The New, New World Order of Collaborative Government

I’ve been listening to the audio book version of Wikinomics while driving to and from work for the last few weeks, and it gave me an inspiration. One section in particular seemed to question why government couldn’t be more like collaborative organizations and businesses such as eBay, facebook, flicker the Human Genome Project, Goldcorp, PNG and many others. It made me think, that maybe what we need is a new form of government that utilizes the kind of collaboration the Internet to allow threw its openness, accessibility, and global participation; creating a government that is truly of, for, and about the people it governs. It may require taking a gander at the book Wikinomics to help you understand what I’m really talking about; not that I agree with everything in that book, but it’s ideas and examples are very powerful.

I’m not talking about a Democracy were almost 6 billion people all voting on the same laws to see whose opinions gets forced upon everyone else, but rather allowing existing governments of the world, and their citizens, to work together in a new and better way; while still allowing them to maintain their own sovereignty. I’m also not talking about a Republican form of government were the elected leaders of the world get to make all the decision, influence their own elections, and become corrupted by power, greed, and flattery from bureaucracies and special interest lobbyists with deep pockets; rather I’m talking about a truly collaborative government that allows any citizen of the world to give input, develop new ideas, and ultimately help bring the world to a more peaceful, respectful and cooperative existence. This would give those who care about an issue, the responsibility and ability to act, along with part of the risk and consequences of failure.

What might such a collaborative government look like?

If you’ve read this blog, you’ll know I’m certainly a fan of the U.S. Constitution, but it was designed to be the basis for a Republic (that’s right the U.S.A. is not a Democracy, it’s a Republic) and was certainly not meant to be involved in many of the collaborative efforts that the Internet continues to facilitate to greater and greater degrees every day. In fact the U.S. Constitution is in some ways anti-collaboration in it’s requirements for elected officials to take up residence within the nations capital, and to do all official business is physical assemblies away from their constituents that they might otherwise be more able to collaborate with. Basing a government on the powerful abilities that the Internet provides for collaboration would certainly require something new that would allow for more virtualization and thus more diversity within the organizations.

Perhaps the U.S. Constitution could still be used as the model for a new form of government? It would still help promote individual rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, but be amended to take advantage of the power the Internet has to provide. Not that I want that to happen, as such amendments could end up being twisted into something more dangerous the helpful.

This “New World Order” could still have Executive, Judicial, and Congressional branches. A President could still be elected via representatives from participating nations and organizations, much as the U.S. President is elected via an Electoral Collage; likewise, participating governments could elect Senators, just as the U.S. Constitution had originally intended. Perhaps Judges could still be appointed by government officials, but with a new dynamic brought on by collaboration and trial by piers. The rest of Congress would of course have to be elected by individuals, or perhaps elected is not the right word. What if instead they were required to gain enough support to archive a certain level of authority over certain matters or groups in such a way that they could ultimately become Presidents and Judges threw the collaborative efforts of their supporters?

When exploring the idea further, one has to ask if a truly collaborative government would even require such divisions of power as true collaboration allows people to self organize into self governing groups that would inherently be a separation of powers, responsibilities, as well as spreading the risk to all participants; ultimately leading to a new way of dividing up the governance and power. With that in mind it seems that it would be better to “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s“, and instead build something completely new, something better, that would let current government and organization stay as they are, or do as they may, while inviting them to participate within this new collaborative world government.

While thinking threw how all this might look, I had a vision of an on-line community that may give rise to a collection of individual, yet integrated, on-line groups that together form a governing world body. If it gained enough support, the opinions and ideas it could create would influence governments to reform and follow along; giving way to more open and collaborative governments on national, state and local levels; all while making it easier and even fun and rewarding for individuals to participate and have their voice be heard.

