Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Wednesday, June 11, 2003day link 

 Emergent democracy or aristocracy
Kevin Marks:
"The history of democracies is usually told as a rebellion against an overweening King - George III for America, Louis XVI for France. In England it is King John, in 1215, and the rebellion gave rise to the Magna Carta which constrained the powers of a king, and providing for a separate body (of barons) to enforce it.

Cromwell's rebellion against Charles I is not often portrayed as democratic, though the accession of William & Mary in 1688 after James's restoration was notable for the English Bill of Rights which further constrained the King's power and in effect made Parliament sovereign.

The history of democracy can be seen as successive (and expanding) answers to the questions:
Who gets to vote?
Who gets to speak?
Who gets to set the topic?

With a single sovereign, or a single parliament, control of the latter two is still tricky; legislative agendas, though longer than historically, are still constrained, and the introduction of legislation is more often reserved to government or elected legislators, and more rarely allowed by referendum.

In a deliberative body, elaborate rules are adopted to ensure only one person speaks at a time.

There is an inherent funneling of debate because of these procedures.

Conversely, online there are millions of conversations happening in parallel, topics are introduced daily, and votes are largely spurious.

The challenge is help these conversations to focus, converge and produce action."
Indeed. To focus, converge and produce action. If we can accomplish that to a significantly higher degree, there will be no more aristocracies.
[ | 2003-06-11 03:27 | 23 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Identity Commons and Venture Collective
picture The Identity Commons seeks:
...to create the world's premier electronic system for individuals and organizations to interact commercially, socially and personally, while providing every entity with control of its information, identity, and relationships consistent with healty communities.
It was apparently just discussed at the PlaNetwork Conference, which I'm kicking myself for not going to. See comments from
Jay Fienberg and Mark Canter about "People's DNS". Anyway, looking at the Identity Commons site, there's already some good friends of mine on the list of instigators, but I guess I must have been oblivious about it until now. I went and noted my support for its aims at Venture Collective.
[ | 2003-06-11 03:50 | 15 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

I'm not much into mainstream politics, but there are actually a couple of decent candidates for the next U.S. presidential election. The one I know the most about is Dennis Kucinich. I've mentioned him before (here, here and here) and heard him speak a couple of times. That included talking about peace and about spirituality in ways that I very much resonate with, but which made me absolutely amazed that he actually is a U.S. Congressman. So I'm even more impressed that he's now in the running for being the Democratic presidential candidate. He might be too good to actually really have a chance, but I certainly hope not.

The other one is Howard Dean. I hadn't actually heard about him before a couple of weeks ago, but a bunch of my techie weblog friends (like Britt and Mitch) seem to think he's the guy. And he certainly seems to be saying the right things, and has some guts to stand up against the powers that be. And maybe he's mainstream enough to have a better chance, I'm not sure.
[ | 2003-06-11 23:59 | 15 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

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