Category Archives: Evidence

Twitter shuts down PostGhost

“PostGhost kept a record of everything that Twitter’s Verified users said, even deleted tweets that may have been embarrassing or otherwise reputation impacting. Twitter sent PostGhost a cease and desist letter, effectively eliminating this public record of stuff that people have said but no longer want read. “

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It seems PostGhost was an attempt to archive deleted tweets from verified Twitter accounts (which includes public figures). It was quickly shut down by Twitter who, one can only guess, preferred a corporate interest (could even be something as noble as protecting the privacy of its own users) over transparency and accountability of public figures.

I don’t blame Twitter for this but it does exemplify that if we want to have transparency and accountability we must use platforms that can be aligned with those values. Twitter and most of the other corporates dominating our social-media domain are not in alignment.

David Graeber on Corbyn: Politics that is beyond personal qualities of politicians

The real battle is not over the personality of one man, or even a couple of hundred politicians. If the opposition to Jeremy Corbyn for the past nine months has been so fierce, and so bitter, it is because his existence as head of a major political party is an assault on the very notion that politics should be primarily about the personal qualities of politicians. It’s an attempt to change the rules of the game, and those who object most violently to the Labour leadership are precisely those who would lose the most personal power were it to be successful: sitting politicians and political commentators.

… the Corbyn project is first and foremost to make the party a voice for social movements once again, dedicated to popular democracy (as trades unions themselves once were). This is the immediate aim. The ultimate aim is the democratisation not just of the party but of local government, workplaces, society itself.

the object is to move from a politics of accountability to one of participation: to create forms of popular education and decision-making that allow community groups and local assemblies made up of citizens of all political stripes to make key decisions affecting their lives.

… journalists are not just the referees – in a real sense they are the field on which the game is played. Democratisation would turn them into reporters once again, in much the same way as it would turn politicians into representatives. In either case, it would mark a dramatic decline in personal power and influence. It would mark an equally dramatic rise in power for unions, constituent councils, and local activists – the very people who have rallied to Corbyn’s support.”

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Mexico City attempting collaborative authoring of its constitution

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“Mexico City just launched a massive experiment in digital democracy. It is asking its nearly 9 million residents to help draft a new constitution through social media.

… There’s a big catch, however. The constitutional assembly—the body that has the final word on the new city’s basic law—is under no obligation to consider any of the citizen input. And then there are the practical difficulties of collecting and summarizing the myriad of views dispersed throughout one of the world’s largest cities.

… The mechanisms, embedded in an online platform (Spanish) that offers various ways to weigh in, were launched at the end of March and will collect inputs until September 1

… In Mexico City, where many citizens already feel left out, the first big hurdle is to convince them it’s worth participating.

… There are various levels of participation on offer, from ranking the city’s biggest problems in an online survey to making detailed comments on draft proposals. For people without internet access, 300 computer kiosks have been set up throughout the city with staff to guide them through the process.

… Ideas are grouped into 18 topics, such as direct democracy, transparency and economic rights. They are prioritized based on the amount of support they’ve garnered and how relevant they are, said Bernardo Rivera, an adviser for the city. Drafters get a weekly delivery of summarized citizen petitions.

… The drafting group has pledged to respond to petitions on Change.org with more than 5,000 signatures, and to have a few of its members meet with petitioners who gather more than 10,000. More than 50,000 signatures earns an audience with the full committee.”

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An Opportunity in Romania

This, I believe, is a good summary of the political situation in Romania:

Sometimes I truly think that the Romanian Revolution began in December 1989 and ended in June 1990 with the Mineriad, a six-month gasp of freedom before collapsing right back into the way things always were.

Just consider the evidence:

  • Iliescu is a free man and is not facing any indictments or prosecutions.
  • The police are still running secret prisons where inmates are beaten, tortured, and killed.
  • Incompetence in government isn’t a bug, it’s a feature.
  • The secret police (now called SRI) is more powerful and active than ever, and still loves to spy on the common people.
  • Looting the state for private gain is more often rewarded than punished.
  • There’s a parliament/congress, but it damn sure isn’t representing the people.
  • The solution to popular unrest is more propaganda instead of genuine reforms.
  • The government is still manipulating and controlling the state-run media (while simultaneously running it into the ground).
  • Nobody from the old regime has ever been punished, and most of the worst guys still hold positions of power.
  • Prosecutors and the judicial system “magically” convict 90% or more of the people suspected of having committed a crime.

With one additional qualifier … the state as an institution is nowhere near as established and powerful as more modern western entities. Romania is a poor AND large country … meaning whatever centralized authority there is stretched thin and far. Corruption is a cultural norm (which is not unique to Romania) and though it is a challenge it is a far lesser challenge then when it gets deeply entangled with money. legislation and authoritarian power (police and military).

I believe Romania can be more receptive to deep political change then other more “developed” countries.

Canada’s Newly Elected Government

Oameni is about how to get systemically to something like this … and even better:

“For once, Canadians are proud (and perhaps even a little bit smug). We ran the data:

We have a Minister of Environment and CLIMATE CHANGE.
We have a Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and REFUGEES.

Our Prime Minister is a sci-fi geek.
Our Minister of Health is an actual Doctor.
Our Minister of Families, Children and Social Development is a poverty economist.
Our Minister of Science is an actual Scientist (oh, and she has a Nobel Prize).
Our Minister of Status of Women is an actual woman!
Our Minister of Veterans Affairs is a quadriplegic because he was shot in a drive-by shooting.
Our Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour is a Professional Geologist.
Our Minister of Democratic Institutions is a Muslim refugee.
Our Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities is a Paralympian Athlete.
Our Minister of Defence is a badass war hero, Afghanistan combat vet, and police officer.
OUR MINISTER OF TRANSPORT IS A GODDAMN ASTRONAUT.

Half of our Ministers are women.
Half of our Ministers are men!
Two of our Ministers are people of First Nations (Kwakwaka’wakw, Inuit)
Three of our Ministers were born outside of Canada (India, Afghanistan)
Two of our Ministers are Sikh.
At least one of our Ministers is Muslim.
At least two of our Ministers are Atheist.
One of our Ministers is battling breast cancer. frown emoticon
One of our Ministers is in a wheelchair.
One of our Ministers is blind.
One of our Ministers is openly gay.
One of our Ministers is openly ginger.
Also, Hon. Navdeep Bains has a perfect twirly moustache.”

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Intelligent Governance for the 21st Century

Jeffrey Sachs mentioned this new book Intelligent Governance for the 21st Century in his twitter feed. I went to check out and came across this review and found this in it:

Chapter 5, “Intelligent Governance,” is naturally central to the book,and the central paragraph may be this one: “In practice this means that decision-making power must be decentralized as much as possible to communities of active citizens in the domains of their competence. In short, it must devolve and involve beyond the old systems of a mass public choosing distant rulers in periodic one-person-one-vote elections where their voice doesn’t matter. An `intelligent electorate’ is part and parcel of a knowledgeable democracy.”

This exactly describes the kind of social-dynamics I can see unfold and have tried to describe in the “social economics” of Oameni.