I’ve recently been exploring a space that I will call, “Political Software.”

Most SocialSoftware, generally described as “software that helps groups to form,” and prototyped here to include blogs, wiki, and so on, focuses on the lower end of the EcosystemOfNetworks.

For example, blogs are, in our conventional day to day use as “little people in a big world,” centered towards the CreativeNetwork? aka “Clique,” wiki are similarly situated.

The same for wiki, though I suppose a few sites have big communities of, say, 30-100 people working on them. (The “Social Networks” in the map.)


“Proto-Political Software” is software that exists before what I want to call, “Political Software.”

Examples are:


While out here, in the cliques & social networks, we say, “VotingIsEvil,” …

…in political software, voting is a near universal feature.


See also ForFewAndMany.


This is a WorkInProgress, but if you have any comments or questions already, please do so!

Some notes:

According to Rene Girard conflict in human groups is inevitable. The traditional way of dealing with it is using the scapegoat mechanism. This is really not satisfactory for us. The other, modern way is using the judicial system - i.e. appealing to some higher justice. PoliticalSoftware should somehow incorporate that wisdom.

The biggest need for politics is when there is something at stake. In the online world - one important thing is Open Source. It is fully coordinated online and there are high stakes in choosing the future development path (it is diminished by the right to fork - but still you need to gather quite a bit of followers to make such a fork feasible). If there is a need for PoliticalSoftware it is in the Open Source communities.

A couple of the talks at Online Deliberation 2005 were about political software. I didn’t attend and haven’t yet read the programme of Online Deliberation 2008, but I assume that there was probably some there too.

Also, I’m hoping that a CommunityProgrammableWiki could serve as a testbed for scalable “direct democracy”-style legislative procedures.

It seems I’d left this page pretty wide open; I had meant to define more. Still, your comments are on the mark with what I had intended.

The phrase I’ve developed is: “Political Software is software made for use by societies.”

The image is of 1,000s of people interacting, not just small-medium sized groups.

But interacting in a way that adds up.

I am somewhat convinced that we (most people, including myself) don’t know how to think about interactions of groups of people larger than, say, 150. We don’t know the ethics, we don’t know the organizing principles, we don’t know the values systems, we don’t know all of these things; We have very little intuitive feeling about it, not working in units like that. The extent of our imagination is hierarchy, voting, and primitive signalling notions. Is it possible for two groups of 500 each to have a conversation that reaches a conclusion and affects a transformation in the two groups, for example? Can this be done intentionally, and on who’s intention? There’s very little that we know here, there is very little that we (us) have tried here. But I diverge-

The question is political software. Software that is made for political societies (societies of say 1,000 people) to use. Soft processes (SoftTechnology) are as important, if not more important, than the hard processes.

Critique of proto-political software:

  • SlashDot – it harnesses x1,000’s (or more?) of people with a fairly good moderation system, given the society’s values and so on; experiments in friending and foeing seem fairly week, but karma seems to have worked well
  • KuroShin – factions & groups form as lawless cabals, they are not formally recognized by the system, there can be deep conflict present without productive resolution
  • WikiPedia – Wikipedia has a “rule by force towards productive ends” that has worked, and the evolved mediawiki and practices on Wikipedia (and Citizendium) are likely the best developments we have so far of (or towards) political software
  • CitiZendium? – Citizendium has gone beyond Wikipedia– it is vaguely Constitutional, with principles that are being developed, separations of powers (to positive effect,) and so on. As software, it is basically the same (as far as I can see,) though this will change. As a society, it has gone beyond Wikipedia.
  • MMORPGs – In some ways, MMORPGs are even better: Because there are clearly defined goals, the societies can organize very quickly. Guilds and so on. Unfortunately, I don’t know what software capacities the system has to facilitate groups: I understand there are shared chat lines (voice and text,) and that there are insignias for group affiliations. Wikipedia has developed group affiliation signs, so there is a similarity there. Citizendium has project positions and so on.

I predict (and hope) that in the long term, the Citizendium will overtake the Wikipedia. But I don’t really know.

I think we can safely say that political software can only really evolve with a society- that we can’t create the software, and then invite the society in.

My imagination has expanded beyond PICA. PICA, in many ways, seems obvious to me: “Of course this is what we should do. Of course.

I am now interested in the development of a new society. This is what we need to do.

I’m not saying that that’s what we’re going to do on CommunityWiki.

But all I work on now, is, “How to grow a society?”, and TestingTheoryThroughAction.

Finding people interested in doing it is somewhat easy; I have found many people who are interested, and a few who are somewhat committed.

The hardest thing right now, for the few who are committed, is changing habits.

Count me as interested. Which habits are you trying to change?

All our habits..!

But it’d be a good start if we had regular attendance to Saturday meetings by the end of the year. ;)

More seriously, by next year, we should be making extended stays at one another’s houses in order to get to know one another better, to work on projects together, and so on.

Now that is a bold plan. Count me in. But for the start I would propose something more light - like exchanging postcards via standard mail (we did that with Phil Jones). Or, even better, let’s exchange books. In recent years I’ve got back to my old habit of reading books, thanks to Internet you can be much better informed what is really good out there. I don’t really want to give away my books - I am attached to them in a way - but I would love to borrow them and then have friends to talk about their content. So this might be a first step in going more ‘real world’. What do you think?

You’re on!

I can’t update my website right now, but my new address is:

  • 6218 S 238th Place Apartment DD201
  • Kent, WA 98032

For first books, I would either bring up “Dying to Learn,” from the Trilogy of the Initiate, or “The Future of Man,” which is a TeilhardDeChardin.

More to write about SpiriAta later (the society effort.)

A big thing for me in books is the granger.

I write in all of my books, and heavily annotate them.

When I lend a book to a friend, I invite my friend to write in it, to annotate it, to present different ideas. To mark in one color what they disagree with, to mark in another what they strongly agree with. To add their questions and their differing thoughts. To see their maps, humor, and doodles. To find their additions to the index. Then to sign and date it at the end.

Then, when I reread it, I also see what my friends’ judgments are. “What did they see, that I did not see?”

Or at least, that’s how it’d work, if they’d actually do it. ;)

“Oh no, … It’s a book, I wouldn’t want to write in a book.

This said, I’ll respect anyone’s request not to have writing in their book.

I can use post-it notes instead. :)


Define external redirect: CitiZendium CreativeNetwork

EditNearLinks: WorkInProgress KuroShin SlashDot