New Civilization News - Category: Social System Design    
 Representative Democracy23 comments
picture 8 Mar 2003 @ 22:25, by ming. Social System Design
Joi Ito has an emergent democracy brainstorm with John Vasconcellos and friends.
"The discussion was quite fascinating. We started talking about the republic and representative democracy. It was pointed out (sorry, I took notes, but not always about who said what....) that the republic was not formed for the sake of efficiency but out of a more elitist attitude that certain people were more fit to govern and that it would be impossible for an uneducated mob to rule. In that sense, it really wasn't just a more efficient democracy. I asked John what he thought about the current representative democracy and he said, 'not functioning well, but functioning barely'. He said the people are 'so busy, distracted and spoiled'. I agreed with them that a direct democracy in our current environment was not feasible, but that maybe our thoughts on emergent democracy might, in the short term, be a great tool for supporting a the 'not functioning well, but functioning barely' representative democracy that we have today."
Very interesting point there about representative democracy in the form of a republic, like in the U.S. It isn't to allow the people to decide. It is to remove the mob from deciding. However brilliant and freedom minded the fathers of the U.S. Constitution were, it wasn't direct democracy they had in mind. So, it is time for something altogether new.  More >

 Reputed Identity10 comments
1 Jan 2003 @ 18:31, by ming. Social System Design
Seems to me that the purpose of digital identity would be that others, also others' websites, will recognize WHO I am, so they can respond appropriately to me. Both for their sake and for mine. And that WHO structure will inevitably be some sort of simplified representation. The task would be to make it a useful and fairly truthful representation, both for me and others.

I can think of several sections of that, off the top of my head:
  • A. How to identify and maybe locate me, like a finger print or a GPS tracker. Making sure there is one and only one of me.
  • B. How my various public facades and/or credentials are stored
    1. The, possibly several, masks I personally put on. Aliases, interests, contact address, website, preferences, etc
    2. The credentials I have from membership in various groups. My IDs, my job titles, degrees, credit cards, driving record, etc., which I can't directly change, but I can withdraw from a particular group.
    3. What various agencies collect about me without my explicit permission. Search engines, quotes, articles, credit reports, mailing lists, etc.
  • C. How my actual reputation is represented. How well regarded I am, what I've actually accomplished, and how much people trust me.
A would be a binary thing. Is it me or isn't it me? B would be mostly a quantitative thing. How many so-and-so are recorded on me and where are they. C would be qualitative. What does it really add up to?

I am most interested in the problem of how to best approximate a truthful picture of my reputation, and that is probably the hardest part. There is no way around it, but that it has to be assembled from what other people think, not from what *I* think. Maybe there are automated algorithms that can help constuct it from incidental information, but I feel strongly that it has to mainly be from a record of personal relations and transactions, not from a frozen public records, automatic logs of my behavior, or from titles and memberships I hold. What is important is that there are some actual, real people who trust me, and that they themselves are trustworthy. Not whether I wen't bankrupt 10 years ago, or whether I visited a lot of pornographic websites last year, or whether I'm a Rotarian and a Ph.D. In some contexts those things are important, but as a universal index of my character, they're flawed.

I know a person who killed somebody else in a fight and who spent years in prison for it. He is now one of the warmest and most trustworthy people I can think of, and I wouldn't hesitate to trust him with my life. I'm sure he has many friends who would vouch for him, but he's a very low-key person.

I knew somebody else who killed another person in stupidity, but didn't go to prison, as he was a minor at the time. He was still a volatile person many years later, and I would not turn my back with him in the room. He had no friends, and it would be hard to find anybody who could say anything about him.

I knew somebody who was rich, and a respected leader for many people, who would probably have many people around who would vouch for what a stellar person he is, because they depend on him for making a living. His credit record is impeccable and he probably has no criminal record. But I think he wouldn't hesitate long to pay for having somebody else killed if they crossed him in a business deal.

Public records and credit reports would point me towards staying away from the first person, would probably tell me nothing about the second, and would tell me that the third would be somebody to get to know. If we went by testimonials from other people, the third would have the most, because he's known and admired by more people. The first person would have some, and the 2nd would have none.

So, a task is how to organize a system of personal relations and reputation, without having it be affected by peer pressure or large amounts of money. And it needs to remain current, so that we're talking about the situation now, not 20 years ago. People change.  More >

 Group Forming Networks18 comments
picture10 Nov 2002 @ 19:09, by ming. Social System Design
David Reed talks about Group Forming.