This integration of communities would be divided up by groupings. Each grouping would be based on three main elements, including (but certainly not limited to):

  1. A core set of beliefs or values such as: Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Atheism, Hindu (or some specific tenant of any religion), Open Mindedness, Scientific Disciplines, Ethics, etc…
  2. A geographic element such as a city, state, nation, planet, climate, region, rock formation, etc…
  3. A third element based on what ever the group wants such as a political ideal, a favorite book, a person from history, or some other core belief, ideal, or objective.

Each element could also have the potential to be duplicated into in every different language on earth, and be mixed and matched in countless ways to create countless numbers of different groups. Anyone can create a new element and/or group, or join an existing one simply by choosing their own combination of pre-existing elements. The ultimate goal of a group would be to gain a voice in the worldwide conversation as a member of or even a representative for their group or element; so long as the majority of the group gives them their support to become a representative. In order for a representative within a group to gain a higher status of a Delegate, with increased authority and responsibility, the group (or element) would have to gain a certain level of membership and possibly gain multiple delegates if their membership levels continue to rise.

Delegates would then create a worldwide community of electorates that would give their support to other delegates (other then themselves) to create Leaders. Leaders would then, threw collaboration with other Leaders, create policies or even binding laws, while getting input from the groups that support them via their Delegates. Individuals would be able to withdraw their support for any Delegate or Leader at any time, by giving it to another individual (other then themselves), creating a new dynamic within the group. Laws and Policies could also go in and out of affect depending on the continual or withdrawn support from Leaders (or the Leaders themselves being demoted effectively removing the support for the policy). Limitations would likely need to be set on how often support can be shifted by a given individual, so that individuals have more incentive to think about who they give their support to.

Judges would also be elected by the same means, but instead of advancing upwards they would remain within their respective groups to help resolve conflicts within that community alone. Delegates would also select Judges from within their ranks to resolve conflicts between Delegates, and to hear appeals from the groups that support them. Judges, however, would likely not have to make rulings of their very often, but instead be in charge of setting up simple voting polls, creating a quickly and easily means for a “Trial by Peers“.

Before a Judge or a Delegate could be considered qualified for such a task, they would need to provide credentials, prove a certain level of trust and commitment, and/or show their abilities by passing a basic test proving they have a working knowledge of the group’s policies and the constitutionally set boundaries for the overall collaborative government; as well as certifying their desire and intent to uphold the same. Such qualifications could even be managed threw gaining credits for participation within and contributions to their group or elements; including passing tests or on-line classes to prove knowledge and understanding of the collaborative government. Representatives on the other hand could be based more on how willing they are to help with maintaining the more technical aspects of a group or element.

No one, not even a Representative, Delegate, Leader, nor Judge would be allowed to fill more then one role at a time. Once a Representative becomes a Delegate, someone else must fill the void (the next person in line with the most support from the group, very much like a vise-president). Like wise, if a Delegate becomes a Leader, the group must select a new Delegate. This could be accomplished automatically by allowing group members to select alternates (or vise-delegates/leaders/judges/representatives/etc.) as their second and even third choices if their first choice were to be promoted to a new position, or automatically reassert their support if their first choice is demoted. If any person changes groups, they would lose any support they had from the previous group, as individuals would only be allowed to give their support to those within their respective groups.

I personally have participated in an on-line collaborative effort to come up with a new movie idea. The voting for the main idea of the movie happened in such a way that the combination of everyone’s first and second choice, along with elimination of any choices found unacceptable by a large number of people, ultimately ended up deciding which movie idea the group moved forward with. The picking of delegates and leaders could be done in much the same way such that a bad choice, picked by a larger minority of the community, would be eliminated threw the objections of many other members, while the combined first and second choices everyone combined would end up picking the person with the widest acceptance.

