State Hacks

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Please go there to read further and post comments.

From the perspective of political aspects of openness and collaboration in the “public sphere” (i’m not sure i can agree that such thing exists, but in the lack of a better term), Obama’s commitment is one of most amazing documents in the history. How much of it will actually be implemented remains to be seen. We’ll track some aspects of it on this blog. There have been already developments, action taken, in this area, but best is to start with the original document a MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES, called Transparency and Open Government
My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government.  We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.
Government should be transparent.  Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing.  Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset. My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use. Executive departments and agencies should harness new technologies to put information about their operations and decisions online and readily available to the public. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public feedback to identify information of greatest use to the public.
Government should be participatory. Public engagement enhances the Government’s effectiveness and improves the quality of its decisions. Knowledge is widely dispersed in society, and public officials benefit from having access to that dispersed knowledge. Executive departments and agencies should offer Americans increased opportunities to participate in policymaking and to provide their Government with the benefits of their collective expertise and information. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public input on how we can increase and improve opportunities for public participation in Government.
Government should be collaborative.  Collaboration actively engages Americans in the work of their Government. Executive departments and agencies should use innovative tools, methods, and systems to cooperate among themselves, across all levels of Government, and with nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individuals in the private sector.  Executive departments and agencies should solicit public feedback to assess and improve their level of collaboration and to identify new opportunities for cooperation.

One Click Orgs – web software for legal structures and group decision-making made easy.

First question, is it a potential state hack? It could be, if developed a lot further than what it is, but a starting potential is there. Analysis coming in a separate post.

This is a rough transcript/notes from Alpha demo at OpeTech in London 05 July 2009.

– you go through number of steps, system generates the Constitution, sends emails to founding member.

– you have to have a founding meeting face2face, this is the last remaining bit of the old fashion organization, you take a vote on the Constitution and the legal structure exist from there

– constitution does not rely on having a physical address, entirely based on members having only and electronic address, an email … lot more streamlined that the convention organization

– 1:10 voting period can be set, for example we use 3 days

– parts that are changeable in the constitution are marked in yellow

– it tends to be the case that once legal structure is set, it doesn’t change. that’s ossifying, which is a problem. organizations evolve, change, needs and functions change. Formal structure should change along with that.  The advantage of this tool is that it, structure, becomes much more malleable.

– PROPOSAL CREATION:  adding new member sends a proposal to existing member to vote on, if they vote for it, new person becomes a member. This is not an admin function, anyone can start a proposal, and different voting methods can be set (4:55). This automatically updates the constitution.

– when you map legal structure onto an information system, interesting things happen … BUGS become a lot more serious, you can lead organization to halt, or lead to spurious voting.  We also need to make sure no logical mistakes, paradoxes, can happen.

– what we’re implementing is a proxy system, where people don’t have set mandates … i can pass my proxy to another person … if i’m angry with that person’s decision, i can take my proxy back, this is much closer to how it happens in villages.

One Click Orgs demo at OpenTech 2009 from CIRCUS foundation on Vimeo.


Focus is on reviewing, analysing state hacks. Bits of code, procedures, whatever fits. The State was designed as a compromise between the rising aspirations of various groups and the monarchs. It was not designed for a wider, and definitely not for participatory, nor direct, democracy. Now we have the tools to do so. No need to start from scratch though: state hacking time.



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