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People Power

You must be the change you wish to see in the world

- Mahatma Gandhi

Governments and big business are large in nature and their ability to move quickly is a distinct disadvantage when today’s challenges require rapid, large scale transformation.  Government are also heavily influenced by special interests, who are often at the heart of the problem itself. When governments no longer represent the interest of the people, it is time for the people to assert themselves. The open source, collaborative movement is one possible solution proven able to tackle complex global problems.

Open Collaboration / Crowdsourced Solutions

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Open Ideo is a open collaborative website that crowdsources solutions to difficult problems. Sponsors advertise challenges in Open Ideo to crowdsource solutions and ideas from all around the world. It then chooses the best idea in an open collaborative process. The video below shows how it works.

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Figure 1: The Open Ideo Ebola Challenge

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Figure 2: Some example crowdsourced solutions for the Ebola Campaign

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Figure 3: Example of Ingienous Design contribution: holistic solution framework and mindmap

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Figure 4: Example of Ingienous Designs contributed solution: Holistic solution framework and mindmap

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Decarbonet is an European Comission funded research project that investigates the potential of social platforms in battling climate change. Decarbonet considers engaging the public in energy debates and encouraging behaviour change as essential strategies for reducing energy consumption and saving our planet.

Studies show that information and technology alone are NOT sufficient for changing behaviour towards energy consumption, and that what is needed is a mixture of socio-technical interventions to raise awareness and trigger this change in behaviour. Decarbonet researches how to raise awareness collectively by means of social platforms and how to transform it into behaviour change.

DecarboNet falls under the domain of CAPS (Collective Awareness Platforms for Sustainability and Social Innovation),a FP7 and H2020 research funding programme of the European Commission for leveraging the emerging “network effect” by combining open online social media, distributed knowledge creation and data from real environments (“Internet of Things”) in order to create awareness of problems and possible solutions requesting collective efforts, enabling new forms of social innovation.


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Catalyst Challenge and a Statement of Principles

INTRODUCTION AND OBJECTIVES

The Internet has provided the infrastructure for a variety of new approaches for collective intelligence. We believe, in fact, that the new communication infrastructure provides the potential for radical changes in the ways that human beings communicate and work together to build a more peaceful, sustainable, and equitable future. At the same time, we acknowledge that collective intelligence is not a recent invention. It has existed for eons before the Internet came into being. While the expression “collective intelligence” is generally not used in this regard, the idea of democratic processes – especially when used to to help govern societies via collective problem solving – is a common material manifestation of that concept.
Aristotle, writing in the Politics, states that people are political by nature. In the article on the common good in the Encyclopedia Britannica, this notion is expanded in ways that are relevant today.

 

From the era of the ancient Greek city-states through contemporary political philosophy, the idea of the common good has pointed toward the possibility that certain goods, such as security and justice, can be achieved only through citizenship, collective action, and active participation in the public realm of politics and public service. In effect, the notion of the common good is a denial that society is and should be composed of atomized individuals living in isolation from one another. Instead, its proponents have asserted that people can and should live their lives as citizens deeply embedded in social relationships.

The pursuit of the common good will generally mean finding peaceful ways to resolve conflict, building a more equitable society, securing a healthy and diverse environment for ourselves and future generations, and respecting cultural diversity. Moreover, we believe that collective intelligence for the common good may be fundamentally distinct from other types of collective intelligence and thus warrants special attention. Some of the socio-technological systems that fall under this focus include online deliberation; sensemaking; argumentation and discussion-mapping; community ideation and idea management systems; collective decision-making; group memory; participatory sensory networks; early warning systems; collective awarenes; and crowdsourcing.We are interested in how those systems could be integrated with each other and with existing face-to-face systems. And we are also interested in approaches that support people working together in small groups who are not using electronic technology. We envision the work that falls into the heading of Collective Intelligence for the Common Good in an extremely broad way: it includes research and action; products including (for example) socio-technical systems that encourage collaboration and deliberation, research enterprises and case studies, think tanks, model policy documents, curricula, ruminations and epistles, thought (and other) experiments, art works, and many others. We are interested in working with practitioners and researchers from all relevant fields. Moreover, it is our intent to help develop, maintain, and enhance projects and systems that are actually used.

