XR Guild Update and Q&A for April
Welcome to our monthly update & Q&A for the XR Guild: Pre Launch Edition
We have some great announcements this month. It’s taken a while, but we got all of our legal legwork done. Incorporation is finished. Government paperwork is filed. By-laws are complete and ratified. Our financial systems are in place, including a bank account and credit so we can officially pay for services like hosting and database. This stuff takes way longer than you’d think for a brand-new org. You can’t do much in parallel. Last thing is just waiting on the credit card numbers and funding the account.
Other big news: we also just received IRS approval as a tax-exempt non-profit charity, a public benefit corporation 501(3)(c)/U03. This is a function of our mission, avoiding direct political advocacy, lobbying, etc.. and focusing on the greater good of promoting ethics for XR.
That means we can start taking tax-exempt donations as soon as we have some systems in place to record who gave what and offer receipts. Folks who get employer-matching donations can also ask for that.
We hope to raise just a few thousand dollars at the start. That’s the minimum annual income to pay for the legal and operational expenses. If we can raise more, we can consider other programs. We won’t try to raise any more than $10k this year, $50k max. If we do raise more, we can consider more mentorship, grants and scholarships for related work sooner, but it’s not required. Keep in mind, everyone working on the Guild’s leadership team is strictly volunteer, so we can keep our recurring expenses low.
We would love if someone who has experience with organizing donation drives could step up to help out soon. We have some time to plan.
We are almost ready to open the Guild. We just need to get our software systems finalized, including website and databases. Evo and I are working on the databases to ensure people who apply for membership are properly accounted. We need contact info (email, address) and would like to also ask people when they register to commit a certain # of hours per month to volunteer. We can then offer official membership certificates if anyone wants.
Brandel and others are working on the website. He can share some links with big improvements to the CSS and subtly animated logo that Keiichi Matsuda initially developed.
Work for April/May
I’m imagining there’s some concern among employees of big companies about how those companies will react to the Guild at first. We hope that goes away when they see how we work. Still, we will still support pseudonymous members on the Discord for anyone who simply accepts the principles. No other registration required. These members can join in anytime and use whatever name they like to participate. But there are a few limitations if they don’t complete the registration process.
For critical votes, like for annual board elections, major changes to the by-laws and principles, we should limit voting to the people who are officially registered, both for compliance reasons and to prevent any gaming by 3rd parties on key organizational issues. According to the by-laws, we must give sufficient notice to each registered member at their registered address, not just post a note on Discord that some might not see. I think “address” can mean email but we’ll ask for physical as a backup.
Of course, we can always change the by-laws. But we worked from a pretty standard set of practices to avoid any hiccups. So we’ll continue to do polling on the Discord but general issues for whomever is there.
On the other long-term concern of how to prevent anyone outside the Guild from asserting we acted in bad faith in some meeting, like for example crafting principles to to benefit certain companies and harm other companies, we have two main options after further consultation:
We allow independent observers into essentially public meetings.
We record all meetings and keep records for later review.
I’m leaning towards #2, simply because public observers may not actually show up or report faithfully, and then what? Also, a recording is less potentially disruptive than open meetings and makes a better legal witness. If there are any more concerns on that, we can discuss at the end. But at least we don’t need to pay a lawyer to attend.
In order to start getting journalists interested in writing about us for the June launch, and to get a little more volunteer help, I’m planning to publish the two Medium articles I circulated earlier which explain the Guild and answer some common questions. I’m hoping others can find time to also write about their reasons for the Guild and what they hope to see. Maybe we do this as a series of testimonials?
Medium Article: https://medium.com/@avibarzeev/the-metaverse-lacks-ethics-4515b070b8cc
And FAQ https://medium.com/@avibarzeev/xr-guild-faq-e683bd3bee20 (both to be cross-linked on publishing)
Hopefully that only helps build excitement. If you have any comments on either article, please tell us asap. Also please at least read them to ensure that your name is or isn’t included in the FAQ based on your preferences. I tried to be inclusive of anyone here using a full name (less so for pseudonyms that few may know) but I’m happy to add/remove people as desired. But if I missed your name, it wasn’t intentional.
