A quick update from Rich at Loomio HQ to let you know how things are going.
More than 86,000 people have joined Loomio, making more than 28,000 decisions in nearly 100 countries, so it’s feeling like we’re really starting to have some impact in the world!
At the end of last year we announced the first “early access” to the new version of the software (Loomio 1.0) to crowdfunding backers. Since then a big focus of the work has been on accessibility: we’re working with an international community of people with different disabilities to make sure Loomio 1.0 is going to be the most accessible discussion platform on the web.
Here’s me talking about how we’re making Loomio work for blind people
This has been a tremendous experience for me personally, especially learning how blind people navigate the web and how a small effort on the part of people building technology can make a huge difference to some people’s quality of life.
Heading for launch…
We’re progressively bringing more and more people onto the new software, iteratively improving the usability of the platform with each new batch. We’re working towards a public launch date later this year, which will be a major push to announce ourselves to the world in a big way.
We want to be in a financially sustainable position before we invite millions of people to get on board. To that end, we’ve been developing relationships with impact foundations in the US who support social good projects like this. Nothing is signed yet, but I can say we’re feeling optimistic about our prospects :)
We’re also supremely honoured and excited to introduce our Advisory Council, some of the brightest minds in democracy and tech internationally:
One of the benefits of doing this work is that we get invited to talk to all kinds of different groups around the world.
Here’s Alanna talking introducing Loomio to the Mix Mashup in New York, a gathering of “management innovators—pioneering leaders, courageous hackers, and agenda-setting thinkers from every realm of endeavor.”
And while Alanna was in the States talking to the management innovation community, I was in Taiwan talking to some young radicals about the future of democracy. Here’s a blog post and video from my trip.
And finally here’s Ben at the Skoll World Forum, discussing the Future of Work on a panel with Bettina Warburg from the Institute for the Future and David Jones from Microsoft. It highlights a very interesting divergence between Loomio’s vision of the future where people can use open source technologies to co-create a more sustainable equitable world, and Microsoft’s vision of a future where proprietary software makes the status quo a little more convenient.
Thank you so much for supporting this vision! It’s an ambitious journey, but it’s great to know we’re travelling together with such an amazing community of supporters like you.
The Equally Well Summit brought people from diverse backgrounds together to discuss a critical problem. Loomio enabled engaging participants prior to, during, and after the conference – helping turn talk into action.
In November 2014 the first Equally Well Summit was held in Wellington, New Zealand. The Summit brought more than 100 people together from a range of disciplines in the mental and physical health sectors to tackle a “wicked problem”: the poor physical health experienced by people who experience mental illness or addiction issues.
Equally Well needed to engage collective wisdom to form cross-sector solutions. The challenge was to break down silos and connect diverse participants in creating actionable outcomes. Participants included people with lived experience of mental and physical health challenges, psychiatrists, policy makers, healthcare professionals, NGO chief executives, and researchers.
We see powerful potential in thinking beyond just hosting a conference, and toward sparking a movement and nurturing a community to support this urgent work.
Working with Loomio, the Equally Well team invited participants to connect online prior to the Summit using a short personal video introduction from Helen. At the Summit, Loomio was used to create an online meeting space complementing the event.
A Loomio group enabled the diverse stakeholders to come together before the Summit, progress their thinking and mutual understanding, discuss what the focus of sessions at the Summit should be, and create a foundation for a community that can continue after the Summit – supporting real ongoing collaboration and change. It was great to see the Loomio conversations emerge and the priorities for action developed.
In response to the personal video invitation, 93 of 120 participants logged into Loomio prior to the Summit. They built shared understanding of the problem: the poor physical health of people experiencing mental illness. Using facilitated peer-to-peer communication, the newly emerging community developed a sense of urgency to take action together. Having diverse voices in the discussion brought out ‘‘elephants in the room” – topics people usually avoid talking about. The group shared perspectives and expertise, collaboratively identified issues, and and generated energy and motivation through shared purpose. Because the community was already in communication online, they arrived at the conference with deeper shared understanding of the issues.
The conversation didn’t end when the conference concluded. The problems this community is tackling will require ongoing collaboration. The conference brought together a purposeful community, and Loomio is helping them continue as a movement and take action together.
Online tools can make offline events more effective, especially for diverse stakeholders and complex issues
The invitation is important – setting the context and welcoming participants makes a big difference
Co-creating content with conference participants can unlock new levels of collaboration
Building an online community allows people to come together before and after an event, helping it be so much more than a one-off experience
Moving from talk to action requires ongoing communication and collaboration – this is what can turn a conference into a movement
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.