David Reed is an Internet veteran credited with what is sometimes called Reed's Law, which says, essentially, that networks that facilitate easy group forming are subject to potentially exponential growth. So, here's a little bit of math:

Broadcast media or traditional industrial age businesses grow roughly in ratio to how many listeners or customers they have. Twice as many listeners/viewers means twice as good. Twice as many people who see your ad means twice as many customers which means twice as good. We can use the symbol N for the value. N number of people gives a value of N. That is called proportional growth.

But if we're talking about a network, where the participants can communicate with each other, the rules change. Bob Metcalfe, the inventor of Ethernet, noticed that, and it is known as Metcalfe's Law that the value of a network increases with the square of the number of members. Think about the phone system. If you can only talk with a few people it isn't worth much. The more people you can call, the more valuable it is. Twice as many people make it not just twice as good, but four times (the square) as good. Roughly. So, the value is N2.

And now David Reed says that if we're talking about not just a network, but a community, the rules change again. The number of different interactions that might happen within a group of N people would be 2N. That is what is called exponential growth. So, if the members of the network can't just communicate one-to-one, but they can get together in groups of all kinds of sizes, the potential value is huge.

That's maybe a bit tenuous, as there's nothing at all automatic about it. It is what potentially can happen. But useful groups don't necessarily form just because it is possible for them to do so. I am, however, extremely interested in discovering factors that help groups to form and to self-organize. So, what it is that actually creates a Group Forming Network (GFN)? I'm not sure if Reed has an answer, but I'll keep looking.

One third of a century ago in an article entitled "The Computer as a Communication Medium," J.C.R. Licklider and Bob Taylor wrote the following, which was part of what inspired David Reed and others to build the first Internet:
What will on-line interactive communities be like? Â… they will consist of geographically separated members Â… communities not of common location, but of common interest. Â… The whole will constitute a labile network of networks-ever changing in both content and configuration. Â… the impact Â… will be very great-both on the individual and on society. Â… First, Â… because the people with whom one interacts will be selected more by commonality Â… than by accidents of proximity.
 More >

 Accelerating Evolution Externally13 comments
picture14 Oct 2002 @ 16:34, by ming. Social System Design
It occurred to me that there's some kind of philosophical point to be made by the fact that humans will often be most creative and successful when they can place something 'outside' themselves, at least temporarily. A couple of examples:

When I'm being a counselor, and a client needs to change something about their own behavior, it isn't going to happen before they're willing to put it 'outside' themselves and examine it. "Aha, I'm doing so-and-so, and that causes so-and-so, and that's not really what I want. I see now." That opens the door to them changing that aspect of themselves. And then they might re-integrate it back into themselves, so to speak.

In economic endeavors in a capitalist society, the people who are most successful tend to be those who think as businesspeople rather than as workers. I.e. you don't just work hard and try to do your job well. You work towards setting up a system, a machine, a racket, a company - something that 'automatically' will be making money for you. Ideally, even when you sleep.

Does the parallel between those scenarios make sense? Well, it does to me. When we can see something a little bit at a distance, we can use a lot of our human intellectual faculties better. We can be more 'rational'. Which is useful when we're trying to fix something or plan something or make it work in an optimum way.  More >

 Corporations14 comments
picture26 Aug 2002 @ 23:27, by ming. Social System Design
I think the legal fiction of a "corporation" is probably the biggest roadblock on the way towards a free society and a free market.

A corporation is largely a construct used to scam many people into giving their power to the very few, who will use it for their own gain.  More >

 Procivilization Philosophy, Constitution, Code and Principles3 comments
13 Aug 2002 @ 16:10, by protech. Social System Design

This page will propose a philosophy for the Uni-v.e.r.s.e. Procivilization Community and a possible constitution with a code and some principles for participants to consider.

After reviewing the following, please comment on the insideUni-v.e.r.s.e. email list. As you'll probably guess from reading below, the Procivilization is still very much in an "under construction" or "birthing" mode. Until the "12 Principles of Collaboration" are completely implemented here (or in a offline model), then the "Code" will not be in effect and consequently the "Constitution" cannot be upheld.

However, we can begin by outlining a functional philosophy for you to possibly adopt, so our efforts can perhaps be more aligned.

I propose that the Procivilization rest on nothing more than a "philosophy" consisting of the following 13 words:

"What is is. Perceive it. Think about it. Act on it. Idealize it."

That "philosophy" rests upon one irrefutable fact: Existence Exists.

This linked Article goes into detail about this "philosophy".

In addition to that "philosophy", we have a "constitution" which, in summary, has only 3 "articles" as follows:

ARTICLE 1: No person, group of persons, or government may initiate force, threat of force, or fraud against any individual's self or property.

