[MG] Cascading agreement, money, communities and other resources in votespace

Michael Allan mike at zelea.com
Mon Jun 6 00:43:42 EDT 2011

Ed and Thomas,

Ed Pastore wrote:
> I'm trying to catch up on my backlog of reading, and the below looks
> both fascinating and baffling. I'm trying, but I've lost the thread
> of what's going on here. Could one of you try to bring this down to
> earth a little and explain where you are? I'd be happy to work on
> some documentation (or at least description) as a learning exercise,
> but I'm not able to do that from posts like the below.

These are the main ideas as I see them.

 (a) Expose the resource needs, expectations and fulfilments of each
     collective effort as a "message" to the larger public sphere.
     Express that message in terms of the social space of the effort
     itself (b).

 (b) Show the resources flowing together with the votes of the
     participants in the same way that agreement flows into consensus.
     Agreement is just a kind of resource.

 (c) Consider that extension within the larger public sphere is
     another kind of resource that an effort needs.  By "extension", I
     mean participation that covers many separate communities.  When a
     collective effort needs, expects and is working toward extension,
     then let it say so.

 (d) Let the periphery decide the resource needs.  Trees and branches
     of the collective forest are free to decide for themselves what
     resources are required for the overall effort.  (We floated this
     idea yesterday in offline discussion, C, Thomas and me.)

     Our example concerns the problem of littering in the streets.
     The leading candidate defines it as a legislative matter for the
     city and is gathering votes for a bylaw (resource = agreement)
     that will impose fines, or something like that.  A delegate in a
     higher branch disagrees and instead defines it as a local
     community effort (resource = agreement + labour) with
     participation restricted to the residents of the local
     neighbourhood, but simulaneously expanded to include non-citizen
     residents.  The count engine will take care to ensure that the
     labour pledges and non-citizen votes do not cascade past the
     delegate and into the bylaw drafts below, while the local
     citizens' votes do.  (In practice, this particular delegate would
     be better off as an end candidate, so this is a contrived

     We recognize that this freedom of delegates to redefine the issue
     means that a single poll may sometimes come to house two issues
     that really ought to be separate.  The problem then becomes the
     coordination of the move of one branch or tree to a separate
     poll.  Moving an individual position is easy, so the only problem
     is the social coordination of the individuals.  Therefore the
     delegates will solve this.

 (e) Let the periphery decide what resource message to expose (a).
     Clearly this is required when the resources are completely
     redefined by the periphery, as in the example above.  But here is
     another example:

     One branch of the "street littering" tree is drafting a radically
     different version of the bylaw.  They only have a few votes but
     they feel they have the capacity to grow among certain
     communities in the city.  So they identify inter-community
     extension as a crucial resource (resources = extension +
     agreement) and go to work at it.  Naturally they expose this as
     their public resource message.  They need help in order to extend
     to other communities, so they ask for it.

Thomas von der Elbe wrote:
> Interesting! Yes I think it will work. But to show the number of
> active communities in the vote-space is additional to the other 4
> maps, right?

I think the other 4 maps (graph/table maps) are now secondary.  They
are likely still needed, but not front and center.
> > Now to communities: As we've discovered, the crucial resource in
> > the beginning is not actually agreement or money, but rather the
> > talk itself.  Unless the conversation can extend over a sufficient
> > number of communities - spread its wings and fly - it dies.  So
> > the content we need to show is the number of active communities
> > over which each branch or tree of votespace has extended itself.
> > We want the first time viewer to realize, "Ah, I see!  These
> > people are growing an extended conversation."
> But here too: the content of the drafts plus the votes plus the
> number of communities ... all together, right? Or do you picture it
> as seperate?

The "2 second" message is focused on inter-community extension in this
case.  Votespace is tailored accordingly.  I figure we show only the
count of active communities (or whatever) and not the count of votes.

I guess we'd provide a control for the user to switch resources.  For
most of the forest in example (4), there would only be the one
resource, "agreement" as measured by votes.  But some branches would
also allow "extension" to be selected as a resource, and others would
allow "labour".  And so forth.

Thomas has concerns about (c), and I try to factor them out here:

 (1) That we should pioneer the practice of extension manually, so to
     speak, without tool supports.

 (2) That tools might not be needed for this practice at all.

 (3) That the practice is only useful during the early adoption phase
     of the technology.  Once the first poll hits the news, nobody
     will be worried about extension anymore.

 (4) That it's wasteful to develop tools that are likely to be
     outmoded so soon.

I agree with (1) and disagree with the others.  But did I state these
correctly, Thomas?

Michael Allan

Toronto, +1 416-699-9528

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