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The Media Government Politics

The Rise of Open-Source Politics 492

Incognitius writes "There's a great article in this week's The Nation about the rise of open-source politics. Never before has the top-down world of presidential campaigning been opened to a bottom-up, networked community of ordinary voters. Applied to political organizing, open source means opening up participation in planning and implementation to the community, letting competing actors evaluate the value of your plans and actions, being able to shift resources away from bad plans and bad planners and toward better ones, and expecting more of participants in return. What do you guys think, is open source a good model for politics?"
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The Rise of Open-Source Politics

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  • by students ( 763488 ) * on Sunday November 07, 2004 @10:03PM (#10750826) Homepage Journal
    Why isn't protection for open source software and limitation of intelectual property law a political issue? I never heard it discussed in the presidential election. What can we do to force politicians to bring these issues to the forefront? Don't we want to put all the FUD behind us?
    • by mind21_98 ( 18647 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @10:10PM (#10750871) Homepage Journal
      A large voter bloc that always comes out to elections is seniors. To candidates, it's more efficent to cater to the issues of seniors than to many of the other issues out there (not to mention the AARP's enormous influence in politics). And contrary to what you might think, seniors care more about whether they'll have Medicare tomorrow than whether the DMCA is repealed. Maybe if more young people voted this might change.
      • More like if more people _in_general_ voted. Voter turnout in the US is woefully pathetic. It rarely even comes close to what would otherwise be considered a necessary quorum.

        No amount of change in the behavior of the existing electorate will really heal much so long as turnout remains so pitifully low.
    • How do you compile open source politics?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 07, 2004 @10:13PM (#10750908)
      The simple answer is that Republicans take in a lot of money from the Media corporations and Democrats take in a lot of money from Media personalities (actors and executives). The computer industry is nearly universially pro-Patent and spreads money to both parties. Even big Linux-backers like IBM and HP are known for their patents.

      Futhermore, you are fighting the Great Myth of the American Inventor, and the idea that the patent/copyright system are the foundations of American Industry and its cultural influence.

      Most engineers, songwriters, and filmmakers support the IP system as it stands. This is only an issue on GNU/Lunatic Fringe places like slashdot.
      • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @11:17PM (#10751324) Homepage
        Most people I know involved in the generation of IP are also chafed by its limitations. Videogame makers looking to get popular songs into their games need to try to license hundreds, as one in ten will actually get through the tedious and difficult rights process. Filmmakers wishing to make documentaries from existing sources frequently bump into arbitrary, demeaning decisions, like Fox's refusal to allow a documentary filmmaker to use footage of President Bush in an upcoming film. And IBM weilds its patent war chest like a shield against others who would attempt to intimidate the big blue with their patents. Basically everyone in the software industry has bumped into some ridiculous patent or another, even if they are busy generating ridiculous patents of their own.

        IP law is like lawyers: for every one on the right side, there is another one on the wrong side.

      • I think you're very wrong to say that most engineers, songwriters, and filmmakers support the IP system as it stands. Most software engineers I know recognize that patents in software are seriously being abused.

        Most musicians (the performers, many of whom are also songwriters) recognize that the current system of IP severely overvalues the minor contribution of record companies while largely screwing the people who actually make the music happen. They just grit their teeth because they feel that they ha

      • The simple answer is that Republicans take in a lot of money from the Media corporations and Democrats take in a lot of money from Media personalities (actors and executives). The computer industry is nearly universially pro-Patent and spreads money to both parties. Even big Linux-backers like IBM and HP are known for their patents.

        It's even worse than that: the media corporations own -- surprise -- the media! That means that they control most of what voters see and learn about candidates, and that m

    • Why isn't protection for open source software and limitation of intelectual property law a political issue?

      Once we've finished with the war, fixed the medical system, social security, homeland security, the environment, etc., then maybe we can talk about open source software. Open source software issues are only on the minds of an incredibly tiny portion of the US population, so why should a politician who has limited time talk about it? Health care and social security affect everyone, so you're going
    • by slashname3 ( 739398 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @10:15PM (#10750918)
      Open source software does not generate millions of dollars that can be funneled into a politicians pockets. As such it will never be an political issue, unless it threatens some proprietary software vendors enough. Then the politicians will pass laws to regulate open source software which will in effect make it illegal to write and dissiminate free software.

      Unless you are a special interest with lots of money to buy a politician your pet issue will not have a voice in government circles. That is the way the system works.

      If you want to force politicians to bring these issues to the forefront you will need to pass the hat and collect a sizeable wad of cash which may eventually attract a politician that you can sway to push your issue.

