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DemocracyOS (democracyos.org)
166 points by sinak on Mar 21, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 155 comments



As with others, I am really struggling to see why this has "OS" in the name. It's not an operating system. I'm guessing it stands for "open source", which isn't really an acronym people use in favour of OSS/FOSS (probably because OS already has a very well established meaning).

Can someone share some insight on the naming decision?


It's meant to be open for many intepretations: - Open Source because, well, we are open source (github.com/democracyos/app) - Operating System because, well, we aim to build a layer on top of the current political system. - Open Society becasue, well, we aim for societies to become more participatory and democratic.

Pick your favorite flavor.. the goal is to nail how democracy should work in the 21st century.


Just had this epiphany: DemocracyOS's name is intrinsically democratic.


> Her team’s vision is to make DemocracyOS the “operating system of a more open and participatory government.”

From: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/07/des...


Open a PR for a name change. Let people +1. Boom, democracy in action.


Well, I think that it's a relevant analogy to what an operating system does. Like an OS a system of government (like Democracy) manages a collection of physical elements (institutions) and serves as an interface between those and the end-users (citizens.)


That's a metaphor, and its confusing if not mildly infuriating.


Agreed. Within the demographic that understands the acronym (OS=Operating System or Open Source, etc.), it's likely to be confusing. Outside the demographic, it's not useful as a metaphor because they don't know have an expansion for OS in their heads.


A metaphor is a type of analogy, just so you know. Also, could you elaborate on what is so infuriating?


I was expecting a democratically run Linux distro or some kind of framework for democratically pulling open source software.

Its more confusing than infuriating. Mainly because the term os makes sense only to people like me, but doesn't match what up with what people like me know it as.

The OS part of the name doesn't help anything. I'm guessing its only there so you could have the name in the URL.


#1 An OS does different things, you might want DemocracyUI

#2 Its a technical term out of place that redefines what an OS does, as a member of the technical community feel a sense of ownership for a term that I routinely use. Its infuriating when you mess with something that is mine.


The kind of hardware we deal with it's called Congress. There's where the party we've built comes into place.


Agreed, why not just choose "Democracy"?


I actually know who owns democracy.com but still, democracy reminisces a 2000 year old system.. we need to update that.


In the spirit of the US Military. "Improved Democracy" Or "Updated Democracy". If you're not familiar with this...search US Army IOTV to get an idea.


How about "Future Democracy System" or "Joint Democracy Platform" ;)


Democracy2.0?

It worked for the web...


"democracy reminisces a 2000 year old system" ... you have something better in mind?

In my opinion, democracy is probably the best we've got. The challenges have to do largely with engaging people in the realities of the process.


Because the domain will be expensive?


This is amazing. I have dreamt of a system like this and armchair-proposed it to friends countless times. I am always faced with derision in such conversations[1] - but I believe that a secure implementation of such an idea could be the future of democracy.

Or rather, its past. Ancient Greek democracy wasn't perfect (slavery; not everyone was citizen) but it was much better than our current system of professional politicians and uber-powerful political parties and lobbies.

The small, first struggle will be to implement it as securely as possible - for this you'll likely need to distribute specific hardware[2]. The second and largest struggle would be to actually change constitutions and take power away from the organizations that have hoarded it for decades[3].

There is a lot of scepticism in these comments. My infosec and analytical side is obviously going to go into full-attack mode when there is something solid to take apart - BUT for the time being I'd like to say a huge "bravo" to both this team and YC for backing them.

I hope you change the world.

[1] how would it work; why would people care to get involved; execution/implementation issues; fraud; ...

[2] something between RSA tokens and dedicated mobile voting machines

[3] probably centuries


Thanks for your insights!

Totally agree; finding out what democratic interaction should look like and how it should work for societies in the current hyper-connected paradigm is -at best- something that will take a lot of time.

There is, undoubtedly, a technological challenge to address, but moreover I think the greatest challenge is the cultural one. We're risen to think communites (countries, towns, organisations, etc.) should be managed in one of so many fashions, but we're willing to ask ourselves time and again what other possible ways there are for doing this, and implement on that.

We may not nail it soon, but we'll definitely try as long as we can.


We are asking for funding so we can develop a blockchain-compatibility module for our app here: https://www.newschallenge.org/challenge/elections/entries/bl...

The work on security is very challenging but this MUST be a large open source effort.

Check our code here: github.com/democracyos/app


I think delegation or proxying is an important feature in a direct democracy platform that I see missing here. It allows people without the technical expertise to make an informed decision by allowing a trusted third party to make the decision for them.

I believe this would give rise to something like we have today where policiticans collect proxies (votes), however it would be a more ephemeral relationship since people could take their voting rights back if unsatisified or if they felt strongly on an issue. I think this would create a more balanced dynamic then we currently have.


others made such software before, also member of the pirate party germany. It's called liquid democracy and ads delegation possibilities to trusted fellows. This delegation option is chainable and thus address certain problems already pointed out in this thread: lack of time, knowledge to make an informed decision,..

DemocracyOS falls short in this obvious matters and could ad this feature, since delegation is a core feature

It is fieldtested in small northern german communities by their city councils I think.

http://youtu.be/fg0_Vhldz-8

http://liquidfeedback.org


Political systems should protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority. I worry that Democracy OS's idea fails to address this issue. If the politicians always vote with the majority, what if the majority wants to violate the rights of the minority?


Constitutional democracies exist for this reason. But typically when people talk about "majority violating rights of minority", people generally mean "mass of people taking away everything from the rich".

Look, even America, as a constitutional republic, took the rights away from millions of blacks for a long time. The Constitution at its inception did not save them.

I really believe the rich have scared people about democracy, because really democracy scares them. Don't let it scare you.


> mass of people taking away everything from the rich

Honestly, I don't think they do. Moreso than anything, I think they're hearkening back to when slavery was legal, women couldn't vote, and it was perfectly acceptable to assault gays in nightclubs.

It's only as those minority groups gain acceptance that they start generating sympathy, really, but while gays are more and more getting acceptance in their fight for marriage equality, polygamists are still a lesser known, smaller minority, and their rights are routinely trampled, despite that all the arguments applying to same sex marriage are equally applicable to them.

As it sits, 51% of the democratic party approves of some form of censorship, so it's not too hard to imagine being in a gerrymandered district in which DemocracyOS is prevalent, and losing the ability to freely exercise your first amendment rights.

That said, this problem isn't unique to DemocracyOS, as we've always had people who hate the rights of others, and even managed to pass the 18th amendment as a result.

The biggest problem with direct democracy is in educating people about the Constitution. We have long, embattled conflicts between Constitutional scholars on whether X aligns with the Constitution, and the "will of the people", absent that knowledge, may serve to exacerbate the issue.


Your example could hardly be more at odds with your premise.


It's a super valid point. We are not claiming all decisions should be taken this way. But we can imagine a system where a large chunk of decisions can be devolved to the citizens. The constitution and the bill or rights provide a framework in the same way congress today can't legislate (or shouldn't I would say) agains our rights.


