Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Crowdsourcing a Country

We're now witnessing another phase in the evolution of online social media.

In recent news, Iceland has drafted their constitution through Facebook. This could set the template for other governments: a "crowdsourced" constitution.

A draft of the constitution was presented to Iceland’s parliament. The draft was then compiled and uploaded online. The constitution council then let citizens comment via a Facebook Page.

This is a significant step in the structure of government in the modern era. I'm sure this is just the beginning. Crowdsourcing other government functions could be the next to follow. A government could, for example, let the online citizenry directly participate in the passing of a bill, instead of just the congress. Even court proceedings, where a jury decides the verdict, can be posted online where the netizens can have a say.

Of course this would entail detailed consideration on various aspects. One must consider safeguarding against mob rule, online bullying, fraudulent users etc.

This is the exact concept I was doing for a futuristic short story a few months ago. In my story, the Philippines has been implementing a crowdsourced government which is anchored in cloud computing. Thus there is no real center of government. I called this type of government 'Nimbocracy' ('Nimbus' = Latin for cloud, 'Kratos' = Greek for power).

In this form of government, there is a person who has the role of a frontispiece (the "king"). However, it is really the SysAdmins who rule the country since they are the ones who moderate the forum for the citizens. The Supreme SysAdmin takes the role akin to the Prime Minister. Every department is then moderated by a sysadmin-- there is a SysAdmin for Justice, a SysAdmin for Education, a SysAdmin for Health etc.

[You may also want to check out the short story written by Cory Doctorow entitled "When SysAdmins Rule the World" for a similar concept.]

The essence of this government is that every netizen has direct, albeit online, participation as to how the government is run-- a perfected form of democracy. Isn't it exactly the goal of Democracy? A government of the people, for the people and by the people. Makes perfect sense. The only difference is the means of implementing that power.

I'm pretty sure this will be completed in my lifetime-- the short story that is. But the actual implementation of 'Nimbocracy' in real life may take a very long time. There are many factors to consider-- an efficient internet connection, a near 100% online literacy, a vigilant online security group among others.

What the Iceland government did is a giant step for mankind (well at least to the online world). We'll just have to wait and see what happens next.

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