With the open society under threat, the time has come to fulfill the promise of the Internet by launching an entirely new way for citizens to work together: securely, intuitively, and effectively. The time has come to build Pursuance.
Pursuance is open source software that provides a better way to organize online. It provides an integrated suite of digital tools, all designed to allow activists, researchers, journalists, artists, coders – anyone with talent and a little time – to collaborate on projects large and small, working within customized, evolvable entities called pursuances. (Think of a pursuance as a mission-oriented project/organization/group that people on the platform can join and contribute to.)
Pursuance fosters action. Its core features include task management, secure group chat, and the ability to invite other users already in our ecosystem by skill set, so that you have the people power you need to achieve your intended results. We're also enabling you to invite others from outside Pursuance just by sending them an invite link (e.g., via email).
At its core, Pursuance will enable you to create a pursuance, invite people to that pursuance with a range of permission/trust levels, rapidly record ideas and strategies in an actionable format (as tasks), assign those tasks to others, share files and documents, be notified when relevant events occur such as getting a task assignment, and partner with other pursuances in order to share information and people power.
We're designing Pursuance with features that make it hands-down the best tool for secure, impactful, elaborate coordination:
Collaboration Between Groups
Our software lets you assign a task to another pursuance, thus enabling cross-project collaboration with pursuances around the globe.
Infiltrator Mitigation via Robust Permissions
We're including a robust permissions system that allows you to invite people at various trust levels. At the minimum trust level, the person you've invited can only see and only work onthe tasks you've assigned them; they can't see the rest of the task hierarchy, and they can't see who else is involved, thus limiting the possible damage done by malicious infiltrators.
Securely Share Files, Documents, and Links
With your support, Pursuance will include the ability to attach files to tasks, as well as links -- super handy when you want to share a document you typed up in CryptPad, for example, which is an encrypted almost-replacement for Google Docs that we're including in the Pursuance server installation.
Integrations: Video Chat & Crowdsourced Journalism Tool
We're also adding simple integrations with Jitsi Meet to provide video chat functionality, and with Hypothesis to help organize crowdsourced journalism efforts.
Tor by Default
We will make our main public Pursuance server available as a Tor Onion service (previously known as a "Tor hidden service"), and will make this the default server configuration for anyone who installs Pursuance on their own server.
Two-factor Authentication (2FA)
To help prevent the kind of account hijacking that is commonplace today, pursuances will be able to require 2FA for all their members.
Pursuance Universe Visualizer
Visually browse the Pursuance universe and you will understand just how vast we all are. Users will also be able to find public pursuances by name, description, and category/tag(s).
If you have Pursuance open in your browser, it will instantly notify you when a task is assigned to you and when you are mentioned -- no page refresh required.
Privacy-preserving Email Notifications
Using Pursuance does not even require an email address! But if you choose to provide one, you'll receive messages notifying you when something important occurs -- you've been assigned a task, you're received a message, and more -- but those emails will (optionally) not contain sensitive details, such as the name of the task assigned to you, nor the contents nor sender of a message that mentions you.
If additional user testing and interviews reveal that our core user base of activists, journalists, and nonprofits have an overwhelming preference for some feature instead of something above, we may make tweaks to this feature set, but it will not change radically; this has been the detailed plan for many months.
$60k - Encrypted Task Management
Want to be able to create a private pursuance where virtually everything is encrypted -- not just messages, files, and links, but tasks as well, aside from a little metadata? Want to live in a world in which the primary thing that your enemies can devise is that you've been assigned task #5 in pursuance #27, but not what that task is nor what that pursuance evendoes?
We thought so.
This is a BIG one for us, and a key part of our vision; please spread the word to help us reach this quite-important funding level however you can!
$80k - Pursuance Library, Multi-Task Editing, Gamification
This stretch goal will enable individual pursuances to share effective action templates with other pursuances, thus enabling a public library of priceless tools for converting good intentions into replicable results.
Users experience this feature as a pre-packaged bundle of tasks that you can rapidly add to your pursuance that someone else donated after it worked well for them.
If we meet this stretch goal we will also make it possible to rapidly do things like: assign all of one person's tasks to another person, set the due date of many tasks all to the same date at the same time, or change the status of many tasks all to the same status in just a click or two.
Thirdly, we'll add basic gamification features, where participants can accumulate karma points for completing tasks, which not only shows off how helpful you are to your co-workers and comrades, but also lets you sort users who have the skill set you need by karma score! Powerful stuff.
$100k - Voting, Direct Messaging, Drag and Drop
Want to make voting within your pursuance as simple as choosing an emoji reaction?
Looking for a little one-on-one time with fellow participants, aside from the task-specific group chats?
Want to make using Pursuance even more seamless by adding drag-and-drop functionality, not just for file upload, but for organizing and rearranging your brilliant master plan?
Then help us get to $100k and we'll add all three of these great features!
$175k - Mobile Revolution: Android and iPhone Apps
Mobile-friendly websites are pretty cool, but you know what's super cool? Mobile apps that you install onto your phone.