ARTICLE 2: Force may be morally and legally used only in self-defense against those who violate Article 1.

ARTICLE 3: No exceptions shall exist for Articles 1 and 2.

Read more detail about this "constitution".

Springing from this constitution resting on the philosophy is a "code". Originally the "Code of Ethics" for Terra Libra, the Procivilization Code has 12 points, as follows:

(1) Free Sovereign Citizens own their own lives, minds, bodies, and labor, and may do with them anything that doesn't violate the equal rights of others. This principle of individual sovereignty or self-ownership is the foundation for all legitimate property.

(2) Free Sovereign Citizens have the right to own property, which consists of all possessions acquired without coercing others. They respect the equal right of others to own property, which forms the basis for productive and cooperative human relationships.

(3) No individual, group, or majority has the right to initiate or threaten force, fraud, violence, or theft against Free Sovereign Citizens or their property.

(4) Free Sovereign Citizens have a right to choose whether to communicate or associate with others. These rights of speech and privacy follow directly from the principle of individual sovereignty or self-ownership.

(5) Free Sovereign Citizens have the right to associate with others and to enter into agreements and contracts. For a contract between Free Sovereign Citizens to be valid, it needs to be entered into knowingly, voluntarily, and intentionally.

(6) Free Sovereign Citizens have the right to produce and exchange property, and to own the products of their labor and thought. No individual, group, or majority has a right to the labor, ideas, production, or property of a Free Sovereign Citizen, or any part thereof, without prior consent or agreement.

(7) Free Sovereign Citizens have the right to defend and protect themselves and their property against coercive aggression, and to contract with others to assist them. The authority of voluntarily-chosen agents to defend or protect Citizens and/or their property is strictly limited to that defense or protection. (8) Free Sovereign Citizens consider a crime to occur only when there is a damaged person or property. Therefore, there is no such thing as a "victimless crime," and no Free Sovereign Citizen can commit a crime simply by disobeying the arbitrary rules of tyrants or coercive organizations.

(9) To be legitimate, courts and trials must be based on voluntary association and agreement, rather than on coercion. However, anyone who infringes on the person or property of another may be subject to a requirement for restitution by the damaged person.

(10) Free Sovereign Citizens recognize that social order and cooperation develop spontaneously in the absence of coercion. They also recognize that leadership by example and productive effort is more beneficial than leadership by force, violence, compulsion, or fear.

(11) The principles stated in this Code apply to all Free Sovereign Citizens without regard to age, race, religion, philosophy, background, birthplace, geographic location, gender, or sexual preference.

(12) For a right to be valid its exercise may not impose a positive obligation on another; it only depends on others not taking coercive actions. Free Sovereign Citizens respect the equal rights of other Citizens, and therefore do not expect others to contribute to their interests, except through voluntary transactions or contributions.

Next, and lastly, we arrive at the "12 Principles of Collaboration" (Civilization). Personally I think the implementation of these 12 Principles, packaged in the awesome software of Mongoose Technologies, is the next step for The Uni-v.e.r.s.e. and Procivilization.

Our work as a Community with a profound Purpose can be realised that much quicker with such software at this website. Part of my Vision sees us developing Complementary Exchange Models that would power the "Exchange Principle" of the Procivilization.

From the Mongoose Website, I quote a summary of the 12 Principles below:

Community exists because the members share a common purpose which can only be accomplished jointly.

What is the community about? What, in the minds of its members, is it for? Why do people join, come back, become regular visitors, contribute? What can be done there? How can members collaborate to get their joint purpose and accomplish their common goals?

Members can identify each other and build relationships.

Although members can be anonymous, they cannot be unknown. It must be possible for other members and the facilitators of the community to identify someone as the source of a series of items or actions. A persistent identity is the cornerstone to building other key community principles such as trust, reputation, and history.



Members build a reputation based on the expressed opinions of others.

Members must be able to tell how reliable or useful other members consider any member. Reputation allows them to act on advice with some expectation of its quality without the community website acting as reviewer or police. The desire for good reputation prevents or discourages bad behavior and encourages members to seek feedback from others that may build their reputation.

The facilitators and members of the community assign management duties to each other, allowing the community to grow.

Communities must be managed and governed. Members are involved in governing themselves and other members, and the formal facilitators take a reasonable role in managing the community, its standards and rules, and allocating responsibilities to defined members. Without some governance, few communities will grow or survive.


Members must be able to interact with each other .

