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The Relationship Between FOSS and Democracy

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the i-vote-for-better dept.

Government 239

An anonymous reader writes "Free software is about freedom. So it shouldn't be any surprise that the ideals behind the free software movement have spread to the place where freedom is most affected: government. The old definition of e-democracy is, basically, 'using computers in politics and governance.' So a politician sending out a batch e-mail is e-democracy. The new movement is about removing the power from politicians and making governance collaborative. The analogy to FOSS is remarkable: think of the current governments as the old guard computing companies, and the collaborative governance movement as the geeks with crazy notions of a different way of organizing things. FOSS looked like an impossible pipe-dream when it started. Tell that to the Apache group today."

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239 comments

E-democracy? (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143540)

Why invent words that have a perfect substitute?

Re:E-democracy? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35143552)

Right. The appropriate term is "cyberdemocracy".

Re:E-democracy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35143614)

Right. The appropriate term is "cyberdemocracy".

wherein none of us are as dumb as all of us

Re:E-democracy? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35143852)

Attention: Slashdot. This is not a troll. This is not goatse. This is not a rickroll. This is the beat. This is the new world order. This is shane12lee: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPk4woPWtFA [youtube.com] The liberals will mod me as offtopic! Don't let them win!

Re:E-democracy? (3, Funny)

Tr3vin (1220548) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143646)

Right. The appropriate term is "cyberdemocracy".

It all started with Washington yelling "First!" at the start of his presidency.

The "metagovernment" troll gets a story? (2)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143876)

What's next, front page coverage of Michael "Your mom's face" Kristlepeet?

Re:The "metagovernment" troll gets a story? (3, Insightful)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35144004)

Democracy:

Power of the Majority (i.e. white or German) to squash and exterminate the minority (i.e. black, Japanese, or jew). Is anyone thinks this "remove power from laws" is a good idea, then they truly don't understand what they are endorsing. Tyranny of the majority destroys human rights; it does not protect them.

See Athens. See what happened to Socrates (sentenced to death simply because the majority did not like him).

Re:The "metagovernment" troll gets a story? (1)

TheDarkMinstrel (1671156) | more than 3 years ago | (#35144128)

Democracy:

Power of the Majority (i.e. white or German) to squash and exterminate the minority (i.e. black, Japanese, or jew). Is anyone thinks this "remove power from laws" is a good idea, then they truly don't understand what they are endorsing. Tyranny of the majority destroys human rights; it does not protect them.

See Athens. See what happened to Socrates (sentenced to death simply because the majority did not like him).

I wish I could remember who said "Democracy is not two wolves and a sheep deciding what is for dinner". I am sure somebody out there can cite the correct source.

Re:The "metagovernment" troll gets a story? (3, Insightful)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35144158)

The alternative, our status quo, is to surrender all power to the corporate and political aristocracies. If there's sufficient money to keep the powerful in place, then those wielding those funds form the laws out of whole cloth.

In what way is this better?

recursive troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35144088)

Nice to talk about a troll in a reply to the first post, just to troll your response up to the top.

Re:recursive troll (1)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#35144218)

Trolling is a form of communication designed primarily to elicit an angry response. Trolls do not believe in what they say, they only say it to piss you off. I don't care if I piss you off, I really think the metagovernment guy is a troll, he puts links to his site into almost every discussion.

Who's going to clean toilets and guard prisoners? (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143542)

Are we going to use Twitter and Facebook to arrange a schedule when we're going to all take turns guarding the prisoners, patching the roads, cleaning the sewers, and all that stuff that government does through that old-fashioned bureaucracy? I mean, we're "making governance collaborative," overthrowing the old-guy system of doing things, right? So from now on, we'll just send out a tweet when someone robs a bank, and handle the police work on it *collaboratively*.

Surely everyone is willing to do some actual *WORK*, right, instead of just lazily shooting your digital mouth off on a blackberry or iPad keyboard? Surely we all realize that *REAL* governance takes actual time and effort, no?

Wait, what is that? ...is that crickets I hear?

Re:Who's going to clean toilets and guard prisoner (0)

AnonGCB (1398517) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143558)

You completely missed the point.

Re:Who's going to clean toilets and guard prisoner (2, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143606)

The "point" to me sounded like a bunch of bullshit cyberspeak about how the internet is going to turn government into a big drum circle where we all join hands and sing songs of peace and love.

It's the same shit we've been hearing since the mid-90's. And yet government today still seems the same bunch of douchebags, doing the same evil shit that it was before--only now politicians send out tweets instead of flyers.

Re:Who's going to clean toilets and guard prisoner (4, Funny)

killmenow (184444) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143686)

No, the point is FOSS will help us become an anarcho-syndicalist commune. We'll take it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week But all the decision of that officer have to be ratified at a special biweekly meeting. By a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs, but by a two-thirds majority in the case of more...

