May 20, 2016

Comments on "Reimagining IOPS"

In response to a post about reimagining the International Organization for a Participatory Society, I wrote the following:

Some ideas:

(1) Convert IOPS into a project whose mission is to seek out experimental confirmation of the participatory society models. There are a number of ways this can proceed, probably simultaneously: simulating parsoc/parecon/etc. with computer programs, forge tools that aren't explicitly radical but built on participatory ideals (e.g., Wikipedia), build alternative institutions both online and IRL to see what can be done, and strive to convert existing non-participatory institutions into participatory society models (I'm looking at you, Rainbow PUSH).

As I wrote elsewhere: "[In my opinion,] there has been precious little in the way of instantiating and confirming these frameworks, to demonstrate concretely that these...models can work. Understandably, most people are skeptical of promises, as have been made in the past, to simply trust that ideas will deliver what they promise. They want evidence. Activists who are serious about this would do well to play the role of scientists: seek to confirm with experimental verification in the real world in ways large and small that the models we theorize will work, and discard those [models] that don't."

(2) Convert/replace the IOPS website with a clone of the ZSocial website, but set up the underlying software open and distributed. (I can help write the code for this; we can use Github [grin].) I would propose that this ZSocial website should particularly focus on experimentally verifying the participatory models.

(3) Seek out incentives for developing/building participatory society structures. Absent an infusion of money at least at the outset, IOPS could gamify such efforts (even seeking out new ways of gamfiying, in a non-hierarchical fashion: how would you track "progress" without leaderboards?).


Let me offer another idea. I wonder if we can start now on building a crowdsourced website that builds the details of a proposed participatory economy from the ground up. Namely, this website:

  • Asks users to enter the tasks that they do for a particular good or service. (e.g., if the job is "cook" a possible task would be "prepare dinner requests as they come in")
  • Asks other users to grade those tasks based on desirability and empowerment
  • Asks what goods or services people would want or need
  • Determine indicative prices of those goods and services, based on things like environmental impact, social impact, quality of working conditions.

At a later point, we could then implement a "payment" system involving effort and sacrifice for the tasks. We could also add in some kind of forum system so that people can leave feedback on problems that we encounter or ways to improve the implementation.

Perhaps we could start by asking users two simple questions:

  • What specific good or service can you provide?
  • What are the tasks necessary to produce this good or provide this service?

Maybe even ask folks what jobs they themselves have.

That could seed our website; we could show the results and invite folks to grade on desirability and empowerment.

We could start this by writing this [in] Meteor. It could be good for something like this.

Let me get started.