The remedy is to require more than a majority threshold for decisions to be made. For example, a decision could require 80% agreement before it becomes law.

In the USA we handle these issues with a representation by region (states) rather than by population. Solutions feel more like post-processing, then data gathering.


That doesn't defend against tyranny of the majority; it just requires a larger majority.

In the USA we defend against tyranny of the majority with the constitution. The constitution places strict limits on what the majority can do to the minority through governmental force.


I agree with wyager.

A political system should be a strong constitution that defines the rights of individuals. Something like DemocracyOS should be used to engage the population into ensuring that political actions are in fact constitutional and just.


I think what we really need is ConstitutionalRepublicOS which would be a bit more complicated. But by defining strong constitutional invariants with regard to individual rights perhaps we could pre-strikedown unconstitutional laws before they are enacted. That would require a more precise legal language that let's you run some kind of static analysis against against the laws however.


maybe we could think about a two-tier system were we delegate only decisions that should be taken our of the hands of majority and to the citizens the huge number of decisions that we can make that affect our every-day lives. I think the only way for citizens to be responsible for the decisions we make is by start making them. We've outsourced decision-making for a far too long time.


I do think some of the divisive issues that are taken up often end up cloaking other matters that should be focused upon. Perhaps with strong enough invariants and a pre enactment filter it would much harder to use divisive social issues politically. Maybe we could replace polls with votes on some things and have better recall mechanics too. I think a lot of the dysfunction is due to the fact we can and have passed radically unconstitutional laws in the past to great detriment to the entire population.


If you think about how much carnage has been caused by the fact that we can in fact pass unconstitutional laws and then it takes decades of work to strike them down due to the bottleneck we have in our court system (supreme court). Would be much better to not pass the obviously unconstitutional laws and let the courts handle complicated exceptions that were not caught.


America is an extremely bad example of how a democracy should work. Its main claim to fame is that it's old, not that it's exemplary.


It's not a democracy at all, purposefully so.


I really don't understand why people like you insist on this completely useless semantic argument. It's almost as pointless as debating the merits of parliamentarianism versus presidentalism.


>>with the constitution

At the federal level we can change the constitution if we get enough votes. But its hard to achieve such a consensus, as it requires more than a simple super-majority. So it always comes down to thresholds.


This is exactly the type of conversation we want to have. What institutions can we design for the internet society?


Democracy does exactly that - it gives everyone the same vote, regardless what minority they come from. Therefore, it protects any minority for maximum possible extent. You don't need any formal rules on top of that; in other words, the solution to "tyranny of the majority" should not be "tyranny of the minority". (I really hate the phrase "tyranny of the majority", by the way, because it simply isn't a good way to describe democratic voting, where the majority is emergent and not determined ex ante.)

But let's say, indeed, majority wants to violate the rights of minority. Stripping other people from voting rights isn't democratic (even if it's voted by everybody), because it violates the basic democratic rule, "every person should get the same power in politics". Democracy is defined by the end result (same access to power), not the procedure (voting). (In fact, democracy allows for tradeoffs where a person gets little more power in exchange for more accountability.)

It's true that even without stripping other voter's rights, minorities can still be persecuted. But it is a cultural issue, which won't be resolved by formal constitutional framework. In fact, historically, it very often were elites (that you may think are the solution) who participated or even organized these persecutions.

For example, in the U.S., there is a large minority of people in prison who are not protected by democracy, because they don't have voting rights. I would appreciate proof of any claim as to how any sort of republican institutions in the U.S. helps these people be protected. I don't see that.

Someone wrote below that the solution could be super-majority vote, like 80% of citizens to agree to change the constitution. I think that's a wrong idea, which doesn't give enough credit to people. This can possibly protect a minority, but it can also delay progress in helping minority. The minority that needs to be overruled in super-majority voting can keep the status quo longer than desired by most, and that's unfair too. We don't know what the future morality will be; it may be different in positive, not negative, fashion compared to today's morality. We could perhaps say, though, that the future society will be more happy with their own morality than ours (because they can compare the two, we cannot); therefore, it should be possible for them not be too conservative and implement it.

Anyway, this debate is always rather academic, because politicians only rarely vote with the majority. (And no, pre-war Germany is not a good example, as I already explained above.)


> (I really hate the phrase "tyranny of the majority", by the way, because it simply isn't a good way to describe democratic voting, where the majority is emergent and not determined ex ante.)

Nothing about the phrase actually requires the tyranny be remotely permanent, and nothing about the concept of tyranny requires it either. Indeed, it's actually more poignant that the tyranny is both ephemeral and, more importantly, inevitable. This is the real issue. It's easy to comprehend the issue by looking at semi-permanent states [1], like Marxist class divisions or political polarization, but those are consequences.

When you place something to a vote and fail to achieve consensus, you have a majority whose will is being enacted upon a minority. This is commonly celebrated by moronic catchphrases such as, "the right side of history," but you still have a winner and a loser. And when the ephemeral majority seems to crystallize from the aether into an unmistakable demographic of some kind, you really have to wonder about this "emergent majority" concept.

The fundamental American problem is that it is incapable of trusting its government. (I can't speak to other governments; I don't live under those.) This lack of trust is well-founded, but that doesn't make it any less crippling. I said below that the appropriate counter to the tyrannical majority is a strong executive. The executive is capable of saying, "No," to a popular opinion in a way that the legislature cannot. (Indeed, this is a role Americans have shoved onto the judiciary, which means we can't actually say no until someone files a lawsuit.) The interplay between the legislature and the executive (the vote, the veto, the super-majority overrule, the refusal to enforce, the impeachment) is exactly the solution being proposed.

None of it works without an executive willing to exercise its options. See Obama's refusal to enforce immigration laws, for instance. (For the sake of this "academic debate", let's presume that he could enforce them to the letter if he wanted to.) That is a check against tyranny of the majority. So naturally, well... see for yourself [2]. This isn't meant as an anti-Republican statement; it's just the most recent example I could bring to mind off the top of my head.

The trust part comes back when you ask, "Why doesn't a minority group tyrannized by a majority group just leave?" You know, secede. This comes back to the emergent majority you spoke of: if you trust the majority to, you know, not be dicks about it [3]. To not always be the majority, then secession isn't necessary. You can expect that the issues will change and you'll be in the majority. Of course, what's happened with the polarized political class in America is that you stick around because you figure you can win next time.

This is a problem. It is the exact opposite of what you need to make sure that a majority is an emergent majority. Instead of melting back into an indeterminate goo and forming new majority/minority groups in each vote, you have battle lines being drawn for a budding civil war. And that's as far as I've figured out.

[1] "State" as in "state of being", not as in "nation-state". My thesaurus powers have failed me.

[2] http://judiciary.house.gov/index.cfm/2015/3/at-the-flick-of-...

[3] Book recommendation: http://www.amazon.com/Talking-Strangers-Anxieties-Citizenshi...