Re:Who's going to clean toilets and guard prisoner (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143976)

No, the point is FOSS will help us become an anarcho-syndicalist commune. We'll take it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week But all the decision of that officer have to be ratified at a special biweekly meeting. By a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs, but by a two-thirds majority in the case of more...

eerily similar to how Debian has done it for decades, with some minor differences.

Re:Who's going to clean toilets and guard prisoner (1)

jeremyp (130771) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143994)

Well you can't expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you.

Re:Who's going to clean toilets and guard prisoner (2)

AnonGCB (1398517) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143718)

I'm not particularly an advocate of what the article is suggesting, but essentially it's direct democracy rather than representative. You clearly didn't read the article too thoroughly.

Re:Who's going to clean toilets and guard prisoner (1)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35144090)

>>>it's direct democracy rather than representative

Which means all it will take is a simply 51% vote for the Conservative Christians (who are the majority) to exterminate those nasty Muslims, and playboy subscribers, and anyone else they hate..... just like they did during the Catholic Inquisitions and witch-burnings of the 1400s-1600s.

Yeah. Great idea. (frowns). BTW if I sound a little bitter, it's because I just finished reading an article about a Tea Party-affiliated "Minuteman" that busted into a Hispanic home and shot an 8-yr-old girl just because she was brown.

With nutjobs like this in an existence, I do NOT want a democracy where they can simply vote to kill/jail people whenever they want. I want a Supreme LAW that will protect my and my neighbors' rights from the typical vote-casting idiot.

Re:Who's going to clean toilets and guard prisoner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35144324)

Happen to have a link on that "story"... Using the criteria you posted, I'm unable to locate it.

Re:Who's going to clean toilets and guard prisoner (1)

bonch (38532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35144314)

Just like how not everyone is a programmer, not everyone wants to write legislation. There will always be some form of representative government. The article is a bunch of naive buzzwords with nothing substantive actually describing the specifics of this hypothetical form of government.

Re:Who's going to clean toilets and guard prisoner (2)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143738)

The "point" to me sounded like a bunch of bullshit cyberspeak about how the internet is going to turn government into a big drum circle where we all join hands and sing songs of peace and love.

I don't think you're reading it right. Consensus governance is a valid technique and has nothing to do with hippie love fests (except that yes, it is more peaceful than authoritarian rule by threat of violence). Try reading the linked article again.

It's the same shit we've been hearing since the mid-90's. And yet government today still seems the same bunch of douchebags, doing the same evil shit that it was before--only now politicians send out tweets instead of flyers.

That is exactly what the Slashdot story says: e-democracy is about politicians sending tweets (etc.). Collaborative governance is a new formation that is in its infancy. Give it a few years.

Re:Who's going to clean toilets and guard prisoner (0)

Samalie (1016193) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143944)

I'm sorry, but as royally fucked up as the system is today...I can't imagine the rule of law being passed directly to The People.

Seriously...think about how fucking retarded the average person is. Now give them a direct vote and say in EVERYTHING.

Imagine if you will the army of Glen Beck/Sarah Palin worshippers being whipped into a fucking frenzy when the next gay marriage/stem cell research/whatever comes up & they're the only fuckers that show up. Or imagine a frenzy of Libertarian Freetards coming online en-masse when NASA's budget comes up for a vote. Imagine a bunch of hippie leftists coming out huge and giving all the illegals in Arizona free citizenship. No matter the issue...the people that froth at the mouth about it are always the only ones that show up.

Sorry...but Democracy is the worst form of government on the planet, except for all the other forms of government. In some ways...it is barely tolerable that these un-informed politically-polarized morons get to vote once every four years...imagine an America where the issues are decided by the biggest fucking nutjobs. Fuck that shit.

We do need to fix the system...but direct democracy is a fast path to fucking us all harder than the corrupt politicians do today.

Re:Who's going to clean toilets and guard prisoner (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35144056)

The web links point to some vanity site run by a bunch of idealists who appear not yet disillusioned by the inevitable flood of douchbaggery that flocks to any government enterprise, or the arrival of difficult people who quibble endlessly over spelling.

If they think vested interests have too much of a hold on government now, just wait till the system they envision were in place. By definition, it would consist of NOTHING BUT vested interest groups.

At best those issues we vote on, and the issues our representatives vote on might be decided by direct participation via electronic means.

Much beyond that is pretty much not possible, as the GP points out, no one is likely to show up for road patching duty just because a tweet went out, and fewer still pick up the garbage, and nobody would want to cross the Mississippi on a bridge designed and built by the Birkenstock anti-motor vehicle crowd .

Executive branch duties would still need to be done by professionals with proper training and authority.

Who would want to submit to mob rule when it comes to Trial? The Judiciary stays too.

So the best you can accomplish is collaborative electronic construction of legislation and e-voting.

I can't imagine collaborative legislation construction on a scale the size of a Switzerland, let along the US. We would have to elect collaborators just to keep the wiki from being a reversion war. What's the point of that, we have elected collaborators now. How would that change anything?

