Let’s put e-democracy to a test!

change-logoBarack Obama’s change.org website is accepting requests for ideas and projects to be implemented during his term. Knowing that he’s all for technological innovation, and that several successful experiments with e-democracy were done inside Second Life®, let’s try to push for even more. Andabata Mandelbrot is proposing that we vote to create an international metaverse – the Internet equivalent of virtual worlds.

To get this implemented, we need 400 votes! And the deadline is… today at midnight, so we need to hurry…

Voting is simple, you just need to create an account on the change.org account and vote (you can even log in with your Facebook or MySpace account) by clicking on the icon. If you’re willing to promote this idea, you can, of course, do more — add widgets, push it to your social network, and so on. With a surprisingly open-minded approach, voting is not limited to US residents, but it’s totally open to international voters too. The change is for America, but its impact will be global. A nice touch!

Why should President-Elect Obama listen to this proposal? Well, we know that he has appointed two Second Life Innovators to his “Innovation Agenda” group. And his virtual presence in SL was serious, well-planned, and part of his campaign. He’s no stranger to using virtual worlds as a political — but also democratic — platform. So he might very well take notice of this proposal, specially if he can see the support it gathers.

It’s up to us to put democracy in practice — with the vote 🙂

Vote now and get your friends in SL to do the same!

[UPDATE: Prokofy Neva correctly points out that this site is not affiliated with Barack Obama’s office or future administration at all, but it’s just something from an independent company operating out of California. The President-Elect’s Official Site is at change.gov, not change.org.

In any case, the proposal failed to attract enough votes, and the timeline has gone anyway, so it’s pointless to discuss it any further, except as a good example on how simple proposals can become such a source of political dissention 😉 ]

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About Gwyneth Llewelyn

I’m just a virtual girl in a virtual world…

  • Prokofy Neva

    Good thing this proposition failed, with only 24 votes — it’s a stupid and restrictive idea.

    No one needs the Metaverse to be created by committee, by select groups of technocommunists with certain ideas of how to rigidly run its “standardization” — and inflict that on Obama, so that America then dominates the creations of the Metaverse. Bad idea, all around.

    The Metaverse already exists and is growing organically, fortunately, without opensourceniks predominating everywhere.

    Gwyn, this “democracy” is the sort you get in Algeria — vote for this bunch of sectarians to run the Metaverse, then see “democracy” disappear from it forever as they replace it with doubleplusgooding upvotes etc.

    BTW, change.org, like change.gov or moveon.org and others of its ilk are really not new media.

    The propositions are created or selected by anonymous editors who close them to votes and comments despite whatever their originators might wish. You can no longer vote on or discuss this matter now.

    It was especially inappropriate to flog this on the SL Dev list, where it kicked up a discussion, and where as usual my contribution saying it was inappropriate, and the website not free and not even as interactive and democratic as SL, got “moderated away”.

  • Prokofy Neva

    BTW, an important correction — and I, too, was misled on this point.

    Change.org is NOT Barack Obama’s official site. It’s not his presidential campaign site; it’s certainly not his official *presidential* site which has another address: change.gov

    It’s merely the site of a bunch of lefty Californians doing the usual social media shtick and claiming to speak “for all of us” because they have affluence and mindshare. That’s all.


    Read all about it.

    One thing I especially hate about this biased site is there don’t seem to be any ways to pick causes to fund and work on except the ones that these leftoid owners have flogged. Nothing more mainstream or ordinary than their extremist take on quite a few issues (i.e. Middle East, Health, Global Warming) and nothing certainly on the right but still a cause.

  • Hmm, I stand corrected about the difference between change.gov and change.org — you’re quite right, change.org is just run by a Californian company raising funds to sponsor the causes they find important. I stand corrected and added a comment on the original article to properly explain my mistake.

    Although the proposal failed to raise enough votes, and the point is now moot anyway, it’s still worth to discuss the political standpoint behind it. This will be a year where corporate funding will be at an extreme low, compared to other years, while sensible and responsible governments will step in and replace that with State-backed funding, to keep valid projects alive.

    For a few years, a few of us SL fanatics have been suggesting the idea of a “Metaverse Consortium”, where major corporate structures currently with an interest in Second Life as a platform for the Metaverse would join forces together, with Linden Lab at its core, and promote a standardised version of protocols and software functional description to allow that to come true. Backers of this proposals would obviously be the usual crowd — IBM, Intel, and very likely people like Sun and Microsoft too, besides universities (and the New Media Consortium) and a lot of the current batch of metaverse development companies. These are all the ones that clearly have an interest that “Second Life does not disappear”, even if for some non-obvious reason LL fails and is removed out of the picture (quite unlikely to happen, but that would be a worst-case scenario).

    This “Metaverse Consortium” utterly failed to appear. If this means that for 2009, funding by all those corporations will even be lower, it means that “unnecessary” projects will be underfunded or simply dropped for a few years. After all, how much direct income has SL represented for IBM, Intel, Sun, etc.? Not zero — at least in the case of IBM, they sold SL-based solutions for their own customers — but definitely not “much”, since it’s way too early for that, and all those companies know very well about the timeframe.

    Removing all support to LL, however, will put a big question mark in the nearby future. Will LL be able to go ahead alone? We don’t know, we can only hope for the best. But there is an alternative: push the standards committee to government-level, and make the metaverse standardisation a national priority. It was, after all, the big push to deploy the Internet as the networking infrastructure between supercomputing centres all around the US that created the roots for the explosive growth afterwards. And in this case, the US government did things correctly: in 1990, it allowed private corporations to run part of that network — thus pulling back from the continuing funding and overseeing — and encouraging more and more universities to use the Internet by contracting services from the private sector, until the US government was not a major player in the Internet business at all (specially after the InterNIC, which controlled the world-wide DNS, became a private organisation).

    This was a bit what the proposal wished to achieve. Are corporations hesitating to fund a standardisation committee that would settle down the protocols that will run the future’s Metaverse, because 2009 is not a good year for private investments? Well, then let the Government step in and give a hand for a few years. No matter what your current paranoia level towards the Government might be, it’s still a viable option and alternative if the purpose is to let the Metaverse be built in the near future, instead of dying in 2009 because it’s an excellent idea but nobody wants to fund it.

    I also disagree that the “metaverse already exists”. That’ll be the same as claiming that the “future world-wide online network” existed in 1990, because Compuserve and AOL (and later MSN) were in place. As history found out, non-interconnected privately run, closed networks totally failed to create a global online network. Instead, what history showed us is that you’d have to interconnect those private networks with a common set of protocols, and back in the late 1980s, this was only accomplished thanks to governments stepping in to promote the adoption of standards committees. Granted, it’s always easy to look at things “after the fact” and say “how visionary were they”, when in fact they might have no clue if this would actually work at all.

    The metaverse today is just that — privately run closed virtual worlds without interconnection. LL is the only wise player in the field that at least recognises that interconnection is vital, and even managed to push that message to some of their closest partners. But they’re still not “strong” enough to push that idea ahead, all on their own. They aren’t Microsoft or Google 😉 And they might never grow big enough as them. Ironically, it’s the “opensourceniks” doing their work with OpenSim that are showing how to integrate separately running virtual worlds in a common metaverse, although they’ll never get the media’s attention.

    Oh, for the sake of the argument, I’d trust the IETF or even the IEEE to be the standards-providing organisation for the upcoming metaverse, as an alternative to the US government, but to the best of my knowledge, they’re hardly interested in that.

    And I really have no idea who put it on the SL Dev list, although I’m happy to see that it was discussed. Just raising the issue and talking about it is a first step, even if the answer to the issue is “no way!”.