View Full Version : Project / Concept : "Message Force Multiplier"

June 13th, 2008, 02:33 PM
Ok, I just had an idea, let me see if I can write out my vision. And yes, there is an ASCII diagram further down the document. As Lynx preceded Firefox, so to does this concept originate in text.

Please bear with the preamble and try not to fall asleep...

We are all somewhat frustrated that we can't influence our society much, and we can't do much about it.

I have a concept, that I can't seem to find an existing example of, which attempts to integrate the free software movement, inclusive democracy, new media, and communication. You know, start small, right. lol

Media is consolidated, politics is consolidated, corporate power is consolidated and we have less and less influence on the world we live in. The system itself concentrates power, and thus limits the individual's freedom and influence on the world. Further - our "free time" factor is ever-reduced, limiting the engagement of the individual to the society, and allowing the division of labour to evolve to a subset of elites responsible for planning and deciding organizational, legal, political, and social factors on our behalf (though not at our behest, and not always to our betterment).

Further, while we see examples of collaborative efforts' success in projects such as GNU/Linux, Wikipedia, and so forth, the status-quo that we are taught is to compete with each other, rather than to collaborate with each other, making consensus difficult, and division/derision commonplace and arguably encouraged.

I got to thinking about this, and yes - we can all set up a website, or a blog - but how many people are going to read a single website or a single blog? Unless we acheive mass appeal through traditional marketing, happenstance, or otherwise, most of us will see a limited number of hits on our blog, website, etc.

We could meet with people IRL, but with airfare, the current geo-political instability and such, and the cost - this is rather infeasable also, further – the frequency of meetings and the influence of discussions is limited generally to those present and those they may later disseminate information to. Further, meetings IRL tend to be those of special interests, meeting around their own specific interest, and often the common threads that might exist between what I want and you want are missed, because – well, you're an environmentalist let's say and I'm a corporate investor, say – and we assume we have nothing in common. In fact one of us reads enviro-activist magazines and the other reads Forbes... there's a complete disconnect between us as humans, and the segments of the population we associate with. Consequently, our perceived interests are different, and we work toward different and often incompatible ends.... It's like MS trying to work with GNU/Linux – they might play together sometimes, but it doesn't always work, and someone's bound to Wine. ;-)

So I got to thinking - there's an obvious desire to get our own message out, to be heard in this frustrating society that we are constantly subjected to - Youtube, websites, blogging etc. are prime and growing examples of this desire to be heard.

But - there are many messages from many people, and one becomes something of a grain of sand on a beach. What if there were a way to take the collective consiousness and amalgamate it? Is there, perhaps, a peer to peer solution to the communication problem that could level the playing field between the citizens of earth and its beurocratic corporate and/or government “leaders?”

There I started thinking, well, we do that to a degree with collaboration on Wikis, but there again - you have primarily Wikipedia which has a huge audience and a bunch of other special-interest Wikis that reach a small number of people each.

What if there was a central site for people to join (“boo” to centralization, I think, and older client/server models for that matter.... but a necessary evil, perhaps, for consolidation) , to work on a Wiki (or other collaborative document), subdivided into different areas, say politics, health, human rights, free software, etc etc. whatever the usership decides.

This takes the listserv or groups (ie: MSN, Yahoo Groups) model, and expands it – where groups have many messages in and many out – they're still just one person thoughts, no collaboration or co-creation.

Now, let's say each posting gets worked on for a period of time - say a week, again decided by the users editing that particular article/posting and then a completed article/posting is collectively written by a group of users.

Fantastic - so far we're at the regular "wiki" or "blog" or "single website" model.

Now here's the twist: Every person who joins in in the editing of a wiki agrees, if they can, to post the finished week's (or days or whatever) work on their own blog, website, yahoo group, forum, print newspaper, family newsletter - or whatever... you agree to share the finished product publicly.

There's a lot of design flexibility here – IRC bots, embedded HTML code, integration with blogging sites, RSS, SMS Texting, whatever method to get the message out.... Auto-delivery of keyworded postings, etc etc.... imagination zone here.

The total guidelines of development etc would have to be collaboratively developed by a group, not just me, so this is a general concept here.... maybe there would be the ability to publish just one, or many of the articles - whatever you feel - but perhaps an agreement to at least publish those articles you work on if you can.

A lot of the "behind the scenes" could be done by software, I am sure I could find people in the online community willing to write programs as needed, donate webspace, etc.

The only concern is that you end up with "too many" articles in/out and the message "force" gets spread out so here we are again, grains of sand on the beach... no good. Perhaps the Wiki could be designed to release only articles with 10+ editors or some such number... ie: A topic is suggested, if at least 9 other people want to write it with you, the article is opened.. .if not, it falls by the wayside. This way only issues that are important to more than a single person make the cut so to speak, the topics that are important enough to make it to “publication” or “release” are those that are popular enough to be created by many people... or whatever, the details aren't important.