So we are down to e-voting. About the only thing that could work.

It might work on more issues than we currently use voting for, such as passing ordinances, allocating tax dollars among discretionary projects (parks vs street lights vs snow removal), and deciding what should be the state bird and flower. But anything close to giving Joe Sixpack the keys to the treasury will result in the tragedy of the commons all over again.

You simply can't fork Government.
Wrapping something up in a layer of grandiosity does not add any degree of practicality.

Re:Who's going to clean toilets and guard prisoner (2)

starfishsystems (834319) | more than 3 years ago | (#35144058)

So, you're saying this about the IETF as well? Because that's the model of governance being talked about here.

Re:Who's going to clean toilets and guard prisoner (4, Interesting)

grcumb (781340) | more than 3 years ago | (#35144062)

The "point" to me sounded like a bunch of bullshit cyberspeak about how the internet is going to turn government into a big drum circle where we all join hands and sing songs of peace and love.

I'll be the first to admit that a lot of Progressive activism does suffer from its (often impractical) idealism. That said, the assertion that the Internet, with its FOSS-style approach to standards and its preference for unmediated communication, really is a democratising force.

The problem is, the powers-that-be are becoming aware of this fact, and they don't like it. I may be getting cynical in my old age, but recently all I've been seeing is how susceptible to coercion modern networks are. I've written a series of newspaper columns [imagicity.com] and blog posts on the topic. Here's the basic take-away:

We can take two closely related lessons from this:

  • Centrally controlled communications resources are, in times of social crisis, extremely vulnerable to compromise; and
  • Information networks that rely on the ‘End to End Principle’ – that is, networks that join two end points without particularly caring how those two points connect – are still subject to compromise, but the damage can be mitigated either by routing around trouble spots or by connecting to different end points.

In short, the core design principle of the Internet, the concept of the ‘end to end’ network, is inherently democratic, empowering the individual at the expense of central control.

Will the revolution be twittered? If Egypt is any example, it's increasingly likely that it won't. That said, Internet protocols and FOSS philosophy still hold some important ground. They can be used to organise groups and share experience/intelligence. Not all hope is lost.

Re:Who's going to clean toilets and guard prisoner (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 3 years ago | (#35144232)

The "point" to me sounded like a bunch of bullshit cyberspeak about how the internet is going to turn government into a big drum circle where we all join hands and sing songs of peace and love.

Believe it or not, without the internet and blackberries, the protests in Tunusia and Egypt would not have gained the traction it did.

Now it seems that you are referring to the situation in the USA, but that is a bit more complicated than going into the streets and throwing rocks as most people are invested into the system and have no need to go into the streets to throw rocks.

Re:Who's going to clean toilets and guard prisoner (2)

TheDarkMinstrel (1671156) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143620)

...not to mention the requirement of some semblance of intelligence on the part of those governing (the masses in this case), otherwise we end up with either some sort of oligarchy (like FOSS) or a complete welfare state... er... oh crap.

Re:Who's going to clean toilets and guard prisoner (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35143708)

Um, "the government" doesn't do any of those things. "The government" hires people to do those things.

Plus, this is about making decision. Your state senators aren't taking turns guarding prisons, Obama isn't doing any of that, so why would getting more involved in the executive and legislative processes mean we would be?

Re:Who's going to clean toilets and guard prisoner (1)

digitalhermit (113459) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143720)

Surely everyone is willing to do some actual *WORK*, right, instead of just lazily shooting your digital mouth off on a blackberry or iPad keyboard?

Right.. because we don't want it to be easy to participate in democracy...

It's precisely those folks sitting at home shooting off their mouths that makes democracy work. The ability for *anyone* to participate in the process is what makes the system great. Sure, there will be crackpots. There will be trolls. There will be people exploiting the system. But what I liked about the Internet (of old) was that everyone could be on common ground.

The other piece is free and open information. Rather than hiding laws in the locked filing cabinet in the basement, putting the information on the web means that everyone can peek at it. Anyone can dissect it. Some legislation may never be seen, but the mere fact that it *can* be seen is half the battle.

Re:Who's going to clean toilets and guard prisoner (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35144038)

It's precisely those folks sitting at home shooting off their mouths that makes democracy work. The ability for *anyone* to participate in the process is what makes the system great.

No.

The ability for anyone to participate is what makes it fail. It leads to results based on sound-bites and emotions instead of reality and serious consideration of the issues.

The perfect example of this is the Oregon initiative process. Anybody can get an initiative on the ballot to do almost anything (legal and constitutional, and sometimes that's not a limit either). Just get enough people to sign a petition, it gets on the ballot.

Then the people who can make the most warm-fuzzy happy feelings about their idea, or scare the people into opposing the other side, win.

Drugs are bad, n'kay? Let's mandate prison sentences and take the discretion away from judges, n'kay? Let's raise taxes on stuff that isn't used by the majority of people -- it won't cost YOU anything! Oh, THAT idea came from awful people from New York, so ignore any consideration of the merits of the idea, vote NO!

