The revolution will be wikiblogged.

On the Map with Avi Lewis

Foreign affairs analysis that doesn’t suck.

Recent shows can be found on One Big Torrent.

Terrorist idiots

Portrait of the Modern Terrorist as an Idiot
by Bruce Schneier:

So these people should be locked up … assuming they are actually guilty, that is. Despite the initial press frenzies, the actual details of the cases frequently turn out to be far less damning. Too often it’s unclear whether the defendants are actually guilty, or if the police created a crime where none existed before.

The JFK Airport plotters seem to have been egged on by an informant, a twice-convicted drug dealer. An FBI informant almost certainly pushed the Fort Dix plotters to do things they wouldn’t have ordinarily done. The Miami gang’s Sears Tower plot was suggested by an FBI undercover agent who infiltrated the group. And in 2003, it took an elaborate sting operation involving three countries to arrest an arms dealer for selling a surface-to-air missile to an ostensible Muslim extremist. Entrapment is a very real possibility in all of these cases.


In case you missed it, the log from [[Democracy|DTECHCON]] on Saturday is here. A small crowd gathered to discuss different projects such as Plexnet, Parlement and Demosphere. A project which doesn’t have a website of its own yet is InfoLibre by François A. Bradet. As I understand it, he wants to use mechanisms of roleplaying games to motivate people to participate in productive online environments. After the chat was officially over, Wybo Wiersma dropped in to discuss LogiLogi; a separate log is available for this.

All in all, I think the model of holding a conference on IRC is quite workable, though we haven’t yet tested it with a large crowd. I think it’s a good way to connect people who might otherwise not meet, and let them know about different projects in a short time. It would have been cool to have Tom Steinberg from mysociety, but he never responded to my invitation – the mysociety projects came up in the discussion a couple of times, especially Pledgebank.

Alas, I wrote the manifesto too short ahead of the conference; if I had taken some time to polish and publish it, it could have brought some additional attention to DTECHCON. As is, I still think it was a worthwhile and useful exercise, and very much intend to repeat it at some point. For those interested in democracy online, the Demosphere wiki has a cool list of related projects.

The Case for Collaborative Governance

In order to promote [[Democracy|DTECHCON]] tomorrow, I have written a small Manifesto. Excerpt:

It is not a single man who created this world. It is not even a few hundred. It is all of us who create it and have done so for millennia. The great inventor is nothing without the resources to implement his idea. His implementation is worthless without the people who use it and refine it. Even then, many inventions cannot function if society does not accommodate or even opposes them.

The collaborative nature of modern civilization makes it quite resilient. Take one human out, and it still works. Take ten thousand out, and it still works. Take a million out – it still works. There is no single person you can kill to kill society. Collectively, we have achieved greatness — while individually, we are extremely fallible. So fallible that one of the biggest health problems in modern societies is obesity.

Yet, given the complexity of even just a single aspect of our economy — how does the apple get into the supermarket? — and the fallibility of individuals, there appears to be a rather glaring flaw in our social design:

  1. Our world is created by the actions of the many, not of the few.
  2. Yet our society still solves its problems through representation of the many by the few.

I have submitted it to Kuro5hin, but I enourage you to edit the wiki version.

Democracy Technology Online Conference: Nov 26

Call for Participation
Democracy Technology Online Conference 2005 (DTECHCON)
Bringing together innovators who create participatory technology, in a neutral forum.

There is no doubt that participatory technology (blogs, wikis, online voting, forums, social networking, and so forth) is changing the world. Can it be used to bring about fundamental changes in democratic societies and to enable regular citizens to participate in the democratic process? Is direct democracy becoming a realistic option?

This first online conference seeks to bring together developers and visionaries who believe in that possibility. It is held on the IRC channel #worlddemocracy on and currently scheduled for Saturday, November 26, at 20:00 UTC. You can use to convert this into your local time.


Our primary goal is to bring together people who may not be aware of each other’s work in the field of participatory technology. Thus, the conference provides participants with a forum to shamelessly advertise their projects, to answer questions and criticisms, and to simply network with others who are interested.


Participants can simply edit this wiki page:

to register in one of the available presentation slots. Those not interested in presenting a specific project are welcome to attend. Presenters should have personal experience with participatory technologies, preferably as developers.

How to conduct an online presentation

How do you present a project on IRC? Why not just let people read up on it online? There are two immediate benefits to an online presentation: interaction and reaching a known group of people simultaneously.

Hence, any IRC “presentation” should be more of a conversation, with you, the presenter, giving background, providing links where appropriate, and answering questions. For this reason, there are no separate “discussion” slots as would be typical in a conference presentation — the presentations are the discussions. Be ready to take questions at any time, and as a “listener”, be ready to interrupt the speaker freely to ask questions.

Have a set of URLs handy, preferably not requiring user accounts. A URL should be immediately understandable. Taking some screenshots of a working system may be better than asking attendees to explore it on their own.

Neutral ground

The website through which this online conference is organized,, is an open wiki for sharing ideas. It is not associated with any organization or leading personality. The IRC network, freenode, also has no such association. Presenters need not worry that this is an attempt to co-opt them for a particular organization, effort, strategy, or website — it is simply an open forum.


If you have questions, please leave them on the wiki talk page:

This conference is deliberately a largely nameless process. It was conceived by journalist and author Erik Möller (moeller AT scireview DOT de). If you have technical questions, you can contact Erik directly.

Spread the word!

Please spread this document to anyone who you feel may be interested in participating in this venue. This announcement is in the public domain.

Formatted for easy copy & pasting into emails, etc.