My good friend Jerry Vass is helping me explain ORGware. Jerry’s a patient man. He doesn’t start off as he should, with “Ferchrissake, Blaser! Stop with the features already! My head’s about to explode!”
Nope. Jerry’s more measured: “You just need to talk like Steve Jobs doing a keynote. He demos some complicated, acronym-encrusted shit, man, but he always knows how to make it matter to his audience. He just says, ‘What that means is…’ And then he shows why every grandparent will have to own the new white plastic $500 iPictureframe.”
7 Technical Requirements for Rating Members’ Contributions (including ideas):
What that means is that management really cares what the members think and wants them to be a proactive Board of Advisors. It also indicates that management knows that idiots and grandstanders are present in any population (anyone who has served on a board of directors or trustees knows how true that is). Smart management of the future (Q3, 2006) will want the wisdom of its crowd to help pluck the flower of effective policy out of the nettle of vague, non-actionable theory.
- Comments on posts (or ideas) may be entered by registered members only
What that means is that you can be a member if you’re an asshole, but at least the site owner knows you’ve got an email address. This is baby step 1 in trimming comment abuse.
- All members get their own blog (idea description area)
What that means is that you can reinforce your comments, in your own space, to straighten out the rest of the world.
- Comments are entered on the commenter’s blog as a primary post
What that means is that all your sins and graces are compiled for the village to see. Like in a village.
- Every post can be quickly rated by a graphical slider
What that means is that management lets the members promote their leaders and marginalize the jerks and grandstanders.
- No one can rate an entry twice
What that means is that no one member can stuff the ballot box.
- Ratings generate a text comment and a standardized trackback entry at the rater’s blog
(“bblaser rated this post 88%”)
What that means is that a member can write a comment and a trackback and a primary post in about 1.5 seconds.
- Like Slashdot, every member can set the minimum quality of entries she will be exposed to
What that means is that, like visiting New York City, you can stay on a concierge floor in midtown so your sensibilities are unruffled (the Deborah Howell school of one-way discourse) or you can mix it up with the activists in Union Square or some dudes under a bridge.
9 Technical Requirements for turning viral conversations into Policy:
- Encourage members to create as many individual discussion groups as they like
What that means is that there’s never a reason for minority opinion holders to feel marginalized.
- Groups have a shared blog with their own set of posting permissions.
What that means is that there’s shared posting for members to help scaffold each other’s ideas.
- Support private, unmoderated group intranets (clean room mode)
What that means is that members can huddle privately with kindred spirits to shape the next megaton mind bomb.
- Support public free-for-all group blogs (anarchy mode)
What that means is that any member can create a totally public space to generate as much heat and light as their subject deserves.
- Support public blogs with designated contributors (performance art mode, like BoingBoing, Corante, etc.)
What that means is that specialists can work together in public while receiving constant feedback from smart throngs.
- Provide a means to convert groups from one mode to another
What that means is obvious – a technical footnote – but necessary for what follows.
- Switch from anarchy to performance art when a conversation goes viral and its leaders emerge, based on peer ratings
What that means is that the system compresses the social processes governing any group or political subdivision, but it’s less susceptible to gaming the system. After the switch, the group’s newly-deputized leaders can focus on specifics in a way that the mob never can.
- The new discussion leaders develop specific policy solutions, calling on experts as required
What that means is that the crowd’s brainstorming has become a project. All action requires this transformation.This is a bigger deal than it sounds, because brainstorm-to-project morphing is currently limited to open source mavens and entrepreneurs. This simple innovation is disruptive in the sense that Alex Moffat described almost 3 years ago, as quoted yesterday by Doc:
“Does the innovation target customers at the low end of a market who don’t need all the functionality of current products? And does the business model enable the disruptive innovator to earn attractive returns at discount prices unattractive to the incumbents?”
- The members continue to vote and comment and nag and make suggestions
What that means is that the newly-designated elites are responsible to the community from which they have sprung, full-grown, like Minerva from Zeus’ forehead. This is meant to counter the centrifugal force of arrogance that drives so many celebrity writers away from her roots.
The iTudes Musing Store
There are a lot of parts to the ORGware collaboration/activism model. Is it too complex to be usable? Or is it so feature-rich that it’s complete enough to be useful? Who knows? Maybe what we’re building is iTunes for attitudes. Before iTunes, no one imagined that we’d need such a complex environment to buy and listen to music, but somehow we’re there now.
What that means is that I’d love to create an environment that inspires and empowers people to spend as much energy expressing their political preferences as they now spend tweaking their music collection and publishing their favorites.