      So pass the hat and start looking for a congress critter of your very own.
    • Simple answer (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chuck Chunder ( 21021 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @10:20PM (#10750949) Homepage Journal
      Why isn't protection for open source software and limitation of intelectual property law a political issue?
      It's too bloody confusing. Half of Slashdot seemingly doesn't understand the difference between copyright and patents. The vast majority of the general public wouldn't relate to it at all. (Though this is one area where projects such as Creative Commons [] may help in the long term.)
      What can we do to force politicians to bring these issues to the forefront?
      Your best bet would be to find a section of the bible pointing out that software patents are bad.
    • by taylortbb ( 759869 ) <> on Sunday November 07, 2004 @10:22PM (#10750960) Homepage
      Although its not a forefront issue is one that is brought up. Generally the left parties support open-source, a good example (though possibly co-incidence) is that the George W Bush website ran IIS but Kerry's ran Apache/Linux.

      Though, to the average voter it doesn't matter, many think Microsoft is the best thing since sliced bread and really wont be told otherwise. (These are the same people that say Firefox is auwful before even trying it). And those that don't like Microsoft generally still consider many other political items to be much more important, and to an extent they are correct. If I was American (not Canadian) I would have voted Kerry, but if Kerry liked Microsoft and George W liked Linux I still would have voted for Kerry. I really think nuclear war is a bigger deal than Microsoft vs. OSS; and many would agree with me.

      The Canadian Green Party ( is an example of a party that support OSS, if you look at their technology policies ( .php?p=16#pt14 , Open Source section) they very specifically say that they will ban proprietary software in government unless there is no OSS alternative, they will say that everything must be done in open, standard formats, they say that anything developed by the government will be open source. They are one of the few parties that makes a big deal of it, and although they have 7% of the popular vote they don't have concentrated enough support to win seats in the House of Commons. They are one of the small parties, I don't see any big parties (Liberal, Conservative, Bloc Québécois, NDP) doing this, and that might be because they have realized that this doesn't win votes.
      • by Drantin ( 569921 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @12:50AM (#10751879)
        George W Bush website ran IIS but Kerry's ran Apache/Linux

        While you may have a point that the people that designed Kerry's site were better informed about the technology they were using(as evidenced by the html comments in the site...), do you really think that Bush asked his webmasters/designers to go make sure his site was hosted on a Microsoft machine? It was probably more along the lines of a friends recommendation "yes mr. president, sir. I've used this company before and whenever the site goes down they're always right there fixing it..."
      • "If I was American (not Canadian)"

        Speaking of Canadians it was on CNN Morning this morning that the day after the election the number of hits on the Canadian immigration info site, from Americans looking to bail, spiked like 6X and set a new daily record.

        I don't think it registered with Canadian immigration or CNN they were slashdotted since the URL was posted on one of the Slashdot threads about people who were considering leaving America now that it appears its turning in to a right wing police state do
    • Libertarians (Score:3, Insightful)

      You haven't been keeping track of Libertarian political candidates, have you?

      Seriously. Michael Badnarik, the 2004 presidential candidate, is a programmer. The web page runs on FreeBSD and Apache.

      The things you complain about are not "political issues" because the mainstream press and their butt-buddies, the two faces of the Party of State Power, all agree that Copyright and Patent should cover everything and the mere "citizen" has no rights at all.


  • by Anik315 ( 585913 )
    I think you mean anarchist libertarian politics which has been around for quite some time.
  • Douglas Ruskoff [] seems to think so. He also thinks its a good model for religeon [].
  • by Anonymous Coward
    In other news the Republicans launch their "Get the Facts" campaign, more at 11.
    • I guess all that "bottom up" information still wasn't enough to overcome the "Fox News" effect? With any luck, as the Internet comes to more households, 2008 won't be so bad. :)
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Forget the Fox News affect and consider that the GOP had a kick-ass IT infrastructure and was counting votes down to the block level all across the country.

        Using "IT" to photoshop a Hitler mustache onto a picture of Bush at can't compete with that.

        The "Open Source" analogy is quite apt, because a million message board flamers means absolutely squat in the real world.
  • Deja Vu (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @10:10PM (#10750874) Homepage Journal
    I feel like I'm reading a Jon Katz story.

    Enough with the buzzword bingo, please!


  • I printed out about 100 copies of an activist .pdf from a web site on the home laser and trucked them around the neighborhood.

