This week I had the pleasure of speaking at the Future Salon alongside Zack Rosen and Tom Atlee on the Tao of Extreme Democracy, a wonderful fusion of tools, practices and political activism.
Zack demoed CivicSpace, a funded continuation of DeanSpace, and showed how it was empowering Music For America to get 1 million voters registered organized by a staff of 10. He also demoed Progressive Pipes, which aggregates activist mailing lists.
Tom is the author of the Tao of Democracy and an expert in methodologies of dialogue and deliberation. He proposes that Citizen Deliberative Councils (CDCs) could be a significant feature of Extreme Democracy, to help fulfill something Joi said: "social technologies have emerged that enable citizens to self-organize more easily. These technologies may eventually enable democracies to scale and become more adaptable and direct."
Tom highlights some potential differences (which reads like Yin is to wikis as Yang is to blogs, but most ED chapters focus on blogs):
Characteristic Features of Extreme Democracy
- dynamic interactivity
- competitive, empowers partisans and interest groups
- distributed network intelligence
Characteristic Features of Co-intelligent Democracy
- integral, empower an inclusive We the People
- whole field intelligence
Tom provided examples of how CDCs have worked in Canada (.PDF), Denmark and British Columbia (.PartOfCanada). Deliberative Polling has been a facet of Emergent Democracy, recognizing the strength of diverse groups to make decisions over individuals. Tom suggests broader applicability of facilitating dialog and deliberation between common and diverse participants to inform political decision making.
Social Software can address the problems inherent in CDCs today: cost, publicity and the need for self-organization to lessen the effect of framing by organizers. If you have ever had an interest in Emergent Democracy, I encourage you to contribute to the wiki page where Tom has shared his talk and deep thoughts on how to converge these practices and tools -- and consider how we can foster democratic participation after the election.