[MG] Minimal start plan - inter-community network

Michael Allan mike at zelea.com
Sat May 21 19:51:07 EDT 2011

Answering your critique of the argument, Alexander.  (I'll answer C's
points shortly, as they have more to do with requirements or method.)
You reply to the first part of the argument by claiming that Metagov
is a competent community.  I agree, and (with Mat?as) I think that
discussion is Metagov's main competence and proven success.  So far so
good.  But then you go on to conclude that, therefore, we need no
other community.  This ignores the second part of my argument.

No discussion in the Metagov list has ever sustained itself
indefinitely, with or without tooling.  Yet it must be sustained in
order to succeed as an effort in consensus making.  Otherwise the
effort will be judged a failure.  You have not participated in any of
these efforts, as you say.  I can tell you that once the conversation
dies, I feel the whole consensus making effort has died with it.

You claim that the tools could be adequate for decision making in the
context of Metagov alone, provided they were further developed.  I'm
not so sure.  Metagov requires no tools to make the decisions it needs
to make, other than its mailing list.  The specialized consensus tools
are no help, only a hinderance.  They will always be a hinderance in
local applications, no matter how well we develop them.

The tools are only useful for large scale consensus, and only then
because there is no alternative for that purpose.  Large scale
consensus can never be achieved unless it covers multiple communities,
and the only thing forestalling success is the lack of a suitable
means of coverage.  I suspect that everyone knows this intuitively.
People have a natural sense of network effects and for this reason it
is crucial to make the involvement of the inter-community network
explicit from the outset.  If people cannot see a larger, longer-lived
network, but only a tiny discussion that dies out locally, then (like
you) they will not bother to participate.

So the success of consensus making does not hinge on any single
community alone, but rather on an inter-community network.  If we
imagine otherwise and develop our tools and competences otherwise,
then we'll miss the boat.  Do you see what I mean?
(If not, can you outline an alternative plan?  Please specify the
 method, the resources required at each step and the goals to be
 acheived.  I'll do the same shortly.)

Michael Allan

Toronto, +1 416-699-9528

Alexander Praetorius wrote:
> We already have an active community of discussion.
> That's ourselves...
> ... all aspects of what metagovernment is all about could be solved by us
> using our tools. This way we will see what it takes to remove usage
> barriers...
> I personally did not participate in the poll's we had or how you might call
> them, because I found it too complicated.
> No flow, no intuitive feeling, just to much work involved just to cast my
> vote for something of low importance :)
> -----Original Message-----
> From: start-bounces at metagovernment.org
> [mailto:start-bounces at metagovernment.org] On Behalf Of Michael Allan
> Sent: Saturday, May 21, 2011 1:56 AM
> To: Metagov
> Subject: [MG] Minimal start plan - inter-community network
> So this is my own plan, or the first part of it:
> Consensus making only happens in communities of discussion.  The
> success of the effort (I assume) is strongly correlated with
> communicative competence.  Therefore the first successful attempt is
> likely to occur in a community of exceptional competence.  But it is
> difficult to create any community from scratch, never mind an
> exceptionally competent one.  Therefore success is most likely to
> occur in a community that is already well established.  In other
> words, the success of the effort depends on the prior success of the
> community.  It follows that we must develop our stuff for the express
> purpose of seeding a consensus making effort in one or more successful
> communities.
> However, it seems unlikely that a single community could ever sustain
> a discussion for long enough to demonstrate a consensus.  Discussions
> tend to occur in topical bursts at unpredictable intervals.  When it
> happens that the talk subsides, it will appear that the effort has
> been a failure.  From this we may conclude that a successful attempt
> must extend across many communities.  When the talk has died out in
> one community, it will be picked up another, and only later will it
> return over the same ground.  In this way the overall thread of
> discussion may be kept alive, even while parts of it appear to die.
> (In fact, they would merely go underground like the rhizome of a plant
> spread laterally, and surfacing here and there.)  When people see
> this, they will know that a consensus is still possibile.  They will
> only judge the overall effort a failure if it dies out in all
> communities; otherwise they will remain hopeful and renew their own
> efforts.
> Is there a flaw in this argument?  If not, I can suggest what it might
> take to get a "rhizome" growing.
> -- 
> Michael Allan
> Toronto, +1 416-699-9528
> http://zelea.com/

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