Start by watching this or just, you know, click here to crowdfund.
Story in a nutshell: Loomio are a team from New Zealand Occupy (the shire!) who noticed that face-to-face consensus processes were dominated by participation inequality as socially difficult, hard-to-listen-to people coopted the democratic process to talk about the price of octopus, or similarly irrelevant things, or socially powerful people buffaloed the process to suit their own political agendas. They thought that the consensus process made sense, but that face-to-face consensus gave too much power to people that abused the process: it was just slightly too idealistic for the real world.
(I’m heavily paraphrasing an hour long conversation I had with the Loomio team, so if any of this sounds wrong, assume it’s my phrasing.)
Their solution was to build software so the process could be run in an asynchronous, textual format which would minimize people’s ability to hog the floor and interfere with the process, while keeping the richer set of signalling which the consensus process as practised by Occupy allowed. They’re the first team that I’ve seen really take a critical look at what could be learned from Occupy, including successes, failures and logical next steps, and start integrating those lessons into formats that might work for mass adoption. Actual learning is occurring. There’s huge potential for re-democratizing society by working inside of companies, teams, groups, and projects – making the politics visible, helping people decide together rather than delegating to leadership because it’s what we’ve always done.
There is room for something more. I am enthusiastic about this.
Loomio has a crowdfunding campaign to develop a slew of new features – please give it a look and contribute if you’d like to see a new class of software – collective decision-making – get a fair try out! I like the team, lots of people are using Loomio already, let’s move this forwards.