[MG] Tunisia and activism in general

Alexander Praetorius alex at twister11.de
Tue Jan 25 03:34:40 EST 2011


" We can setup a demo environment to show off diff-patching. In fact you can
already see it in Michael's poll wiki. But has it worked to attract people
that way? How would you concretely do it?"

I will try to do a powerpoint presentation of the concept, as soon as my
time allows it. So maybe I'll do it in a couple of weeks.

" This is documented by Michael in a non-technological way on zelea.com
imo."
I think I saw it, but I think it is still to technical.

" In which community? Votorola is not a social network, it is tools build
around the general concepts of social networks/forums to allow consensus
building."

What exactly is a social network? In theory, using the wiki of votorola, you
could do everything that is done by other social networks, that is linking
to different kind of data related to you and offer others to see that
data... that's possible. So maybe votorola might be more acceptable if its
offered in "facebook style" or at least as a plugin.


" Well that is obvious, but Votorola is not in itself an interface, it is
rather a concept of bridging different tools together. So we need to have a
scenario to show it off or we need some artists to create a promo video
about diff- patching and crossforum browsing. Crossforum is the promo entry
point designed with a very intuitve interface in mind, which demos itself
(which is always the best way) actually so if we can set that up for only
two communities we can start to show it off with real data, which again is
much better than some dummy data or screencast. We are near a point where we
can do it with real data from metagovernment at least."

Yes, that sound nice :)

" Are you a CG-guy?"

Yes, in a way, I am a CG-guy, but overloaded with so much work to do, that I
think I might find time helping to develop something useful in a couple of
months. I'm into visualization stuff, currently working at "Fraunhofer IGD"
on a project called SEMAVIS.
(www.semavis.com)

"(The difference bridging and consensus based action is something you have
to think about before you understand its universal potential.)"

I think I've only scratched the surface and I've read only pieces of it, but
I talked to Thomas about the concept and I hope that I have a good picture
of how things are working.
The problem ist, that explaining how a difference bridge works or what it is
and what concensus based action is, is something that might not be of
interest for a real user of the tools.
He probably does not want to know about it, but he might get a picture of
what it is without knowing how to call it, while he uses the tool.

I don't think that FOSS the way it work today will soon be a solution for
the masses, because it is just to hard to figure out how things work. People
just want stuff to work, and they don't want to know how it works...

" If you tell the users before installing that they can use forums and file
bugs and will become part of a community together with the developers, they
won't get what is special about FOSS and collaborative work and simply
ignore your offers."

Yes that is correct, people just don't wanna know about it.
They want to use it out of the box and that's a good thing.
There are too many disciplines in this world, to many professions and people
are specialized in doing the stuff of their profession.
It just wastes their time, if they have to get involved in how FOSS works.
It just has to work and FOSS people have to do the job for them.

" This doesn't mean I am against lowering the barrier where possible, but
the primary focus has to be interested users and trying to pull at least two
projects in."

The lower the barriers, the higher the amount of people that will use it.
Right now, the barrier is so damn high, that people prefer old mechanisms,
like using forums or wikis and informal methods or old methods to find
solutions. 

" Now explain diff-patching. Either you have some cool cg-skills or you have
to talk about it, which will be too difficult for an "average" user."

Ok, I get the point. So that's why I'd like to design a user interface that
is more intuitive, so people figure out the concepts while using the
program.

" Tunesia, because they really need a long-term general solution for real
content/decisions."

They need it, but votorola and other edemocracy stuff needs a pc and an
available internet connection. I wonder if the infrastructure in tunesia is
advanced enough to provide the needed infrastructure.

" Well, we don't want the tool to be visible unless necessary. Diff-Patching
and voting is likely the only place where you really interfere with Votorola
and even that could be moved to plugins for the respective software if
needed, I guess."

Yes, but there might be expert users that require all degrees of freedom the
software has to offer, but there are also beginners that need guidance to
learn about the tool and what it can do for that new user.

" Don't try 
to talk somebody in, they will feel that you want sth. from them and they 
don't understand what it is if you are lobbying some free project (they
think 
there is a hidden fee to pay). At least they are quickly too lazy to
listen."

There is a hidden fee to pay if a user wants to switch to Linux.
You have to learn many new concepts and you have to think about problems,
you have to ask experts in linux forums, you have to use google, sometimes
you are forced to do a try and error process, and sometimes, after a new
patch is applied, some things stop working. ...it just consumes a lot of
time until you can use linux for what you want to do with it. And many users
just cannot afford that time, because they must do other things.
The principle behind is is called "a society that applies division of
labor".
Division of Labor increases what can be done in a certain amount of time by
orders of magnitude, but in return, people have to do their work in way so
that other people can use it without thinking about it.


-----Original Message-----
From: start-bounces at metagovernment.org
[mailto:start-bounces at metagovernment.org] On Behalf Of conseo
Sent: Monday, January 24, 2011 10:46 PM
To: start at metagovernment.org
Subject: Re: [MG] Tunisia and activism in general

> "As I have already said in the Spigit example, the most relevant thing is
> to have content. Content is king."
> 
> Thats a wish. Combine that wish with a plan to make it happen so it can
> become a goal. (writing to people in tunesia sounds daring, but maybe it
> might work? ...but I doubt it)

It is a wish to lobby people into using software which they have to learn 
first. The content exists, it is not a wish. We only need two communities
which 
we are going to bridge (can be two people, no more). That is all.