    Felt better than watching Cheers reruns.
  • ...hmmm, because quite often a political campaign has source code! actually, the restaurant I just had lunch at posts their menus to the internet, perhaps they're an open source restaurant? What do you think, can the open source model be applied to restaurants, or is that just a really really really unbelievably stupid things to say?
  • by mind21_98 ( 18647 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @10:13PM (#10750895) Homepage Journal
    For instance, open-source style politics was the reason Howard Dean was leading before the primaries. It allowed him to reach out to more people than he otherwise would have. In general the Internet is causing the voice of the people to be heard, and we should expect more Howard Dean-style campaigns in the future.
    • by danheskett ( 178529 ) <> on Sunday November 07, 2004 @10:41PM (#10751071)
      open-source style politics was the reason Howard Dean was leading before the primaries

      Dean's supporters and staff fell into the trap of the ultimate echo chamber: blogging. You take a group of like minded people, throw them into constant communication for months on end, and suddenly you start to think that you are the majority.

      Dean never won a majority of the votes in primary, save maybe Vermont. They had a few thousand extremely active users and it really got people into thinking that everyone else was on board. Add in a few early polls and all the sudden Dean is front runner who has never caught any votes.

      Blogging is great. And politics that are more open are great. But let's be real here for a minute. Blogging is not a way to influence people's minds. It is a way to connect to like minded people.

      I am convinced that is what happened with Dean. You had a sizeable but still minor portion of the population on board with him. The echo's got very loud, and convinced everyone he was the guy to beat.

      It's not dissimiliar to the rest of the OSS minority. Some OSS apps have made great inroads, as have some companies. Get people together that use the apps, and all you get is how the players are going down.

      It's like the constant stories/comments about how "5 years from now MS will not exisit as it is known today", despite the fact that MS has increased units shipped and profits consistently and that although it's relative market share isn't necessarily growing in all segments, its absolute users clearly is. Yet none of that matters. Because a large plurality of the users use non-MS products at least somewhat often, therefore, MS is losing users left and right, and MS is doomed.

      Whenever you discuss events online, and get involved in a community you always have to recognize that you are dealing with like-minded individuals more than you expect.
  • Too many "experts" (Score:2, Interesting)

    by moofdaddy ( 570503 )
    Like it or not, modern day politics is a game for professionals. In open source technology related things, people who don't know what they are doing stay out of it. In politics though, everyone thinks they know what they are doing and everyone has an opinion.
    • The essential, defining characteristic of a democracy is the demos, loosely, the people. It's proper that each of us has an opinion, and each of us assumes that we know the best way to run the government. The marketplace of ideas, in action.

      True, the US is a republican (little r) government - with elected leaders given a higher degree of responsibility. Our Founding Fathers assumed that those elected leaders would be smarter, would be wiser than the average person. Funny though, it seems that our syste

  • by Joseph_Daniel_Zukige ( 807773 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @10:15PM (#10750919) Homepage Journal

    I thought that was what the guys who wrote the US Constitution said when they were done?

    Are we just saying we mean it for real this time, or are we just fooling ourselves?

    Eternal vigilence is the only real way to keep the politics bottom-up.

    It does help when the leaf nodes in the socio-political processes have as much access to the technology that controls information as the root nodes, of course.

    I wonder how it is that we moderns have access to that technology when so much of history is full of examples of political and social systems where it was assumed that the masses must be strictly guarded to access to it.

    Or are we fooling ourselves?
    • Think of this development as a new, more efficient eternal vigilence.
      If the individual becomes powerful enough to threaten existing power structures through technology, I'm sure your questions will all be answered. Until then, what harm can be done increasing the power of the individual?
    • Eternal vigilence is the only real way to keep the politics bottom-up.

      That, and strictly limited government. The founders had the right idea, but for all the emphasis they put on limiting the powers of government, it wasn't enough.

      The bottom line is that power will be abused, no matter who has it. There is no way around it. The best we can do, therefore, is to limit the amount of power available for abuse.

      In a nutshell, the less power available to those who control government, the less trouble they wi

  • zerg (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Omlette ( 124579 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @10:18PM (#10750941) Homepage
    Ok, I saw no mention in the article of the echo chamber that Democrats lived in for the last 4 years. If we're going to take back the country, we need to instill some discipline: STOP ACTING LIKE THE GUY ACROSS THE DIVIDE IS AN IDIOT. Until we get every single Democrat repeating that in their sleep, nothing's gonna change.

    Open-Source Politics means: "I think Republicans are idiots. What's this? Lord Omlette says I shouldn't treat Republicans as idiots? FUCK THAT NOISE! I'ma ignore him and surf a different website. Oooh look, this blog agrees w/ me that Republicans are idiots. Hurray for the Internet!"

