A few years ago I spent a lot of time thinking how democracy could be evolved by the Internet and how this evolution could impact on our society.
In Italy we have a very bad situation in terms of real democracy and the guilty is not Berlusconi, as everybody all around the world could think, but the entire political class. Nowadays a citizen is not free to candidate himself for the Parliament, but parties are the only authorized to choose candidates. In this way Italian politicians found a way to close access to politic to people not compliant with the System: in Italy politic is just for friends and for friends of friends. In this way Representatives count nothing and the power is strictly detained by the heads of the parties.
That was why I started to thing about how to change this situation.
My studies began from what Democracy means and which was the models already known or proposed. I found very interesting and fascinating the Deliberative one, a trade-off between direct democracy and representative, used today in most countries. Also if today, thanks to technical innovations, could be possible to get people real time participation, the completely direct model would be absolutely impracticable in a big society. The deliberative one seemed more affordable to me, but in a second time I also left that approach to get back to a mixed way, depending on cluster size (give me one second, then I will introduce my concept of cluster).
It was autumn 2007 and Facebook was breaking out as 'The' social network; its first apps was just coming out to global success and Twitter was almost a geek phenomenon.
The list of the most interesting web sites that I found in that occasion is here.
(Today, after two years, I've given a look for interesting and revolutionary system again: probably people is tired about politics, especially during an economic crisis as we are living now, or probably Politicians don't want their business involved in a web evolution, but it seems that nothing really new has come.)
Analyzing all those experiments I found two major approach: communities and website that aim to substitute, completely or partially, the real political system and those ones that took the activism approach.
In my opinion both of them were wrong.
First mistake: most of them are not 2.0, they try to create new communities closed into singular websites. They should be completely integrated in existent devices, platform, identities, social networks, and not try to create new ones.
Second mistake: declare war to real politic! Is simply unthinkable that we will ever have a sort of net revolution that overthrow governments wherever in the world, neither in a country like Congo! Politicians are clever and their best skill is to remain attached to their seats as we would say in Italy. Those projects must be integrated in the real world, being a sort of opportunity also for real politicians.
Third mistake: many of them are too complex. We are not lawyers, we are not senators, we are just citizen interested in our lives.
Fourth (and last) mistake: many of them are too generic, idealist or related to the Highest Systems of the world. First of all we are interested in our everyday and nearest problems, then we think of what will impact on our lives in the next decades.
So the idea of Cluster came to my mind. And what tow years ago seemed scifi, today is absolutely feasible.
Is not to ask people to enter a new community or stay all day tuned to analyze every bill that comes to the national Congress; is to give people the way to interact with other citizens that have similar needs, organizing themselves and then decide.
Is to make cluster of people and give the instruments to organize their voice. A crowd of people has no voice, it just make noise; an organized crowd become a movement, become a lobby, become a strong voice.
We already live in clusters (cities, regions, nations, etc…) but most of them are simply based on geography, and our democracy model is build on that. It's just that those clusters are old, are useful for a non-digital world.
The way to rethink nowadays democracy starts from the way we cluster our needs and our interests. I imagine a sort of dynamic matrix that match my informations with all other citizens and create groups of people based by real need. And just then try to interact with me.
Let me give an example. Probably all my neighbors are in Facebook, but actually I can't know that. Otherwise I would probably ask their opinions on many ideas and suggestions and we would probably organize ourselves in a group of people to gain discounts for utilities, or organize for a local security service and many other opportunities.
It's my neighborhood, and it's just one cluster! Then, what about myself as a father, as an entrepreneurs, golf player and so on? I'm not interested in any bill in national and local Parliaments, but I would like to influence some of them and I would like to easily find people with the same needs to make my voice stronger!
[end of part one - second part is planned within next week - subscribe this blog or follow me on Twitter]