Expand that to the federal level. It was most remarkable to read a series of letters to the editor of a local activist paper commenting on how great it was for students to get involved in the last presidential election. Then some of them wrote in saying they felt great about doing it, even though they didn't have the time to learn anything about the candidates.

No, getting to the right answer is seldom the same as getting to the warm-fuzzy feel-good-all-over result that getting everyone, even those who don't really care about something, to vote comes up with.

DeToqueville predicted it; e-democracy will fulfill it. Any democracy can exist only until the people realize they can vote taxes onto everyone else. Big bad rich people, for one.

Re:Who's going to clean toilets and guard prisoner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35143794)

He is talking about "government", you are talking about the "public sector".

Re:Who's going to clean toilets and guard prisoner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35143838)

And me without my mod points today to mod you down into oblivion. You've completely missed the point. This is about getting involved the legislative side. When's the last time you saw your favorite politician working a garbage truck?

Re:Who's going to clean toilets and guard prisoner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35144100)

When you say *WORK* you mean work that is worth paying for. No-one is against that.

We're going to have a public scrutiny of all decisions, we're going to stream the videos of the parliament meetings, we're going
to have instant polls of what people thinks, we're going to have a government for the people.

If your idea of *WORK* is to get tax-paid travel allowance, rent allowance, expenses, secretariat, and round it up with lobby money, then
you're either a member of parliament abusing the system, or a fool.

Re:Who's going to clean toilets and guard prisoner (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 3 years ago | (#35144248)

The parent post's analogy between FOSS and government is especially apt if one substitutes "clean toilets" with "write documentation" and "guarding the prisoners" with "usability testing".

Re:Who's going to clean toilets and guard prisoner (0)

bonch (38532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35144288)

Submissions like this are an embarrassment. They make Slashdot feel so outdated, as if it's stuck in a 1999 time warp.

There are still neo-hippies out there who think "FOSS" is going to change everything and turn the world into a gigantic, collaborative effort. Today, FOSS is mostly used by capitalists like Google (an advertising company) to support some closed-source, proprietary business (Google's search and advertising engine). In the past, they would have had to write that software themselves. Now, they just use what other people wrote for free to keep the old system turning.

The linked wiki article is a haven of fuzzy, feel-good phrases like "Creates lasting solutions," "Transforms citizenship, " and the all-important "Openness" buzzword which don't actually describe how this theoretical government is supposed to function in practical terms. It feels a lot like slacktivism--that trend which permeates Facebook where users post links to causes on their wall to make themselves feel like they're activists while not actually accomplishing anything. Apparently, this "Metagovernment,"as they call themselves, assumes people will use Twitter to announce house fires and hope someone else shows up to put them out.

The multiple comparisons to FOSS programmers and code are goofy and naive, and there are baseless statements like, "FOSS tends to improve and evolve extremely rapidly, contrasting with privative or closed source software, which usually do not." There are countless examples of FOSS projects that stagnate, refuse to evolve, die off due to lack of commitment, and so forth.

The most damning counterargument is that, historically, decisions made by committee are notoriously slow and inflexible. Representative leaders are needed not only to handle the daily responsibilities of governance that a regular citizen couldn't handle due to having a real life to deal with, but also to enforce singular agendas. This article makes the same silly assumption that many FOSS fans do--that everyone is a programmer and wants to modify code.

doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35143572)

it doesn't matter, politicians will always *^%$ the little guy.

Spam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35143580)

Is this the same thing a guy has been spamming in his .sig in the last months (years, maybe)?

If FOSS is about freedom (-1, Troll)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143596)

If FOSS is about freedom why do they use the GPL?

Re:If FOSS is about freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35143680)

FOSS is about the freedom of the code, not you. Because information wants to be free!

Re:If FOSS is about freedom (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143816)

Because information wants to be free!

Is anyone else tired of the way that gets mindlessly repeated, but almost no one ever quotes it in context? The full quote is "On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other".

Re:If FOSS is about freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35143996)

Is anyone else tired of the way that gets mindlessly repeated, but almost no one ever quotes it in context?

Nope, but I'm starting to get tired of the mindless "I'm so smart! No one else knows that this quote came from a larger work! It can't possibly stand on its own!" response.

Re:If FOSS is about freedom (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143722)

Obvious flamebait, but I'll bite.

"They" don't use the GPL, some use the GPL in order to try to guarantee freedom for the end users.

The GPL only affects developers of software, not end users. If you don't like the GPL. then don't use it and write the stuff yourself.

Re:If FOSS is about freedom (2)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143772)

If FOSS is about freedom why do they use the GPL?

Dictatorships often call themselves "Democratic Republic of". In the same way, advocates of the GPL like to talk about "Freedom" and the "Free Open Source Movement" when there is a perfectly good Open Source Software movement that is independent of a specific license or philosophy.