    All the nifty tools and new communications paradigms are not going to change a goddamned thing until we get back to recognizing that the opposing force are Americans, same as us.
    • Re:zerg (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mind21_98 ( 18647 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @10:26PM (#10750982) Homepage Journal
      Amen! Kerry didn't give me a good enough reason to vote for him, and neither did Bush. All I heard was "he's not Bush", and nothing substantial. Unless the Democrats can differentiate themselves from the Republicans, people aren't going to want to change what party's president.
      • Re:zerg (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Hard_Code ( 49548 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @10:41PM (#10751066)
        "Unless the Democrats can differentiate themselves from the Republicans, people aren't going to want to change what party's president."

        It seems to me that differentiating themselves from Republicans has been a losing strategy, not winning strategy. Republicans have a fixed top-down message that is easily and often repeated. You can't fight it with having a more complex opinion on anything. If it took you more than 5 seconds to explain your position in a witty quip you lost the sound-bite war and are immediately cast as an effette ivory tower liberal who is "out of touch" because apparently "in touch" means supporting simplistic nice-sounding policies that get votes today without any regard for long term effects.

        Hasn't this election been a refutation of "open source politics"? Republicans got out their base, and although they did do a lot of grassroots politicking, the message was still based on agenda bullet points. It was still the Cathedral, not the Bazaar. Democrats are the Bazaar with a lot of disparate and less clear cut factions, without strict adherence to absolutist positions. The Cathedral is going to win over. More people attend and are influenced by Cathedrals in this country than Bazaars.

        I think it is clear that to compete Democrats have to start fighting this Noise War. That's why they started Air America to compete with conservative talk radio. But to compete they need to stick to a very few, very well-defined, divisive, and visceral positions, and just hammer them relentlessly. Frankly I think that goes against the grain of the whole left which has rested on the notion that the truth will set them free, and if people just know the truth they'll vote correctly. But truth is not always simple and not always sound-bite-ready, and I don't know if it is a winning strategy. The only way it could be is if they somehow astro-turf crazily but that's dishonest.
        • Re:zerg (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jrexilius ( 520067 )
          Actually I think the problem is that Democrats spend all their time postulating about their superior intellect and obvious rightness and looking for excuses for why people disagree with them. They lost this election because they became the "hate mongers" that they were so righteously condemning as evil.

          Open-source approaches may or may not have helped with that issue but, being one myself, foaming-mouth linux fanatics haven't really helped OS adoption.

          What really pisses me off is the assumption that becau
        • Re:zerg (Score:4, Insightful)

          by jafac ( 1449 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @12:48AM (#10751870) Homepage
          Air America was a BAD idea.

          A radio station devoted to leftwing propaganda, hosted by all the people who the Right love to hate, when they've already got a good chunk of the center convinced that the gays and the blacks are trying to take over the country, and make people accept gay marriage, etc. (suckers, buying into all that fearmongering) - but you see, Air America worked AGAINST their own cause, by galvanizing the Right even more.

          What the Left (or really, the Center) in America needs, is simply a place to air the truth. Not leftwing propaganda, or anti-right hate. Just a place to call out facts, and very strongly backed-up facts (like the al QaQaa issue, etc. - - not the TANG story, because though it's very compelling, there's just plain not enough hard facts to conclude anything). The corporate-dominated media is weak right now. Not just on bias in story selection, but also in their utter lack of fact-checking. Air America could have gone a long way in making the truth obvious and apparent to Americans - but instead, they fell for Rove's divisive tactics, and just played the other side, attacking people for their beliefs, calling them stupid rednecks- and gawd, that one woman had to say something about being a Lesbian every single day. That's supposed to win-over voters in the center?
      • Re:zerg (Score:4, Informative)

        by mattkime ( 8466 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @11:22PM (#10751356)
        If all you heard was "he's not Bush", I'm not sure you educated yourself. (Then again, there's the whole conversation on whether the voter should have to educate themselves.)

        Kerry would repeal tax breaks for the rich, work to build international alliances, provide stem cell funding, seek gas alternatives, protect a woman's right to abortion, select supreme court justices that feel similarly, work to expand health care cover, and more.

        Also, people who typically cite Kerry for not providing a reason to vote for him often do not fault Bush for what the Democrats see as his many faults. (poor economy, no bin laden, no WMDs and therefore no justification for war in Iraq, cheney's haliburton connections, silly stem cell stance, heavy handed foreign policy, prisoner abuse problems, tax cuts for the rich)

        I believe we had plenty of reason to speak out against the actions of our president over the past four years.

        I hope I'm not annoying you with this, but I believe in what is currently the Democrats cause. I don't think they need to change their goals, just educate people such as I am attempting to do here.