Open Questions

  • In what ways have the contexts for collective intelligence for the common good changed? And how might they change in the future?
  • What examples of collective intelligence for the common good historically and currently do we see? Why do they demonstrate collective intelligence for the common good? What might we see in the future?
  • What new socio-technological systems are currently being developed now to promote collective intelligence for the common good? What’s their significance? What problems or challenges are they facing? Where might they go in the future? What obstacles or challenges are these new systems intending to address? How might these systems / approaches be instrumental in addressing significant real world problems?
  • Researchers and activists focus on various aspects of collective intelligence such as sensing, deliberation, memory, focus, etc.
  • How might these diverse approaches and systems be linked to each other – and how?
  • What methodological approaches are relevant?
  • How do disparate perspectives, disciplines, and attitudes relate to collective intelligence for the common good?
  • How might these systems / approaches be instrumental in addressing significant real world problems?
  • What roles do “ordinary” people – citizens with or without legal rights – play in designing and developing these approaches?
  • Who are the stakeholders and what roles are they assuming in relation to collective intelligence for the common good? What roles might they assume in the future?
  • What has been, is currently, and what could be, the relation of the citizen to citizenship? of citizens to associations? of citizens to citizens?
  • How do face-to-face and other “real-life” encounters integrate with online communication and other uses?
  • What can we do to work with “proof of concept” models to ensure that systems get developed and maintained that are built on the findings?
  • How do we go about developing the necessary diverse set of partners and how might we work together?

How Cooperation triumphs over Self-Interest


 

 

 

Harvard Professor Yochai Benkler: How Cooperation Triumphs over Self-Interest
While it is easy to speak of creating a utopian economic system which makes inequity a thing of the past, how will we implement such a system? Both capitalism and  socialism or communism have been tried and both have revealed fundamental flaws that lead to power and economic inequity.

People who are driven by greed and who are in powerful positions will always game the system to create inequity. It is clear that we must evolve a new system that takes the best that capitalism and socialism offers and leaves the worst behind. When we have always felt that we must choose between capitalism and socialism, we might just ask whether there is a 3rd possibility. We can begin by recognizing that both systems fail for the same reason; lack of authentic and widespread compassion.

Somehow, we have to make compassion attractive. People need to experience increasing their livelihood more effectively by giving, than by directly receiving. Is this possible?

We are all familiar with Napster,  Bit Torrent and free music / movie download sites. This issue of file sharing is a contentious and polarizing one which raises the hackles of large media corporates and creatives alike who see livelihoods and profits leaking away. Each time, intellectual property is downloaded for free from a peer-to-peer network, property holders feel an act of theft has been committed. And yet, these peer-to-peer networks are supported by a huge “market” of tens of millions of “consumers” the world over who want the data for free. What makes it so difficult to stop such networks is that digital data is inherently open in nature. Whether the data represents musical notes, scientific formulas, geometric shapes, poems, reicipes, books or in video format, once the ideas have been transformed into a digital representation, they can effectively be shared with anyone on the network.

To protect any idea represented in digital form requires artificially encoding it in a sophisticated digital cryptographic system. Indeed, the argument open source advocates make is that we spend (waste) vast amounts of resource trying to protect data. Open source advocates look at the sharing of data as efficient and wealth is to be created in other ways such as providing customization services of freely available data. In other words, modifying the data to suit niche markets. One of the greatest challenges in moving to an open source economic model for the future is this issue of compensation for ideas. If we move to an open source model where idea creators simply put their ideas into the commons, then how do we ensure that these valuable creatives are compensated for the efforts they have made towards developing these ideas?    All ideas take some level of effort to produce and refine to a usable form. It appears as a basic human principle that our reward should be in proportion to the effort we put into creating something new. It just doesn’t seem fair that a person who does very little creative work should be equally compensated as a person who does a lot of work. It is the most basic effort / reward principle that all parents naturally teach their children. We have all seen the example of the dysfunction soviet style of communism where there is no incentive system.  Without incentives, workers did as little as they could and creativity was severely stiffled. Is “Open Source” simply another word for communism? If not, then what concrete differences exist between the two, especially in regards to compensation for idea creators? How does an open source economy tackle these very real issues of appropriate compensation?