The FOSS movement is not about freedom but rather a specific philosophy or agenda pushed by the GNU foundation.

Re:If FOSS is about freedom (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143798)

Because the GPL means you have to share the freedoms you receive with others.

BSD-style licenses allow you to take those freedoms away, and others to take the gift you grant them and keep it to themselves. If that's your bag, fine, no-one forced you to give your sources away to anyone who would profit from them, just as no-one forces you to choose GPL code to save time on your implementation and reciprocate in exchange.

Re:If FOSS is about freedom (2)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143806)

If FOSS is about freedom why do they use the GPL?

Because it gives you the freedom to do just about anything you want, except take away the same level of freedom from others. This way total freedom is maximized.

I am frankly surprised someone has heard of the GPL and doesn't know this. If you did know this and just don't like it because you feel that you would gain something from placing restrictions on what others may do with your code that the GPL wouldn't allow, well, you have the freedom to release your code under a different license.

Re:If FOSS is about freedom (1)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 3 years ago | (#35144118)

And... The reasons people may choose one of the GPL licenses are explained in the actual text of the licenses which are conveniently available for anyone to read and evaluate here [gnu.org] and here [gnu.org].

The question "If FOSS is about freedom why do the use the GPL" seems to imply "but why don't they do what *I* want, instead?", to which the answer is, "you don't get to choose because you didn't do the work."

Government is not about freedom (4, Insightful)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143668)

You cannot fork government, you are not free to change to your liking; You cannot use a different government than your neighbor does, you are not free to pick.

The form of democracy used in most countries is everything but freedom. Sure, you are free to vote on some guy that might share opinions/thoughts/ideals, based on the propaganda they put out. But after that, the person you voted on has free play till the next elections. At that point, you handed over part of your freedom.

Re:Government is not about freedom (3, Insightful)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143778)

Sure you can. Some of the southern states tried to fork the USA a while back. Main project said balls to that, and burned a lot of the "rebel" developers' houses and brought them back in line.

Re:Government is not about freedom (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143874)

Yes, tried to fork, but where not free to fork, which is obvious by the civil war that resulted from the attempt.
In FOSS everybody is free to fork without repercussions from the trunk (given a set of rules like not claiming ownership or changing the set of rules).

Re:Government is not about freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35144042)

Yes, tried to fork, but where not free to fork

Hey stupid, "were" and "where" are two different words. Functional illiteracy just makes you look like an idiot.

You're a mindless fuck for committing an error that no one ever committed until a year ago when it became trendy. Soon you'll all stop making that error and you'll all march in lock-step towards making the next trendy dumbass mistake, like the homogeneous block of sheeple you truly are.

Re:Government is not about freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35143820)

You cannot fork government, you are not free to change to your liking; You cannot use a different government than your neighbor does, you are not free to pick.

Why not?

Re:Government is not about freedom (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143824)

I am free to fork laws, I just can't get the changes merged upstream without going through an approval process, just like any other project.

Re:Government is not about freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35144196)

Tell that to the police when they arrest you for breaking a law legal to yourself but not to them.

Re:Government is not about freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35143924)

The form of democracy used in most countries is everything but freedom.

Says the guy who has *clearly* never lived under a truly repressive regime...

Go tell the Iranians or the Egyptians just so gosh darn unfree your system is, and see what they have to say.

Re:Government is not about freedom (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35144060)

The form of democracy used in most countries is everything but freedom.

Says the guy who has *clearly* never lived under a truly repressive regime...

Go tell the Iranians or the Egyptians just so gosh darn unfree your system is, and see what they have to say.

You're confusing material success with the concept of freedom.

Also you're confusing cultural norms... We are just as repressive against our dissidents as they are, its just that the venn diagram of our dissidents and theirs has approximately zero overlap. Our dissidents are those whom opted out of our legal system and pharmaceutical market and set up their own. Try being an atheist in SLC or pretty much anywhere in the south. Or for that matter its still no picnic being black, at least in "those" states. Try being an arab or god forbid an arab muslim in the USA.

True democracy == mob rule (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35144204)

Posting anon here because of the ridiculous herd-think that is rampant on Slashdot. Blind leading the blind and all that nonsense is very tiring when they stampede on your opinion through moderation abuse and intolerance. Shame on you!

What most doesn't consider when talking about democracy, is that we don't have true democracy by design. Ie., we absolutely don't want every issue voted on by every citizen, or gathering a jury from the people on every case.

There are many reasons we have representative democracy. That means, we vote in representatives of the people who stay in power for a considerable time (at least 4 years), and can monitor the changes, fix things when it breaks and be responsible. But the most important part is that the representative are mandated to make policies for everyone, which often means pampering for minorities especially, because minorities are often forgotten. Minorities, minorities, minorities. In the places this is abused or forgotten, you'll often have revolutions or dividing of countries!