At this funding level we will type into existence both an Android app and an iPhone app for Pursuance.
We'll also add Signal-style key verification, making you more secure from certain fancy attacks from bad guys at keyboards in black hoodies, sitting in dark rooms. You know they're out there; you've seen the stock footage.
$250k - Pursuance Plugin System
Want to make it possible for developers to extend the functionality of Pursuance via a relatively simple plugin system? Imagine being able to add a reminder app, a chat bot (or something more secure that acts like a chat bot), or a plugin that someone on your tech team built for your nonprofit, to your pursuances.
If we hit this stretch goal, we shall Make It Happen.
$350k - Global Federation
If we are to build a truly global federation of activists, journalists, and nonprofits, then individuals and organizations should be able to not just run their own Pursuance server, but to then connect that server to the rest of the Pursuance universe -- other Pursuance servers that they choose to "peer" with (perhaps including our official one at pursuanceproject.org).
Federation helps decentralize the Pursuance network, enabling users to collaborate between servers as if they're on the same server (e.g., a pursuance on app.pursuanceproject.org will be able to partner with a pursuance on someotherserver.com).
But it gets better.
If we reach this funding level, we will also add a related feature that allows peered Pursuance servers to store constantly-updating copies of each other so that, even if a Pursuance server is stolen/seized/crashes/whatever, its owner will be able to recover all that data from one of those peers(!) to recreate their server, thus recovering all those pursuances and springing back into action.
These features help us make the Pursuance universe radically more resilient.
Thank you for your support! For $5, we’ll thank you publicly with your name or handle on a supporters page on our website. As such, your name shall live forever on the Internet, along with the likes of Augustus Caesar and Joe Piscopo. Also our developers won't starve to death in their cheap urban lofts.
For $10, you’ll get public thanks and a numbered limited edition Pursuance postcard signed by Barrett Brown, unless you're Peter Thiel or somebody like that, in which case you'll get nothing and like it.
For $20, we'll thank you publicly on our website and in addition to a limited edition postcard, you'll get a Pursuance sticker pack. A fun game is to put the stickers on cop cars and try not to get shot.
For $30, reserve your very own invite onto our main Pursuance server before we launch publicly, and reserve the available username of your choice. (For security/anti-impersonation purposes, must be all lowercase; must start with a-z; can also contain periods, underscores, or dashes after that; up to 45 characters total.)
First come, first served, and the sooner you pledge, the sooner you'll be invited.
If you give us $60, you're basically, like, a god to us. We will regard you with a mixture of love and fear. You will, as with every Backer Tier get a public thanks. In addition you will get a sticker pack and this uber kuul Tee mocking NPR's absurd article about what we're trying to accomplish here.
Mock up - Finished product might look slightly different - Greetz @Bean
For $75, you'll get public thanks, stickers, and a huge trove of Barrett Brown's past writings on our Pursuance USB drive, much of which is difficult to find because he wasn't all that successful until he went to prison.
Send us a c-note and we'll send you one of about 100 individually-crafted, color-illustrated Shadowrun RPG character sheets that Barrett made in prison. You will get something that is guaranteed one of a kind and truly unique. Some are based on actual prison gangs, but a hundred years in the future, when those gangs have evolved into prestigious corporations, much like the Coors family.
Shadowrun Sheets handmade by Barrett while incarcerated
With this hoodie, you, too, can be an early 21st century anarchist hacker. You will, as with every Backer Tier get a public thanks. In addition to the hoodie you will get a sticker pack.
You want a signed copy of the book that Farrar, Straus, and Giroux paid Barrett Brown an $125,000 advance for right out of prison, right? Maybe it will be really bad. Maybe Barrett is scamming them. Anyway, title of the book is "My Glorious Defeats".
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
For $400, we'll set your organization up with your very own private Pursuance server that we manage for you (up to 100 simultaneous users), including all upgrades and security updates, for one full year. You'll also receive a 2-hour remote training session with our tech lead Steve Phillips to help you get off to a maximally-productive start and learn the ins and outs of our software's gorgeous, gorgeous features.
Barrett Brown, winner of the National Magazine Award for commentary among other major U.S. writing honors, will help you with your writing. He will be cruel, but he will be just.
You can basically do anything you want to us for a thousand bucks, but we're going to get the ball rolling by offering to have Barrett Brown oversee a Shadowrun RPG game, based in the complex campaign he created from prison -- or any other pen-and-paper RPG of your choice -- via video conferencing. Or you can come to Dallas and sleep on his floor and you can all play there, and his mom will bring over snacks.
During his four years in federal prison on charges stemming from his work with Anonymous, author, journalist, and activist Barrett Brown drew upon his experiences in digital activism and crowd-sourced research to outline a new system that would allow large numbers of participants to easily coalesce into an ever-growing array of agile yet stable collaborative entities.