> Indeed, it's actually more poignant that the tyranny is both ephemeral and, more importantly, inevitable. This is the real issue. It's easy to comprehend the issue by looking at semi-permanent states [1], like Marxist class divisions or political polarization, but those are consequences.

I disagree; if the oppression is ephemeral, then it's nowhere as bad as when it is (semi)permanent. (Maybe an example would help - all the oppressions that come to my mind from history, that were formalized in law, are attempts to permanently subjugate or even eradicate the minority.)

(In fact, I can come up with an example of "ephemeral" oppression - unemployment. It's irony that people who argue that democracy leads to tyranny of majority often fail to see the tyranny of the markets.)

People do have empathy and memory; if you being in the minority is ephemeral, then you will remember it and vote differently. Oppression can only work if people are afraid; if they are not, they can change things and work toward consensus.

And if you look at direct democracy in Switzerland, for instance, you will find that direct democracy (I don't consider representative democracy only one or the best possibility) actually leads to more consensual result - people vote differently on different issues, sometimes they have minority view, mostly they have majority view (as it happens statistically), and because of that, the party or class tribalism you describe from American politics is greatly reduced. So empirically, exact opposite happens than what "tyranny of the majority" crowd tends to think that happens. (Another counterfactual claim is that direct democracy will lead to some torrent of crazy changes - in fact common voters are more conservative and less decisive than politicians.)

> This is a problem. It is the exact opposite of what you need to make sure that a majority is an emergent majority.

I don't understand what is your point here. In direct democracy, the majority is always emergent; it depends on your actual views, not on which party you decide to vote for.


> I disagree; if the oppression is ephemeral, then it's nowhere as bad as when it is (semi)permanent. (Maybe an example would help - all the oppressions that come to my mind from history, that were formalized in law, are attempts to permanently subjugate or even eradicate the minority.)

Except that these oppressive acts are law-making: the oppressive act under discussion is the vote. The vote enshrines the law into the most permanent state we have, really. The fact that the emergent majority that enshrines this law is no longer extant is irrelevant: their actions are permanent.

> if you being in the minority is ephemeral, then you will remember it and vote differently.

How is this a good thing? This is the worst reason to change your vote and invalidates the entire point of voting to begin with. "Oh no, I've been oppressed. Clearly I must change myself and conform to the popular opinion next time around." How is this anything but tyranny by majority?

> And if you look at direct democracy in Switzerland, ... because of that, the party or class tribalism you describe from American politics is greatly reduced.

I'm not familiar with the details of Swiss politics, but at a glance at the Wikipedia page, the first thing it says is that it's "half-direct". I cannot make any claims about the consequences of the Swiss system, but my guess is that the effects you describe have nothing to do with direct democracy. They are instead the effect of the lower population (4% of the US; 0.6% of India) and higher homogeneity.

In America, the tribalism has historically been along fairly clear lines visible outside of the polling booth: income, education, race, and so on. This has blurred, but not by much. You can still take a bunch of demographics, pick an issue, and reliably predict the position a given citizen will take.

Your claim is essentially that this isn't the case in Switzerland. That someone with a higher degree of education does not have a higher probability of voting on the progressive side of a given issue, for instance, but rather that demographics fail to predict voting patterns. I cannot dispute this claim because I don't have Swiss voting records at my disposal. But I would suspect that the demographical divisions in Switzerland are much less visible than those in America.

Personally, my conclusion is that, for the United States to more likely attain a "consensual result", it needs a higher degree of homogeneity, not direct democracy.

> In direct democracy, the majority is always emergent; it depends on your actual views, not on which party you decide to vote for.

First, you never used the term "direct democracy" in your initial comment. Second, I said nothing about political parties. It's probably very difficult to understand my point when you aren't really reading what I wrote in good faith.

As far as I can tell, our actual difference of opinion can be demonstrated with this thought experiment. Let's say that you have a population governed by democratic procedure in which a law is proposed 4 times throughout a year. It is the same law, the same text, and no relevant or notable events occur over this period to change opinions. Let's further assume 100% turnout. We'll posit that 70% vote yes and 30% vote no.

My position is that, for any given person in this population, their vote will not change throughout this year: it will remain 70%, 70%, 70%. Your position, if I interpret you correctly, is that the voting pattern will change to 80% yes, 90% yes, and then 100% yes, because the minority will vote differently.

The thought experiment is not intended to be realistic; it's merely intended to make our difference in basic assumptions clear.


> Except that these oppressive acts are law-making: the oppressive act under discussion is the vote.

I don't understand how is voting oppressive. Bad laws can be changed; what cannot be changed are things like loss of human lives, that's irreversible. You are arguing very abstractly; perhaps more specific example of oppression (ideally from the real world) would help? I would like to see a historic example of law promoted by majority (and if possible, opposed by elites) that had extremely negative consequences for some minority.

> How is this anything but tyranny by majority?

No, you're misunderstanding. It's that majority will change their vote to conform the minority view (if the idea is good, of course), not other way around. Just look at my example - unemployment. Even though unemployed people are in ephemeral minority, unemployment is a big topic for everybody, the majority. Because many people have been unemployed in the past or know someone, who was. So if someone is proposing to help the minority of unemployed, majority will probably vote for it. Neither they are probably going to support harming unemployed people.

> the first thing it says is that it's "half-direct"

The half-direct is more precise term, direct democracy is not quite practical, but it has important advantages to representative democracy. Half-direct democracy is a good compromise between those features.

> Personally, my conclusion is that, for the United States to more likely attain a "consensual result", it needs a higher degree of homogeneity, not direct democracy.

Well, the causality is the other way around - Swiss are homogenous because they have decades of experience in building consensus. But think whatever you want.

> It's probably very difficult to understand my point when you aren't really reading what I wrote in good faith.

The point is, in a real democracy, you don't have to pick from (as little as) two packages of issues that some clever marketers designed. That really means that there is no clear minority and majority - in some issues you may be minority and in some majority. In other words, being in minority is an artifact of the representative political system (and the majority voting or two party system makes it worse).

> As far as I can tell, our actual difference of opinion can be demonstrated with this thought experiment.

You don't have to do thought experiments. There have been quite a lot of cases where Swiss people changed the majority view from conservative to more progressive one. It's a little slower process (may take several years), but it happens. There have been also some regresses (I think some anti-mosque laws and such), but these happen at the same glacial pace, and are no worse than anywhere else.

You know, Switzerland and U.S. (not on federal level, and in all states, unfortunately) both have half-direct democracy, and they have some highest living standards in the world. Is that just a coincidence? (I certainly don't see much oppression going on there, and that's why this "tyranny of the majority" argument always seemed to me as some ivory tower bullshit.)


Okay. I'm throwing up my hands.

I'm interested in having this discussion, but you keep changing your position completely with every post. Now I'm at the point where I'm imagining we actually agree with each other, but neither of us seem capable of actually communicating anything useful.

Assuming that we are in agreement, there isn't really any point to our discussion. If we aren't, then we can't get anywhere because I can't even comprehend your position.