In true democracy, the "tyranny of the majority" will simply create a mob rule, where the minorities are guaranteed to always lose out. The mob is a poor policymaker, blames everyone else but itself and has a poor memory.

I'm not saying it can't be done, but you'll need a very good moderation system in place in order for it to work, which caters to all groups, especially minority groups. If it doesn't work on /., then I'm afraid it can't for sure work in politics!

The new Slashdot broke something else. (3, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143674)

I know I had Politics turned off on my front page.
Did that get broken as well as the checking comments?

Talk about taking yourself too seriously (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35143694)

So a politician sending out a batch e-mail is e-democracy. The new movement is about removing the power from politicians and making governance collaborative. The analogy to FOSS is remarkable:

Wow, what a WTF moment when I read that. Politicians who spam help make government collaborative and that's analogous to FOSS.

What
The
Fuck
????

And I don't mean "Win The Future". What kind of "brilliant" politician uses WTF to describe anything?

Re:Talk about taking yourself too seriously (1)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143800)

No, politicians who spam meet the definition of "e-democracy.".

Alternatively, collaborative governance is something different... not about politicians at all.

And in other ways... (4, Insightful)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143696)

And in other ways, FOSS and democracy are opposites. The biggest aspect that pops into mind is force: nobody is forced to use FOSS against their wishes. FOSS is almost always compatible with proprietary implementations (that is, a proprietary implementation can re-implement whatever FOSS does). With democracy, there is always the tyranny of the majority: if 50% + 1 want something, everyone must go along by force. That strikes me much more like proprietary software than FOSS, where a single implementation is the only implementation (such as needing perfect MS Office compatibility).

FOSS is much more like liberty or anarchy than democracy. No one forces you to use FOSS, but you are free to do so.

Democracy is not equivalent to Majority Rule (1)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143830)

From the linked article [metagovernment.org]:

Collaborative governance is not directly comparable to traditional direct democracy, which is usually a majority rule system used on only a few major issues. By comparison, collaborative governance is a consensus system intended to be used on all issues affecting a community, with the implicit understanding that anyone not participating on a particular issue consents to allow others to decide the issue.

Re:Democracy is not equivalent to Majority Rule (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35144250)

By comparison, collaborative governance is a consensus system intended to be used on all issues affecting a community, with the implicit understanding that anyone not participating on a particular issue consents to allow others to decide the issue.

So three of my neighbours get together at two o'clock one morning and decide to steal my stuff and rape my dog, and it's all legal because I didn't participate in deciding the issue.

Re:Democracy is not equivalent to Majority Rule (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 3 years ago | (#35144286)

What? The author of that paragraph is a loony if they think renaming "direct democracy" to "collaborative governance" is anything other than a rename.

Direct democracy is *exactly* what this metagovernment thing is. Consensus will never be attained; instead we will have majority rule among those choosing to participate on a singular item. To believe consensus is achievable among groups with directly opposed interests is nonsense idealism.

The metagovernment concept literally is direct democracy, except its scope is so broad that *only* vested interests will bother to weigh in on most topics.

My personal opinion: it's a stupid idea, and anyone working on it is wasting their time because (1) direct democracy is a stupid way to run a society and (2) the entrenched powers that be will NEVER allow it to come to fruition.

Re:And in other ways... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35143880)

Actually, democracy is tyranny of the "vocality" not majority - 50%+1 of the vocal group needs to want something. This is why elections are won with 30% of the vote, not 50%.

Re:And in other ways... (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35144052)

if 50% + 1 want something, everyone must go along by force.

Or ... get this, they can come up with 2 alternate solutions that is more appropriate to a larger number of people!

There is rarely something politicians deal with that doesn't have multiple ways of solving the problem allowing you to chose something that doesn't split people 50/50. Your viewpoint is far too simplistic to be useful for discussion.

Re:And in other ways... (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35144102)

With democracy, there is always the tyranny of the majority: if 50% + 1 want something, everyone must go along by force.

Absolutely no need to make that arbitrary cutoff 50%. Plenty of things in "the system" right now require 2/3 majority, or even consensus such as certain criminal jury trials.

For a quick education, look at the relationship between the legislative branch and the executive branch as regards vetos. Or the strange relationship inside and outside the supreme court w/ regards to constitutionality of laws.

FOSS U Goverment != as big as you'd think (1)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143746)

The union (as in set theory, not politically) between FOSS and government (at any level) is not as large as some would like to think or have us believe, due largely that software's relationship to government is simply that it's just another tool. Ideally, while government can advocate for a particular tool set, the reality of government's obligation as an influencer of commerce (directly and indirectly) combined with its role as a regulator of commerce (again, directly and indirectly) leads to the conclusion that government should be no more an advocate of FOSS than it should be of proprietary software. This is particularly true in the United States where corporations producing proprietary software could have Equal Protection grounds for arguing against being unilaterally excluding from bidding on contracts or providing unsolicited RFP's where companies producing FOSS products are not restricted.

