How We Govern Ourselves

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Decision making (DM) could be

1) the lowest common denominator

2) we have decided the following decisions and we need to pick one

3) collaboration for ideation

First two are functions of centralized decision-making.

Third is what we will need to be much better at as world gets more complex.

How do we map facilitation techniques to online tools?

Loomio seems to work best up to 200 groups

Context is important, as are intended outcomes


- the more people disagree or want clarification, the deeper a conversation can happen to reach a decision

- need to trust the process & feel safe

We spend so much time in meetings; both Occupy and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) spend lots of time in meetings

- because of check in process, Occupy allowed people to be more effective

- FEMA was much more top down, “we’ll get back to you on that"

Time differential of consensus, real-time talk-based process is a red herring - difference is who is spending the time

Is one type of DM always better?

- depends on who has the time

- also where we are at in the process

Time is an important variable in the DM process - Agile is an example of democratic face to face meetings that are time boxed to be efficient

"Most facilitation is people lying to each other about time"

Town Hall stye of government - e.g., Vermont - allows for ambient sense of awareness, geographic, social

- also facilitates safety in knowledge that there is an opportunity

  • Proactive vs. Reactive decision-making

- regular check ins can help with maintenance and real-time course correction

- meeting with a boss about performance is cataclysmic, no stabilizing function over time

potential for small groups with excellent DM skills to set different expectations for governance at other levels

can small groups work together in a liquid democracy / delegated democracy

  • How does real-time vs asynchronous decision-making work?

- might work better

How do people change their minds? What is the cognitive basis for decisions?

- we have become so polarized

- cross reference weaponized social session

- conflict resolution needs to involve everyone, even those that committed the atrocities

Eecosphere, the incentives to action. Instead of “this is one thing you can do, out of many.” It’s debilitating. This aligns their core needs with the outcome. Develop products which are sourced ethically. Taps into self motivation. So much advocacy assumes altruism. Let’s move into self-interest.

The civic hacking space is much to focussed on the technology stack of government rather than the “decision” or “process” stack.


- Intertwinkles : tool for cooperative household to make asynchronous decisions outside of meeting times

- Loomio

- Consensus

- Democracy OS

- Samer Hassan - Fellow at Berkman Center - project management platform with collaboration in mind (WILLOW WILL ADD LINK)


- Tao of Democracy

- Freedom is an endless meeting

- Charlie DeTar - - PDF of paper on computer aided DM (WILLOW WILL ADD LINK)

- Cultural Cognition Project - Yale - the “backfire effect” when someone is presented with proof that their position is wrong, the entrench further in their beliefs