(note : I just wrote this text, I'm waiting for comments, and it probably is far from being perfect. For example, the vocabulary is in dire need of being homogenized a bit -- EmileKroeger)
So this is about liquid democracy, but where voting has been given a secondary place. The most important thing is maybe debate.
The main idea is to use blogging software (or something like it) for LiquidDemocracy.
In LiquidDemocracy, you have proxies. On way of seing it is that you delegate your vote to the proxy. Another is that you listen to what the proxy has to say on that subject, and vote for what he advises you to. In fact, these are two ways of presneting the same thing, with apropriate software they are mostly the same.
So the main point is generally to get someone's opinion on an issue, and to construct your opinion from there on. You don't even need to vote (though, as we will see later, voting can also be considered). Since the emphasis isn't on voting but on opinion, your "proxy" gives you more than a Yes/No. He gives you a summary of what he thinks on that issue.
(I'm not *that* familiar with how rss and suchlike works, and to what extent it can be applied here)
Basicaly, on a given issue, you revieve "opinions" from whoever's opinoins you subscribed to, you then process these opinions and publish your own. The trick is to add a sprincle of semantics in here, and to partially automate it.
For example, you may want to listen to what A says about the environment, and what B says about home security; and what C says about copyright laws. You may not want to hear about what neither A; B nor C considers important. So, for each "opinion", you have attached keywords. You can categorize the opinion you post as related to business, society, as important, as not important. You can also decide to say if you feel qualified or not, if you researched the subject thoroughly or not ...
Thus, once you get your list of opinions from your proxies, you can form your own.
Up to know, this looks a lot like I'm describing blogging; I know. But what we want is liquid democracy. So, it becomes interesting once you add automation in the picture. After all, what's the point of having proxies if you still have to read through what everybody thinks ? So, you have a little script that recieves what your "proxies" think, and from there on generates your own opinion (well. The opinion you recommend. Of course, there will probably be a keyword for what was just generated by your script as opposed to what you figured out yourself). And to figure it out, it uses the "semantic" keywords. It may decide only to listen to some people on certain subjects. It may tag the issue as important according to how many people tagged it as important.
And you decide how your script behaves. You may tell it to notify you for some subjects it deems are important, and not bother you with the rest.
So does this require a semantic infrastructure ? I believe not. All one has to do is define what keywords he can give to various opinions. Then, people that use him as a proxy (or, to see it another way, people who have him on their blogroll) can define how their script will react to these keywords. You can create your categories "Who gives a fuck ?" and "gut feeling against it", and scripts that read you wil have to learn to react accordingly.
Of course, there wil be an invective to homogenize keywords, but this is not the same thing as requiring from the start a solid semantic infrastructure. This is *emergent* semantics
The strength of this system would lie in such scripts. One could perfectly well do without them, and do everything by hand, scripts are just an improvement. And a variety of scripts would probably mean it would be very hard to figure out general rules - which may keep down people taking advantage of the system. I think a lot of flaws in this system can be countered by appropriate scripts.
It would probably be important to have a definitions of the issues being discussed (which is another thing you don't get in blogs). An Issue would be a thing you can vote on, or at least hold an opinion on. One could propose an issue (like proposing a bill in parlement), and each "opinion" would permalink back to that issue (such that scripts can more easily regroup opinoins on the same issue).
If someone proposes an issue, the "liquid democracy" aspect of scripts would allow a large range of people to present an opinion on that issue very quickly (even if they are all asleep, and the scrpts have only been taling to each other). And as more people investigate into the subjects, people's opinons would change accordingly (the system would probably include a good deal of feedback loops).
An "opinion" would probably more or less be a short summary of what you think of that issue, assorted to keywords. As there are some chances you would not have formulated that opinion, a link to whovever *did* would probably be one of the keywords.
Voting can be added afterwards, but here we see it isn't such an important part of this system. You can vote independantly, just taking into account the various opinions you recieve. Or, a voting system could be integrated into the script, maybe allowing it to vote in your name (for example if it's not a subject you know much about and it is not considered that important and people you trust all agree about it).
OK I haven't talked much about Wikis in here, they were a bit in the tilte to exagerate the buzzword density. But I do believe they have a role to play. The "opinion" short text is a bit like a wiki, it passes from one person to another and each may add a comment, or refactor it all to give a quick, short, presenatation.
DiscussionVery interesting idea. At first blush, it seems completely infeasible (I mean, clearly our computer's aren't intelligent enough to understand and refactor other people's opinons), but after a little more thought, I think it might work.
Similarly to the way that blogs and wikis use collaboration to provide more intelligent InformationManagement without software which is itself intelligent, this idea increases the intelligence of each user's "opinions" by use of collaboration. It does this not providing software which is itself intelligent enough to construct better opinions, but by allowing the user to draw on other user's opinions in an automated fashion.
Also, the idea is blog-like rather than wiki-like in that each user controls their own "space", but the spaces are interconnected. I think DebateTool is the wiki-like dual of this idea.