        I do think Bush was more effective in communicating with people - his message is painfully simple. Kerry needed to take more of a stand and leave the nuance for later.
    • by KalvinB ( 205500 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @10:38PM (#10751050) Homepage
      They need to remember that the next election so they don't do a repeat of this election. The anti-Bush crowd did an excellent job alienating the Republicans and motivating them to vote for Bush. In the process they failed to build up the support they needed for their own candidate. Any rational argument against Bush was quickly lost by screaming loonies calling Bush, Hitler and insulting the intelligence of anyone who didn't have the same negative opinion.

      They put the Republicans on the defensive which resulted in Bush being re-elected, the Republicans getting a larger margin in the house and senate and the minority leader losing his job. The first time that's happened in 50 years.

      I think the problem was that the Democrats thought they were in the majority judging by all the various polls and world opinion and they didn't need "idiots" voting for their guy. Turns out they really were the minority.
      • by MarkusQ ( 450076 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @01:48AM (#10752143) Journal

        You want some rational arguments against Bush?
        • He spends money with more abandon than any liberal in history
        • He lies to the American public
        • He lauches unprovoked attacks into third world countries
        • He can't figure out how to win them once he's started them
        • He shows no respect for the constitution
        • He shows no respect for civil liberties
        • He uses legal loopholes and questionable logic to rationalize going against pretty much every American Ideal, from "innocent until proven guilty" and "seperation of church and state" to "the right to a fair and speedy trial"
        • He routinely places the good of corporations over the good of individuals
        • etc., etc.
        Before any Democrats reading this get to smug, ask yourself: was Kerry the best you could come up with? "I have a plan" and "Wrong, Wrong, Wrong"? Both parties have any number of sensible, credible people they could have run...and the real problem is they ran Bush and Kerry. The race was so close for so long mostly because neither one of them was worth voting for, except as a way to keep the other from winning.

        -- MarkusQ

    • I hate to say it, but negative tactics work. People tell you that they don't work, but they seem to be saying this because they just don't like them. That's very different from them not working.

      Studies show that people fairly consistently say they don't like, and aren't affected by negative advertising, and they also show that people are consistently wrong in those opinions of themselves. People pay more attention to and remember negative ads significantly better than positive ones. They aren't persuaded o
    • Yes, especially since 58% of college graduates voted for Bush and 54% of high school drop outs voted for Kerry.

      See or yourself [].

      Also, despite Bush's attempt at a constitutional ammendment against gay marriage, 23% of homosexuals still voted for Bush. I guess that means 23% of gays are stupid hicks too eh?
    • Republicans are idiots post!

      Just kiddin, but that is generally the mentality you are going to be dealing with. The people here on Slashdot, are just as impressionable as those who backed the Republican party for "Morals". The problem is that no-one wants to listen to each other anymore. You do not hold my views because they are counter to my A.) Church B.) Party C.) Company D.) Parents, and therefore you are wrong. No sense in why you are wrong, but just knowing that you are.
  • Here in Australia (Score:5, Interesting)

    by darnok ( 650458 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @10:19PM (#10750944)
    ... the two major political parties work very differently. The Liberal Party (who are the more *right*-leaning) have a top-down model broadly similar to how both major US parties work - decisions are made by the man/men at the top, and filter down to the underlings whose job it is to make them happen.

    The Labor Party have a bottom-up model, where various factions (e.g. trade unions) push ideas, solutions etc. upwards to the man at the top. Infighting within the Labor Party is very much out in the open as the various factions try to win out, whereas infighting in the Liberal Party is almost exclusively carried out behind closed doors.

    One thing that has been a pattern is that, when the Labor Party has been running the country, their leaders have almost always been extremely charismatic people. Keating, Hawke, Whitlam (and now we're back 30 years) have had very strong public personas. The Liberal Party, on the other hand, has had "grey men" in charge whenever they've been in power - nobody ever accused Howard, Fraser, McMahon, Holt or Gorton of being particularly visionary in the way they went about doing things (OK, Gorton is a slight exception, but he was nowhere near as charismatic as any of the Labor guys).

    Here's my point, at long last: if you equate the open-source (bottom up movement) with the Australian Labor Party (bottom up model), maybe the thing that's missing is a highly charismatic leader for the open-source movement. Maybe FOSS needs someone who can present the vision, paint the future as rosy, etc. etc., while managing to galvanise the hard-headed FOSS coders behind the scenes to buy into the same vision. Someone who can stand up and convince a room full of sceptical businessmen and politicians that he knows what their problems are and FOSS can address them, while being able to stand up in a room full of C++ and Java coders and convince them his coding and design skills are on a par with theirs.

