He invited a few of his friends, Mitch Saunders, Brian Murphy and Susan Hoffman to join us in a brainstorming session of emergent democracy.
The discussion was quite fascinating. We started talking about the republic and representative democracy. It was pointed out (sorry, I took notes, but not always about who said what....) that the republic was not formed for the sake of efficiency but out of a more elitist attitude that certain people were more fit to govern and that it would be impossible for an uneducated mob to rule. In that sense, it really wasn't just a more efficient democracy. I asked John what he thought about the current representative democracy and he said, "not functioning well, but functioning barely". He said the people are "so busy, distracted and spoiled". I agreed with them that a direct democracy in our current environment was not feasible, but that maybe our thoughts on emergent democracy might, in the short term, be a great tool for supporting a the "not functioning well, but functioning barely" representative democracy that we have today.
I think we all agreed that weblogs could support change through a competition of ideas. It was mentioned maybe we should also think a bit about the formation of ideas as well.
I expressed a point that Antoin made earlier about the dissemination of ideas only being half of the problem and that execution was key. We talked about leadership. Mitch is a leadership consultant/coach, having coached some of the most impressive people I know of. We talked about trust and self-esteem and how to activate people into becoming more active citizens and how to grow good leaders. I talked about Liz Fine who wrote that the web opened her eyes and that she has become addicted to research and questioning what is put in front of her. I explained how that "conversational" nature of weblogs was a key element of activation. Once activated, I think many people can grow to become leaders so that we don't have to rely so much on professional politicians whose power spans generations and where politics is more about power for the sake of power and less about "representation."
We talked about the target for the paper. John suggested that the paper should target, me, the toolmakers and then the outside. I talked a bit about how many of the problems with the Net today is because the toolmakers didn't have a vision that included some of the problems that would come up such as spam, security and privacy. I said that I would like to engage the toolmakers to think about democracy as the tools are developed and that the Net can so easily cause harm and the architecture of the tools can have an effect on the future of democracy. We agreed that the next version of the paper should probably present more of a balanced view including the risks of emergence and the Net such as emergent terrorism or dumb mobs and explore how tools might encourage good over bad.