We’re going to begin using the XRGuild twitter more too. Please join the Twitter community if you’re active on Twitter.
We should periodically introspect to determine if the Guild is serving the community in all dimensions. I think it’s fair to say we’re doing well in terms of gender diversity even at this stage. But we have room to improve on racial and ethnic diversity within the US members. To be clear, it’s not about statistics or filling any quotas. It’s about ensuring the Guild is welcoming and comfortable to everyone, so whenever someone from a marginalized group shows up, they feel welcome and supported. It’s important to represent more diverse voices as we flesh out the principles and do our long-term work. So we should look at everything we do through the lens of whether we’re creating a place that everyone would want to join. And we should listen carefully for where we have rough edges.
One thing that might help is working at the leadership level. We’ve established the board as seven members but have room to elect four more this year. Representation and inclusion means at every level. So everyone should start thinking about who else we might want to bring onto the board. We could theoretically vote in June.
Let’s talk about June.
We are also entering the planning phases for some group events. First would be a public Twitter Space with a few of us hosting (maybe me, Tony?) to basically speak to the same issues as the articles above. Perhaps as soon as next week? Anyone else want to help with that?
If you can help with PR, please review the google doc Amy LaMayer started and add info, questions, etc.. We’ll re-share that today.
At AWE in June, we have two events planned. The firmer one is a panel with at least four of us long-timers in the Guild speaking about the Guild and answering audience questions. That could turn in to an ad-hoc principle session. You’re all welcome to join us.
The less firm event is an un-published event for Guild members (and perhaps some guests) to do work in small groups. We’re calling an Unconference within the main conference and are trying to secure a room with tables for 50-100 people total. We could collectively work on the Principles, debate relevant issues, hold elections for open board seats (see me if you’d like to run this year) and plan the future. We’re waiting on final approval from AWE and then will tell everyone the dates so you can adjust travel. We expect it’s all happening within the main conference June 1-3.
Finally, it sounds like we need to do work on calendaring our events. I tried to make a public shared google calendar people can add to their own apps. But I’m not sure it’s working. Can someone volunteer to work on just ensuring we have everyone seeing our events in a reliable way?
Additional Unscripted Discussion from Q&A:
We also talked about improving the calendar situation because some people were finding confusion on dates and timezones. There is now a shared Google Calendar.
We should have additional “Database Committee” meetings (Avi, Evo, Ben, +anyone) to resolve the best way to maintain membership and donation data.
We encouraged all members and interested parties to come join the XR Guild Twitter Community: https://twitter.com/i/communities/1494177094342889477
For any kind of 3D presence we discussed the following set of milestones:
Get a beautiful 2.5D website running using WebGL in more subtle ways, for 3D effects and so on. Don’t yet focus on any kind of 3D exploratory space until we do #2. A good example space is www.xraccess.org but we can do a bit more 3D effect.
Begin work on the real 3D Guild Hall with architects and other interactive space experts. This should ideally be a collaborative work-space with co-presence for meetings and some things to do asynchronously, like a library. Inspiration from The Magic Castle in LA and Disneyland.
Then go back and figure out a public-facing version of the Guild Hall for the website to serve as a welcoming lobby in 3D. We don’t know enough to do that well yet. This light-weight space won’t have live guild members, so it needs to stand on its own and not just be another 3D art gallery type space.
Then also extract “outposts” from the Guild Hall to represent us in various proprietary 3D worlds, AltSpace, Horizons, etc.. These don’t need to be literal copies of the hall, but should use content and experiences as much as we can and represent the same aesthetics as much as possible.
Here is a Video recording of the full meeting:
Transcript available separately at https://www.xrguild.org/notes/April-2022.txt