Software Orientation

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We invite you to open the TogetherNet Demo while going over the Software Orientation we have prepared for you. We will walk over the basic features you need to know to get started.

2.2.1 Network

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TogetherNet is a peer-to-peer application with no login system that identifies individual users.

The benefit to this is that your personal information doesn’t get stored on someone’s server - which provides protection to your digital body.

However, the disadvantage is that if you get disconnected from a group session due to inactivity or internet instability, when you return to the room you will be recognized by the network as a brand-new participant, and you will need to rename yourself to be recognized by your community.

If being able to identify everyone who is in the space at all times is something that makes you feel more comfortable, we recommend that you use an open-source video conferencing software such as Jitsi to communicate and check-in with your group. While doing so, you can simultaneously use TogetherNet to take notes and jot down ideas.

You could think of TogetherNet as a replacement for text-based collaborations that take place on Google docs.


The software is still in the alpha version, so with that in mind we value your patience while using TogetherNet.

Be ready to reload the page when something seems to be not responding or working in ways that don’t seem right. Depending on the stability of you and your collaborators’ network you may need to do this frequently. We will continue to work on peer–to–peer network stability in the upcoming software updates and look forward to improving the reliability that we are able to offer this community.

2.2.2 Navigation

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Edit Avatar Name

When you enter TogetherNet, you will land on the default Ephemeral Channel #sitting-in-the-park. You will appear in the Navigation Space as an "Anonymous" avatar with a randomly assigned color.

an 'Anonymous' square avatar appears in the navigation space of the TogetherNet interface. Clicking on the word 'Anonymous' on the bottom left panel prompts open a dialogue box that lets the participant change the name of their avatar.

We strongly recommend that you give your avatar a name that is recognizable by your community before sending any messages. This functions to ensure that the space remains familiar and that anonymity is a data protection function rather than a feature that obscures communal accountability.

Moving Around

The Navigation Space is a 17 by 30 two-dimensional spatial grid that allows user and peer avatars to move around and leave Message Records on individual cells.

a user avatar moves around in the navigation space of the TogetherNet interface.

To move your avatar, you will first need to click on the Navigation Space to give focus to the area, then use your ←, ↑, →, ↓ Arrow Keys to visit a different location on the screen.

Send Message

a user avatar named 'xin' and a peer avatar named 'yaqing' hang out in the navigation space of the TogetherNet interface. In the message input field, xin writes 'let's write a poem about the weather'.

The location of your avatar determines the location of where you leave a message on the screen. In order to send a message, click on the Message Input field at the bottom of the interface, write your message, and hit Enter.

Tip: To switch focus between Navigation Space and Message Input, you can also use the shortcut key combo Shift + Space Bar.

Read Message

xin's purple square avatar moves around a message record, which appears as another square in a darker shade of purple. Whenever xin's avatar is neighboring one of the four sides of the message record square, a conversation panel pops up on the right hand side and reveals the content of the message record – 'let's write a poem about the weather'.

To read a message, your avatar needs to move up into a neighboring position on any one of the four sides of a message record.

Tip: Another way to read the message is by hovering your mouse cursor over a text record. This enables you to quickly browse through different messages on the screen without having to move around. However you won’t be able to perform further interactions with the text record such as Replying to a Thread or Consent to Archive without moving your avatar next to the message record.

Replying to a Thread

xin's avatar neighbors one side of yaqing's square message record, which opens the conversation panel, revealing 'sun', the content of yaqing's message record. xin types 'ether' into the message input field, which creates a thread that replies to yaqing's message.

In order to reply to a message, you can move your avatar so that it is neighboring an existing message record, and add your message in that position. You can continue to add to the thread by extending the message records on the screen.

2.2.3 Meeting Modes

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TogetherNet’s foundational goal is to benefit individuals and organizations that are interested in exiting surveillance capitalism and practicing consentful, transparent communications within their communities. Inspired by Freedom is an Endless Meeting by Francesca Polletta, the software offers three different meeting modes – Facilitated Mode, Feedback Mode, and Egalitarian Mode, each bundled with different features.

Facilitated Mode

The room creator can appoint 1~3 facilitator(s) in this mode. The facilitators may use the Amplify feature to outline agendas, ask questions and guide conversations. Participants in the room also have access to the Majority Rule feature and can turn any messages into a voting poll.

  • 1~3 facilitator(s)
  • Amplify feature (only available to facilitators)
  • Majority Rule feature

Feedback Mode

The room creator can appoint 0~3 facilitator(s) in this mode. If a facilitator is appointed, they can use the Amplify feature to outline agendas, ask questions and guide conversations. Participants in the room also have access to the Consentful Gesture feature, which enables participants to provide secondary feedback, such as “agree”, “hesitant”, “disagree”, “block” on a message.

  • 0~3 facilitator(s)
  • Amplify feature (only available to facilitators)
  • Consentful Gestures features: agree, hesitant, disagree, block

Egalitarian Mode

The organization does not use a facilitator and members discuss issues without implementing a meta-structure. Most chatrooms function this way and its ability to maintain consent may be limited.

Next Step

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If you feel comfortable with the orientation materials and would like to download TogetherNet, we invite you to visit our Github page to download TogetherNet.

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