Re:FOSS U Goverment != as big as you'd think (1)

Temposs (787432) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143920)

I'm pretty sure you mean the intersection, not the union. Your notion of union is actually more the political one than the set theory one.

Re:FOSS U Goverment != as big as you'd think (2)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143966)

You are right, I did. Then I got distracted trying to write a clever headline and botched it. Does that mean I'm now qualified to be a slashdot editor?

FOSS as government? (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143748)

FOSS is a hammer. Does government look like another nail? Direct democracy will still be mob rule, despite all efforts to exact psychological change through software. Making every issue available through collaborative democracy will have the same result as in most representative democracies: widespread apathy to minor issues, and great interest in major ones. This is evidenced by the low voter turnout for local elections, because local issues appear inconsequential to the average voter (until tax time rolls around). This will not change; in fact, it becomes worsened as the information overload will probably cause even more people to withdraw even their occasional participation. The resulting chaos would probably result in a pendulum swing of authoritarian government to the first faction or individual promising they will restore order.

Re:FOSS as government? (1)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143904)

Representative democracies change the way issues are presented.

In the United States, one issue that is extremely popular and controversial is abortion. Even though it is in fact a non-issue. Hardly anyone advocates abortions-for-everyone, and hardly anyone advocates totalitarian-control-of-our-bodies. And yet we have this huge divisive issue. Why? Because it serves politicians to make it into an issue.

Without a politician-based system, these huge non-issues fade away, and people can focus on what they really care about.

Sure, many people might not concentrate on what's going on in their neighborhood (though I honestly do believe that would fundamentally change if people had the ability to participate in local decision-making as they please). But even if most people don't, some people will. And those people's actions will be transparent and immediately open to repeal if they do anything that turns out to not serve the community.

So even if only a few people work on the actually-important issues, the end result has to be better than the status quo, where very few people work on issues in secret, with the understood objective of garnering power, influence, and money by whatever means they can.

Re:FOSS as government? (1)

silanea (1241518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35144104)

Speak for yourself. Here in my area few care all that much about the "big" elections - we only get to choose between fascists, sell-outs and loonies - but local issues up to state level get people on the streets and into the polling stations.

Besides, most forms of e-democracy offer not just direct voting but also delegation of votes, where you assign your vote to someone - a person, an ad-hoc group or a "proper" party - to cast it for you. The great thing is: You can delegate your vote wholesale to one entity, just as in a representative democracy, or split it between different ones for different topics (eg. Pirate Party for technology, Greens for ecology, Liberals for the rest), or delegate it per default but place a vote yourself on individual issues you feel strongly about. And you are not bound to your choice for x years but you can change delegations at any point. It is the best of all worlds, really. In a representative democracy I have to vote for the one party I disagree the least with, and even then I risk being left completely without representation if either the party of my choice is not popular enough to gather significant numbers of votes or if that party lied to me before the election and, once in office, breaks its promises. In a system like Liquid Democracy I can make sure my vote on each and every issue actually goes to the option I want to have no matter what general representative I choose, and I can punish liars by revoking delegations.

I agree (1)

Nyder (754090) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143780)

Problems with out government? Besides peeps can hold positions for a lifetime, is that that too many people have power they shouldn't.

If everyone worked for the governement (say 20 hours a week), and our basics of life (electricty, housing, healthcare, etc) where covered by that, then we'd have less crime because everyone's basics are met.

Also, don't let peeps hold the same positions for life. 1 Senate Term, 1 Congress term, etc.

Give candinates taht are running the same amount of TV time, and the same amount of money to do their campaigns on. No more raising money, no spending more then anyone else. Discuss the issues in public forums.

2 Party system? Has to go. Electorial system? Has to go. Time to get to a government of the people, ran by the people.

The e-democracy from Hell (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143818)

Call me a pessimist, but how come my visions of e-democracy involve getting an RFID chip implanted in my butt, getting finger-printed and having my picture taken every time I travel more than a few kilometers from home, and surveillance of every financial transaction that I have ever made in my life. Cash will be banned; only electronic cards issued by the government will be valid for payments. And: "Sorry, our e-Scans of your brain show that you do not 'conform to the norm' and must be executed. But don't worry! Scans of your body indicate that your organs are compatible with a number of folks waiting for a donor on our lists! In dying, you will be helping others!"

Re:The e-democracy from Hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35144078)

Why does everything different have to automatically conjure up visions of the worst-case pastiche of East Germany and 50's propaganda film Communism to you? All anyone wants is more transparency and participation in their governments. No, nobody's going to force you to "conform to the norm", The Beast isn't going to implant his 666 Brand tracking chip "in your butt" and the Dot Commies won't come for your money. Put the Hal Turner books down.

Re:The e-democracy from Hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35144186)

You must not be paying much attention to current events. Please exit Mom's basement and pick up a newspaper or something.

