Liquid Talks: creating a participatory constitution

Here is a recording of this introductory talk. The sound levels are not good on the recording, but worked better in physical space. Next time guys (Dash, Lauren that’s you :), a little help with the tech would have been great – so apologies for the sound and camera issues I was doing this solo :) Here is the clip – covering the second part of the talk. Watch out for the presentation at the Open Insitute this Saturday 6th July, 1-2pm, which looks like being a great free series of talks and discussions – or watch the stream.

Today we’re debating the shape of the society we can build using existing legal tools, software tools and our knowledge of working together.

Let’s create a membership organisation. Let’s imagine we do a Kickstarter to create it, or for some other reason we manage to get 1 million people to join and donate £10 to the common bank account. Let’s look forwards to a future where we have 1 billion people from all around the planet, being part of an organisation in which they can vote, decide together, use their mobile phones, their cameras, and video, to express what they care about and believe… what would the constitution look like, what tools would we need to build, how would we decide together?

Tonight I’ll be in conversation with Jordan Greenhall, about his vision for a society we can begin to construct today, and to compare and contrast that with the ideas discussed on this blog, and over at

Tweet your questions to #futureofopen and we’ll try to present these to the group here at the Future of Open gallery exhibit as part of the development process for the Open Institute.

Liquid Talks

Introducing the first in a series of “Liquid Talks”. The first talks will begin on the first Friday of June, leading up and following on from the forthcoming TEDx talks at the Houses of Parliament. Our aim is to cover a number of key software projects, and real world pilots. So if you have a project please get in touch. Today we start with Vilfredo.

Vilfredo: Part 1

Pietro Speroni presenting Vilfredo at the Hub Westminster.

Introducing Hub Democracy: Liquid Feedback

A brief introduction by Alice Fung, of the Hub Network of co-working spaces, and the problems the association has with it’s decision making, and hence why it is looking to trial Liquid Feedback open source software to help with these.

Vilfredo Part 2

A description of Vilfredo from the more metaphorical perspective of a moderator who does not understand the subject being debated, perhaps not even understanding the language being spoken.

Lobbi: a brief introduction

A very quick informal introduction of by Hussain Shafiei.

We will be editing these talks, and presenting it more professionally for later consumption.

Liquid Democracy and the Pirate Party

The Pirate party in Germany won 7.8% of the vote in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), the most populous state which includes cities like Cologne, Düsseldorf, Dortmund and Essen. That puts it near the Greens and ahead of both the ex-communist Left Party and the Free Democrats, who are part of Germany’s ruling coalition. If the party enters the Bundestag in next year’s federal election, it could affect the make-up of the government (NRW is seen as an important bellwether for national elections, which take place in late 2013).

Voting at a Pirate Party meeting – source the Economist.

Michael Lühmann of the Göttingen Institute for Democracy Research, fears that without parties to mediate between citizens and the state, small, highly motivated groups can prosper at the expense of the many – sounds like political lobbying to me? Nor do I expect he as analysed the socratic effect of “communicative ascent” on political dialogue over time…

Yet Germany is often said to be suffering from a democratic malaise, with broad-based parties like the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats all losing members. As in other western economies, voter turnout is falling, with citizens tending to mobilise outside party structures. A poll in Der Spiegel says that 83% favour more direct participation.

It all started in Sweden
The Pirate party was started in Sweden by Rickard Falkvinge in the Fall of 2005. In Sweden the Pirate Party received 7.13% of the total Swedish votes in the 2009 European Parliament elections, with Christian Engström and Amelia Andersdotter taking seats at the European Parliament. The Pirate Party is now an international movement of more than 40 regional Parties.

Not just a flash in the pan
In Germany, the Pirates secured 7.4% of the vote in Saarland, Germany’s smallest state (excluding the city-states of Berlin, Bremen and Hamburg). “They have their strongholds among young people in cities with universities, with an academic environment,” says Lothar Probst, a political scientist at the University of Bremen. “One of the amazing points in Saarland is that it only has one or two universities. The Pirates were still pretty successful in the countryside.” Their ship came in yet again on May 6 when they earned 8% of the vote in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein. Entering parliament in NRW makes them four for four.

Now if someone can translate this properly for me, as I’d like to figure out what they are saying about the use of Liquid Democracy by the Pirates….