2015 DEC 13
“So you want to reform democracy?”
I don’t want to reform it, centralized gov does not scale. I want to offer something that does scale.
One reason I participate is to save others’ their time. I give away all the “secrets”.
“If there was an idea that could ‘fix’ democracy, it would have been thought-up already.” “Democracy” is not broken. Like any other complex adaptive system, society starts with a few initial conditions that iterate to produce all the “complexity”. It’s standard science: nothing is controversial about this.
For example, “poverty” in society is not a problem, it’s the result of a 3 to 4 initial conditions. People who try to manage the manifestation of poverty can do so within a pretty small scope, but it takes a lot of resources to stem the tide, and as soon as those resources stop flowing, things generally revert. Like in weeks. Sandy Springs, Georgia got pretty close on the spectrum.
Mature and effective within a proper context:
· 1 to 1 (email, face to face talking)
· 1 to many (books, radio, tv)
Not mature, not enough context yet to be effective:
· Any individual to any individual (~peer 2 peer)
Mature and terrible:
· Many to one (voting, no structure)
· Middle layers (mid management, rigid structure)
Even with transparency, accountability, etc., “Many to one” simply does not scale. Voting can work well enough on a small scale.
The solution has been known and obvious for many years to anyone who has looked at how ecologies work. “[Some] assume we can improve on designs we don’t truly understand, even when nature has taken centuries, or even millennia, to perfect what clearly works.” — Nassim Taleb
Ok, fine, mimic nature, but how? That’s what I spent 15 years doing 😉 What is a reference point that nature was copied correctly into a practical organization system? Ideally, all the stuff at the “complex” manifestation level are self regulating and self adapting, without exceptions. The system runs itself. For example, plant roots all talk with each other and share and trade resources. The are no “moderators” banning trolls.
One of those initial conditions: grouping (fractals). Grouping, which includes relationships, is what creates context, which engenders meaning, which creates value. Once everything has a value, and everything CAN be valued, as long as the value has common units, decisions become obvious. There is nothing to debate (other than personal preference).
Another initial condition is “add value first”. Can’t have a transaction if people don’t reveal what they want, and what they have to offer.
The other initial condition is “private property” (aka “local control”). This is a fractal. In biology it’s the semi permeable membrane of a cell, then tissue, then organ, then body, then group, than clan, then society. In psychology it’s called personal “boundaries”, then groups, etc. In relationships, sex is invite only, otherwise it’s called rape. If a cell has its guts stolen, it gets sick and can die. Theft is an initial condition of poverty, and of miss valuing people.
It took me a long time to understand some of the following miss perceptions.
“Narrow your focus”. It should be “narrow your focus within a context”. “Fixing poverty” requires changing a very focused few initial conditions, but within a very large scope. In this case the scope would include the manifestations of taxation, and laws. That’s a pretty big scope! If private property replaces theft (more or less), agreements will replace laws, and taxes will shrink. It’s not a surprise that keeping residents’ money local was one of Sandy Springs first steps, and helped reduced their costs 50%!
An app to identify potholes is great, but it has a very narrow scope. The magic doesn’t happen until things get very integrated, which requires a large scope.
Nature is great at arbitrating miss-valued things. That’s why life is found everywhere, why heat flows to cold, water flows down, etc. No committees, no focus groups, it’s autonomous and automatic, no exceptions. Those are the real “laws”. As Cyd Harrell said, “A typical city website today is ABOUT the city, but the site should BE the city, doing the people’s business online.” What would the world be like if it was automatically profitable to arbitrate (correctly value) WHO, what, where, when and why, the currently miss valued, simply as we go about our daily lives?
2014 OCT 24
Funding risk in mission-driven startups
…what to do when that approach looks to many funders like you’re seeking risk?
Have the ability for many people to incrementally add funding, and or, good ideas and support. If the ideas are good, funders should get short AND long term ROI. If the ideas are not so good, funders should still get long term ROI. “Many people” reduces risk, which takes unnecessary pressure off everyone. Lowering participation hurdles increase exposure to better info.
Milestones would turn into many stepping stones so overall progress could be more adaptable.
Within the whole start up classification, the common tasks with the best ROI would be immediately accessible to all.
Being able to dump a bit of money on a specific challenge would attract the best proven minds to solve it so they can get that money, and possibly long term ROI. There would be no risk, and no immediate cost to the startup.
2014 OCT 15
Impact Investing: The Invisible Heart of Markets 8 high level recommendations:
Still a flawed top down approach. Really one only needs to consider 2 dimensions: Risk and return. “Impact” should be big enough that its an emergent (semi unknowable ahead of time) property of correct initial conditions. By definition, you can’t set fine grained objectives at all.
“Govs should” is basically mentioned 5 times. The core reason we have not solved typical problems is the ability to do so requires a paradigm shift away from organizing via central control toward distributed self configuring organization. What you really want is a way to effectively organizing any mix of people, content, work, and goods, for any activity so that the ONLY limitation is desire to add wonderful value. Do it by mimicking evolution.
2014 OCT 14
Civic wants, civic needs, civic tech: What are the main problems we’re solving?
Really, tech + civic is trying to solve just one problem with many symptoms: How best to organize aggregations of people. The discussion of wants verses needs is just a symptom of INDIRECT communication. The core reason tech has not solved CFA’s mission is the ability to do so requires a paradigm shift from fiat divine right of kings to autonomy.
Who is this public we’re benefiting?
Public should mean everyone. The idea that “public” gives up power when it delegates power is really saying public = victim (have no power).
If we seek to benefit the public, we need to think about whether our work reinforces existing power relationships or redistributes power.
What you are really asking (nicely) is, “How do we fairly wield power that is not rightfully ours?” You can’t. And that’s why nice, well meaning people feel a bit uncomfortable about all this.
To move more deeply into a systemic change approach, civic technologists need to consciously value non-technical skills. Skills in cross-cultural communication, in facilitation, mediation, legal defense (and offense!), and public writing and argumentation are all necessary for achieving deep and systemic change.
That’s too complicated and masks symptoms 🙂 The problem is unequal power distirbution. Simply make one tool that has all people on a level playing field. Then, the only limit is the desire to add value.