify People about Projects which need their skills, and visa versa. From here it would only be a small step to incorporate bounties, to enable users to crowdfund specific tasks, or whole Projects which they want to see developed, creating a rich, democratic, transparent network of open collaboration.

Decent E-bay / Offers and Wants

A decentralised market-place for the exchange of goods and services. This concept is fairly self-explanatory but a useful example might be to imagine if Freecycle, or any other network or  marketplace, wanted to expand its’ scope by making its data interoperable with other sites. By enabling users to post their Offers and Wants using the Murmurations Offers and Wants schema (rather than their current, closed-source forms and centralised data stores) they could deliver a much wider volume of potential matches to their users. Anyone who wanted to aggregate Offers and Wants could do so, for a specific village, town, country and/or sector (e.g. second hand cameras in Paris), while another aggregator might chose to feature, match and notify people about all Offers and Wants according to their specific preferences (e.g. free furniture in north London) – the advantages of the decentralised, Murmurations approach to Offers and Wants being that Users could publish to multiple platforms with a single post, using the gift economy, fiat or crypto currencies, and could reduce or expand the ‘geographic scope’ of their Offers and Wants – and thereby the number of aggregators which publish their post) in order to limit inquiries to a specific region, or expand the reach of offers which aren’t generating enough interest. As with all marketplaces, size matters in that it makes them more likely to meet their traders’ needs. Murmurations decentralised approach could be used to connect multiple small, local markets into a global trading network.

Systems and relationships mapping 

Murmurations data can be compiled and fed into graphical and systems mapping tools, such as Kumu, to present rich mixes of data and allow users to explore the relationships between the data in a visual form. Imagine if The Austin Social Innovation Ecosystem Map had created a Murmurations schema to gather data, instead of a closed source form and a centralised data store – it wouldn’t say “Note: This map is no longer being updated” at the top of the map – because anyone could contribute by adding more data to the map and everyone else would benefit too, because data added to the Austin Social Innovation map would be available to other aggregators too, and the current map could be automatically updated as new nodes are added, without the need for an administrator to make manual updates.

These are just a few examples of how the Murmurations protocol could be used. Let us know if you have questions, comments or other ideas?