>Democracy does exactly that - it gives everyone the same vote, regardless what minority they come from. Therefore, it protects any minority for maximum possible extent.

From my reading, doesn't this say nothing? "democracy protects minorities as much as democracies could ever protect minorities."

>the majority is emergent

How does "emergence" affect the possibility of tyranny?

>it violates the basic democratic rule, "every person should get the same power in politics"

So maybe the takeaway here is that pure democracy is insufficient? The original point was that "Political systems should protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority."

>Democracy is defined by the end result (same access to power), not the procedure (voting).

Isn't this just semantics?

>It's true that even without stripping other voter's rights, minorities can still be persecuted. But it is a cultural issue, which won't be resolved by formal constitutional framework.

Isn't "stripping other voter's rights" a loaded way to put it? Freedom to vote doesn't necessarily have to mean freedom to persecute--freedoms generally end at the boundary where they begin trampling other freedoms. Also, in which situations "It is a cultural issue"? What does that imply? Does DemocracyOS fix cultural issues?

>In fact, historically, it very often were elites (that you may think are the solution) who participated or even organized these persecutions.

Did the parent suggest a return to oligarchy? Do current elites participate in persecutions?

>For example, in the U.S., there is a large minority of people in prison who are not protected by democracy, because they don't have voting rights.

How will people in prison obtain fair representation under DemocracyOS?

>This can possibly protect a minority, but it can also delay progress in helping minority. The minority that needs to be overruled in super-majority voting can keep the status quo longer than desired by most, and that's unfair too.

So the solution is to never protect minorities in the first place?

>We don't know what the future morality will be; it may be different in positive, not negative, fashion compared to today's morality. We could perhaps say, though, that the future society will be more happy with their own morality than ours (because they can compare the two, we cannot); therefore, it should be possible for them not be too conservative and implement it.

Yes, political systems should enable the implementation of policies. This says nothing about the merits of different political systems.


> From my reading, doesn't this say nothing?

No, it's similar to pareto optimality. Democracy protects every possible minority equally. It won't give any minority an inch more rights so they could tyrannize the majority.

> How does "emergence" affect the possibility of tyranny?

A lot, because of human empathy. Why would you vote for a tyranny of relatively small group of people? Most people can see that one step ahead and know that they are the next. Also, in more direct democracies, people vote more often and have different views on issues, so they are minority and majority at the same time. This influences their willingness to compromise.

> So maybe the takeaway here is that pure democracy is insufficient?

It is insufficient, but not in the general sense "because of tyranny of the majority". Democracy doesn't try to solve specific cultural issues, it's a decision making mechanism. If your objection is just a general "tyranny of the majority", then I doubt there is anything better (because you have to start somewhere, and democracy gives everyone the same power).

> Isn't this just semantics?

No. There are different methods how to have same access to power. All of them can be considered democratic, although each has advantages and disadvantages. Also, to prevent Russell-style paradoxes, you cannot decide democratically whether or not you want to abandon (or establish) democracy. You can however decide that with a vote.

> Freedom to vote doesn't necessarily have to mean freedom to persecute--freedoms generally end at the boundary where they begin trampling other freedoms.

I think you misunderstand the sentence - I meant that people that are being persecuted can still have voting rights. Although historically, I would say any group with voting rights was being persecuted much less than without.

> Also, in which situations "It is a cultural issue"?

What I mean is that it's not just legal framework that causes oppression, people's beliefs cause oppression. The laws are, and always will be, reflection of those beliefs. If you don't like that someone is being persecuted, you can't just change the law, you have to change the culture.

> Do current elites participate in persecutions?

Depends on who you ask, what your specific persecution you have in mind. But in most cases it's just sitting by idly, whether or not it's participation again depends on your view.

> How will people in prison obtain fair representation under DemocracyOS?

I wasn't addressing DemocracyOS specifically, but in my country (Czech Republic), we have provisions for prisoners to vote if they want to. So in our country they have fairer representation than in the U.S. (at least some states).

> So the solution is to never protect minorities in the first place?

I am not sure what "protections" you have in mind. As I already explained, it's hard to conceive that e.g. Saudi Arabian elites would decide to protect women minority. It's a matter of culture and you cannot rely on any elite (even appointed one) to do that. Society as a whole has to believe that's a good value.

And as far as general protections go, I can't imagine anything better than democracy, which just gives everyone same rights. Any other solution will by definition have to give someone more say, and this person or group will be more fallible and can cause more oppression themselves.


The man who is possessed of wealth, who lolls on his sofa or rolls in his carriage, cannot judge the wants or feelings of the day-laborer. The government we mean to erect is intended to last for ages. The landed interest, at present, is prevalent; but in process of time, when we approximate to the states and kingdoms of Europe, — when the number of landholders shall be comparatively small, through the various means of trade and manufactures, will not the landed interest be overbalanced in future elections, and unless wisely provided against, what will become of your government? In England, at this day, if elections were open to all classes of people, the property of landed proprietors would be insecure. An agrarian law would soon take place. If these observations be just, our government ought to secure the permanent interests of the country against innovation. Landholders ought to have a share in the government, to support these invaluable interests, and to balance and check the other. They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority. The senate, therefore, ought to be this body; and to answer these purposes, they ought to have permanency and stability.

-James Madison 1787

http://en.m.wikiquote.org/wiki/James_Madison


All you need is a base of inviolable principles on a moral basis of respect, peace, etc. How one would get there is a good question.


Who decides what the rights are? A majority?


We want to figure out the right combination of rules so we can get the best out of the collective intelligence of society.

Like Wikipedia: we believe this is an idea that works better in practice than in theory.

Democracy is always a "Work in progress", its never a complete idea because otherwise it would be an absolutist totalitarian ideology. It's the exception to all ideologies.

And adapting it to software is our biggest mission.


A Saudi (go figure) once wisely told me: "The greatest thing about American democracy isn't the vote - many democracies have that. The greatest thing about American democracy is the Bill of Rights, which states what the majority is not allowed to do the minority".


I think the Saudi only saw the end result and failed to appreciate the process that led to it. Many European countries have even better things, like social rights, and allowing prisoners to vote.

Democracy cannot change the culture in the country. It's just a tool for decision making in politics, better than fists. It can lead to culture change, though. Democracy causes people who didn't have power previously to be involved, and different moral view is dispersed in society.

If you would give Saudis the U.S. constitution, it would still take time before citizens would change the culture to consider women peers. The constitution itself doesn't guarantee the outcome either.


A great challenge we face is precisely this. Today DemocracyOS is strong at a local city-level. We don't believe we are ready for Federal level yet as we must understand how checks and balances work at this scale.


Ironically, the solution to tyranny of the majority is a strong executive.


> Ironically, the solution to tyranny of the majority is a strong executive.

That isn't sufficient in and of itself, to be ironic. If the strong executive lacks stringent limits on its power and domain of influence, then it is ironic. But, a strong executive is likely necessary in even a libertarian-styled government, to protect rights by enforcing "legitimate" laws (where "legitimate" is open to interpretation and opinion). But the distinction is that the strong executive in a libertarian-style government has a strictly limited domain over which it exercises power.

