[MG] Crowdsourcing the History of eDemocracy

Michael Allan mike at zelea.com
Wed May 15 08:36:27 EDT 2013

Pietro and Ed,

Pietro asked:
> > In particular can someone trace back the exact author and the date
> > of the idea that voting should not be linked with a specific
> > platform? Although this intuition has not yet reached full
> > maturation I think it deserves a place as one of the ideas that
> > might come up in the future.

Ed answered:
> > I believe Thomas von der Elbe came up with free range voting:
> > Michael can confirm and give a date.

Mark Murphy speaks of aggregation in his 2008 essay [1].  That same
year he wrote in an email, "Anybody can cast their vote on the issue,
again by publishing a POSH-enhanced Web page." [2] He seems to have
wanted the votes to be free of central servers and instead in the
hands of self-publishing voters.  That's a beautiful idea.  The
servers become just aggregators, or what today I'd call "vote mirrors"
- except they're tied to a single standard for the vote form [3].
That's one problem.  Another is that few people would actually be
inclined to host their own votes, most would instead come to rely on
vote-servers.  So it's impractical as envisioned.

Thomas's first post to Metagov (May 2009) takes a different approach.
He's trying to get the vote-servers that already exist and already
host votes to cooperate [4].  At one point in the thread, I suggest
vote pooling [5].  But pooling embraces centralization, which is the
opposite of putting the vote in the voter's hands; it's unattractive.

The key to the problem turns out to be translation across vote forms.
That's the basis of vote mirroring, which Thomas invented in December
2009 [6].  It effectively puts the *form* of the vote in the voter's
hands because he/she can now choose any vote-server or voting method,
including (if need be) his/her own.

So Murphy was the first to go chasing after platform freedom (that I
know of), but Thomas was the first to actually catch it.

Pietro asked:
> What were the differences between Votorola and Candiwi?

Both support distributed drafting based on diff/patch tools.  The main
differences are probably in the voting and discussion media.  But I
don't remember Candiwi's design for those.

> I know Votorola has a nice tree structure of changes to a page. Has
> this been implemented or it is only theorethical (i.e. should I put
> it down as theorethical result)

What we have are tree structures of *extant* differences, as opposed
to historical changes.  For example, here's Frank's draft:
Here's the current difference vs. his voter Georgina:
And here's the social tree structure that relates Georgina and Frank:

That's not a realistic example, of course, and not very instructive.
The practice docs indexed on the home page are more instructive:

> Then Free Range Voting (this was how it was called), Michael starts
> speaking about it on the 22/12/2009.
> Now what is its relation with Votorola?

Free-range voting is the primary use case for vote mirroring.  It's
shown here: (see FRV) http://zelea.com/project/outcast/_overview.xht
The three vote-servers in that cluster (V) are supplied by different
providers.  Users may freely range from server to server (vote form to
vote form); they can never be captured by a dominant provider, even
one that had 99.9% of the users.  The relation with Votorola is that
we might be one of the providers.  That would be unlikely without vote
mirroring, because it would be a dog-eat-dog race to the bottom.


 [1] Mark Murphy. 2008. The “killer app” of public participation. In
     Rebooting America. Edited by Allison Fine, Micah L. Sifrey, Andrew
     Rasiej and Joshua Levy. Personal Democracy
     Press. http://rebooting.personaldemocracy.com/node/5499

 [2] http://metagovernment.org/pipermail/start_metagovernment.org/2009-February/001195.html

 [3] Mark Murphy. 2007. xDebate formats specification, version
     0.1.  Not published.

     It's a Semantic HTML (POSH) schemata for federated debate on
     political issues.

 [4] http://metagovernment.org/pipermail/start_metagovernment.org/2009-May/001404.html

 [5] http://metagovernment.org/pipermail/start_metagovernment.org/2009-May/001517.html

 [6] http://zelea.com/w/User:ThomasvonderElbe_GmxDe/Vote_mirroring

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