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An outline of how the animal advocacy movement can potentially improve data sharing, interconnectivity and cooperation using a knowledge hub


  • It is my personal view that the animal advocacy movement needs a central knowledge hub, a hivemind, and that Impactful Animal Advocacy (IAA) community can be a great place for such a hub to be built and to flourish. IAA has already done great work in starting to create such a knowledge hub.
  • I see this project as a very big challenge, both technical - what platform/s to choose and how to customize and build them, and social - how to get people to use, enjoy and benefit from it.
  • In this article, I lay down a very general vision for what such a system could look like.
  • Call to action: If this sounds interesting to you, you can read and comment on this post, so we can further discuss these suggestions and possibilities. You are also welcome to reach out to me at ronen@sentientworld.org. We have a Slack channel dedicated to this topic.

Epistemic status & about me

I am quite confident in the potential of a movement-centric knowledge hub that integrates with existing community interactions, rather than existing as a standalone repository. My interactions with advocates over the years have strongly emphasized the necessity for such a hub. Nevertheless, I am unsure about the extent of the hub's success, determining the impact it might have, identifying the optimal range of knowledge areas and services to include, choosing the most suitable platform for our community's needs, and devising practical strategies for implementation.

I am especially unsure about where the whole knowledge management field is headed. With the AI revolution progressing, this uncertainty makes it harder for me to predict and understand the future desired features and needs of such a knowledge hub, serving the animal advocacy movement.

My name is Ronen Bar, and I have been an animal advocate for the past 15 years. My experience in developing knowledge spaces for activists is limited; however, I have been contemplating the idea of a knowledge hub for many years. Most of my activism during the last years was around undercover investigations, customizing tools for advocates, and promoting alternative proteins. I currently manage Sentient, a non-profit for animals.

Perspective of a Newcomer

"Humans dominate the planet because they are the only species capable of cooperating both flexibly and in large numbers." - Yuval Noah Harari, Historian

Imagine a Filipino animal lover (hypothetically speaking) named Antonio who is eager to join the animal advocacy movement. Has the movement rolled out a “red carpet” for newcomers like him? Is there easy access to information and knowledge, connections with fellow activists, opportunities for online learning, and possibilities for physical engagement, such as attending international events or local meetings? Does this community foster a culture of mutual empowerment?

Consider a scenario where Antonio wants to start engaging in social media advocacy, direct action, or vegan culinary initiatives. Where does he begin? Perhaps he has some local contacts, or he might turn to Google or chatbots for guidance, but what he often encounters is a chaotic experience. There are so many different websites and data sources, and he will likely find it hard to get his head straight. His effort will probably be somewhat limited to searching in languages he knows. Moreover, most of the relevant data is not online. Think about your own ideas, conclusions, lists, or mistakes. Are they easily available to Antonio? Will he be able to find and grow from your personal knowledge?

What about an advocate searching for candidates, partners, volunteers, or advisors? There are profiles of animal advocates on Slack, Discord, LinkedIn, Airtable, Facebook, vegan job boards, and more. Most of them are unstructured lists without the ability to search for specifics or to know if those people are interested in being contacted and for what purpose (e.g., "I am a low-code and automation specialist who wants to be contacted about low-paid or volunteer advising, or anything that can help animals on a macro level").

The animal advocacy community has several resources, but many are underutilized, scattered, and unknown to most. Here are some examples:

Our information, knowledge, profiles, and ideas are scattered. A centralized hub is essential.

Low Floor, High Ceiling

The concept of "low floor, high ceiling" in the startup world refers to a state where a product or service is accessible enough for beginners (low floor) but simultaneously offers substantial growth and sophistication for experts (high ceiling). For the animal advocacy movement, this means providing an environment that nurtures activism at all levels, from novices to seasoned, a community that enhances activists with ideas, skills, know-how, partners, inspirations, funding, possible directions, and much more.