Strength and scope are different things, despite their frequent conflation in [American] politics.


So, this platform allows policy to be decided by a "technorati"[1] class?

Are there individuals with low-income, little to no internet access, don't know what a blockchain or open source is, have hectic work schedules with the addition of raising a family participating on your platform?

From what I can tell this platform is giving more power to those who already have some sense of power. This platform does not alleviate the problem of those in society who do not have any power or say in political processes. It may even be argued this platform may contribute to the problem.

[1] Those who have the privilege, time, and monetary means of internet access, acquiring/have knowledge of internet technologies, and being a participant.


The only people that believe that internet access is only for the rich, is rich people.

We come from Argentina, a latinamerican country and we are very aware of the social challenges we face.

But it's not just a technological solution, we ALSO created a Political party that does a lot of offline activism helping society understand the power they have using digital technology.

The Net Party ran for elections in 2013 and got 1.2% of the votes in Buenos Aires, it was an incredible first election for a small party and that led to DemocracyOS being implemented officially by the Congress.

Thanks to that, a lot of bills got attention. For example: Nureses now have better working conditions thanks to the action taken on DemocracyOS for the Congress of Buenos Aires.

Read more about it here: http://democracyos.org/about-us


Why employ the means of a party though? Isn't that the 19th century political form par excellence? In particular - why the one party?

I get that you're trying to reinvigorate the notion of the political party, but there is an argument to be made that a form of politics which reflects the internet itself would have no parties, and certainly not one party - no universal representation of particularities, since, as you write in the manifesto, the 'peers' are themselves singularities, and by definition singularities cannot be subsumed. (Kant 101.)


> The only people that believe that internet access is only for the rich, is rich people.

> The Net Party ran for elections in 2013 and got 1.2% of the votes in Buenos Aires

How do you justify that most of the votes came from wealthy neighborhoods of the city?

https://twitter.com/seppo0010/status/578031940651118593


we had votes in every single neighborhood of the city. Our correlation was better with progressive parties (ARI) than conservative (PRO) ones even. Actually in Congress, The Workers Party (PO) brought more users to DemocracyOS than ANY other party.


I tried to do the math myself about the correlation, but it seems like my statistics teachers would be disappointed[1]. What R^2 did you get compared to ARI and what with PRO?

At first sight, it does not seem significant.

My claim was about poor and rich people, and you used progressive and conservatives parties as a proxy indicator, which is not great. In USA, for example, California and New York are two of the richest states and they are progressive, while the poorest tend to be conservative.

In the "comunas" 4, 8 and 9 (Lugano, Mataderos, Soldati, Pompeya, Barracas) the party "UNION PRO" did better than "UNEN" (a.k.a.: "ARI"), and in the 12, 13, 14 (Urquiza, Belgrano, Palermo) their percentages were really close.

If anything, your statement is completely unrelated to my question.

> Actually in Congress, The Workers Party (PO) brought more users to DemocracyOS than ANY other party.

Correlation does not imply causality. One possible explanation is that both DemocracyOS and PO have a stronger impact on young people.

[1] https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1TqWBMk18bbr1TQV-Wq0a...


Yes. We do better in the younger generation. We are building for the future and thinking the long term.

and again: only rich people believe internet is for the rich. In every slum you'll find every single kid with a huge smartphone.

As you came to realize by the end of your rant: the gap is more generational than Socio-economical. That's why this makes sense in the long term.


Rant? Do you really consider I was ranting at any point?

I think I've exhibit thoughts, tried to look for mathematical proof, quoted people who are smarter than me, wonder about known problems when making decisions, and you consider that a rant?

You have no addressed a single concern I have shared. You don't have to, but your replies are infuriating because you are missing the point every time.

You are just repeating marketing phrases like "every single kid with a huge smartphone". Well, what does that prove? Does it prove that internet has as much penetration in lower income population than it does in high income one? I think not. And if you keep repeating that you are just insulting the young people who live in a slum and do not have smartphone, because you are blaming them for not having one.

> the gap is more generational than Socio-economical

That gap is not related to democracyOS but to technology. You will have a stronger impact on a young generation not because "you are thinking in long term" but because they'll understand it faster.

This comment was mostly a rant. And from now on I'll refuse to answer any comment you write until you want to provide something useful to talk about, or even back your statements.


It just proves that you have never been in a slum from Buenos Aires. And yes, denying a rant with a rant speaks for itself. :)


Te respondiste a vos solo, no a mí.

Sí he estado, no desde que se popularizaron los smartphones, y mientras hablas de experiencias personales no deja de ser estadísticamente insignificante.

Y no, me calenté con tu comentario, antes estaba argumentando, a diferencia de vos que no tuviste un solo arugmento.


Stats? 72% of the Homes of Buenos Aires have Internet access. Of those, 88% with broadband access.

source: INDEC. National stats often used by Google too in Argentina (they where leaked to me, but it's public you can look for them).

don't hide in Spanish.


> don't hide in Spanish.

lol; yes, I'm hiding when I'm saying (a) you are using threading wrong (b) my personal experience is statically insignificant (c) I'm trying to have a debate while you have not presented a single argument.

> Stats? 72% of the Homes of Buenos Aires have Internet access. Of those, 88% with broadband access.

> Oh, I forgot: 93% of < 30 year olds access social media at least once a week in Buenos Aires.

Is that Buenos Aires City, or Buenos Aires City and Surrounds, or Buenos Aires Province, or Buenos Aires City and Province?

72% is the average, how is it distribute? we are talking about income inequality here, not about internet access.

Even in the most optimistic case where it is evenly distributed, what are you trying to prove? My criticism was that Partido de la Red got a lot better results on wealthier areas, and I was wondering how do you justify.

Saying that poor people also have internet actually makes your case worse, it means they actively decided that your project does not represent them.

A better argument would have been that access is getting there but they don't have it yet.


I replied from a Mobile App. Stats are for Buenos Aires city, that's where we run. Im proving that you never been into a slum.

You've said "personal experience is statically insignificant"

I agree, that's why I replied 93% of under 30 year olds in Buenos Aires access social media at least once a week.

I mentioned my personal experience because it was obvious how many of these kids access the internet. You see that 93% stat everywhere if you actually cared and waled the streets of the city.

These attacks where the most common ones we had during the campaign. So let me give you an update: the largest organisation that implemented DemocracyOS is a political party from Kenya. Over there 25% of the GDP is already transacted through mobile devices.

I traveled a lot around the world, specially Latin America. And I did notice that civic adoption of technology is way stronger in developing nations that are struggling than in developed ones. Venezuela is an impressive case if you ever get to see what's going on ever there.

So no, I don't bullshit. I've been working on this for many years now.


> Im proving that you never been into a slum.

You proof is irrelevant, and incorrect. I lived the past two years in California. Were does stats also correct two years ago? Or your "never" actually means "recently"?