As we become more aware of the flaws of the current economic system, new models are evolving to fill these gaps out of necessity. Larry Chang is one such innovator and has created what may be the ultimate sharing system. He calls it a Net Planetary Value (NPV) system. His website Panacea describes it in detail. Essentially, it is a kind of electronic social, environmental & ethical index which gets rid of currency altogether and, like some evolving collaborative consumption models creates a person’s net worth based on independently verifiable metrics that indicate reputation. Chang has many years of experience in local, resilient community development and local currency and hit upon the idea as the only feasible way to rapidly scale across the globe. 

The Peer to Peer Foundation – Imagining an Open Source,  Peer-to-Peer World

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Michael Bauwens, founder of the P2P Foundation describes the organizations objectives as a clearinghouse for open/free, participatory/p2p and commons-oriented initiatives which aims to be a pluralist network to document, research, and promote peer to peer alternatives. It’s two fundamental aims are:

  • ending the destruction of the biosphere by abandoning the dangerous conceptions of pseudo-abundance in the natural world (i.e. based on the assumption that natural resources are infinite)
  • promoting free cultural exchange by abandoning the innovation-inhibiting conceptions of pseudo-scarcity in the cultural world (i.e. based on the assumption that the free flow of culture needs to be restricted through excessive copyrights etc…).

These concepts are quite radical and is very challenging to those working within a market paradigm based upon scarcity and open-ended rewards for hard work. For instance, P2P Foundation is seeking alternatives to the long accepted maxim of intellectual property. In our current economic paradigm, citizens who create and develop new ideas by investing substantial amounts of time, money and resources in them naturally seek to protect their assets.  In a society of scarcity, it is simply a practical matter because everyone is vying for monetary wealth and there is a significant percentage proven to be unscrupulous. What Bauwens proposes is nothing short of earth shaking because, in essence, he is proposing a system in which we can feel entrusted to share our hard earned ideas with others. Such a system, Bauwens argues is necessary to combat the inequities of the present system.

The Foundation of a P2P Economy

The following links on the P2P economic paradigm are from the P2P Foundation website:

The P2P Paradigms

The Three Aspects of Application in Society

 

The Peer-Driven Collaborative and Ethical Economy


Table 1: P2P Foundation market vs commons comparison table

Swarming Masses of People

 

The interim International Organization for a Participatory Society (IOPS)was launched in 2012 with the aim of propelling activism for winning a new world. IOPS is structured as a bottom-up, international organization, based on self-managing interconnected national branches
and local chapters. Currently, IOPS is in an interim stage, and by joining IOPS you become an interim member. A convention, or series of conventions, will be planned within the next year, for membership to determine the organization’s definition in more detail.

The IOPS Interim Organizational Description consists of the following key documents:

 

IOPS is open for anyone wishing to join who shares the goals, values and visionary commitments laid out in the organizational description. We the signers of this open letter from Noam Chomsky, Vandana Shiva, Boaventura de sousa Santos, John Pilger, and 40 other members of the interim decision body of the new International Organization for a Participatory Society, hope that you will circulate, email, and/or republish our letter, and, even more, that you will engage in and publish commentary regarding the organization’s purpose, implications, prospects, etc.

An Open Letter to All Who Seek A New and Better World We are members of what is called the the Interim Consultative Committee of the International Organization for a Participatory Society – or IOPS for short. IOPS is actually an interim entity, pending a future founding convention. IOPS was convened just a few months ago and already has over 2,100 members from 85 countries and a ten language site, despite that it is barely known publicly. IOPS is currently building local chapters, which will unite to form national branches that in turn will compose an international organization.

We send this open letter to invite you to please visit the IOPS Site to examine its initial features – including especially and most importantly its Mission and Visionary and Programmatic Commitments. The IOPS commitments emerged from a long process of discussion and debate. We believe they correspond closely to the most prevalent, advanced, and widely accessible political beliefs on which to build an organization for winning a better world. We also hope and even believe that if you read and consider the IOPS commitments, you will likely find that they are congenial to your interests and desires and that they provide reason for great hope that IOPS can become a very important organization in the coming years. If we had to summarize the IOPS commitments, we would note that they emphasize: that IOPS focuses on cultural, kinship, political, economic, international, and ecological aims without a priori prioritizing any of these over the rest; that IOPS advocates and elaborates key aspects of vision for a sustainable and peaceful world without sexism, heterosexism, racism, classism, and authoritarianism and with equity, justice, solidarity, diversity, and, in particular, self-management for all people and that IOPS structurally and programmatically emphasizes planting the seeds of the future in the present, winning immediate gains on behalf of suffering constituencies in ways contributing to winning its long term aims as well, developing a caring and nurturing organization and movement, and welcoming and even fostering constructive dissent and diversity within that organization and movement and based on its commitments.