    From what I've read, Miguel de Icaza would possible be the foremost candidate for that type of role at this particular instant, but I've got no idea if that's a role he sees himself filling at any point in the future.
  • NEVER! (Score:2, Funny)

    by HexRei ( 515117 )
    Never shall I allow actors, competitive or not, to evaluate the... value... of stuff.
  • Emphatically, yes! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RealProgrammer ( 723725 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @10:21PM (#10750955) Homepage Journal
    The Open Source model is the future of politics. In the next few election cycles, I think we'll see a Cathedral/Bazaar phenomenon take place. Whether that phenomenon supplants the current right/left paradigm or not remains to be seen. A lot depends on whether the Democrats pick up the mantle of "Open Politics" or not.

    Open Politics is, in many ways, what grass roots politics is supposed to be. In the current system I think it has turned into the national parties manipulating the local people, though I speak only for my own locale.

    The Republicans are just coming to terms with the notion that their base is comprised, to quote one Republican polster, of "theocrats" - people who believe not that a theocracy is desirable, but that the separation of Church and State has been overemphasized to the nation's detriment. That's who won the 2004 election, and it will be very hard to deny that movement. Democrats should not make the mistake of dismissing the theocrats or ignoring the intellectual and numeric strength of the movement.

    The Democrats need new intellectual vigor, and tapping in to the Open Politics movement seems like a natural for them.

    If the Republicans embrace Open Politics, I don't know what effect that will have. If neither major party embraces it, then a huge vacuum is opened up for one of the minor parties to fill.
  • by Cryofan ( 194126 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @10:23PM (#10750961) Journal
    The campaigns are not what is important. Before you can get a good populist candidate, one who favors egalitarian change, you need to get the right set of ideas (memeset) out into the political "air". The rightwing wealthy and the mega corporations have already done that over the last 30 years using their think tanks and foundations. See here:
    http://www ive_counterpa.htm

    So before you can get a "candidate of the people" you need to have the voters already aware of a set of ideas that reflect his politics. What you need is a Leftwing Meme Propagation Machine which needs to be up and running YEARS before the campaign.

    If you want to get a real liberal (as opposed to faux liberals like Kerry, Dean, Edwards, et al., you need to sell the idea of progressive politics to the public.

    Rightwingers here on /. will no doubt tell me that CBS, NBC, PBS, et al are the leftwing meme propagation machine. I used to think so, too. But I was wrong, and so are you. Economically Leftism and social leftism are two different things. One feeds the bulldog, and the other does not.

  • by DJ XpL0iT ( 828323 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @10:23PM (#10750962)

    Ok...Given that the article talks about using open source as a model to galvanise the 'grassroots' supporters, I don't see this as a model that can be applied so easily to politics.

    Open Source as a paradigm relies pretty much on two things, a desire to participate, and the belief that well reasoned argument based on merit will ensure the implementation of the best solution.

    In Politics, I think both things are lacking from the general populace (as opposed to the, for the want of a better word, intelligentsia(sp?)).

    Joe Everyman doesn't vote based on a rational discussion of ideas and policies - he votes along pretty much strict party lines. And that's when he bothers to vote at all.

    Open Source is about informed intelligent participation, and I think that sounds too much like hard work for Joe Everyman.

    As examples, I don't think anyone could argue that between Kerry and Bush, or Latham and Howard, that either of them won or lost on their MERITS

    ...or maybe I'm just cynical...

  • From Unfortunately, the 2004 USA Election has been a victory of FUD over Facts. []

    The mainstream forth estate news organizations, on both sides, have utterly failed to hold either Democrats or Republicans accountable for claims that diverge widely from the known facts. In cases where journalists have made a consistent argument, the news organization has allowed that position to be "shouted down" by political camp followers repeating the same lies over and over again though the same outlet.

    Some alternat

  • An idea struck me the other day. I've been thinking about what I consider to be our broken democracy for several years now, and I've half-ass considered writing A New Constitution, just as a personal writing project really. Wednesday (a time for introspection for a lot of people) I decided if I do that it should be submitted as an RFC. What could be more democratic than open source government? It's an intriguing thought.
  • True open-source.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Geoffreyerffoeg ( 729040 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @10:27PM (#10750986)
    Allow laws to be publicly editable via the web (in a Wiki style). The only power elected lawmakers would have would be to approve for a version of the page.
  • by adam31 ( 817930 ) <[adam31] [at] []> on Sunday November 07, 2004 @10:27PM (#10750987)
    Not until you change to a "vote for as many as you like" style voting system, where candidates have to compete for the greatest-common-cross-section of opinions. Now it's a system where the politics have led people to believe that how you feel on 1 or 2 issues determines how you feel about everything. How do you feel about taxes? How do you feel about abortion? Alright, here's the entirety of your other political opinions.