So what you end up with is something like the diagram below

Information Coming IN (Many People Editing)
\ \ \ \ | / / / / /
\ \ \ \ | / / / /
\ \ \ \|/ / / / /
\ \ \ \ | / / / /
Consensus Article
/ / / /|\ \ \ \
/ / / / | \ \ \ \
/ / / / | \ \ \ \
/ / / / | \ \ \ \
Information Going OUT (Many Sites, Blogs, Newsletters, Groups, print media, SMS, email, whatever)

The articles would, perhaps, all include a blurb and link to the wiki site, so theoretically, this project would grow exponenially.

Eventually - with enough editors, you have a force that will produce articles edited by many, then distributed to many many already popular sites, blogs, websites, etc.

This would
1.Allow for people from all over Earth to contribute to the message
2.Through the wiki process acheive consensus articles
3.Distribute a consistent message to millions, competing with the force of the "mass media"

This could become a massive force of content creation by people, for people - and one that could readily "compete" with exisiting client-server models of delivery (ie: One big company releases a message to many many people.... instead, under this model - the people decide what's important, what is to be said, and release it to many many people.)

Think of it as... collaborative distributed collective consiousness, perhaps.

I would imagine initally a project of this type might be interesting for the free software movement to develop and implement, possibly having later interest (once developed and running) for students, journalists, activists, free thinking citizens, bloggers, sociologists, peer-to-peer afficionados, and hopefully eventually the every day person.

Essentially the concept is to take multiple inputs, create a collaborative message ostensibly of some importance, and distribute the message to multiple outputs. The output would be organic, as would the growth and participation, with no one person, industry, or policy controlling it – much more democratic than mass media, but also more powerful in terms of viewership than individual publications.

While no one blog or website has the readership of say CNN, this would at least amplify the voice of the participants. By having the articles edited in a wiki-style format – the existing voices of corporations, politicians, etc – would be tempered by the collaborative approach to writing, blogging, journalism, whatever format your message wants to take hopefully resulting in a more balanced POV, and allowing those issues ignored or supressed in traditional sources resulting from vested interest to be brought to the surface.

What do you think? Does anything like this exist? Ideas? Suggestions? Comments? Criticisms?

June 13th, 2008, 02:55 PM
This sounds like an idea, but I'm not the person to help you make it happen at this stage. I do suggest you pursue it.

June 13th, 2008, 03:48 PM
You sir, think far too much! But you see, in Wikipedia, aren't there a hundred editors for an article? Only 1 person might start it(even though you say only articles with 10+ people wanting to write it should start) many others can add to it. There might be too many sites, but, survival of the fittest! Only the best sites get attention. Interesting concept though, show me a real life example then it would make me want to try it out. :)

June 14th, 2008, 02:15 AM
Lol, indeed - I do think "too much" sometimes...

Just got an email from Richard M Stallman of GNU fame, he suggests looking at something like "Simultaneous Policy" rather than Wiki technology, so I'm going to take a look at that.

Anyone else have ideas, suggestions?

Lord Xeb
June 14th, 2008, 03:47 AM
Sir, though you think to much, you have an amazing mind and intelligence. I think that you should follow up with Stallman and try out this "simultaneous policy". I would love to join minds with you and try to come up with an idea but I lack greatly in this area... But this is a great idea. The ISPO is one of these "simultaneous policy" projects. Check them out and get ideas. This may help you in your plan and cause. I would be thrilled to the bone to see this idea become active. If many join together, they can become a single entity that can be more powerful than the bigger organizations around them. Go forth and may your plan come to life!

June 14th, 2008, 03:49 AM
Read over "Simultaneous Policy" and it's a great idea, but rather lofty, political, and ends-focused. In other words, it has a specific goal.

My concept is more to facilitate collaborative discussion, on whatever users decide is important, whether that's the 35 Articles of Impeachment Dennis Kucinich introduced against George Bush, or Canada's proposed Copyright Law, or Sweden's new civilian Spying law, or Vincent Bugilosi's book "The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder" .... whatever you think is important - to get the message out to many more people than might otherwise see it - collaboratively, writing together, and publishing on the sites of yourself, and your fellow writers.

In other words - my concept has no "goal" or "end result" other than people working together, cooperating, and having the discussion.

We can't discuss what we don't know - and what we do know is far to often controlled by small groups with vested interests.

So, the hope is to get important issues that we talk about around the water cooler, and say - why on earth isn't this in the news? Why on earth isn't our government doing something about this?

Why did FEMA give away supplies to other US government agencies, supplies that were needed for the victims of Hurricane Katrina? The left hand didn't know what the right was doing - there was a division, the information wasn't out there.

So, finding our common interests, our common values, our common needs might result, the important issues might rise to the top, and discussion might be better facilitated.

Lofty? Egalitarian? Impossible? Maybe, but I'd sure like to try.