Category Archives: Evidence

Flux: an Australian political party

Flux – an initiative from Australia is a fascinating combination of technology and society. The technological platform seems to resonate with many of the ideas I used to describe Oameni. But in this case it is coupled together with a political party that is built and operates using this technology and in doing so setting a new de-facto standard of politics:


How to Make Transparency Meaningful?

Yanis Varoufakis talks about transparency in a very simple and straightforward way. The DiEM movement he founded demands transparency in these terms:

  • the live-streaming of the entire European Council, Eurogroup, ESM Board of Governors and Ecofin meetings, and the subsequent publication of official transcripts for all such meetings
  • a full set of minutes for each ECB Governing Council meeting to be published three weeks after the conclusion of each regular meeting, and complete transcripts of these meetings to be published within two years
  • an exhaustive list of all Brussels lobbyists and a register of every one of their meetings with elected or unelected EU officials
  • electronic publication of all TTIP negotiating documents and full transparency at every stage of the TTIP negotiations.

While this may be a step in the right direction I have felt this request sufficient. A good example of that comes these days in the forms of the US senate confirmation hearings for Trump’s cabinet. The hearings are available online for all to watch and I believe live-streamed too. This (heavily edited) presentation from the Daily Show with Trevor Noah can give you a sense of what is happening (in this one example of many):

Despite the COMPLETE transparency and the fact that Betsy DeVos is clearly unsuitable for the job she will likely get it. So, clearly, in the short term, transparency is not very useful.

But if you watch a bit more of the raw footage from this hearing you will see that transparency can even become damaging. The quality of the hearing is horrific not only because of Betsy DeVos’ ignorance but also because of the way she is questioned:

The democrats are attacking her without even giving her a chance to reply … which is a shame because if they did her incompetency would shine through even brighter. The democrats are using this platform (because it is transparent!) not to hold a good hearing but to hold a public execution and to advertise their own ideas and positions (which, ironically, for the foreseeable future do not matter much). It seems that in the short term transparency can even be damaging!

I believe that for transparency to become effective we need deeper processes. Public representatives need to be held accountable over time. I would like:

  1. Everyone in these hearings to have a personal public record available.
  2. Every vote to be on record … so that anyone who supported or objected the confirmation of Betsy DeVos can be held accountable for their action.
  3. I want every senator on this committee to have an opportunity to post their positions on both education and BestDevos in advance … maybe even pubish their question in advance. Maybe even consult with their constituency in advance on the questions they would like to be asked.
  4. I want everyone who cares to, to be able to submit to public record an explanation of their positions (in writing, video, whatever).
  5. I would like the public to be able to express their position on how the senators performed in a hearing. If voters want to support the positions of Bernie Sanders, let that voice be heard and recorded.

Once you become a public representative you shoulder the burden and responsibility of transparency and unlike your personal CV (which you can edit) your transparency record will live with you the rest of your life. Your transparency record may become anasset or it may become a liability. Either way, you won’t be able to make it go away. Betsy DeVos may be mocked in this hearing, but she knows it and all she needs to do is get through it and it will be forgotten. So will the republican senators who support her.

I also believe that if Transparency is done well, politicians can learn to harness it as a constructive tool. Can we make transparency a promise instead of a threat? If we could demonsrate that politicians who embrace transparency have better careers and lives … would other politicians embrace it?

If we are using transparency to put politicians on the spot and place blame on their shoulders then it is only natural that they would want to avoid it. I believe transparency holds more profound potential to it then that.

Why a Researcher needs a Personal Website

This post is inspired by my meeting with Carla at Nyeleni 2016.

Carla is a young researcher who is primarily focused on how to do research she is interested in. She is an academic. She is an activist, active in numerous forums. She is interested in issues that can be considered marginalized in main-stream society, and therefore also in academic circles. She connects with people face to face when she can. She is a member on many mailing lists where she can connect with other researchers like her.


Before Carla actually does any research, her search for research opportunities is already creating content. The subjects of inquiry that interest her, the forums she is active in, the funding sources she discovers, applications that she may submit, people she connects with … all of these are an unfolding story of Carla as a researcher. That story is not being told.

Maybe Carla and a few close friends can see it –  though even she and they may not see its wholeness because of its fragmented nature. Some people catch glimpses of it when connecting within specific contexts.

Carla’s unique story (as a researched and as individual) is key to her being able to connect with others and to advance her research. I am guessing that when Carla applies for research funding she is required to include some kind of CV. A personal website can be like a living CV where a reader can explore so much more by browsing across more subjects and digging deeper into interesting and relevant ones. It is and constantly changing CV. It can be kept up to to date with the latest occurrences in her life. It also allows her evolving narrative (the way she sees things, in addition to the what she sees) to come through for others (and for her) to witness.


