February 14th, 2012, 12:11 PM
How to design a place for massive joint work like creating standards, legislations?
There are situations when huge amount of people has to jointly work on extremely important documents. For example HTML standards where a few large players like web browser producers discuss between each other and potentially millions of web designers around the world ... or thousands of politicians/lobbyist while working on compromises of legislations on scale of e.g. USA/EU/world.
How such looking impossible tasks are conducted? Do they use some kind of e.g. TortoiseSVN? Are they transparent enough for interested sides?
I dont even want to imagine how it is made in politics, but for standards there are for example mailing lists, so to e.g. get to information you are interested in or would like to comment on, you would rather have to dig through huge list of multi-plot comments
Let us think about designing and maybe creating an open source tool for such serious discussions of potentially huge amount of people ... which then could be applied for different purposes of optimized and transparent work on important documents.
How would a perfect situation look like?
I imagine that from the page of the document we/they work on, I can click on paragraph/sentence to get to a page describing multiple related issues, summarized discussions which lead to its current form, links to these discussions I could participate in, proceeding votes between alternatives
So e.g. looking at the legislation, everyone could trace each sentence (e.g. to a lobbyist) and understand its evolution to the current form - thanks of this better understanding, interpretations could be closer to the expected result and generally people could better identify with e.g. the law.
So how to design such a place?
Here is a brief description how I would imagine it.
First of all there shouldn't be anonymity there for really serious discussions, the best would be if every action is digitally signed and this information and generally the whole history is available for all users. So statements there have legal status similar to signed article published by a journalist think a few times before writing something there. All information about mechanisms used by this tool should be easily accessible (and also discussed and eventually modified). Digital signatures are usually equivalent to the real ones, so by the way this place could be used also e.g. for direct democracy.
Secondly, statements should be relatively compact and rather focusing on a single issue they should have one main link to what they refer to (and eventually additional links) the discussion generally is a tree (with eventual less important transverse links), like on reddit but a bit more complicated.
Thirdly, there is required well thought marking system much more complicated than of reddit. To prevent pathologies, each mark should be signed and well justified
and marks also can be judged and so on.
There would be rather required many different categories of marks. Their direct purpose is to be able to freely customize the order of the list/subtree of related topics to display from standard chronological through by some category of marks, up to different mixed custom criteria. Another purpose is using these marks in discussions or e.g. to nominate persons with high marks to take care of sites of some issue (his actions would be still fully traceable and evaluated).
There is required some limit of points for example 10/day and can accumulate up to 100. They can be spent (with justification) for pluses/minuses in selected categories (e.g. +1 patriotism, -1 realism). The weight of point depends e.g. on total marks of the author in this category.
Marks of marks influence their weight and generally the weights of marks of the author - there would be required some kind of page-rank to calculate final weights.
Example of list of categories of marks (to discuss):
- Morality / empathy (as external evaluation of situation)
- Altruism/hard work (as own sacrifice/work, minus for selfishness, lazy distributing points)
- Justice/objectiveness (e.g. unjustified marks)
- Realism (awareness of the broader situation)
- Patriotism (good for the nation)
- Originality / innovativeness (minus for obviousness, plus for interesting idea)
- Compactness (plus for good essence/form proportion, minus for leading nowhere comments)
- ... ?
Some may have subcategories - like realism in politics, economics, physics ...
More controversial examples:
- Coherence / consistency / transparency - minus for lies, frequent change of opinion (have to be distinguished from the legitimate evolution), plus for mature defense of an idea, the internal consistency, honesty in a difficult situations,
- Openness / flexibility - minus for not adapting to changing realities, ignoring strong arguments, blind fanaticism ... plus for openness to different views, evolution of own thinking.
Besides statements, there would be:
- Profiles of persons/institutions/organizations/companies (with part edited by this subject and part everyone can discuss),
- voting sites - secret (e.g. for final vote) or open (e.g. while choosing between alternatives),
- sites for working on given petition, bill, referendum requests with links to sites focusing on single sentences, planed deadline to stop working and start gathering signatures,
- wiki-like pages on different subjects and specific topics for discussion, briefly introducing to the problem and results of discussions with statistics and lots of links.
Another important issue is changeability. I think people could change judges/marks. The main link of statements should be unchangeable, but additional links can be added/updated. Someone could comment on (a part of) the text, so there should be rather possible only adding succeeding updates.
How would you imagine constructing a tool to improve working on important documents?
A tool for serious discussions of potentially huge amount of sometimes extremely interested people?
To increase their level by its construction?
One of many applications could be some National Discussion Forum improving the work on legislations by making it more transparent and easier for people to express their perspective on concerning them created law.