This process would eliminate the need for official election cycles, and having it Internet based would make participation basically free. There would be no need for expensive elections campaigns that cause the riches to win over others who found it difficult to even have a conversation in the debates. There would still be a cost to the community it’s self as they would need to have potentially a great deal of expensive computer infrastructure to even exist, but then so do projects like Linux and other Open Source software projects were the projects themselves don’t make any kind of money. Perhaps the real costs and risks could be distributed to those who wished to start a new element or group to participate threw, as they would have to fund the hosting services and do the initial software configurations and setups that this collaborative government would run on. The founders of a group could then be authorized to collect donations to the continued cost of running the group, and in this manner all individuals could share in the risks as well as the triumphs of the group.

Exactly how all this would freely integrate together into a would wide community, while preventing fraud and insuring validity, is probably the biggest hurtle to making an Internet based and collaborative form of government even possible. There are certainly concerns in this area, but then interactive web-sites today are already dealing with this problem threw means that make sure it’s a human doing the typing and not some automated cracking program or “root kit”. At that point, how much participation can a single person really do in a 24-hour period? Add on limitations as to how much posting, updating, or changes a person is allowed to do in a single day, and you’ll find that such unwanted spamming and fraud would become difficult. That’s not to say groups of people might not get together for a weekend brawl to try and disenfranchise a group, but with the whole government being free and collaborative, such activities might prove unprofitable and any gains would be short lived.

The great thing about this form of government is that it could be completely tax free, and therefore bureaucracy free. One could participate from the comfort of one’s own home via on-line forums run on phpBB (one for each element), video conferences via Skype, Wikis run by their respective groups, and other on-line collaboration tools that could automatically record and publish information to insure openness and transparency within the government. In fact all participants of this government could be bared from having any personal monetary gain as a result of their positions or participation to help prevent the power hungry, greedy, and corrupt from infiltrating and ultimately controlling the majority of this new collaborative government (much like what political parties do today).

Each group would have their own exclusive on-line community for posting sharing and participating without encroachments from other groups. It would be open to all to read, but only those within the group and with the proper authority could post, participate in votes, edit entries, and ultimately be an active part of the group.

This system would have to be distributed in such a way so that a single computer system or node would only have to support a single group or element if necessary; as apposed to having a single system try to support potentially billions of people from around the world all at once. A way of inter-connecting participating systems around the world would need to be developed; a main computer system or network would provide the initial credentialing and validation, but allowing the systems to work independently once the trust is established. Perhaps something similar
to how “Open ID” works to allow a single log in to multiple systems and be granted varying degrees of access depending on what position you have within that group or element.

Certainly creating this new form of government would require a great deal of developmental effort before it could even get started, as well as support from current governments and world leaders to gain legitimacy. On the other hand many of the technologies such a government would be based on do exist, and the real challenge is to find a way to integrate them with other communities around the world. In the mean time, mock trials could be done threw “virtual realities”, and perhaps as these mock trials took shape and gained popularity they would eventually also gain legitimacy within the world at large. It could even be seen as the next big revolution, except this time, it hopefully would not require physical confrontations or civil wars, but rather a war of words and ideas where the truly best ones eventually rise to the top.

This might sound overly ambitious and even unrealistically ideal, but I’m sure many people said the same thing about the Founding Fathers who created the U.S. Constitution. The same Founding Fathers who risk their lives to go up against otherwise insurmountable odds and came out victorious; eventually laying the grown work for what I believe lead to the greatest nation ever, in the history of the planet (It’s really too bad Obama and his Liberal friends want to change it so drastically).

One might think such a New World Order of Collaborative Government also faces insurmountable odds at coming into existence; however, I’d be willing to predict that such a government is almost inevitable. As online communities continue to increase in popularity, as new and upcoming generations grow up on-line, as the world gets smaller and smaller threw cheaper and more interactive communications enabled by the internet, and ideas become easier and easier to share, world wide collaboration will become a normal way of life, and eventually all these on-line communities could in and of themselves become new forms of government. As they join together threw using existing and emerging technologies, they will find new ways to collaborate, create policies, and ultimately give individuals the ability to create a new truly globalized and collaborative government.

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