Belated Brain Dump

Really interesting event last night. I am not normally interested in politics (I have tended to agree with the badge that said don't vote it only encourages them) but this wasn't about politics as we know it.

Demos, the organisers, have published a paper by David Rushkof called Open Source Democracy which is downloadable as a pdf under a Creative Commons licence. The following is taken from the foreword:

The internet has become an integral part of our lives because it is interactive. That means people are senders of information, rather than simply passive receivers of ‘old’ media. Most importantly of all, we can talk to each other without gatekeepers or editors. This offers exciting possibilities for new social networks, which are enabled - but not determined - by digital technology.

In the software industry, the open source movement emphasises collective cooperation over private ownership. This radical idea may provide the biggest challenge to the dominance of Microsoft. Open source enthusiasts have found a more efficient way of working by pooling their knowledge to encourage innovation.

All this is happening at a time when participation in mainstream electoral politics is declining in many Western countries, including the US and Britain. Our democracies are increasingly resembling old media, with fewer real opportunities for interaction.

What, asks Douglas Rushkoff in this original essay for Demos, would happen if the 'source code' of our democratic systems was opened up to the people they are meant to serve? ‘An open source model for participatory, bottom-up and emergent policy will force us to confront the issues of our time,’ he answers.

Below are my unedited notes - you'll need to work out for yourselves which are my words, which are theirs and what it all means but hey - that was the point of the talk!


  • ❑ The internet has shaken off the successive infections of the military, government and commerce

  • ❑ Innovation happened in a gift economy - it has been frozen since commerce became involved

  • ❑ It's not about politics or democracy - these principles apply to many aspects of our lives - decisions are there to be made - they always have been
  • ❑ Aristotelian narratives behind communism, capitalism with beginnings middles and ends - postponement for a bright future have been how we see things.

  • ❑ The Renaissance is to see things as happening now and created now

  • ❑ Pat - Revalidation of the subjective - reaction to homogenization - plural consciousnesses

  • ❑ Jacques - the crisis is deeper than what the internet can address - social deconstruction, growth of individualism etc. The internet is a surrogate for the underlying problem

  • ❑ Rushkof - the crisis of individualism is not driven by people themselves but by the commercial, material drives of marketing etc.
  • ❑ If you are happy you don't need to buy those jeans to make you happy.

  • ❑ People aren't afraid of technology they are scared of their own power. They are scared to be in the driving seat of our culture.
  • ❑ The internet allows us to talk to people again - to believe that our thoughts and opinions might matter

  • ❑ There is no such things as society

  • ❑ Expressive democracy more of us have the sense of being an agent than ever before

  • ❑ Don't hark back to forms that no longer have relevance
  • ❑ Rosh - people are afraid of this - look at Christian fundamentalist cities in the US

  • ❑ Movements are obsolete - people involved on co-authorship will not fall for charismatic leaders or movements

  • ❑ Relisions are useful until you believe in them. They can then no longer be changed and worked with - paths don't lead to truths because truth doesn't stand still. Movements are ways of navigating for a moment

  • ❑ Anarchic concerns
  • ❑ If you put a name to what is happening does it add strength or kill it

  • ❑ Question about why anti- movement. Marketing and non- participatory.

  • ❑ Roshkov The anti war movement didn't work because it was a movement

  • ❑ Jacques said the Vietnam one did work
  • ❑ Roshkof answered that becoming a movement gives a stable target. Mobility allows you to subvert - how do we manifest connections without movements?

  • ❑ Giget - slovenian philosopher behind ideas of movement

  • ❑ Tony Negri - multitude rather than masses - understanding how the multitude works

  • ❑ Structure and institution building rather than movement building

  • ❑ Being courageous in the moment does bring about change
  • ❑ Convincing people that the world we are living has been designed in some way and that we can design the future