> 
> "You have mentioned viral marketing, but "viral" means nothing else but
> socially propagating content. This will happen if we can get people
excited
> about what we do,..."
> 
> Yes, thats true. ...so how do we do it?
> You say that screenshots will not do it...

I have tried it with something else being similarly original already and it 
was really hard to get people to even recognize the information that I have 
posted (although it was well exposed). When you do something really original

screenshots are pretty meaningless. We can setup a demo environment to show
off 
diff-patching. In fact you can already see it in Michael's poll wiki. But
has 
it worked to attract people that way? How would you concretely do it?

> ...what might do it is the dissemination of the concept behind the tool.
> how to use the tool and in what ways and for which reasons...

This is documented by Michael in a non-technological way on zelea.com imo.

> 
> "You need to be able to point them to an existing community to explore
it."
> You don't need to do that. Just integrate some kind of "FEEDBACK"-Button
> where real users might complain about the software and maybe integrate a
> "Support-Forum-Button" into the tools that link to a metagovernment-wiki
or
> whatsoever.

In which community? Votorola is not a social network, it is tools build
around 
the general concepts of social networks/forums to allow consensus building. 

> 
> Instead of a complicated frontend, there is need for an interface that
> allows users to explore the tool by themselves. there must be plenty of
> hints and they should not look ambiguous.

Well that is obvious, but Votorola is not in itself an interface, it is
rather 
a concept of bridging different tools together. So we need to have a
scenario 
to show it off or we need some artists to create a promo video about diff-
patching and crossforum browsing. Crossforum is the promo entry point
designed 
with a very intuitve interface in mind, which demos itself (which is always 
the best way) actually so if we can set that up for only two communities we 
can start to show it off with real data, which again is much better than
some 
dummy data or screencast. We are near a point where we can do it with real 
data from metagovernment at least.

> 
> 
> We don't need screenshots or videos of the tool in action... we need
videos
> or articles and stuff like that about the concept behind the tool and how
> thing work. In such articles or videos you use a specific naming. The
> frontend of the actual program has to stick to that naming so the users
can
> recognize all the elements of the concept within the software tool.

Are you a CG-guy? I am just asking because I am not and this is a *lot* of 
work to create something like this: http://vimeo.com/12772935 Even a well
done 
screencast can take days to get well-done. We can reference stuff like this 
video though and then explain where we fit in there.
It is better to help Crossforum to get real world testing and integration. 
This will speak for itself imo. 
But  we'd like to have at least some good docs for Votorola. As Michael has 
pointed out, this could get some polish and we should be able to document
the 
cross-forum stuff on the metagovernment wiki. You could definetly help
Thomas 
there and get the pieces clarified we are working on.

> 
> 
> "The concepts are far too complex to understand in a quick screencast
imo."
> 
> If that is true, your tools are worthless.
> Dont explain the software architecture. Explain the concepts from a users
> perspective.

I was not refering to the nuts and bolts. Have you read the Votorola docs?
The 
difference bridging and consensus based action is something you have to
think 
about before you understand its universal potential. Otherwise it looks
overly 
complicated compared to concepts like Adhocracy or LiquidFeedback where you 
simply vote. There is a lot of theory involved and the best way to get 
familiar there is to get pulled in with real world data. 
Do you have experience with FOSS? It is the same there. You install it (even

if it is only a single program), you watch certain parts of features/ the 
community you are interested in, you want to raise an issue, you file a bug
and 
boom you are involved. If you tell the users before installing that they can

use forums and file bugs and will become part of a community together with
the 
developers, they won't get what is special about FOSS and collaborative work

and simply ignore your offers.
This doesn't mean I am against lowering the barrier where possible, but the 
primary focus has to be interested users and trying to pull at least two 
projects in.

> What kind of actions is he able to execute while using the tool and which
> user needs do they fullfill.

Now explain diff-patching. Either you have some cool cg-skills or you have
to 
talk about it, which will be too difficult for an "average" user. Believe
me, 
they often can't even tell what the menu-bar and what the actual application

is. We need activists which are into the same topics, they will help us to 
satisfy their needs.

> 
> 
> "What would help us much more imo, is some community which has serious
> content/resources to manage and wants to do that in a consensus based way
> or even only wants to loosely connect with another community in common
> positions. "
> 
> You will never get one at  the moment, i guess.
> I tried to talk the german ngo "Mehr Demokratie e.V." into using
> "Votorola", but it was hopeless.

I think it is especially difficult to reach people who are already trying to
do 
something similar like Votorola, because they are locked in camp-thinking. 
They assume you want to take their credits with your platform. This is not
the 
way Votorola works, but they are especially hard to address since most 
projects have some kind of that logics. 
But with pulling some projects in, I haven't referred to some e-dem project,

they all have their own pet-projects. I was referring to Tunesia, because
they 
really need a long-term general solution for real content/decisions.

