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It's great to see that @pahlkadot's TED talk, Coding a Better Government, is up to 266,000 views on (and another 38,000 on YouTube). This is a really great talk. (Her SxSW keynote was even better, but I don't think they made video available. It's also 45 minutes instead of 12, so this is a great place to start.)

I love the way that Jen illustrates my notion of "government as a platform" in such a simple, down-to-earth way that any non-technical person can understand it. Describing how an open 311 app lets one neighbor help another with a possum problem, rather than calling on expensive city services, she says:

"This is an example of government geting in on the crowdsourcing game,
but it’s also an example of government building a platform for people to help themselves and each other. It's citizen to citizen, but government had a critical role – it connected them. It could have connected them to government services if they’d been needed. But a neighbor helping a neighbor strengthens our communities. Calling government services just costs money."
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Yeah, I shared this video the other day because it gave me a huge "AHA!" moment. I'm still doing some research on the possibility of offering a few simple projects for the town I live in.

If Pahlka ever brings her org to Dallas, I'm totally going to be lobbying to let them in.
She makes the statement that these apps are sending a shot across the bow of government but in my opinion that can also include businesses around the world. Fixing Citizenship is probably the best concept I have heard in a while.
I had heard they were going to post the SXSW keynotes; they were certainly recording them. I'm upset that I missed Jennifer's :(
Color me skeptical. Pahlka starts with the premise that government is broken and needs fixing and that people have given up on it. Maybe that is a common culture and maybe her points (made repeatedly here) were well received. But I, for one, am not cynical about government, especially at the local level.
I agree with her positive affirmation of the role of government doing what individuals and corporations will not or cannot accomplish. Sure, it could be more efficient and client-focused, but show me any area of public life that could not be streamlined, updated and improved through greater public participation.
LOL. She's describing what already exists. It's called the free-market.
open source governments. come on
Both Adolph Hitler and Joesph Stalin had entire management by central planning. I should probably add Charmin Mao.
+Leonid Feldman , right on. Exactly. Try 'splaining that to a Statist. (Be sure to sing a happy song around the fire when you do.)
Actually she's talking about a decentralized GOVERNMENT not the market.Getting more people involved in the actions and possibly decision making of local government quite an idea and workable just not sure those in power want to see this .It's time has returned.
+Leonid Feldman and +Antonius Maximus : Explain how a democratically structured government has nothing to do with voluntary exchange and participation? Because I think I hear the sound of free market fetishism. You can only see stuff through a single lens.
Sure but Charmin Mao was twice as soft as other leading brands and absorbant as well, +Robert Dale . Just teasing :)
Gud news but proggress is so slow...
Watching this video brought to mind the activities of the student volunteer army that the students of University of Canterbury put together last year in February during the devastating Christchurch earthquake (here is their website for those who are interested to learn more about their formation, their activities, and their contribution: It was borne out of a dire necessity but it had a very similar kind of impact as Pahlka talks about government and the citizenry and their mutual relationship in her speech on the coding for America. I am quite optimistic to see these new models of cooperation and public service emerge.
Great talk... I think it's a great paradigm shift in utilizing technology in Government.
I've been asking myself this very question for the last 18 months or so, we are (should we choose) at the precipice of a paradigm shift unprecedented in human history. These are exhilarating and terrifying times.
Great, another way for the government to intrude ... Ever thought of teaching citizens to do this without government intervention and monitoring?
Oh, wait. We don't want people thinking for themselves do we.
Reminds me of my blue-eyed vision some 50 years ago of having "anarchy - with islands of authority" instead of governments...
Amerika için kodlamak yada Amerika'yı kodlamak.
+Antonius Maximus We have not had a free market since 1970 or earlier. Subsidies, tariffs, the corporate legal shield are examples of why.
May be that is what Marx meant when he said that "the state will whither away" - instead of demonizing him we should try to penetrate his insight - when his ideas are coming of age.
I don't understand the people trying to turn this into a free market vs big government argument +Leonid Feldman , +Antonius Maximus and +Veronica Cawelti .
Some needs are easily monetized and easy to anticipate and deliver to the person who need it. The market is good at addressing those needs.

