—Design: After years of studying at Evergreen State College’s Civic Intelligence Research and Action Lab. -And digitally touring the world’s various technologies for citizen empowerment and direct democracy, (many of which are available here: http://democracy.foundation/similar-projects/), a ‘minimum viable product’ has been designed. The central aspect of the design is that it is a generalized optimization network which can be applied to anything, including itself. Because it is also Open Source, it will be easy for people and groups to brainstorm on all kinds of new tools and features, then begin using and refining them.
—Programming, and creating a social network: (Our current position) We need to program the designs into an actual website people can start using. This way the tools are online and available to the entire English speaking world. We want the world to have a ‘proof of concept’ to establish Open Source Governance really can outperform representative democracy. It is also essential that we create a social network so that the network can hit the ground running the moment it’s online. The programmers can have beta testers and other forms of support, as a larger social network is more likely to result in a larger number of open source collaborators.
—Build a massive user base: A key detail of this site is that it’s designed to spread virally, by offering users numerous direct benefits. The ability to attract everyday people is an extremely central concern for any website, let alone one built on spreading decentralized-governance technology. Many other teams have tried proving the net can outperform today’s democracies, but time and again they’ve built something the everyday citizen perceives as “political”, which typically fails to excite them, (or be useful if no one else in their area is using them). Our wiki is not limited to politics, you could discuss problems with recipes, or theories, or languages, so it’s really more of a ‘wiki for solutions to all problems’. But aside from that, we’re going to build a time bank and other features that allow people to barter or simply list all services and items they either want or have to offer. Once online we’ll partner with everyday citizens and activist organizations to get their feedback, and support. Organizations already engaged in organizing and writing about problems and solutions will be invited to join us in populating the first pages and setting the social norms of the site.
—Augmenting existing democracies while simultaneously empowering grassroots activity: Another key aspect of this project is that it is so flexible that citizens can just as easily use it for legal forms of protest or direct action, as they can for partnering with experts and other concerned citizens to craft policies for their representatives the way their lobbyists do. In fact it is possible once we’ve established our technology works, and have a wealth of communities undeniably benefiting from the technology, that an international “Open Party” may begin to form as candidates become increasingly able to campaign by working directly with the citizen-expert coalitions our network enables. As for the citizens who don’t care about governance, our network remains invaluable for its secondary systems. Such as the ability to make money, friends, or just find solutions to problems with virtually anything. In other words, Wikipedia has proven itself to be unbelievably useful, and that’s basically just a place for descriptions of things; imagine what a place for all solutions could do.
—Mass direct-representation: The end goal for anyone building a better system is seeing a thorough testing phase, lead to full scale implementation. While it is possible humanity can overcome its greatest challenges simply by making it possible for representatives to get elected explicitly through networking with citizen-expert coalitions, it is also possible the citizen-expert coalitions will simply regard electing a ‘representative’ as a relic from a technologically inferior era. Ultimately speaking we are discussing the difference between a technology invented in the age of cloud computing, and systems from before the age of toilette paper, or pencils. Especially once we have large communities using and proving our technology works, it will be clear that there’s simply been too much technological progress in the last 300+ years for any information system to avoid having become obsolete.
The single most fundamental difference about Direct Democracy is that while it may implement an “Open Party” to interact with existing democracies, within the network itself, there are no “parties”. There is simply ‘problems’, ‘solutions’, ‘proposals’, ‘debates’, and ‘votes’. People instead form groups based on the specific strategies they would like to work on, or their hobbies or studies.
If indeed Open Party representatives can become the majority, then they can peacefully, legalistically, pass bills that citizen-expert coalitions craft, to gradually dissolve representative democracy altogether. Eventually the idea of voting for someone to represent you, instead of just representing yourself, will seem as primitive as riding a horse to work. In any case, once ‘the people’ become ‘the government’, the war between the two ends. While other tension remains, the level of dysfunction occurring on the world stage could drop orders of magnitude, it could end extreme poverty, or war. The present systems are failing, and better technology is here, now it’s time we use it.
If you have any feedback or questions shoot us an email at TheLawgenProject@Lawgen.org