> People just did not understand how to use the tool. They did not get the
> concept and the user interface does not promote exploration by the user.
> There also is no "wizard" that guides you through all the options that you
> could possibly choose while you use the tool.

Well, we don't want the tool to be visible unless necessary. Diff-Patching
and 
voting is likely the only place where you really interfere with Votorola and

even that could be moved to plugins for the respective software if needed, I

guess.

> 
> It is absolutely essential to explain the concepts behind votorola or
other
> tools supported by metagovernment to potential users, because if they dont
> get the concept and the benefits it might give them, they wont use the
> tool.

+1 But they will understand if others use it. Having tried to convince
people 
to use Linux for years, my experience is that you can best convince them if 
you show them that it is better. Talking will simply waste your time. Of 
course you should talk to them, but mostly if they start to ask you. Don't
try 
to talk somebody in, they will feel that you want sth. from them and they 
don't understand what it is if you are lobbying some free project (they
think 
there is a hidden fee to pay). At least they are quickly too lazy to listen.

> 
> "already a web-interface, have a look at
> Adhocracy/LiquidFeedback/Vilfredo... to get a nice-to-show-off dedicated
> solution. "
> 
> I know, but the concept of votorola is different and i dont think we need
> fancy interfaces that look nice, we need functional interfaces. we need
> visualizations which convey the concept behind the tool.

Exactly. That is what crossforum is about. Besides voting the rest of the 
consensus building should be integrated/hidden in all kind of current forums

and bridge them together.

> 
> Maybe the software and the frontend is constantly changing, but the
concept
> in its core does not change or only in very rare cases. So i think it
> should be possible to come up with intuitive names for all aspects of the
> concept and explain them. The frontend in return has to stick to the
> chosen naming, and every button or element with a name that is not part of
> the fundamental concept should be removed from the frontend.

Sure KISS, but what does that mean for us concretely atm.? Where should we
go? 
Crossforum is already basically set up and is really KISS atm :-D

> 
> For example, look at "adhocracy". There are many groups that already
> registered accounts and use adhocracy. (http://www.liqd.net/instance)
> So, a good starting point would be to allow people to register accounts
for
> their social group to start discussing their problems.

Hmm, yep and no. What we want is to help them to setup Crossforum and the 
respective tools and then bridge with other communities. We don't really
want 
to offer the service on our own or lock them in anyhow. We might run our own

instance on metagovernment, if the projects are ok with the open-network 
approach. This is atm. another problem we face, which I have talked a lot 
about and still most people haven't reacted anymore. Alex Rollin has for 
example strong interest in Drupal, but he is not very convinced by the 
pollwiki. Yet the pollwiki is crucial for Votorola's cross-platform
approach. 
As long as Vilfredo and Adhocracy don't care for cross-forum solutions or at

least are focused on their own projects, it will look as if we would try to 
take-over metagovernment, which we really won't and is orthogonal to 
Votorola's cross-* approach. In fact any project which we can plug in an
open 
network strengthens the open-network concepts and our all goals. We should 
really not waste the time to get a single project to success, when we might 
build success together. This is thing we should communicate atm. We have a 
serious design-flaw still here, which keeps us all from success.

> Why do people jump to "adhocracy", register an account and start to use
it?
> Becasue of viral marketing... and why does it happen? Because the frontend
> tries to be self-explanatory.

Honestly I don't see a bright future in a single solution like Adhocracy. It

is ok and I would be willing to use it for something like official Bundestag

stuff, but then it is not the universal tool of consensus building and it
does 
not really feel intuitive for me. In fact no communicational tool can ever
be 
universal and the network is meant to allow all kind of solutions and 
communities to only share the means of common consensus-building. 

If you have a look, you can a) not really change anything with tools of
official 
governmental institutions or political parties. Even the pirate party of 
Germany which is all about an open web, couldn't decide on using its own 
solution (LiquidFeedback) for consensual action. And b) there are barely
users 
there (look at DieLinke on liqd.net, it doesn't like they will use liqd.net 
for their program debate, as was intended at first) and the ones who are
there 
quickly lose interest. This has happened to NationBuilder and
whitehouse2.gov 
before btw. so this is no surprise. Viral marketing to people who are
already 
interested or are computer geeks is not really helpful. We need people who 
need to solve real world stuff and communicate with others to get it really 
right.

> 
> Using adhoracy can be frustrating too, because the concept behind
adhocracy
> might not be perfect and people might not know how to use it in the right
> way or how the process of finding a solution actually works... but the
> interface of adhocracy promots user exploration.

We want to use as many tools as possible for Votorola. Adhocracy is a 
candidate. Since it is open-source we can mirror votes with Votorola or hook

it into Crossforum without even scraping. But doing that ourselves is a 
problem, since the Adhocracy guys would consider that as hostile and they
seem 
to be after success with the German government atm.

Maybe we could phone or skype, because I really don't want to waste too much

time on lengthy discussions, when we both actually want to work together 
(which I assume). Maybe you can mail me some contact data and time when you 
are reachable? I don't think we lack common grounds.

conseo

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