    They've even convinced us that it even goes down to the very fabric of our being... Who are you? A Liberal, or A Conservative? So it's vitally important to *them* that *they* be the ones to draw the line... make the definition. But of course it's not true. You can believe whatever you want about any different issue. Son of Reagan shows up at the DNC to promote stem cells... and people are SHOCKED.

    But no politician has to worry about the lines being blurred when it's a battle of Us or Them. Not until you destroy that paradigm can you begin to have influence.

    • Instan Runoff Voting roughtly accomplishes this. Though electoral reform must go much farther through increased campaign finance reform, a new system of proprtional representation or some form of alternative districting that does not give the economic and political power holders control over how our vote is counted. Not to mention bringing the Federal Reserve into public oversight, and a plethora of other things neccessary to fight the current economic class system, and neoliberal policies of our country.

      • There are some good reasons [] why IRV isn't necessarily the best voting method to choose. Approval voting, for example, is much simpler to understand and to implement, and actually provides a better picture of voters' preferences. In fact, most of the other voting methods solve one major problem with IRV: it's not monotonic; increasing your preference for a candidate can actually hurt their chances, so people will still vote tactically).

        But I agree with your general idea. Almost any voting method would b

  • The internet gives an equal voice to everyone, and that means a weighted voice for extremists, who care more about their positions than anyone else does. The mainstream process mutes these loonies and produces something that all Americans can support (in theory). I mean, if Howard Dean's campaign is the example, it's not exactly a shining theory.
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @10:30PM (#10751004) Homepage
    Ever take notice of the KDE vs. GNOME camps? That's a political divide if ever I saw one.

    The two projects could have merged long ago if only they didn't have such different models at the time. Can they merge now? Doesn't seem like it. And that division would seem to mirror the kind of division we might see in "open source politics" of the future.

    I can only imagine that two camps out there might have "the best answer" to global warming, renewable energy, clear air, keeping the nation's unemployment rate down, managing terrorist threat, you name it.

    I can see an open source model for research projects, however. The trouble is, people with money care more about profit than progress... then again, that's how they become people with money now isn't it.

    I think the idea has merit but I can also see where it would be supressed or at the very least competed against by commercial interests so it wouldn't be enough that OS public activities would be competing against themselves but also against commercial interests. Is it a good idea? Yeah... I think so. If for no other reason than to maintain and incentive to keep politics close enough to the people that it's never completely out of the public's reach.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Because of the lack of games which is what politics is all about. Until you change the market shares in playing games, MS has the best political model.
  • by pherris ( 314792 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @10:36PM (#10751034) Homepage Journal
    From "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" []
    The fact that this bazaar style seemed to work, and work well, came as a distinct shock. As I learned my way around, I worked hard not just at individual projects, but also at trying to understand why the Linux world not only didn't fly apart in confusion but seemed to go from strength to strength at a speed barely imaginable to cathedral-builders.
    Politics up until recently has been an insider's only game. Any information about a candidate was only available through a few select news outlets and many times it was "polished" so said outlet wouldn't have their access shut off. Discussions were limited to the local coffee shop with a few people. It was the cathedral.

    Now the news and editorials come from everywhere. We can discuss the same issue with hundreds of people in a day. Opinions can be formed with the help of a diverse and eclectic group of people. While this system scares traditional news outlets like daily papers, local tv and radio stations, it works very well. It is the bazaar.

    Even though I don't think when Eric wrote his landmark article about the history of GNU/Linux it could or would be applied to politics, I think parts of it fit this issue quite well.

    The Internet and FOSS have truly changed the way we live. Is it any surprise that it's also changing politics too? BTW, if you haven't read "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" read it soon. It's great stuff.

  • Fuck your tribe. (Score:2, Informative)

    Here's what I hope.. The internet helps folks bypass the party tribe system, and that history is used as a lesson on which to base improvements of the future. That people can argue ideas on their merits, not on the tribal associations of those fielding the ideas.

    Unfortunately, there's something in the limbic system that makes people want to conform and seek the approval of others in their social groupings, something hardwired in the primate brain.

