[iDC] Re: Collective Action

david mcconville id at elumenati.com
Sat Jun 24 21:10:11 EDT 2006

Trebor et al,

This is my first post here, but this latest thread has me curious 
about successes at leveraging the web for collective problem solving. 
Of course many sites facilitate group communication, collaboration, 
and sometimes actual action (beyond one-click politicking), but I'm 
curious if there are some that you feel stand out for their tangible results.

The outcome of applying "open source" or collaborative approaches to 
software development and information aggregation are widely 
discussed, but what about other types of problem solving? This might 
be a naive a question in the context of previous conversations on 
this list, but which sites have successfully applied grid-computing 
approaches like SETI at Home to human cycles for addressing 
regional/global problems?

A few examples:

- The World Urban Forum's 
<http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/004575.html>Jam facilitated a 
conversation of 40,000 people from 150 countries to address the issue 
of urban sustainability, and the outcome was analyzed by the Canadian 
Government and the International Centre for Sustainable Cities. You 
can see the results in the resultant 
Actionable Ideas document.

- A different approach is the <http://www.opensourceenergy.org>Open 
Source Energy Network, which encourages inventors to post and ideas 
about, experiments with, and critique of different power generation systems.

Matthew's mention of the US Partnership and the other sites brings up 
the issue of how the web can best be leveraged for addressing the 
really big issues. I'm currently working with the Buckminster Fuller 
Institute to organize a regional version of their 
<http://www.designsciencelab.org>Design Science Lab, which is focused 
on applying Fuller's <http://bfi.org/dsmethod>design science 
methodology to goals set forth by the 
<http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/>UN Millennium Development Goals. 
Last year's Lab yielded some very interesting and surprisingly simple 
and very implementable strategies for reducing world hunger 
(<http://designsciencelab.org/report.php>PDF available here), but 
this involved 40 self-motivated individuals reviewing comprehensive 
world datasets and developing strategies for a pretty intense week in 
the same physical location. Fuller was strong proponent of 
comprehensive thinking and anticipatory action, so I'd like to find 
models that have applied distributed creativity for this type of approach.

So, what examples do you think have successfully facilitated 
collaborative strategic problem solving in networked space?


BTW, an interesting direct application of massively distributed grid 
computing is http://climateprediction.net, designed to develop 
climatic models...


At 02:16 PM 6/24/2006, Matthew Waxman wrote:
>Trebor, a stroll in the park is a great way to surf real-world space.
>Consider the simple ability of the internet as a communication tool. 
>I'm currently communicating with youth organizers on a project and 
>the folks I'm communicating with (online and conference calls) are 
>attracted to the internet as a departure point for making contact 
>with organizing people across the nation. This perspective on the 
>internet is widely taken.  Of course, the social networking element 
>observed in sites like MySpace is also becoming increasingly 
>appealing (since so many youth have attached themselves to these 
>social networks already). So whether or not giving every child a 
>computer is the best approach, I imagine it is an attractive idea to 
>many because it suggests expanding access to currently populated, 
>large networks.
>Some sites relevant to world-changing networking:
>http://www.takingITglobal.org -- with Taking IT Global, network with 
>activists and organizers and organizations globally. This canadian 
>based networking website boasts participants from around the world. 
>While the site can't compete with sites such as MySpace in terms of 
>number of users, it's also true that sometimes quality over quantity 
>is meaningful when it comes to organizing. Browse the users by 
>country and get a taste of the different kinds of people involved in 
>the network.
>http://www.uspartnership.org/ -- the US Partnership for the United 
>Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. I did some 
>work with the Youth Sector Team last year, great folks. They are 
>connecting with an impressively large amount of organizations and 
>networks around the US in a variety of categories.  They use 
>conference calls for a lot of the communication, and email 
>listserves are also used a lot.
>http://www.chattheplanet.com/ -- Chat the Planet seems to be video 
>blogging/web-cam activism.
>http://freechild.org/SIYI/Webliography.htm -- a nice list of 
>organizations around the world (this one is specific to youth 
>movements), each org has a website, of course. There are a truly 
>vast amount of community organizations with websites. It seems many 
>see the internet as a great networking tool.
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