Other things are clearly needed by society at large, but it is difficult to anticipate the need at the individual level. (fire fighting, police, etc.) The best way to address these is through the government,

What Ms. Pahlka is describing is government identifying those needs that are so sporadic that government would have a hard time addressing it effectively and the "free market" would be inefficient at assigning a market value. The "apps" make it easier to identify a need and alert someone willing to meet that need for currency the "free market" does't recognize (civic pride, personal pride, naming rights for fire hydrants, philanthropy, comfort in knowing the firefighters won't have to dig out the hydrant IF there is a fire)
+Veronica Cawelti In the examples given, the government is not coercing anyone into doing anything. It is alerting people to a problem and allowing them to assign themselves to addressing the problem. In small communities, you might already know who is would want to handle the possum in the trashcan (for example), but most people don't live in such small tight-knit communities these days.
yes, Everything can be ran on the internet, but major hackavists will start running the country. Everything can be exploited on the internet.
+clifford lowe Government, by definition, is coercion. It is not an institution of voluntarism. Further, it is not a given, and is only a hypothesis, that certain services can only be provided by an institution called 'government'. Hoppe has argued (quite successfully I feel) there is no such thing as a "public good" and everything provided by government can be provided by the market (i.e. all of us).
+Nick Bauman +Antonius Maximus I would like to give this one a go. Tragedies of the Commons have the potential to exist wherever there is a universally accessible good or service, i.e. roads. However, governmental power itself must be considered such a "public good", in that it was theoretically available to all US citizens, but has clearly been "overgrazed" by just a handful of "shepherds", to return the metaphor to its orignal context. So, government cannot be the solution to ToC since it is the good which is MOST SUBJECT to ToC!

Here is just a little sample of how something like defense could be provided in a non-coercive way. In the future, there are various defense agencies in the geographical region we now call the US. You will not be compelled to contribute to this service, however those who do get their names put in secure databases. Now suppose you apply for a job somewhere; since people value this defense service, they will be preferential towards those who are not "free riders". They can ask for your permission to query the database to see whether you support defense. If you have not, they may choose not to hire you. Now there is merely a social and peaceful pressure being put on individuals to support these things.

It is very telling when people worry that a service wouldn't be provided without the state, but their concern is the very proof that it would be done! In fact, those services are almost certainly being done quite poorly BECAUSE of the state. The state has no motivation to follow through.
I've just now watched this video. My two cents: what Jennifer Pahlka is talking about is problem solving, not actually government. Government is distinguished by its coercive nature, or if we accept Jennifer's definition of it ("what we do together that we cannot do alone"), then we would need another word to reflect this coercive approach to solving problems, perhaps Goviolence? She claims that "we can't do without government"; by her definition of it, she is right... we must help each other, but we MUST do without coercion, without goviolence.
+Morgan Laco The only fly in the ointment I see in your thinking regarding Government is a shared good that is most subject to ToC (and therefore should be eliminated) is that whatever you do, you still have to work together on some things to prevent ToCs where they exist. You can call it Government (and I think that's often how it works in a democratic society) or you can call it an Anarchist Collective or a Libertarian Consortium, it's still "government" by another name. And you say as much: Government doesn't mean Goviolence.
+Nick Bauman Yeah, completely! I regard ToC as a challenge to be surmounted. Like I said, I derive my optimism from the fact that people DO care about it, so that tells me they'll have the motivation to do something. Like selectively working with people who aren't free riders. Or perhaps certain grocery stores can issue discount cards for those who are registered in a defense supporter database, or the local fire department supporter database. In that way, stores will recoup some of the value that has been ToC'ed by free riders.

In any case, I think we should make the term "goviolence" part of general nomenclature. I think it's an idea we need, if our namespace has "government" meaning "that which we do together".
+clifford lowe, I happen to live in one of those close knit small communities. Do you want to know how I find a good person to take care of the coyote in the trashcan? (We don't have possums here) I ask my neighbor. If he doesn't know he asks his neighbor, and so on. We do not need a Government controlled monitoring system. All we need are each other. This is just more government invasion. Once again Government oversteps it's bounds. Our Founding Fathers are squirming in their graves.
ToC occurs only when direct private property rights are diluted. The word 'commons' tells us all we need to know about the source of the problem, and its solution.
+Veronica Cawelti very good point! We have to recognize the nature of today's government. They are predatory and invasive, or at the very best naive. The idea for the apps might be a good thing, but there's no reason they must be developed with government oversight and funding.
+Morgan Laco , I appreciate your optimism, but all governments, throughout all of history, are predatory and invasive. They are institutions of violence and coercion and nothing more. It is only our beliefs which convince us to anything contrary to this fundamental fact. Society at large ignores mountains of violent evidence to maintain this belief system. Statism, exactly like religion, operates on blind faith in its legitimacy.
+Antonius Maximus Another salient point, Antonius. There is a similar occurrence when somebody produces something and makes it widely accessible. For instance, if a group of people create roads but choose not to require tolls for their use, then again we get free riders. However, this is simply something that needs to be included in one's calculations before producing something. Another part of the calculation must be the benefit that the producer gets from the use of that product on the part of others, even by free riders! For instance, businesses benefit when people are able to reach them, so they have an incentive to contribute to the production of roads.