    The one thing about opensource that I would want to see i
  • ...can be bought in open source politics?
  • First point: Why not run whole businesses that way, with open accounting and forcing renewal of corporate charters that have a limited "lifespan"? ...sounds a hell of a lot like a socialist plan except that, being based around the internet, it doesn't need the top-down heirarchy. So at least it gets rid of the weakest link. Second point: if the government were going to be run in a bottom-up, buzzword loaded "open source" system...why elect anyone?
  • by venomkid ( 624425 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @10:56PM (#10751171)
    Open source is just a programming "contexted" facet of the regular behavior of information (Open/Free).

    The fact is that, under real, tremendous stresses (like this election), this kind of information gets out anyway.

    It has nothing to do with your software movement. Your software movement is a small acknowledgement of something bigger.
  • jury system (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @11:08PM (#10751269) Homepage
    I think the closest thing we have to open-source culture in politics is the jury system, especially the original jury system in Ye Olde England: round up everybody who was nearby when the crime occurred, and have them vote.


    • The jury system is decentralized. The open-source movement is decentralized.
    • On a jury, you don't get to vote without having sat through a trial and a discussion of all the issues. In open source, your opinions don't count unless you actually contribute to the project.
    • There are no secrets. Nobody says, "I can't reveal my evidence that (the defendant is guilty|Iraq has WMD)."

    Most voters don't have a clue about the issues they're voting on, and couldn't state a coherent political philosophy if you put a gun to their head. I'd really like to see something more like the jury system used more broadly for political decision-making. Here's a straw-man proposal:

    1. Everybody picks a personal representative in whom to entrust his franchise. To become a representative, you need to have at least 100 contituents, and you can have no more than 300.
    2. The personal representatives form a jury pool. When an important political issue comes up, a jury is empaneled at random, and after a period of online discussion, they vote.
  • What is old is new (Score:4, Insightful)

    by b-baggins ( 610215 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @11:20PM (#10751344) Journal
    This is nothing more than a rephrasing of the Jeffersonian ideas of strong local governments and weak federal government.
  • by imipak ( 254310 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @11:22PM (#10751361) Journal
    Open source government that is. Democracy came before GNU! :)

    Anyway personally I wonder what the point is - this election was supposed to show the rise of the bloggers, digerati and all the rest of it. What's the point when Dubya just gets voted back into power?

  • by jon_oner ( 753207 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @01:30AM (#10752081)
    Yes, but the instant dissemination of information renders the whole "enlightened leader" concept of democracy obsolete. No single group of people should have the burden of making decisions. If politics were really "open-sourced"(as in perpetual referendums), the current system of management would not be able to compete with it. The quality and quatity of ideas would be far greater if the masses were allowed to directly make decision, instead of just a few elected (closed-sourced) politicians. Open-source democracy is truly the will of the people - they get to decide instantly what gets done and what doesn't.
  • I call BS. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by elmegil ( 12001 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @01:47AM (#10752139) Homepage Journal
    Never before has the top-down world of presidential campaigning been opened to a bottom-up, networked community of ordinary voters.

    And not even RIGHT NOW. Idiot. If the campaign cycle were truly open source, Dean would have been the candidate.

  • by opencity ( 582224 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @01:47AM (#10752140) Homepage
    Why not have all budgets viewable off the net.

    One of the main stories of the 20th century is corruption in the munitions industry. Until that is addressed, we, in the USA, are at the mercy of the arms dealers.

    It could also address the problem/myth of the 'welfare queens', slackers living off social programs.
  • by mwood ( 25379 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @09:24AM (#10753606)
    Yes. Will the party bosses allow it to happen to them? No way. Bottom-up politics is going to have to create itself *from the bottom up* until it is powerful enough to toss the top onto the scrap heap of history.

    (And a generation later the most effective bottom-uppers will be the bad guys at the top and become the targets of a new generation of bottom-uppers.)
  • by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Monday November 08, 2004 @12:24PM (#10755264) Journal
    Is there anybody here who actually RTFA!?!? Did EVERYBODY see the words "Open Source Politics" in the parent article and start blathering immediately about patents in a conditioned-response fashion?

    1) It's not about gcc,

    2) It's not about abolishing software patents,

    3) It's not about mandating open-source software in govornment installations,

    4) It's not about the DMCA.

    Folks, It's about using the open-source organizational method in the political realm.

    To which I can only say - in representative democracies, such as the U.S., politics has always been "open source"!!!!

    Now, the recent rise of the "blogosphere" is starting to change the balance of power in various nations. Improved collaborationa and moderation methods result in a quicker method of collecting and filtering huge amounts of data, which has typically been the job of the media. (CNN/NBC/CBS/FOX) The "media" won't go away, but it's power is definitely dwindling. How far, only time (and the media) can tell.

    The core concepts of end-user involvement, as seen in open-source circles, is the point of representative democracies!

Air is water with holes in it.