Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I'm a bit late in commenting on this, but Adam released it in the middle of my Silicon Valley immersive experience and had a hard time concentrating. His paper which is available as a pdf file or on his web page is an interesting idea. The basic idea is to create a constitution and manage it like we manage open source software projects. It's a short paper and he doesn't elaborate on some of the details of how it would be done, but I think it is an interesting notion.

I've worked with some UN model law around electronic commerce and cyber arbitration, and some of the ideas are similar. Create a core code base that people can adapt and use locally. Helps harmonize. The main difference between what the UN does and what Adam is suggesting is the use of an open structure like open source.

I think the paper is a bit too geeky for lawyers and a bit to constitutional law oriented for geeks. I have the same problem with my emergent democracy paper.

Adam is releasing 1.0 this summer, I think. Look forward to reading it.

I'm gonna get my deep geek on here, and go public with something I've been putting a great deal of thought and effort into lately: apropos of many recent discussions of "emergent democracy," here's a proposal - a "minifesto," if you will - for the constitution of virtual, post-national states. The relationship to conceptions of democracy should be obvious.

Go 'head and shoot holes in it: I'm not a constitutional lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. The ideas proposed herein may well not stand up to extended inspection, which is OK with me. Think of this, then, as a public beta, offered as a conversation starter only.


The minimal compact puts a bit of substance to the form of emergent democracy without in any way defining it. Following are quoted provisions, as there is a lot of discussion in the document, and still more to discuss:

  • 5.01 Signing the Compact must always be understood to be a purely voluntary act.
  • 5.02 Each signatory is recognized as sovereign by all other signatories, granted the full range of powers traditionally accorded states (" levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do") except as such conflict with other provisions.
  • 5.03 Other national citizenships or other affiliations may be maintained, without limitation. No such affiliation should be nullified by the act of signing the Compact, at least not as concerns the Compact community itself. (The other institutions affected may well have their own opinions.)
  • 5.04 At risk of the forfeiture of their Compact citizenship, no signatory may enforce any rule, regulation or policy that abrogates or nullifies any of the provisions of the Compact.
  • 5.05 No signatory to the Compact may take any measure to abridge the freedoms of any other signatory in good standing, to include without limit life, liberty, association, belief, and expression.

Slightly off topic, but related pointer:
Discussion on Internet political practices at Stanford on March 28.

On reading both, this seems like a framework for the Second Superpower?