Let’s say a veteran advocate is looking to start a campaign against intensive pig farming in her country. She wants to see what was done in other countries, get inspiration from demos and street outreach on this topic, speak with fellow campaigners in other areas to learn from successes and mistakes, and see the most viral relevant social media posts. To gather this information, she might turn to Google and AI tools, but this approach is challenging and time-consuming due to the fact that we don’t have a centralized knowledge platform and we lack a strong culture of knowledge sharing, a culture where activists ask themselves questions like “how much time did I spend this month contributing to the community?”, whether it is through sharing knowledge, communicating with other activists, or mentoring. I see such a culture as a crucial component in the movement's growth.

The Importance of Our Knowledge Management System

"We don't rise to the highest version of ourselves that we can imagine but fall to the level of our systems". August Bradley

Over the last few years, I used various knowledge management systems and didn't know what I was missing until I discovered better options. It's not that I knew they lacked features that could enhance my work; I just didn't realize what those features were! Foremost among these is the ability to resurface any data from across the platform at any place and any time, and to create custom functionalities (I now use Coda, which I find to be the most flexible platform. It is similar to Notion but has much more functionality). Sometimes, you don’t know what you’ve got until you see something better. The system we have acts like a ceiling, capping our growth. Therefore, the connections between our collective, different ideas and insights are nowhere near reaching their potential synergy. We need to organize our knowledge, so we can stand on the shoulders of ourselves and the whole community.

Diversity and Homogeneity

So, the animal advocacy community have Slack groups, Discord groups, Signal groups, WhatsApp groups, Facebook groups, and documents in Notion, Airtable, Google Docs, and more. Isn’t that good? Aren’t we taking the best from all these diverse platforms? Yes and no. Having many platforms means you have to get used to multiple interfaces, and that can be a big barrier for some people. It also makes searching for content, verifying it, and separating the wheat from the chaff very difficult. On the other hand, we are using the idiosyncratic features of each platform and picking the most suitable ones ad hoc.

I argue that the logical thing to do is to have one main knowledge hub, with many more specific ones that are mentioned or linked from the main one, optimally having data that is at least partially synchronized to the main hub. So, you keep the info in the hub, and advocates present some of it (filtered, sorted, reordered, edited, shortened, whatever) in any way they want in multiple variations on different websites according to their needs. Hence, you don’t need to keep updating multiple websites and databases which overlap in some items. There should always be exceptions, maybe many of them, and that is good, but the default place to store community ideas, knowledge, and conclusions one wishes to share to empower others is the central hub. This is a concept of one shared knowledge space, not one website or one view. Contrary to what one may think, this project has the potential to enhance diversity, different opinions, and ways to see and interpret the data. Our goal is not to uniform us all, but to open our eyes to more possibilities as we progress in different directions simultaneously as a diverse, non-dogmatic social change movement.

How is a Good Knowledge System Built?

For the most complicated and non-trivial tasks in my activism, I bring together all the knowledge that can fasten, ease, inspire, and refine the work, from across my knowledge system. How did I build this text page? I included the following:

  • A filtered view of HR list for relevant people to send this document to for feedback.
  • Past notes about a knowledge hub for the animal advocacy movement.
  • Notes I wrote on the topics of knowledge management, community, and technology, including relevant quotes.
  • Examples of animal advocacy community resources that I encountered, used, and saved.
  • Phrases and words I created surrounding relevant topics for this text.
  • AI tools list that could help me fine-tune and improve this text.
  • And some more.

If I were working in a system of silos, where every piece of knowledge only lives in one place, I would need to go back and forth between many pages (and possibly different apps) to find all this data. But in systems like Notion, Obsidian, or Coda, where data lives and syncs across multiple digital locations, one can quickly bring everything he needs to the page he is working on.