We think hundreds of thousands of people, in fact, millions of people, will, on reading the commitments, overwhelmingly agree with them. We hope that if you look at the commitments and feel that way, you will join and advocate that others join as well. If you instead have problems with the IOPS commitments, we hope you will make your concerns known so a productive discussion can ensue. On the other hand, we also understand that agreeing with the IOPS commitments will not alone cause those same hundreds of thousands and even millions of people to join IOPS. There are numerous reasons why a person might support the IOPS commitments and even hope that IOPS grows and becomes strong and effective at the grassroots, in every neighborhood, workplace, and social movement, and yet, at the moment, not join.

Our best effort to summarize obstacles people may feel to joining even while they like the IOPS commitments, and to address those obstacles also appears on the IOPS site, in a Why Join IOPS Question and Answer format. Essentially we argue: If not now, when? If not us, who? Asked to provide a succinct summary paragraph for the IOPS site about his involvement, Noam Chomsky wrote: “Hardly a day goes by when we do not hear appeals – often laments – from people deeply concerned about the travails of human existence and the fate of the world, desperately eager to do something about what they rightly perceive to be intolerable and ominous, feeling helpless because each individual effort, however dedicated, seems to merely chip away at a mountain, placing band-aids on a cancer, never reaching to the sources of needless suffering and the threats of much worse. It’s an understandable reaction that all too often leads to despair and resignation. We all know the only answer, driven home by experience and history, and by simple reflection on the realities of the world: join together to construct and clarify long-term visions and goals, along with direct engagement and activism shaped by these guidelines and contributing to a deepening of our understanding of what we hope to achieve…

IOPS strikes the right chords, and if the opportunities it opens are pursued with sufficient energy and participation, diligence, modesty, and desire, it could carry us a long way towards unifying the many initiatives here and around the world and combining them into a powerful and effective force.” And as Cynthia Peters wrote: “You hear it all the time. There is always another urgent crisis. They don’t just come in a steady stream, they seem to multiply geometrically. More draconian policies with life-threatening consequences, more corporate control, more prisons, more bombs, more funerals. With so many immediate fires to put out in our day-to-day organizing work, how can we make time to attend to larger issues, such as long-term strategy, vision, and movement building? IOPS creates the space for us to do the essential work of movement building and envisioning and then seeking a better world. Without these elements, we’ll continue to work in isolation. By enlivening and enriching IOPS with your presence, you will both give solidarity to and receive solidarity from so many others — across the world — in the same situation — up to their necks in the daily fight, and at the same time turning their creativity and energy towards revolutionary social change. That is not just good company. It’s the solid beginnings of another world being possible.” We hope you will join us as we try to make it so.

Signed,

Ezequiel Adamovsky – Argentina M Adams – U.S. Michael Albert – U.S. Jessica Azulay – U.S. Elaine Bernard – U.S. Patrick Bond – South Africa Noam Chomsky – U.S. Jason Chrysostomou – UK John Cronan – U.S. Ben Dangl – U.S. Denitsa Dimitrova – UK/Bulgaria
Mark Evans – UK Ann Ferguson – U.S. Eva Golinger – Venezuela Andrej Grubacic – Balkans/U.S. Pervez Hoodbhoy – Pakistan Antti Jauhiainen – Finland Ria Julien – U.S./Trinidad Dimitris Konstanstinou – Greece Pat Korte – U.S. Yohan Le Guin – Wales Mandisi Majavu – South Africa
Yotam Marom – U.S. David Marty – Spain Preeti Paul – UK/India Cynthia Peters – U.S. John Pilger – UK/Aus Justin Podur – Canada Nikos Raptis – Greece Paulo Rodriguez – Belgium Charlotte Sáenz – Mexico/U.S. Anders Sandstrom – Sweden Boaventura de sousa Santos – Portugal
Lydia Sargent – U.S. Stephen Shalom – U.S. Vandana Shiva – India Chris Spannos – U.S. Verena Stresing – France/Germany Elliot Tarver – U.S. Fernando Ramn Vegas Torrealba – Venezuela Taylon Tosun – Turkey Marie Trigona – U.S. Greg Wilpert – Germany/Venezuela/U.S. Florian Zollman – Germany

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