> These attacks where the most common ones we had during the campaign.

Attacks? Really? I see that Partido de la Red is following Frente para la Victoria speech where you are either 100% with them, or you are the enemy. Am I getting paid be the Clarin Group now as well? I made questions.

> if you actually cared and waled the streets of the city

Ugh, that is an attach, and I don't really like your tone. You are implying that you only care if you are physically there, which is incorrect on every possible level.

You are systematically ignoring the questions I have asked, posting cherry-picked facts that are at most mildly related to the conversation I was trying to have with you.

My original question was: "How do you justify that most of the votes came from wealthy neighborhoods of the city?"

Your answer was repeating that people, even poor people, use internet. Well, cool, that's awesome. Now what do you think about my question for a change?


Thanks for acknowledging my point. Busy day today! Bye


Oh, I forgot: 93% of < 30 year olds access social media at least once a week in Buenos Aires.


"Its candidates are committed to always vote in Congress according to what citizens vote online."

You've built a system that requires privilege. And you're giving power only to those who have that privilege.

You didn't address the fact there are those who do not have that privilege. Helping people understand the power of digital technology is meaningless if there are those who do not even have the digital technology.

Are you going to buy them the digital technology? Are you going to pay for their internet access? How are you going to provide equal privilege?

EDIT: Who is your demographic?


Are you going to buy them the digital technology? Are you going to pay for their internet access? How are you going to provide equal privilege?

It may come as a shock to you, but poor people have cellphones and internet, too.


And the ones who don't?


The current world population is 7 billion people.

Approximately 1 billion smartphones are sold every year.

Do the math.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population

[2] http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2665715


Because nobody buys more than one phone ever. Those two numbers have no impact on each other.


What do you think happens to all the old phones of the people who buy new phones?


look at the movie of what's happening in the world, not the picture.


The only source that can provide equal access without using market forces, is the State. For the State to have such political will, it must have a political party that embraces the view on why internet access means access to education and knowledge. And that's one of the core aspects of our political party.

Privilege? Think about a system that has 500 decision makers for a population of 300 million. That certainly requires TONS of more privilege than the idea we are proposing here where citizens can have a direct input NOT once every 2 years, but every week if they want to.

Take your time.


I'm not in disagreement with your ideas behind your political party, but I do not agree with the system you want to institute.


Can you explain why? I agree with their stystem but I think that any system that gives direct voting power has to solve issues like vote selling and engagement. I think both should be introduced in the system as explicit economic incentives.


What about the monitoring and modification of online communities by the GCHQ? This doesn't even look resistant to that.

Also, what about traditional ballot stuffing? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_100#Hacking anyone?

I could only trust this if there were attached a mathematical proof of its usability. Otherwise, I kind of doubt it's worth anyone's time.


We are working to validate democracyOS votes with the blockchain. Happy to listen to any other suggestions


Please check out: https://blogs.ncl.ac.uk/security/2014/08/30/every-vote-count...

This is a paper describing an end-to-end verifiable self-enforcing electronic voting system called DRE-i (Direct Recording Electronic with Integrity).

In my opinion this is a superior solution to any other electronic voting system developed to date.


Thank you!


I think this is great - it's an attempted solution to an important, difficult problem, and they've got a number of interesting angles. In particular I think the branching of proposals, and hopefully being able to diff / blame, could be as important, or more important, than trusted voting.

I look forward to seeing more of the implementation. Congrats on the launch, and thanks for working on a difficult problem that we all need to see solved.


Thank you! Totally agree with the branching aspect and yesterday we were playing with some ideas to order debate in pros&cons. Also, we are looking for funding to form a blockchain team, to validate democracyos votes in bc. All ideas are super welcome! pia@democracyos.org


As a Brazilian, I find this initiative to be extremely important.

However, I've recently seen 'democratic' videos urging for a military dictatorship. Millions of Facebook users shared the message and ~1M people protested last sunday, while trying to kick out our president.

So I wonder if, contradictorily, some might exploit DemocracyOS to install anti-democratic regimes.

Is there a way to ensure such thing won't happen?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HR9vqx9oTQ


It's crazy what's happening in Brazil these days, as a close neighbour(Argentinean) it pains me to see such upheaval. To your point, we could set up a protocol that the SaaS version of DemocracyOS can only be used inside the limits of a constitution, but we have no control over the Open Source version. It's like twitter it's a platform for expressing oneself and it's content moderation is v. limited. It's all our responsibility to make the best possible use of the tools we create.


Spot on. I still believe the beauty of the project is that it's open-sourced, so our community of developers would be able to make wiser choices for the country.

Infinitely better than corrupted politicians.


For sure! Being Open Source it's fundamental to the spirit and vision of DemocracyOS.


Check the implementation of DemocracyOS done here: http://euvoto.org


>However, I've recently seen 'democratic' videos urging for a military dictatorship.

How is that democratic, or even 'democratic'?


So, let's all ignore all the crimes she made. Great idea.


When this is successful, I don't understand how you will combat the capture of the platform form the traditional parties.

A traditional party can ask their supporters to vote for them in the elections, and then ask them to vote for the same laws in this platform. They don't ever need to discuss, or they can discuss and discuss and vote for the official party decision nevertheless. So the party gets double votes, unless the other parties also try to abuse the system. (If everybody abuse the system, the biggest party get double votes.)

In the comments sections of the newspapers is very usual to see very politized users and real or alleged accusations of astroturfing, shills, suckpupets, meatpupets, 50-cents-army, choriplaneros, ...


Super-valid concern. The truth is that very-politically-involved people aren't that big a percentage of the overall population (at least from the numbers I've seen - usually around 10%). So we're trying to find ways of making it easy for that other 90% to engage in civic participation. If we get to nail that, then even any 'arranged' participation would not account for a significant part of the votes for a given issue.

Also, from our experience with DemocracyOS, users actually participate in stuff they actually care about, and not equally on every sort of issue. So it's interesting to see how larger userbases would unfold with apps like DemocracyOS or similar.


Very questionable people behind it (close second hand). All hype and self promotion. Zero experience. Shunned often in most online forums in Argentina, save TedX. I really don't get how YC decided to back this project.


Hi guys, I'm one of the founders. Glad to answer all your questions.


Why did you choose to implement Yet Another Blockchain Solution?

Assuming 3-letter agencies haven't already broken it, they will sooner or later, and now all your users will be susceptible to having their votes manipulated at the whim of US intelligence.


Im still waiting for proof on this claims. Regardless, the blockchain is still a protocol lacking good applications and products. But its fundamentals described in Satoshis papers + the traction it got, speak for themselves. It's a technology with growth. Show me another one like it, and I'll be glad to study it.


What would an alternative be for you?


What do you mean by "it"?


You can always follow me on Twitter: @santisiri

And of course, @DemocracyOS


How self promotional of you.


it's not easy being an entrepreneur and building a network of likeminded people from around the world :)


It can't be that hard if that is most of your time. But maybe you are burning older contacts even faster than my limited sample.

