I haven’t been keeping up with all the news at slashdot, so I was glad I didn’t let this one slip by unnoticed. A new website and open-source software package has been released. Free Government is the name.
For people who understand the open-source philosophy, the appeal of this is immediately apparent, but it might take a little explaining for the rest of the people. It is definitely worth the time to understand.
Briefly, one of the most important aspects of “open source” software is not that it is free of cost, but it free in the sense that you are free to do with it what you want, as in freedom. A strange and non-intuitive thing occurs with most successful open source software projects… although the people who do the most work do not get compensated for their work, the end product (the software package) is generally better than the comparable proprietary software produced by the name-brand companies. The programmers work together and create the best solution, because it serves the community best, and that is the goal, as opposed to earning a paycheck or making a profit. If someone has a better way of doing it, they are free to join in and help too. It is a grass-roots democracy, meritocracy, good-for-all, type of thing.
So the main attraction to this project is that it extends the values of “open source” to include a method for “us” to participate directly in government.
Why is this important?
Many reasons, but in my opinion, then number one reason is that special interest and big money currently control our government. For some time now, I’ve been thinking of better ways to manage a democracy. I think the will of the people is often subdued or ignored in our current system. How do you figure out a way to do what 300 million Americans want? I think the answer is social networking, which have gained lots of popularity, but aren’t really useful for too much… this is the use, or at least this is the beginning of that.
The answer is probably not this simple. I think the answer for direct-democracy is much more involved, and I’m not even sure a direct-democracy would work. I say this because most people are idiots (yup, even me, if you don’t believe me, read about the monkeysphere) Something that would actually work would be a system where everyone had the chance to participate, but your opinion, or vote, or voice, was weighted by your intelligence, track record, status, or something like that.
Check out the FAQ and let me know what you think.