With input and assistance from contributors with an array of relevant backgrounds, the Pursuance System has since been refined and expanded into a universal framework we've dubbed “process democracy,” suitable for everything from operating a local charity to running a provisional government. Over time, as each new participant invites in others, the population will steadily grow, providing a larger and more specialized pool of talented users; meanwhile, the meritocratic principles underlying the system itself, plus the ease of sharing effective techniques and structures via the central library, provides for an environment that grows more refined, not less, as it accommodates larger numbers.
After a year of active planning and preparation, Pursuance is poised for a formidable launch, backed by the support of key figures from an array of sectors. We've registered as a non-profit in the State of Texas, with a board of directors comprised of former Icelandic Member of Parliament and Pirate Party stalwart Birgitta Jonsdottir; ex-CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou; ex-CIA critic and author Barry Eisler; documentary filmmaker and former actor Alex Winters; journalist, author, and WhoWhatWhy founder Russ Baker; retired Case Western University professor and blogger Mano Singham; activist-focused criminal defense attorney Jay Leiderman and current Bard College professor and prison reform advocate Robert Tynes.
See our team: https://pursuanceproject.org/team.html
Leading the software development is open source software engineer, security researcher, and former DEF CON speaker Steve Phillips. Coordinating international outreach is Pirate Parties International (PPI) board member and veteran activist Raymond Johansen. As our Activism Coordinator we have long-time activist and PPI Vice Chair Bailey Lamon.
The project has been featured in Wired, The Observer, Vice TV, The Daily Dot, and other outlets, and will be further described and promoted in Barrett Brown's upcoming book for Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux.
The following tech talk features Pursuance tech lead Steve Phillips as he gives a "pretty-damn-comprehensive" overview of what the Pursuance System software is, what it enables, and why it matters. Includes a short Q&A. Recorded in Toronto at RightsCon 2018.
We have already launched LeapChat.org, which provides end-to-end encrypted chat with minimal distractions, no advertising, and a growing user base. As Steve and the rest of the Pursuance development team finish new features, each will be brought online and made available to users.
We hope to have all the aforementioned features running smoothly together for a public launch by November of 2018, but we'll begin onboarding long before then. We need your help to accomplish this; we have fixed development costs which include luxuries like housing our tech lead indoors. We’re asking for the funds to get Pursuance off the ground; to enable our tech lead to devote 200+ hours a month to the project; to run our servers; to have a small travel fund so we can give talks and workshops; and cover basic admin costs. Since we’re a nonprofit, all funds raised will go straight into Pursuance.
Here is an overview of the technical aspects of Pursuance and what makes it unique. In short, Pursuance aims to be the first truly secure and intuitive collaboration platform for civic collaboration on a mass scale.
Change will come when our methods change. It starts today, and it begins with you.
Notes on Security (mostly for geeks)
Worry not, fellow cypherpunks -- we're not rolling our own crypto. All the crypto we're using has been audited by a third party and/or written by an encryption expert (we're using miniLock and NaCl); none of it was written by us.
What is lacking in the world is not high-quality encryption, which has existed for two decades, but rather user-friendly software that uses high-quality encryption libraries for more than just messaging.
We are starting with a responsive web app, then building native apps using ~80% of that same code (thanks to React Native and Electron, and yes we'll bundle the HTML/CS/JS with the Electron app, not load it remotely).
It is true that web apps require browsers to trust the server more than we all would like. Once our backend APIs have stabilized and we don't have to worry about them getting out of sync with outstanding native apps installs, the native apps we build will include Signal-style key verification to decrease trust of the server.
Awesomely, having a web app enables Tor Browser users to conveniently benefit from Pursuance, without having to be hardcore geeks, while maintaining a significant degree of anonymity. (Pursuance doesn't even require an email address for registration, which also helps.)
Don't forget that, due to end-to-end encryption, even our initial, web app-centric architecture protects users in cases where a Pursuance server is hacked and its data stolen, or where its hard drive is silently cloned, and from various "legal" attacks, unlike mere SSL.
This is a very significant security and privacy improvement compared to what activists use right now, namely Asana, Trello, Redmine, and Facebook, not to mention that Pursuance is self-hostable and much more user-friendly than Redmine.
Let us not make the perfect the enemy of the good.
And once our APIs are stable and our native apps exist, we will seek out a sponsor for a third-party security audit.
In summary, Pursuance can immediately protect users better than they're protected right now, and we can build upon this foundation to improve the security more and more over time... especially if you back our campaign and push us past our $175k native-mobile-apps-funding stretch goal! :-D
We are confident in the tech talent of our team and volunteers, but sometimes software projects hit snags and take longer to complete than originally estimated. With your support we can focus 100% on completing this first major version of Pursuance -- we're promising here.
Our merchandise suppliers -- who are making the t-shirts, flash drives, and more -- could face unforeseen delays, in which case we may need to use one our backup suppliers if there's enough of a problem.
We are happy to answer any questions you may have about our campaign and challenges we my face, so feel free to reach out!
Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ
Looks like there aren't any frequently asked questions yet. Ask the project creator directly.