YC: ask his previous investors and employees what they think, independently and in private.


please do, more than willing! i still hang out with a lot of the people that worked with me during 12 years, and all my investors are very happy (they actually keep supporting us as a nonprofit, can you believe it?). I'm really proud about this. It's the main force behind the fact that we are able to be here. And also, I have no idea of who you are.. so don't pretend you know stuff you really do not. Ahh.. haters. Gotta love'em.


Maybe I'm slow, but I've seen this a couple times now and went to the website, read the "about" section and I still don't understand what this is or what problem it's solving. I think OS in the name lead me to immediately assume it was another operating system. So considering I thought it was a new operating system, the more I read the more underwhelmed I am. Good luck on the project, but IMO you've not named it appropriately nor described how it uniquely solves any problem. Sorry if that sounds harsh, just giving honest feedback.


Guys, if you want to play with a secret version of DemocracyOS (the SaaS implementation), help us here: http://hub.democracyos.com


This is very inspiring stuff and very exciting that YC is backing it! A key thing that Pia said in her TED talk: technology is only a tool here, cultural change and reinvention is necessary. I haven't had a chance to play with DemocracyOS yet, but the focus does somewhat seem to be on "direct democracy" (as opposed to "representative"), and as others have pointed out, that's fraught with problems.

But I hope and believe this is just a first, experimental step. And I hope that next steps will be informed by the rich tradition of experimentation in "participatory, deliberative democracy". This includes things like citizen assemblies, citizen juries, participatory budgeting, wisdom councils, etc. What these approaches have in common is a blending of citizen participation with informed deliberation, often including a random sampling (of citizens).

As two superb examples of this, I would point to the Citizen's Assembly on Electoral Reform (British Columbia, Canada, 2004) and the Dialogue with the City (Perth, Australia, 2003). Some really useful books: Tao of Democracy (Tom Atlee), Deliberative Democracy Handbook (Gastil & Levine), Deliberative Democracy in America (Ethan Leib).


We met Tom Atlee lately, he is fantastic. His insights on how to move forward, the importance of diversity in the process, where super sharp. I would add to the list, When People Speak by Fishkin and check Marina Gorbis' book on The Nature of the Future, specially the chapter on the future of government. Her proposal of a new large, agora of randomly chosen citizens is super interesting and challenging.


Glad to hear you met Tom! He's our secret national treasure. It's awesome to hear that you are already plugged in to this area of thinking. Thanks for the Gorbis reference, sounds similar to Ethan Leib's proposal for a fourth branch of federal gov't.


I like the sentiment very much and I think the demo platform looks like a solid foundation. Not crazy, like others, about the "OS".

That said, I think that, as far as revolutionizing elections/politics in any important sense, something far more drastic than this will be required. Finding new ways to debate hot political questions of the day, as a function of what is coming out of the news (any news outlet), is missing the point.

There is a lack of disengagement with politics, and moreover, it is absolutely justified. The manner in which most of the discussions are conducted are nonsensical. There is an abject lack of nuance and thoughtfulness. Discussions are necessarily vague and always conducted with superlative certainty.

Here is a fact: there is not enough information on this page[1] to form a reasoned opinion about the Bank on Student Loan Fairness Act. There probably isn't enough information on 20 pages. Yet that is the script. Learn about a complex issue in 60 seconds, and then decide where you come down on it. It's patent nonsense.

If there is to be a revolution, it will need to deal with the reality that there is a facade between the machinations of governments and corporations and the people, and that facade is the news. The news is our window into vast, vast complexity and the basis for making choices that supposedly affect our local quality of life all the way up to the direction of history. So long as the important decisions are organized in this top-down hierarchy of power, a website isn't going to change much.

No, the most promising ideas about upending hierarchies try to actually redistribute the power from the top. Imagine a politician running for office in the context of some website like this, who, through some formal, public process, granted certain levels of access to online advocates, in the event of a win. For example, someone able to marshal something in the order of 10 votes would be promised one lunch in the first 2 years.

The details are less important than the inversion of power hierarchies that new technologies enable. Until that can be practically harnessed, approaching electoral matters along conventional axes is unlikely to get much traction.

[1]http://demo.democracyos.org/law/54766690be6cbe0c0023e08f


Very insightful, there's no doubt we have a lot of work to do.


This looks like Liquid Feedback[1] done right.

Liquid Feedback was a "liquid democracy" platform developed by the german pirate party. Both the software and the party are now largely dissolved; ironically killed by their over-zealous interpretation of democracy, which resulted in a lack of direction and rabid dilettantism.

[1] http://liquidfeedback.org


Yep, you got it. We actually started contacting them, but they were already doing private consulting + all the source code of LF is in german, impossible to understand. And the UX, well, it wasn't very usable.

But it was a great initiative that we researched 3 years ago when we began.


I've seen a few of these now over the years, and I've come to believe a successful implementation should combine argument mapping, consensus building, and a trust network. Just framing an issue and having a comments section isn't enough; that form is ubiquitous across the Internet yet hasn't proven a viable way on its own to actually make decisions.


I agree, we have a long roadmap ahead and all your points should be in it. If you wish to contribute, by all means github.com/democracyos. It's an open source project.


If people scrape together a few votes and do not get their wishes rammed through, they will complain exactly like they complained about the White House petition site - because it was not a direct way of getting in legislation to (say) legalize marijuana. I don't see how DemocracyOS can solve that problem.


The idea of "open source governance" is hardly new. I'd imagine such a system in the form of a web app would be swamped with irrelevant queries. Assuming an idealistic direct democracy where citizens draft new laws or modify existing ones, the feedback loop of constantly changing legal information to its application would be overwhelming. On the flip side, too much unaddressed issues and slow or wasteful processes would create apathy.

Personally I always thought the most attractive model for such an endeavor is to store laws in a markup format, and go through the old school route of mailing lists and patches. You'd be making use of highly tested infrastructure and actually require for participants to put a little effort in learning.


I agree, we did a lot of research on a decent markup formar for law making (LML!). There are some efforts out there like (search for Akomantoso)

But the real challenge is getting TRACTION on a technology like this. It's not just the protocol (which I think it should be based on the Blockchain).. but also the product that makes citizens engaged with political participation.


Well, this has the fun distinction of actually being functioning code in active use. I'm pretty happy to see some "open source governance" that isn't just talk. I'm only aware of one another project that has crossed that line.


I'm actually pitching a similar idea to a major corporation.

Here is a reading list if you are interested in the subject. There have been (at least) four conferences on the subject of online deliberation.

https://www.loomio.org/

http://wikis.evergreen.edu/civicintelligence/index.php/ELibe...

http://odbook.stanford.edu/static/filedocument/2009/11/15/Ch...

http://www.publicsphereproject.org/ncn/

http://online-deliberation.net/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_deliberation

http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/login.jsp?tp=&arnumber=134286...

http://www.virtualagora.org/

http://parliament.sourceforge.net/ftf-paper.pdf Parliament: A Module for Parliamentary Procedure Software

http://www.cs.uu.nl/groups/IS/archive/henry/RobertReport.pdf Prakken, Henry. 1998. Formalizing robert’s rules of order: An experiment in automating mediation of group decision making. Tech. Rep. REP-FIT-1998-12, GMD.


