Friday, April 13, 2012

The Mathmatics of Occupy maybe?

Crowd sourcing. Kickstarter. We should all be familiar with these by now - getting funding for (usually) art projects directly from numerous small donations rather than from a single large funding source. Rockethub is a similar venture (though not the only one) that is focusing on science projects, small ones obviously, usually ones that allow one or two people to work on projects for a month or so.

There's some interesting projects on these sites, if I had some money (any money really) I'd be donating to them. To this project in particular. It appears to be in the same vein as behavioural economics, in as much as the chap, Lee Worden, from McMasters University in Canada, is looking to learn more about how Occupy makes it decisions.
working to develop quantitative models and simulations of consensus decision-making process. The purpose of this project is not to explain, capture, or predict the endless surprises and delights of human creativity and communication - that would be a fool's errand, and an insult to humans. Rather, it is to try to capture particular aspects of the process that seem important,
In one sense we already know how Occupy makes it bigger decisions, primarily through the general assemblies where ideas get debated and voted upon. Modelling this process isn't going to let us predict what decisions Occupy is going to make, what it could possibly do is inform Occupy as to how well the system is working. It could help in determining when tasks are best split off to smaller groups that then report back to the general assemblies. It could help in refining processes to prevent individuals from leading (in a particular direction) the general assemblies. It could help prevent minority opinions from being marginalized.

This is not to say that it will. It could though. And at the very least, we would have some models, based on real world assumptions of how direct participatory democracy works. Which could help us in all sorts of ways. Personally, I'm of the opinion that direct participatory democracy is only going to work up to a certain level of organisation, when the scale of the decisions will require some form of representative democracy (I could be wrong). Models like this informing us about how smaller groups make decisions could help us work this local connected form of democracy to a the larger scale/countrywide democracy. Useful. Makes me rue the fact that I have no pingas to donate to this project. There's nothing to stop you from donating it though.

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