Online Tools for Decision Making

2013 Session Preview

  Micah Sifry

Micah Sifry

Online Tools for Decision Making: What are easy to use tools that enable large groups to collaborate and make decisions together? And why does it matter? In this session, we'll look at how our tools shape our strategy and culture, and take a close look at a new platform just coming out of closed beta, Loomio.org, which grew out of the Occupy movement in New Zealand.

Why did I propose this session? This post I wrote yesterday, looking at how online groups in the US are currently wrestling with the Syria crisis, helps illustrate why. 

I think we need more ways to involve large numbers of people in decision making beyond the current "e-petition" tool. Even with many groups moving towards a more distributed platform for starting petitions, we're still stuck with petitions as the way to find consensus online. And what that really means is small groups of people (petition-initiators) speaking on behalf of large groups (who give their signature). This is fine if the topic that we're trying to come to agreement around is obvious--and that's also why online organizing is best at saying "No!" and has a lot more trouble getting to "Yes."

In this session, we're not just going to have a theoretical discussion about how the tools that people use subtly shape the work. We're also going to play a bit with Loomio, which is making an instance available for all WOCers to kick its tires. As you'll see, the basic idea of Loomio is to enable a self-identified group (not a random open group, at least not at this stage) to work together. Anyone can create a topic for discussion and anyone can propose a resolution; the tools makes it easier to where the evolving consensus of the group may be at any point in the discussion of a resolution.