Huh. I was briefly exposed to CSCW in college, but somehow I never made the leap to its relevance to modern democratic procedure. Very neat. Thank you for the list.


I love that it's not about goverments but governance. Open Source projects can use this. Apartment buildings.

Obviously getting modern tools to shitty politicians is always going to be the focus with things like DemocracyOS, but I'm really excited to see this for deciding stuff on the small communities I'm a part of.

The one weird thing is that they're non-profit, open source. I hope they survive on that model. Is it only donations?


We believe that you cannot put a price tag on the right to participate. So the nonprofit is a fundamental first step in our mission.

We want to figure a self-sustainable model, donations can only get you that far. The task ahead of us is a big one: we want to build governance for the internet society.


Hi! We are trying to get enough philanthropic seed funding to find a sustainable model. Maybe OS SAS, or github's: free as long as it's open. For the moment it's all grants.


Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people. -- Oscar Wilde


At first glance I find it very similar to the idea of Liquid Democracy of the Pirate Parties. Is there any significant difference? Days ago at HN, I heard that such systems failed greatly due to endless quarrels and external mistrust.


How will this assist with those not readily capable of engaging with technology? Or perhaps I'm not fully understanding all of it.


There's some information, you need to know. In Argentina, people has no representation. You don't vote for a "district representative" as in the USA. Here people vote on a "party-list" called here "lista sabana" (http://babeldigital.com.ar/data/img_cont/img_imagenes/img_gr...)

The "lista sabana" is a large list of party-candidates (in 6pt font) headed by the "leader" or "caudillo" name (in 62pt font).

If the "caudillo" has a 40% approval rate, the first 40% of people on the 6pt-font list WILL enter the congress, so the firsts spots on the lists are literally SOLD beforehand, based on the "leader" popularity index. The spots can also be exchanged for "popular support" with labor union leaders (to herd people into political rallies).

So, here the "congressman" have no direct relation to the voters, they've only a direct dependency on the "leader". They do as they're told or else they will not be included in the list on the next elections.

There is no such thing as "constituents" in this system.

That's a reason why DemocracyOS and the "Net Party" are viable here. When representation is completely broken, direct-democracy sounds good.

Here's a quote from a document on Paraguayan system (the same system):

"But what if the elected representatives of the legislature were not voted in directly by the people? Would that discredit the authority of the legislative branch? The actual voting method in Paraguayan politics for a legislator to enter government is to lobby for their name to enter a “lista sabana,” a list of names on a sheet that represents the party candidates. The people then vote for that party list, rather than for the individual. Party leaders can then decide which positions to give to the party faithful. In this way the political class can make deals, play at back room politics to add their name to the list, exchange favors with voters and backers, and conduct business behind closed doors. The Congress can then vote to apportion more funds from the Treasury to fund their election campaigns, increase their salaries and benefits, and buy their votes with political largesse. The system reinforces the worst excesses of political cronyism, including links to crony capitalism. Ultimately it erodes the social trust between the governed and the governors and creates inefficiencies in a country’s economics. Attempts have been made to remove, or “unblock,” the “lista sabana” by allowing voters to choose individual candidates to the legislature, but so far these attempts have failed."


I wish people in Pakistan used this. it would really help that country.


try starting a democracy here: http://hub.democracyos.com


"We support real browsers and IE10+" -- https://github.com/democracyos/app#browser-support

I chuckled.


Love the direction this is going. Dreamt about such a system in the past as well. Looking forward to a mobile first experience which enables me to weigh-in on (local) issues in real-time.


hi! some pilot live implementations with council-members in the US: marfarrell.democracyos.org (SF) benkallos.democracyos.org (NYC). Would love to know your thoughts. pia@democracyos.org


typo :)

it's markfarrell.democracyos.org


Bitcoin is the real democracy of the internet era.


The technical quality of the project has been so far debatable[1][2].

The Partido de la Red results seem to reveal a problem that is obvious at first sight: the underrepresentation of those who need representation the most[3].

I have doubts about whether direct democracy is a good idea, at all[4]. Summarizing, dividing the burden of decision making is inefficient for the population at large, and it does not guarantee better results.

People behind this project admit that this does not fully solve the problem it is attempting to solve[5].

Even if I could ignore the previous statement (which of course I can't), I wonder if the advantages of moving from an indirect democracy to a direct democracy are enough to even try to solve the problems. I think the cost of switching is high, and I cannot see any benefit.

In USA the main problem with democracy is the lack of interest of population in government elections. Does micromanaging decisions make this problem better or worse? The question is valid. It could be better if the feeling is that no matter who wins nobody will represent the voter; it could be worse if people do not care about the decisions that have to be make. There are other possible options, of course, but I don't really know if this solves problems or makes it worse.

I wonder how selection bias would affect decision making. People will mostly vote on subjects they feel passionate about, and ignore the others. Which will probably lead to what programmers know as bikeshedding[6].

Now I would like to highlight the positive of thinking about this problems and attempting a solution. Also following up Congress's debates and actions is something that should happen more often, for example Congressional Dish[7] attempts to do so.

[1] (Spanish) https://medium.com/@alejandrocrosa/votarias-a-un-partido-que...

[2] https://twitter.com/dhh/status/576422593244299264

[3] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9245536

[4] (Spanish) https://catdevmind.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/democracia-direc...

[5] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9244628

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parkinson%27s_Law_of_Trivialit...

[7] http://www.congressionaldish.com/


It's not "direct democracy". It's just democracy. If you trace back the term used by the Greeks, they called both the technology and the concept agora. Etymologically, agora means "speaking in public", "thinking with others" and in many verses it's used as antonym of war.

Democracy is always a work in progress. Otherwise it would be a totalitarian concept.

So what we are trying to understand is simply democracy but for the digital age. Using computers and networks, and the power of software. Open source, collaborative free software.


> It's not "direct democracy". It's just democracy.

Uh? I think we are in a Representative Democracy[1] and what DemocracyOS proposes is a Direct Democracy[2]. It is not "just democracy" since both Representative and Direct democracies are forms of democracy.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representative_democracy

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_democracy


You're to tied to theory, I'm talking from an abstraction: democracy as a force in society unleashed when no single ideology dominates a culture.


Votes? Really?


More than willing to figure out the ways of doing consensus. Yet any enforcement on the need to consent some perceive it as a dangerous dictatorial pattern.


FYI OS means Operating System not Voting System.


means both things :)


how so? o.O


this trend toward naming your pseudo-company "somethingOS" is getting really annoying.


"pseudo-company" only if that means be a YC Backed non-profit organization.


that's true-- for these guys it actually makes sense though based on what they're doing IMO


Maybe I'm just missing it, but why? I associate OS only with operating systems, and these guys don't seem to be making an OS.


Open Source / Open Society / work too.




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