Re: virus: Virian council and process

Dan Plante (
Thu, 24 Jun 1999 18:25:54 -0700


This discussion group owes its existence to the internet, and the concepts embodied in evolution in general, and memetics in particular. This suggests an approach that does more than just pay lip service to the ideas and ideals of the CoV and the revolutionary aspect of internet communication; a new way of doing things that not only acknowledges but, by its very nature, variously co-opts, accentuates or subverts, those aspects of individual and cultural dynamics deemed beneficial or detremental. Call it a "directed mutation" of the old heirarchial paradigm, if you will. Here's a chance to do some "memetic engineering" - CoV can try it on itself.

There's no need today for a traditional top-down heirarchy of authority, nor for the bug-infested algorithm of representative democracy. The drawbacks of both of these systems is, I'm sure, obvious to most on this list, and has been discussed ad nauseum in the past.

Here's one option:

Set up a web page running a database engine that allows individual access to all of the database for reading and searching, and write priveleges for the individual's own "voting" field in each voter record embedded in each "referendum issue" file. Within each field are three entries: one entry for the Yay or nay, one for the individual's email address, and another for the individual's PGP signature for that vote. Everyone has read access to everyone else's voter record, and a local copy of all the public keys and email addresses (everyone can do this nowadays, disk space is cheap).

The CoV mailing list would serve as the arena to first bring up issues that may develop into an official referendum. The list's voting members (who would become such simply by being sponsored by an existing voting member who would disseminate the inductee's email address and public key - thereby vouching for its authenticity and providing an avenue to check - to all the other voting members), would hash it out in the informal arena of the list, and if the initial advocate of the issue later feels the topic still has merit, uploads a text of the proposed "bill" (along with his or her email & signature) to a new record entry in the "new motions" file of the database. In the "seconded" field of this record which has "append" permissions for every voting member, the motion would automatically be moved to the "bills pending a vote" file when the "seconded" field (automatically weeded for dupes and checked for authenticity) reaches 5% of the number of voting members (rounded up). A bill would pass if 75% of the voting members voted in favour, but an existing "law" would only need 67% to be removed.

The entire voting membership would then be contacted by email and notified that a bill is pending. They then either vote or abstain if they are familiar with the issue, or search the list archives for the relevant threads, read and then vote, or abstain. After say, 2 days, the votes are automatically tallied, and all voting members notified of the result by email. If the bill is voted down, then any proponent must start from scratch.

However, if the bill passes, the principal proponent "owns" the consequences, and must take full responsibility for the actions needed to enact the bill. The principal now has the authority to enact, though, and can draft the "seconds", then any other "registered proponent" (who may count for 2 votes each?), and finally, if deemed required, any voting member who voted yea in the bill, to do the work to enact the bill (if you're not prepared to put the time and energy into the new "pet project", why should you have a say in changing the paradigm under which all the voting members must live?). The only legislation not allowed is any that would apply to the membership in an unequal fashion. Except for that one stipulation, anything goes, except that a 6 month "cooling off" period would be required to enact any bill that would change the mechanics of the system itself as detailed above.

The dynamics that this form and function would manifest are:

Sure, there are minor tweaks needed, but the essential framework is workable, I think.

This approach doesn't just enshrine memetics, it takes memetics into account. It also serves as a kind of cultural mutation that, working in synergy with existing features such as the internet, is able to express a new cultural "trait". It can serve as an example to others that might want to adopt the new, effective system, replicating it all over the place.