FOSDEM Keynote Relevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35143868)

Hopefully someone has better mirror links of the ogg videos. FOSDEM tok them down temporarily to re-encode and upload higher quality at a later date. But Eben Moglen gave a really good keynote at FOSDEM a few days ago that's highly relevant to this subject matter. http://fosdem.org/2011/schedule/event/software_freedom is the event link. Does anyone have a good mirror of the video yet?

Foss government? no thanks (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143892)

Only a few governments who have large commercial backing will ever get out of beta. Most of the rest will languish due to petty squabbles between project leaders and the voices of the community will lately be ignored. When the community members aren't blown off they will be told to submit a path. Or quit bitching.

There will be fragmentation, personality cults and holy wars all the time.

Actually, that sounds about like how the world at large works now, anyway.

Think it through (1)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143930)

Currently, FOSS projects are not governed by collaborative governance.

They suffer from the same flaws as other representative democracies.

Paid for by Big Enterprise? (2)

WarwickRyan (780794) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143918)

A lot of Open Source is bankrolled by big corporations. IBM and Novell, for example, have put a lot of investement into FOSS.

Re:Paid for by Big Enterprise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35144130)

IBM and Novell build hardware. If they help control Open Source software's direction, then the code runs on their products. Buy their hardware.

Re:Paid for by Big Enterprise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35144346)

And they are clearly bug believers in FOSS-style governance. Not. So why do they do it ? Altruism ? ..

and in accordance (1)

nimbius (983462) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143928)

with most modern democracies, the most successful ones will be puppetized. While the developers will praise their newfound freedom from on high, corporations from motorolas draconian hardware to oracles draconian leadership will ensure the freedom rebranded slowly is never questioned, the fighters and pioneers merely enshrined and marginalized, and the product continues to be consumed. as thomas jefferson is to richard stallman, so will the patriot act be found in the models of the cloud. You are free in this new open source democracy. Free to do exactly as your told.

Hey Apache Group! (1)

Bitmanhome (254112) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143936)

"FOSS looked like an impossible pipe-dream when it started. Did you know that?"

Wow, they took it quite well.

FOSS and the three branches of government (1)

drdrgivemethenews (1525877) | more than 3 years ago | (#35143978)

IMO, there's only one branch of government suitable for pure FOSS types.

I could see elements of FOSS working in the congressional setting, if you could get the lawyers to agree. After all, making law is somewhat like coding, and could be made a lot more like it if the legal community would accept the formulation of standard legal clauses that could be automatically reasoned about, a la automata and compilers.

OTOH, driving ambulances and paving roads is more like what Redhat and kin do, analogically. They may hire the occasional FOSS type, but it's executive-branch duty: to get the law out there, support it and make it work.

And there's no freaking way I'd ever hand over the judiciary to FOSS types.

Solve the Budget Deficit Now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35144050)

Let's create a budget ballot spreadsheet in FOSS. The spreadsheet ballot is online, and it limits you to 100% of revenues. Every citizen selects the programs and departments they want to fund. All other items are marked unfunded.

Once the ballots are in, all the choices are averaged together and the final budget is produced by computer.

Viola, a balance budget by the people. No stupid political rhetoric. No party-line votes. No status-quo unless the people themselves said so.

This method will probably result in a substantial reduction in many government programs, since we are not permitting borrowing. If the land war in Asia is defunded, for example, then it's up to the politicians to make this work. Finally, they can work for the will of the people instead of the next election. Figuring out how to kill an unwanted and unfunded program is worth their time instead of pitting us against one another.

Go, go Direct Democracy!

Obligatory link (1)

metrometro (1092237) | more than 3 years ago | (#35144152)

Democracy is not a form of government, but is instead a more universal idea about how decisions should be made.

If you look at the actual implementations of the movement-without-a-name that circulates at places like Crisis Camp and City Camp and whatever Camp, it is not about dumping one government in favor of another, but instead about creating little pockets of opportunity for transparent, opt-in and inclusive decision making to create policy. No revolution! Just little tweaks, here and there. Better over time.

Where these solutions work well compared to older methods, they evolve, are replicated (or forked!) and sometimes prosper. But it does take problem solving and patience and creativity to start it up. In that respect, this is very much like FLOSS. If that sounds worthy of your energy and effort, hit the link below and find some people like you.

http://forums.e-democracy.org/ [e-democracy.org]

You mean, FOSS invented participative democracy ? (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 3 years ago | (#35144240)

quickly send an email to the Athenians... oh, wait, those have been dead for a few thousand years... and they died thinking THEY invented it, poor souls.

Yep, software and politics (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 3 years ago | (#35144266)

a match made in heaven. both are obtuse things dominated by assholes who think very highly of themselves and never had to live with the crap they're making.

I'd be just happy with a little transparency (1)

rsborg (111459) | more than 3 years ago | (#35144274)

Call it e-government or whatever, but I want to see which public entities are paying for what, and meeting with whom.

Without transparency, any e-gov initiative is DOA... a "collaborative" movement with no transparency? Isn't that just like American Idol?

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