[Vision2020] Open source and related concepts

Ted Moffett starbliss at gmail.com
Tue Apr 8 14:42:53 PDT 2008

On 4/8/08, Dave <tiedye at turbonet.com> wrote:

> Great post Paul!   I like how you explain true anarchy, even among
> self-proclaimed anarchists this concept is sometimes lost.
> Regarding your related topic, applying open source to politics, my
> optimist says "COOL!" My pessimist says that the powers that be will
> never let this have any real power.

"Open source" citizen law writing sounds promising.  If more people were
involved in attempting to write actual law, their understanding of law would
improve, voting intelligence might increase, along with participation in the
political process.  But I do not think this process would ensure good law
would be created; and it could fragment into various contentious interest
groups fighting over the influence gained.  In some communities I would not
want the law written by the majority citizen opinion, which is sometimes
bigoted and ignorant.

Would the US Constitution be a better document if it were written today with
a model based on open source software?

As I previously suggested in different words, powerful politically involved
religious interests would be doing their best to ensure the open source law
suited their agendas.  They already did write their own law (given the
primary backers of the HJR 2 2006 initiative), which passed in Idaho in
2006, Idaho's Super DOMA.   I think this law is bigoted, and it was passed
by a large margin by the voters in Idaho.

Imagine what the language of the US Constitution might be if it were written
today with an open source model and the input of tens of millions of
fundamentalist religious believers?

Ted Moffett

> Paul Rumelhart wrote:
> > One of the great things that has come about because of the internet is
> > the concept of "open source".   This is great for programming, because
> > you can collaborate with others to produce applications that are free in
> > every sense of the word.  Firefox, linux, the apache web server that
> > powers many websites, free replacements for standard software like gaim
> > for internet messaging (now "pidgin"), open office for spreadsheets and
> > word processing, and many, many other programs in various stages of
> > development are testaments to the power of the "open source" movement.
> >
> > This concept is amazingly refreshing to me, because it brings people
> > together to create things for others just because they can.
> >
> > This concept isn't just for geeks anymore.  We now have projects like
> > wikipedia and various other wiki-like concepts (such as wikibooks,
> > wiktionary, and others).  People can take what knowledge they have
> > accumulated and use it to help everybody.  You have wikileaks, which
> > aims to be a place where whistle blowers can expose wrongdoing
> > anonymously, and you have the creative commons, where people place their
> > works of art where they can be used to create other pieces of art.
> >
> > The reason I love these concepts is because they are good examples of
> > what I consider "true" anarchy.  The term "anarchy" has a bad rep,
> > because it usually denotes chaos and the destruction of the
> > establishment.  However, what it is supposed to mean is rule by the
> > people without authoritarian oversight and without disorder.  These
> > kinds of applications are a great example of how anarchy can actually
> > work.  There isn't one guy at the top of most open source projects that
> > can act like a dictator.  Even Linus Torvalds, the person who started
> > the linux operating system, isn't in that position.  He can accept
> > patches into his source tree, but anyone can fork the code at any time
> > if they don't like what he does with his kernel, thanks to the GPL
> license.
> >
> > In some cases, there are literally thousands of people working on these
> > projects, to one degree or another.  Yet there is no authoritarian power
> > structure that controls things.  People have to learn to do their part
> > as a member of the project, wherever they best think they can help.  The
> > projects sort of organically grow, and shape themselves into what people
> > want.
> >
> > So why do I bring this up here?
> >
> > Because I have just learned of another similar initiative to take this
> > idea of "open source" and extend it into an area where it doesn't at
> > first seem as if it would fit.  That area is government.  There is a
> > site called metagovernment (http://www.metagovernment.org) which is
> > starting to ramp up that aims to garner community involvement in every
> > aspect of governing ourselves.  I don't know a lot about it yet, but I'm
> > excited about the idea.  From what I gather, you basically band together
> > into small communities based on geographical area (presumably Moscow
> > would be one such area), and you work as a group to write the laws as
> > you want them to be.  There is a mechanism where the best ideas float to
> > the top, and there are forums where every aspect of the law is hammered
> > out.  The idea is that these laws, and the discussions that are involved
> > in them, can be held up as a template for our legislatures to use to
> > create local laws.  There is no real power there, all there is is an
> > example that in all likelihood will be a much "better" law than that
> > which our politicians would come up with, since it was developed by
> > those who would be most affected by and who are most knowledgeable of
> > the topics.
> >
> > It's also a way for those of us who wish to be more involved to actually
> > help to make a difference.
> >
> > When this project gets off the ground, I'm going to follow it and see if
> > it works.  My gut instinct tells me that it will.  It's the same reason
> > that Firefox the browser is better than Internet Explorer (at least in
> > my opinion) - the community knows what they want and that drives the
> > design.  A monolithic company, just like a monolithic government, is
> > limited - whereas a group of intelligent individuals with like interests
> > and whole ranges of expertise to draw on can be nigh unstoppable.  It's
> > the difference between having to accept what is shoved down your throat,
> > and choosing to use what others have built together for you to use as
> > you see fit.
> >
> > If this takes off, I'll be hoping to get some of the people on this list
> > involved in the project.  It is basically what Vision2020 purports to
> > want to be - a place where our vision of the future of our town can be
> > expressed in a positive way.
> >
> > Any thoughts?
> >
> > Paul
> >
> >
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