The intersectionality of knowledge is very important for empowering cognition, bringing together different data from different fields into one place, e.g., a dataset of action ideas in the space of AI combined with a dataset on animal-friendly politicians can yield interesting options. The animal advocacy knowledge hub needs to be a mind garden, where different branches of trees are combined to create new plants and fruits. The following are my general thoughts about building a good knowledge system.

In a good system, you can:

  • Access all knowledge quickly, in various sized chunks - from full articles to paragraphs about certain topics.
  • Reconstruct data combinations from an incrementally growing pool of knowledge, including editing, filtering, sorting, copying, and creating different versions of the data.
  • Connect between different pieces of data.
  • Distribute any piece of data to multiple storage locations.
  • Personalize, such as the ability to save data items of interest and lists that grow as the movement's knowledge grows.
  • Implement Automations.
  • Experience Emergent properties and creativity enhancement.

The data should be reliable and honest, sharing stories of both successes and failures, which, in my opinion, are bluntly underappreciated. In many cases, failure stories are more important than success stories. Where can I find some stories of failed vegan projects online?...

The Relevance of an Information Hub in a World Increasingly Dominated by AI

If a future AI can access all information online and, on demand, filter, evaluate, standardize, curate, and present it in a form that suits your immediate needs, why do we need an animal advocacy community knowledge hub, or any well-thought-out knowledge management system? This question is very important and hard to answer. Here are some thoughts about the advantages of a good system in an AI world:

  • It fosters a culture of inputting knowledge that would otherwise not be uploaded online.
    • 13 years ago, I went to supermarkets and placed a letter from a battery cage chicken in egg cartons. Not a big revolution, but most egg consumers got to see the letter when opening the carton in their home kitchens, a quite intriguing and novel arena for outreach. Whether it was good or stupid, nobody knows about this deed, and about most of the wonderful stuff you did, because it was never put online in an organized and standardized way for the community.
    • Nevertheless, you might say, 'OK, just dump it somewhere online and a future AI will find it,' right? Practically, I don’t think it will work, since advocates won't put it somewhere without a system that facilitates and promotes such action; online dumping will not create a culture of knowledge sharing, but a knowledge hub will.
  • Standardizing the input of knowledge helps activists see options they hadn’t thought about, highlighting possibilities they weren't looking for. The way we categorize and map animal advocacy can inspire new ideas.
  • Human resources: I’m not sure if an AI will have access to social media and be able to find relevant people for, as a hypothetical example, my new non-profit 'The Vegan Capitalist', which promotes ending the slaughter of animals through means such as pension plans investing in animal-friendly industries or urging investors to boycott harmful companies. Even if the AI has access to social media accounts and can recommend relevant people, without standardized activist profiles, how will I know if a particular advocate  wants to receive unsolicited requests for cooperation on the subject at hand? How will I get the most relevant information about those people, deliberately structured for this purpose in a community knowledge hub?
  • Perhaps a future knowledge hub will aggregate good data to present you with the most relevant content for you in a feed. Also, it will not have the ulterior motives that ad-based social media platforms have.

▶▶ Any good system will have AI built into it.

Practical Suggestions

The endeavor I am advocating for can be a very wide-ranging project or a much simpler and easier one. It's possible that such a platform, let's call it 'AnimaList' (or 'Changers'), could be achieved (to a certain extent) by combining current animal advocate resources to a Coda workspace. It could also start with a simpler pilot project. I write down a few points I find crucial for such a hub to gain initial traction and influence:

  • The hub is regularly linked inside group chats of activists, when it contains relevant information to the conversation.
  • Advocates are encouraged to add data – ideas, technical info, conclusions from experience, etc. – to the platform.
  • The data is organized in tables.
  • The hub is accessible to all without having to sign in.
  • Data is presented in a graphic way with pictures, videos, etc.
  • Advocates can see combinations of data from different topics on the same page, as they choose.
  • Advocates can easily add data to the platform.
  • AI features are added to the platform.