The obvious point is, society accepts that we have the resources to produce such goods and services (those potentially subject to ToC); the case often made for government is that it is required in order to initiate the necessary transfer of wealth, assuming that individuals will tend to avoid contributing. This is a ruse; as explained above, many people have incentives to contribute even when there will be "free riders". The costs incurred can simply be offloaded to appropriate places, and peaceful social pressures can be used to induce more cooperation.
+Antonius Maximus You are correct that they [governments] have all been as such [violent]. There is a "sleeper" factor here though, which indicates that this must not always be the case. This is childhood. Our society inherits its nature from that of the upbringing children receive. Currently, many people do not respond well to reasoned arguments from first principles, they have a mutant sense of entitlement, and we are violent. For those reasons, the government is violent.

It is not our nature which makes us aggressive; it is inherited through example. Early human society had different needs, a different perspective, and had not long been ‘above’ the animals. Examples of violence were omnipresent. I view violence as a chain; with rare exception, it it directly transferred from person to person.

So violence is the present state, but as we biologically are, today and right now, we can produce children who do not use violence if we simply do not teach it. As you would not expect a child to know Mandarin if you never spoke it in the home, so too violence will not be part of their vocabulary. Of course, this will not happen soon but abuse against children, and visible violence in the world has diminished, although it is still prevalent. My point is that we don’t have to wait for evolution of the brain, we are only waiting for social evolution.

An important point: once the personhood and sovereignty of a subgroup of people is recognized, it is hardly ever retracted. For instance, African Americans will never be slaves here again, and we won’t be taking the right to vote away from women. The minority today is in fact children; and theirs is the revolution that needs to be had.

(Part of this post is from a message I have previously written, so I apologize for the rubber-stamp aspect)

