Saturday, May 06, 2006
Main Page - Wikocracy
Wow...this is wickedly cool! This is a far-reaching idea. (Hat Tip: MeFi).
For the longest, time I've been thinking about the inadequacies and shortcomings of democracy as a system of governance. I kept thinking about pushing Umair's edge comp stuff to the limit : after all, our biggest problems and their solutions belong firmly to the realm of policy-making and implementation, or politics in general. What could be better than development of governmental edge competencies at the interface of law, politics and The Great Unwashed?
Although this seems interesting at first, I would argue that the "law" has always been a "social text" and that lawyers, litigants and law makers have for centuries used their "edge competences" to constantly rewrite this text.
Rewriting the law without being exposed to the risks/opportunities of the results of my rewrite, it seems to me, makes this as much a sandbox experiment than playing the stock market in a "virtual portfolio".
If for one second we assume that this Wiki becomes the way the law is rewritten collectively. How can we make sure that intented/unintended consequences of this rewrite can inform the ongoing rewrite?
Thank you for an interesting comment. It is true that in a democracy, law has been debated in the parliament before it's enacted. HOwever, let's think about how it's actually created.
I don't think law has been a social text. The way I see it, we the people delegated lawmaking to elected politicians who themselves do not quite have the competence to write good laws. The core competence of a politician is to gain political power by representing and playing off various interest groups. Therefore, the activity of law-making got outsourced to others. Today, you'll find that in many cases, the biggest influence on lawmaking is the lobbyists and influential interest groups. The result is that most laws today are not only complex - laden with obscure loopholes etc - but also by and large do not serve the public interest. Whatever little public good that comes out of it is either a by-product or designed to give maximum PR value for minimal effect.
The reason why I like wikiocracy so much is that it's a really good way to microhunk law-making and creating liquidity, which I hope will allow the best ideas to bubble up to the top. Hopefully, it will also allow the masses to actually put forward laws that serve public good. Elected politicians just aren't working out and the control mechanism - firing them every few years - is just not effective enough in a world where most democracies have conolidated themsleves into neat oligopolistic power structures dominated by 2 or 3 parties. This is akin to having strong supplier power in the market of political ideas : imagine if your only choice for having food was MickeyD's, KFC or Wendy's and nothing else.