04 Sep 2012 to 04 Sep 2012
The wave of international pro-democracy movements in 2011, including the Arab Spring, the Spanish Indignados, and the global Occupy movement, signify a powerful call for more citizen participation in decision-making. These broad-based movements have also highlighted the potential of youth-oriented social media in organising consensus-based groups, spurring the development of online platforms to facilitate effective collective decision-making on a large scale. This change heralds a transformation in the way the internet generation thinks about politics - dissatisfied with the reduction of democracy to a piece of paper being put in a box every three years, young people are increasingly calling for equitable democratic participation in decision-making in all spheres of society, economy and politics. Recent developments in internet communication technology are making this change possible for the first time.
In Wellington, a passionate team of young volunteers has been developing an open-source collective decision-making tool called Loomio. The goal of the Loomio project is to remove the barriers to groups implementing more participatory decision-making processes. The tool is designed to suit groups of any size, from households to community groups to businesses to NGOs to government departments. The potential benefits are broad; improving the efficiency of businesses, boosting citizen engagement with public institutions, facilitating effective organising in community groups and NGOs. Loomio is already implemented in around 40 groups; right now, it is being used to collaboratively write employment contracts for a web-technology development company, approve exhibition proposals at a community art space, develop a pest management strategy for a biodiversity reserve, and, importantly, to make decisions about the development of Loomio itself.
The vision for Loomio is broad, using web-based technology to stimulate transformative change in the way our institutions make decisions, maximising engagement, participation, collective wisdom and efficiency. This transformative change encompasses the way decisions are made throughout the increasingly interconnected domains of society, environment, and politics, locally and globally.
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