Long-term Vision

Ideally, the hub will be hosted on a single platform that includes three pillars: a knowledge base (Coda or Notion style), a chat (Slack style), and a feed (resembling Facebook or Instagram). This platform will be based on a website presenting activities and activists from all over the world.

  • The knowledge base will map existing and potential activities (ideas) into categories and tags. It will connect advocates eager to execute these ideas and looking for partners, and will include a section for inspiration from other social justice struggles. The activists managing the hub should be well-connected with the organizations to help identify opportunities for learning and cooperation. The hub will sync (with permission) information from various existing animal advocacy resources and map its own new data, using inputs from activists around the world and the platform’s workers & volunteers. The hub will be translated into other languages using AI to ensure universal access to the information.
    • Examples of using the knowledge hub:
      • A veteran venture capital professional who has turned vegan wants to know what kinds of economic activities for animals, utilizing his skills, are taking place in Canada.
      • Someone wants to start a campaign against dairy in Ireland. They search AnimaList's website for the 'dairy' tag and find various activities related to this subject. They come across a “silence” tag in the hub and discover James Aspey's 365 days of silence, Israel's Animal Liberation Front's 'Thundering Silence' demonstration, and more inspiring ideas, leading them to execute a campaign combining silence and the dairy industry.
  • Chats will be placed in context and integrated with the knowledge hub.
  • News feeds will be tailored to the advocates based on the information gathered when they use the platform and their personal customizations. Unlike social media, this platform's simple algorithm for the feed can be transparent and directly altered by the end user.

The hub will combine consolidated information, structured and tagged data in the knowledge hub, with unstructured data in chats. It will be a place where new animal advocacy terms can be created, in-depth interviews and articles are posted, and where synergy is dominant.

The Challenge of Creating a Widely Used Hub is HUGE

I perceive the creation of such a knowledge platform as, first and foremost, a social challenge. Ultimately, no platform will be utilized if it feels like a disconnected archive. To integrate it into the fabric of daily life, the data must “live” and become an integral part of chats, emails, online presentations, meetings, and much more.

Some Possible Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Advantages
    • Enhances knowledge and connectivity.
    • Helps newcomers integrate into the movement.
    • Enhances collaboration and fosters new relationships.
    • Initiates a culture of advocates that “communitize” knowledge, meaning sharing it in a structured, lasting manner. Activists could view their actions, even small local things, in a wider perspective: can the knowledge I acquired help the community?
    • Complements other efforts to strengthen the community, such as conferences and virtual meetings.
  • Disadvantages and Challenges
    • Challenging to execute and encourage regular use.
    • Labor-intensive, requiring significant effort in inputting data, sorting, curating, and tagging, among other tasks.
    • A hub can potentially become a place where infighting between individuals or groups is exacerbated.

Final Words

The ultimate goal of this potential project is to elevate the animal advocacy movement, aiming for a significant portion of advocates to be empowered by the knowledge hub platform. This initiative seeks to promote flexible cooperation on a large scale, increase effectiveness, foster community solidarity, and encourage financial growth. It focuses our efforts on the most crucial group for the animals - the activists, the 'elite unit' whose performance is a key factor influencing the global state of animal welfare.

I believe that a knowledge hub vision can be a natural extension of the IAA initiative, as IAA already has a vibrant Slack group and is actively mapping resources, events, fundraising opportunities, and more.

Humans dominate the planet because of their ability to cooperate flexibly and in vast numbers. If we want to exert more influence over human actions, we need to work in a much more flexible manner. This means that an idea from an advocate in Ghana could lead to a career change for an advocate in Denmark, though they may never have met or spoken, even online. For such connections and collaborations to happen effectively, a robust knowledge hub is essential.





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I'd just like to put out there that many of these features already exist in our Faunalytics research library!

Library Of Animal-Related Attitude And Behavior Research - Faunalytics

Sorry, I don't have time to read the article, is Anima International not building something like this already?

I didn't hear about such an initiative from Anima International, but if you know any other details about it I would love to hear, thanks!

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