• GITocracy paper notes

last modified July 7, 2016 by strypey

Tēnā koutou

On 2016-06-21 21:03, Resistance and Social Change wrote:
> Thank you for submitting a presentation proposal for the Social Movements,
> Resistance and Social Change III conference.

Thanks a lot for considering my proposal, and for you thought-provoking comments and questions.

> 1) We had some concerns that the technical nature of your presentation
> might restrict its audience, and we would hope that you would shape your
> presentation to make it accessible and applicable for as many people as
> possible.

Just to clarify, I'm more of a conceptual designer and project organiser than a programmer or developer. The GITocracy project is about imagining how networked digital technology could be put to work in service of democracy, rather than surveillance and social engineering. 20 minutes won't give me time to go very deeply into the technical aspects, but to the degree that I talk about them, I'll be sure to communicate them in everyday language.

> 2) We were pleased that you mentioned at the end of your proposal that you
> would summarize your discussions with potential users. We would like to
> hear more about this in the proposal itself.

So far most of this has been informal conversation, although getting some written feedback is one of the next stages of the project, to confirm the proposed system serves real needs, and get some clarity on exactly what those are, so they can be designed in. I intend to get started on this while preparing my presentation for the conference.

> 3) We were also hoping that you might build on this in a number of ways, by
> placing your ideas in a broader context. It would be useful for you to make
> it clear in your presentation how such a policy development platform would
> differ, firstly, from other approaches to policy sharing (for example, a
> website of policy documents that users could draw on)

In brief, a website running GITocracy would be "a website of policy documents that users could draw on", but with the added benefit of what software developers call "version management" tools. Tools that make it easier for contributors to propose changes by creating their own alternative version of a document within the system, and for the people coordinating the drafting process to see what changes are proposed in each alternative version, and to merge approved changes back into the official draft.

> , and secondly, on a
> much more general level, from other software and related processes that
> have been developed to support activist work (Loomio comes to mind, but you
> may be familiar with a range of others).

In brief, GITocracy aims to solve the version management problem mentioned above. It is intended for use alongside Loomio, or another discussion and decision-making tool, and offers significant improvements on each of the various tools activists can currently use to circulate draft documents, seek feedback, and integrate suggested changes; sending documents by email attachments with tracked changes, wiki websites (eg Wikipedia), GoogleDocs, and Etherpads etc. I certainly intend to go into detail in the presentation about how GITocracy supplements or supersedes existing tools and processes, but I'm not sure how much of this I can build into the proposal without it turning into a paper ;)

The Loomio crew didn't invented text-based, online decision-making (obviously activists were using email lists, forums, and other tools for this long before Loomio was thought of), but by separating out decision-making from general chatter using the web-based proposals tool, they provided a tool to make online decision-making easier, less confusing, and more transparent. Similarly, GITocracy isn't proposing to invent the collaborative writing of documents online, but to make it easier, less confusing, and more transparent.

> If you could slightly rewrite your proposal to take these concerns into
> consideration, we will happily accept it.