ReUnion Network is a technology designed for interpersonal relationships. All its communicative elements are circulated within one-on-one relationships. We do not intend to make this interpersonal communication accessible beyond its own scope. As such, the ReUnion system aims to be inherently resistant to surveillance and algorithmic abuses that require universal legibility to function. This resistance is particularly important for ReUnion to be a safe space for people to explore themselves and their committed relationships.
With this aim, ReUnion Network uses relationship as the basic unit of design, instead of an individual user. The design focuses on interpersonal relationships as the base unit for a few reasons.
1. Support individuation development. In the ReUnion system, people only enter and act on the platform from the relationship contract with themselves. By seeing a relationship with oneself, rather than set of informational description forming a single user archetype, we can understand that, primarily, we are a distinct entity from our social manifestation, yet, act by and with our social relations. As well, we are reminded that our abilities and identity change every day. Despite this change, we are still a person whose existence requires receiving and giving, and that there are others to act within a response to this. This is crucial for acting meaningfully in concert with others. Only by orienting first in vulnerability, and not as a point of negativity, can we create a commons of care, a social exchange not for accumulating production, but of provisioning and supporting fundamental conditions of all life.
2. Flexibility in relationships to evolve, not dissolve: Relationships with others in the system are only able to be entered into with a contract that requires a discussion of what each person thinks that relationship is at that time of the agreement, and what actions it might be a part of it. There is no user profile, just the shared discussion. By not having a fixed identity within the relationship, both parties can more easily imagine and explore different ways to relate to each other and play different roles for ourselves and for the other in the relationship. This encourages being flexible and receptive to change, which is inevitable in life, and encouraging more understanding of whether or not relations have a long temporal life.
3. Open-form structural narratives
We design our system with an awareness of the potential developing power structures with the aim to maintain stability. While power itself may always generate greater inequality and instability, ReUnion attempts to challenge the dichotomy of the individual (atomization) and the community (collectivism). We propose a continuous mesh network of P2P long-term relationships can inspire a flexible and resilient commons.
Theoretically, every party in a one-on-one relationship has 50/50 veto power, which means an interpersonal contract cannot be established if not all parties are consenting. If a community were organized through a cluster of interpersonal relationships, ideally the chances of marginalization of power due to the management structure would be much smaller. It also makes it easier to ‘fork’ a community if one or a few would like to organize in different terms, as solidarity may be realized in P2P relations that do not require a mass consensus of a single narrative.
The concept of community becomes decentralized: an open-border construct that emerges from long-term interpersonal commitments and without the need to rely on a single structural narrative. In addition, because the decentralization exists in a multifarious network of peer-to-peer relationships, everyone in the community has an equally substantial agency.
The design accommodates the living dynamism and ever-changing complexities and abilities that manifest through relations, unique in each moment of time, place, and conditions of exchange. By employing interpersonal relationships as the front and backend base unit, we aim to distinguish people from their relations and employ their agency in building a network constituted by situated, peer-to-peer exchanges that affect flexible structural and relationship narratives.
ReUnion can be understood as a system that sprawls across the personal contentment to the well-being of the commons.
It is important to note that all the design choices are in the prototype stage; they are subjected to change as community research and usability progress.