A personal website can act as an information archive. Information can be intentionally stored on it so it can be accessed again in the future.

Documents can be published as articles  (rather then proprietary format documents which act as sealed containers), making them always accessible for reading, for searching, for sharing (sending links to others), for conversation (others can leave comments and provide input), etc.

With simple organization using basic taxonomies information can be categorized and tagged in multiple contexts making it easy to retrieve and use. Interesting websites, articles, academic institutions, people, sources of funding, etc. Researchers are particularly prone to discovering and generating much valuable information.


Linkability gives Carla the ability to easily share her work with others and to allow others to reference hers.

Publishing an article (or any other piece of information) on a well structured personal site inherently creates a URL for it. This URL essentially becomes a unique address for that article. It makes easy to share with others, to reference (a key function in research) and, it desired, can be a theme of conversation via commenting.

Linkability is a cornerstone of the internet – it is a backbone of HTML. It was invented as an academic collaboration tool. But at the time of its invention an internet server and a website were expensive and so institutions such as universities were the place for researchers to publish their works and reference others.

Now every researcher that wants it can easily create a website to bring their work to the world.


Anything that is published on a site is de-facto directly controlled by the person who owns and operates that site. If that site is yours, then you control it. When you publish somewhere else you implicitly agree to give that person / group of people control (and sometimes, unconsciously, ownership) over your work:  if it is presented, how it is presented, when it is presented and to whom it is presented.

Given the current state of technology there is no reason to relinquish control and ownership of your work. Publishing on a personal site does not need to be exclusive. Work can still be submitted to other established publication channels, however that can become secondary to making it a part of the knowledge-commons.


Ownership gives rise to the question of who really owns your work. If your work as a researched was funded with public funding, shouldn’t your work belong to the public who funded you. Shouldn’t your work become, by default, a part of a knowledge-commons that is in service of society.

Unfortunately that is no the situation today. Most academic papers are hidden behind paywalls that only privileged people (in academic circles) can afford and have access to.

That can change without a structural change in research itself. If every researched took on herself the responsibility to make her work, by default, available to the knowledge-commons we would be living in a different reality.


Each medium of publication reaches different audiences. I would say that the internet, as a medium, has one distinct advantage over others … that it is unknown. You don’t know who will come across your work, how they will discover it and in what context they will meet it. The Internet creates a network of circumstances far more diverse and dynamic then other targeted mediums which reach limited and often predictable audiences.

Also, when academic works are published in traditional channels they are formatted in traditional ways. Often their structure and wording may be alienating to lay-people. I would suggest that by committing to making research a part of the knowledge-commons a researcher may learn new ways of expression that make her work appealing and relevant for a wider audience. Publishing online can include mechanism of direct feedback that can help inform and shape such evolution.

Finally, our work (research or otherwise) is often a means to connecting with other people and expanding our circles of existence. If that is true, why would a researcher limit herself to traditional channels? Why would she not want to cast a wider net and allow herself to connect with people she may otherwise never meet



Fred Wilson on Voting on the Blockchain

“Imagine if every voter was issued a token/coin and every candidate/issue to be voted on was issued a wallet. Voters send their coins to whatever wallet they want to vote for.”


I believe that a more networked version of this dynamic will introduce inherent security (like Oameni) which means that something like this can be achieved without the currently inherent wastefulness in blockchain technology.

Charles Eisenstein on Transparency

Charles writes about transparency as it is unfolding naturally … and I wonder what it would be like if (some of) the people who represent us would embrace this (inevitable?) shift willingly instead of denying it and struggling against it.

“It is getting harder to keep a secret these days. The collective shadow of our society, once safely relegated to the dark basement of the unmentionable, is now exposed to daylight, forcing us to face our contradictions.

Who are we as a people? What is reliable? What is possible? What is real? We aren’t what we thought we were, and it isn’t what we thought it was. This confusion is a good thing. It is a sign of liberation from the old story that confined us.”

Union to Save Bucharest soon to be Union to Save Romania

Active Bucharest politicians engaged in transparency!?

“Shortly before the beginning of a council meeting the mayor of the Sector, Dan Tudorache (PSD) proposed a last minute amendment to the sector’s budget which would have seen 10 million lei (€2.2 million) handed over to the Romanian Orthodox Church (BOR) for the ongoing construction of the megalomaniac Cathedral of the Nation (Catedrala Neamului).

The USB’s councillors, led in Sector 1 by the increasingly combative and impressive Clotilde Armand (who would have been mayor herself had June’s election results been counted, ahem, more efficiently) managed to block the motion.

… for a local party which has nationwide ambitions for November’s general election its medium-term effects may be huge. It demonstrates that a small number of councillors committed to transparency and ensuring the best use of public money … can win.”