[FoRK] occupy - deliberative democracy

Damien Morton dmorton at bitfurnace.com
Tue Aug 14 19:24:16 PDT 2012

I'm thinking that, to gain legitimacy, a demarchy would need to
operate in such a way that, in its steady state, everyone in a polity
would need to know someone who has served on a deliberative body at
some point in time.

If we say that on average, people 'know' maybe 300-500 other people,
and that their memories go back 10 to 20 years, a rough estimate would
be that between 1 in 3000 and 1 in 10000 people would need to serve in
any given year.

Thinking of a medium sized city or congressional district of about 1
million people, a random selection of 100 to 300 people might be
sufficient for the 'everyone connected' property.

Scaling it up to a national level, you could include more lotteristas
by breaking government up into various responsibilities, and assigning
a committee of 300 lotteriestas to each responsibility.

Even so, probably the best that can be hoped for is that someone knows
someone who knows someone who served. More indirect and less

You can multiply the number of lotteristas required by having them
serve for short periods only, say a single weekend, deliberating a
more fine-grained policy choices.

I imagine you would need some form of "standing committees" made up of
longer serving lotteristas, possibly setting the agendas to be
considered by short term lotteristas.

You would need to make serving voluntary, and you would make
compensation for time served pretty good - something indexed to the
median wage.

On Tue, Aug 14, 2012 at 3:32 PM, Dr. Ernie Prabhakar
<drernie at radicalcentrism.org> wrote:
> Hi Lucas,
> On Aug 14, 2012, at 12:18 PM, Lucas Gonze wrote:
>> What about fraud in rigging the polling questions? What are the
>> protections against attackers affecting the language used?
> One of the key feature of a deliberative poll is The Briefing Packet.
> The sponsor convenes a broad spectrum of voices and has them work on a consensus summary of the arguments for and against various proposals.
> Importantly, the packet is a public document, which everyone (including non-attendees) can read and critique.
> So yes, it is possible to get a biased document, but parties who find it biased have every opportunity to make a stink and undercut the moral credibility of the poll.
> The more devious way to distort the poll is to substitute highly skilled but biased moderators, without anyone noticing.  I'm thinking of writing a sci-fi story about it, for the day when deliberative polling becomes the norm so there's massive economic incentive to game them...
>> I went to a "ballot question" party once. Each attendee had to study
>> one of the ballot questions and give a short presentation on what it
>> meant. There is then a discussion about the details. The goal isn't to
>> advocate but to understand. 5-10 minutes per question. But the
>> conversation gets very substantive.
>> This was a danah boyd project. Great idea for the health of a
>> democracy, and fun.
> Awesome!
> - Ernie P.
>> On Tue, Aug 14, 2012 at 11:44 AM, Dr. Ernie Prabhakar
>> <drernie at radicalcentrism.org> wrote:
>>> Hi Lucas,
>>> On Aug 14, 2012, at 11:14 AM, Lucas Gonze wrote:
>>>> I could imagine implementing this at the level of community government.
>>>> A city might commit to using it for some particular policy question.
>>> And in fact, many of them have. Mostly in China:
>>>> Deliberative polls have been held in China for over five years. The coastal township of Zeguo in Wenling city[3] has a population of 120,000. Fishkin's team selects 175 people who are representative of the general population. Deliberative polling takes place over a 3-day period, and the local government utilizes the priorities of the group. The experiment worked so well that the topic expanded from a single issue the first year (prioritizing public works projects) to the entire budget, and the Chinese are considering the process in other municipalities.[1]
>>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deliberative_opinion_poll
>>> http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2015790,00.html
>>> The techniques have been refined and validated at the city and regional level; if we can make it work in California, there's no reason we can't scale it up to federal politics...
>>> -- Ernie P.
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