g0v Summit 2014: Taiwan and the future of democracy

gov summit

Loomio co-founder Richard D. Bartlett asks ‘what is the government of the future?’

I had the immense honour of being invited to participate in the g0v Summit in Taipei last year. The Summit was basically a chance for 700 people to get together and discuss the future of democracy, and hack on some projects that might help us get there faster.

Here’s a video of my talk, describing some of my experiences over the past couple years and reflecting on the question: what is the government of the future? (Transcript printed below.)

It was a huge privilege to collaborate with a wide array of amazing people and organisations that I had admired from afar, like the activists from the Sunflower Movement that occupied Parliament in Taiwan; occupiers from the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong; Clay Shirky, academic, author, and speaker; the mySociety crew, who basically invented the idea of civic tech in the UK ten years ago; respectable troublemaker David Eaves; and of course Audrey Tang and Chia-liang Kao, some of the prominent figures of the g0v community.

Of course it was a great opportunity to meet new collaborators from all over the world too, like Ciudadano Inteligente from Chile, Team Popong in Korea, Sinar in Malaysia and Open State in the Netherlands.

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Photo credit: g0v

Using a combination of online technology and offline agitation, each of these projects push for greater transparency, accountability, and participation in government for regular citizens. It was delightful to see this highly distributed, autonomous network of projects all approaching this challenge with a high degree of coherence, and very little explicit coordination.

In addition to working with these great people, I also got the chance to learn a bit more about the political context in Taiwan from some of the young radicals, jaded journalists, suave diplomats and community organisers I spent time with. Continue reading g0v Summit 2014: Taiwan and the future of democracy

Loomio is Co-Hosting the Open Source // Open Society Conference

Loomio is co-hosting the Open Source // Open Society conference, April 16/17 in Wellington, New Zealand, alongside GitHub, Chalkle, and Enspiral. Get your ticket and join us at the event!

We are extremely excited about this event because openness is a defining aspect of everything Loomio is about. Our mission is to enable a more open world, where transparency and accessibility in decision-making is the new normal. The work of being open is never finished, but openness has been one of our key values right from the start.

The question of the conference is What is Open?:

The recent move towards openness in the digital world was enabled by the Internet, as the most powerful communications infrastructure that has ever existed, which was built on free and open source software. This digital movement taps into the underlying human urge for openness that has always existed. OS/OS is a celebration of efforts to consciously reverse practises that deny people the right to share, to participate, to collaborate. We celebrate “the commons”, both physical and virtual, and work to improve commonly-held resources that benefit all.

Loomio’s software is of course open source (fork us on GitHub!). We have also open sourced our internal company handbook, about how we organise democratically as a worker-owned cooperative. We practice open collaboration with our enthusiastic user community, seeking their input on everything from new feature development to our financial model. We are open about our story and our roadmap.

OSOS Invitation Image

Continue reading Loomio is Co-Hosting the Open Source // Open Society Conference

Priority-setting in a human-centred organisation

This is the first article in our Cultural Technology series, where we share practices for working in a networked organisation. This is very much a work in progress but we hope it’s valuable to share what we’re learning.

Yesterday we had our first Away Day of the year.

We have an Away Day every 3 months, where we get out of the office for a day to review the past quarter and plan the next one.

brainstorm Continue reading Priority-setting in a human-centred organisation

Cultural technology

abstract drawing showing complex conversations weaving together through Loomio

We’re building this organisation on the principle that anyone affected by a decision should be involved in making it.

We’re building software to make that feasible, but there’s a lot more to it than that. In addition to the digital technology, we also use a lot of ‘cultural technology’ – processes, habits and frameworks that we’ve borrowed or invented to make it possible to coordinate a group of people without resorting to coercive practices.

We’re going to share some of the cultural technology that’s working for us. It’s very much a work in progress, so your feedback will really help to shape it.

First up: Priority-setting in a human-centred organisation

We’ll update this post as articles come out :)

Participate in a study on collective intelligence!

Loomio has received a small grant from Catalyst to help Litemap and Assembl develop their collective intelligence tools. These tools enable users to map the structure of a discussion and visualise the connections between people, thought and action.

If you’re interested in participating please fill out this form.

Participants will use Loomio, Litemap, and Assembl to map out the discussion theme of “what should web-based tools for direct democracy look like in the future?”. We hope to gain a comprehensive view of this theme and insight into the best practices for generating collective intelligence online.

collective intelligece
from https://blogs.commons.georgetown.edu/cctp-797-fall2013/archives/699

Continue reading Participate in a study on collective intelligence!

Some thoughts about large scale decision-making

A comment from Loomio co-founder Richard D. Bartlett in a recent discussion about decision-making at scale:

“Personally the two models of scaling that I’m interested in are delegative & deliberative. (See Wikipedia on delegative democracy and Aaron Swartz on the deliberative model known as parpolity.)

Projects like DemocracyOS and LiquidFeedback are exploring the delegative model, where votes can be passed between people to form blocs of influence. I can imagine that being pretty awesome, and pretty problematic too.

Loomio is currently far down the deliberative end of the spectrum. We’ve stayed away from the “hard” problems that come with scale (e.g. identity verification) and are working on the difficult “soft” problems like teaching people to engage with each other respectfully in pursuit of shared understanding.

When we’re talking about nation-scale decision-making, the problem with either electoral or delegative systems is that the point of citizen engagement is entirely discontinuous with the actual crux of governance: negotiation, compromise and consensus-building. Voting leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, it feels like I’m giving up my autonomy in the hopes that some jerk who I don’t even know is going to exercise it in my interests.

Conversely, the deliberative model is fractal, self-similar at all scales, so the grassroots participants have an insight into what operations look like at the uppermost or innermost decision-making body. Participation is an enriching experience for the individuals, and it draws out collective intelligence greater than the sum of its parts.

There are something like 25,000 Podemos members using Loomio right now, in 1,000 different groups. It’s pretty easy for me to imagine Loomio 2.0, where all those groups are associated together into one network. Imagine sending a proposal out to all the different groups in the network and seeing distinct deliberations underway in each local group, watching points of agreement or controversy or insight or initiative spreading virally throughout the network, everyone participating in their full autonomy and simultaneously contributing to a massive collective roar, or a song, a unity of unmerged voices.”

Got something to add? Join the discussion over on Loomio

How to Engage Your Team with New Technology

Ever failed at getting your team engaged with new technology? We have.

Like many other people, we started off naively thinking that just exposing the team to new technology was enough – that once they saw it, they’d get excited to use it. Since then, we’ve worked with hundreds of groups and learned a lot about how to effectively introduce new online tools.Team At Work

We have encountered a series of key questions that arise when introducing new online collaboration tools. Many people focus only on the outputs of technology. But the process of addressing these critical questions is deeply valuable in and of itself. If you engage with these questions and discover you don’t need new technology after all, you will still experience some profound benefits and learnings. Continue reading How to Engage Your Team with New Technology