Communities cannot exist without one or more mechanisms for member interaction. The best choice for communication tools depends on the purpose of the site and its members. For instance, a CFO site would thrive on shared spreadsheets, whereas a teen site would be better served by instant messaging.

Community members group themselves according to specific interests or tasks

All communities contain groups that focus on some subset of the community's purpose or otherwise segment the membership of the community. These groups are typically dynamic (they form, split, merge, end, etc.) and normally have subgroups within them. The larger and more diverse a community, the more the groups within it will drive its behavior and actions.


A synergistic environment enables community members to achieve their purpose.

All online communities exist within the framework of an online environment. To be effective, they must be integrated with the rest of the website so that navigation, appearance, etc., are seamless between community and non-community areas.

The community knows why it exists and what or who is outside and inside.

Boundaries define who is a member and who is not and what members can do and what nonmembers can do. Without clear definition, there is no incentive to become a member and no ability to control access based on membership. Content generated by the community must also be clearly identified.


Building trust between members and with community facilitators increases group efficiency and enables conflict resolution.

Without trust, a community cannot function. Members must be able to tell how much they can trust other members and must trust those that run the community not to abuse or exploit it.

The community recognizes forms of exchange values, such as knowledge, experience, support, barter or money .

Does the community exist to make money for its members? If so, how does it accomplish this? What role does the community play in facilitating commerce? Is it a revenue generator for the site? What monetary and non-monetary forms of reward exist in the community?


The community itself has a "soul" or "personality"; members are aware of what other community members are doing.

How does the community reveal the activity and preferences of a member or a set of members?

The community must keep track of past events and must react and change in response to it.

Communities should remember what has gone before -- and be able to forget things, too. What the community knows about a member must have some statute of limitations, but should be available to a member so that they don't have to repeat themselves. Those running the community should be able to learn from the past and apply this learning to the future.

As always, I propose you view these Principles, Code, Constitution and Philosophy as your own, and not just something "out there" or posessed only by someone else who appears better equipped to understand, express and apply them.

YOU are Universe! YOU are Community! YOU are Principle, Code, Constitution and Philosophy! So am I... aswell as everyone else. Having (space 3) you Be (space 1) in touch (space 2) with these facts is what The Uni-v.e.r.s.e. is all about.

So, all that you read above, as everything else on this website, can be looked at as something that is already yours, or something for you to strive for.

Keep Participating....

 More >

picture24 Jul 2002 @ 09:05, by scottj. Social System Design

What follows here is a short summary of a theory of social evolution.

Man has not evolved biologically in the last 10,000 years and yet in this relatively short period has risen to a position of dominance where his influence on other species and planetry systems is evident everywhere.

?????????????  More >

 Sociocracy15 comments
10 Jul 2002 @ 18:00, by ming. Social System Design
I'm just reading in a new member site about Sociocracy. It is quite similar to what my vision would be of how groups of people ought to organize and make decisions. The main 4 principles are:

  • Governance by Consent
  • Circle Organization
  • Double Linking
  • Elections by Consent

    The "Governance by Consent" thing is almost the same as what I'm used to calling "Consensus". But in the text it is contrasted with Consensus. Which I can understand, because for many people "Consensus" means that everybody agrees. Whereas the Consent principle is more that everybody can live with it and don't have any specific and substantial objection.  More >

  •  Patterns in Virtual Spaces25 comments
    21 Jun 2002 @ 01:52, by ming. Social System Design
    It is very interesting how we perceive meaning in the way things are arranged. Different spaces will have different functions based on how they are arranged in relation to other spaces.

    A classic book on this is "A Pattern Language" by Chris Alexander, who's an architect, which lays out how many different patterns in how spaces are arranged will affect what is likely to happen in those spaces. He is talking about physical buildings, but similar principles apply to virtual spaces.  More >

     Co-Intelligence6 comments
    18 Jun 2002 @ 03:19, by ming. Social System Design
    I recently re-discovered the website of The Co-Intelligence Institute which is one of the most important resources on the net, I think. Mostly the work of Tom Atlee. Very focused, but yet very deep and wide-spanning. It is all in one way or another about "co-intelligence".

    It seems to be easiest to explain what co-intelligence is by first explaining what co-stupidity is. It is when you put a group of people together and they collectively become stupider than any of them individually are. So, even if it were very intelligent and well-intentioned people that came together, the group as a whole somehow lacks the ability to originate much intelligent activity.

    Then, co-intelligence is when a group of people somehow becomes more than any of them individually are. They pool their personal intelligences and the result becomes more insightful or powerful than the sum of their individual perspectives.

    Needless to say, if we can know how to get to that place more often, things might not look all that bad.  More >

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