Crossforum Theatre as Unconference

Michael Allan mike at
Thu Aug 19 14:17:11 EDT 2010

Hi David, (replying to all three of your posts)

Although it sounds ambitious, I feel you're headed in the right
direction.  I'm inclined to follow.  I do agree that e-democracy is
far too stodgy, uptight and scary.  With regard to crossforum ranging,
I think most of the appeal/attractiveness is that the rangers would be
putting on a kind of show.  Other shows are also possible (maybe even
preferable).  I also agree that the heavily formalized media (voting
and drafting) belong in the behind-scenes machinery, not on center

At first I thought the overall theme of the stage setting for the
theatre would be one of growth.  Yesterday, after speaking with
Thomas, I was thinking more of human conversation.  Now, after reading
your posts, I've generalized it to all human *interaction* in a
democratic context.  So regardless of what "production" the user
happened to be viewing at the moment (Thomas spoke of putting on
special glasses for this purpose) he would always be looking across
the scene (democratic landscape) for signs of mutual interaction.

Shows of this kind won't be superficial promotions (despite all), if
they nevertheless reveal the substansive essence of democracy as it

What do others think?  (more below)

David Bovill wrote:
> In this way the power of story, the ability to picture how LD can
> and should be used, the vision of future, the richness of human
> face-to-face interaction of local community, the emotional and
> structural distinctiveness of LD can all be told, and fed back into
> the design process - but we dont have to wait for the interfaces
> first. We can bootstrap and time the development of the narrative
> and game play, with the technical development of the software so
> that both complement each other.

So we bootstrap it.  In terms of online stage equipment, I still think
you'd need the crossforum theatre application ASAP.  (Or am I wrong?)
Otherwise all those bodies that assemble at the various physical
forums will be disconnected (at least in democratic space) and feeling
lonely.  I would design the theatre app as before, except also:

 1. Make it mobile (so it runs well on smartphones);

 2. Generalize it to support multiple
    a) simultaneous productions (not only crossforum ranging),
    b) companies of actors (not only ranger companies) and
    c) various criteria of interaction (not only discussion).

Is this going in the right direction?  If so, (c) is challenging to
imagine.  What kinds of interaction?  Does anyone have a concrete

Looking ahead, the visualizations will be the most crucial challenge.
I doubt we'll get them right, at first.  I should do some mockups and
float them here in the list.

I trust we'll be able code just about anything in GWT or Flex.  But I
don't really know.  (My own GUI experience is extensive, but it's all
with Swing/Java on the desktop.)

Michael Allan

Toronto, +1 647-436-4521

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