Please check out this video on this topic:
+Antonius Maximus So let's sell all the national parks to Chuck E. Cheese. That way the market will protect them optimally! Tragedy of the Commons averted! Yay!
+Morgan Laco I see you are assuming that violence is nuture rather than nature. I disagree. Violence is a direct result of fear. No matter how low you look into the animal kingdom, or how high, you see anything which fears destruction becomes violent. The same is equally true of Governments because such institutions are made by people who have fear and therefore are capable of violence. Hate is learned, violence comes naturally.
Anyone who believes violence is nurtured and not natural is taking a huge risk with their own safety. Anything in the animal kingdom, no matter how gentle, can become deadly violent when threatened with destruction. People make Governments and therefore, like people, they are prone to violence when threatened. Be wary of fooling yourself to the true nature of humanity. And humanities institutions.
+Veronica Cawelti as you said, when threatened people can be violent. This does not mean that we are inherently so. Even if the majority of humankind were aggressively violent, it would not mean it is our nature. nature can on rare occasion make one person inherently aggressive but virtually all violence is learned from example. Research the Seville statement, listen to some of the podcasts that +Stefan Molyneux has done on this issue and look at the evidence he sites.
+Nick Bauman Chuck E. Cheese!? What are you talking about? You're kidding right? Is this a blow to the idea of the superiority of free market forces (true free market, not a world with tariffs, subsides, corporations, regulations, taxes, and forced adoption of a fiat currency to the exclusion of all other forms) or are you just kidding? I'm seriously and honestly curious.
+Morgan Laco Thank you for the information. I will enjoy listening. Unfortunately there are many schools of thought on this subject. I do prescribe to the particular version I mentioned but perhaps Mr. Molyneux will have some convincing arguments.
Well the discussion has gone pretty far afield. If someone wants a broader discussion of libertarian ideal and free markets, please start a separate post and point to it from here.
Back to the examples from the TED talk, the only coercion involved is the minor portion of taxes devoted to maintaining the website. The only government intrusion is the enforcement of collecting those taxes. The apps facilitate needs being expressed and reaching a receptive audience in a more efficient manner than going door to door asking all your neighbors
+Leonid Feldman A free market may recognize the naming of a fire hydrant, civic mindedness, pride of accomplishment, goodwill and "warm fuzzies" as an economic reward, but if they are intangible, not quantifiable and nontransferable they are not "currency" Connecting those economic rewards with the people that value them is the economic service the app performs.
+clifford lowe, there, as I stated before, is absolutely no need for government to be involved in this at all. It is just another tax forced upon us for yet another unecessary item by a government which, by its very nature, seeks to monitor and control its citzens. Government is completely unnecessary at a community level. This is simply another way to "community organize" in the Saul Alinsky fashion. I am not unaware of "Rules for Revolution" or other such tactics of progressives. Thankfully my community agrees and this is one place your programs won't work.
+Nick Bauman , the National Parks are only 'national parks' because they have been claimed, by force, by an institution of violence. The fact of their existence as a 'public property' is not an argument for their existence as such. The existence and proliferation of government roads is not an argument for their need. If you want to the true measure of how much people value so-called 'national parks', privatize every single one of them. Sell the land. If you want to keep them as parks, buy them, and do so. ToC averted. Yay!
I understand the concept, but fail to see how it applies to this situation. The cost of maintaining what amounts to an online bulletin board (the only subsidized portion of these proposals) is fairly small. The marginal cost of increased use of an online bulletin board is also very small. The services are being performed for free or for trivial cost (naming a fire hydrant) I really don't understand how cheap advertising for free services drives up prices
Just as an aside --- cheap advertising for price competitive tasks. Considering the growth of task rabbit, this type of advertising service is needed. Since the initial advertising there is free, it's hard to say state subsidized advertising will have any significant effect on the price.
+Leonid Feldman, at first I thought my brain would pop when I read your post, but then everything started making sense. Thank you. I just knew if such a thing as this were actually needed, which I doubt, it would be done by the people needing it, not the government. You gave me new insight into all those blinking bubbles that caused this chaos to begin with, I got it this time! Again thank you.
I think we can replace the phrase "free market" with "faith in god" and everything still makes the same amount of sense. It's a religion to you. And the antichrist is government. I think you guys should try living in a place with little government for a while.
+Nick Bauman Yeah, see that is actually not an argument. This is an argument: The free market is ultimately more desirable than alternatives for one reason; the free market does not distort economic signals. Alternatives such as the government distort these signals wildly with tariffs, subsidies, monetary inflation, bailouts, and so on.

Now some might say "so what? Its just the economy, and we have more important issues such as X,Y and Z". But of course the state of the economic system contains information about the real world, about the levels of our resources, needs, and the efficiency of our allocations. Interventions into the market mask these signals; it becomes like driving in your car with windshield replaced with a video screen showing a completely different road.

That's the real value of an economy, it should be as a pair of eyes to tell us where we stand and what lies ahead of us. We cannot continue to hide the view with painted images of the places we wish we could be.

Now I have made an argument. I have then provided an analogy to help instill some intuition. Let's not make sensationalist statements like "It's a religion to you". Religion requires more than just staunch adherence, it also implies that the ideas are untestable and non-explainable.
+Nick Bauman , The phrase 'free market' refers to something real and measurable. 'Faith in God' refers to something imaginary. One item requires disconnecting from reality. It requires faith. The other only requires going outside and shaking someone's hand.
+Antonius Maximus +Nick Bauman +Veronica Cawelti +Leonid Feldman I just wanted to say I love this thread. It's been a perfect opportunity to speak about these important issues. Something else that comes to mind; in a relationship with a person, a rational and healthy person does not stick around when their partner does something especially hurtful. There are certain actions which supersede all the other actions of a person. No matter how many good things that person does, this thing is so unforgivable that you simply cannot stay. For instance, if your partner beats you, you should leave.

The government has given us so many good examples of terrible unforgivable actions, it should at least be a signal that something is terribly wrong. Specifically, we should not so eagerly turn to them with our problems, since we should not have trust them.
+Morgan Laco , It is a superb thread. Frequently people incorrectly assume an argument for 'the free-market' or similar examples of self-organizing social structures based on voluntarism and exchange, is ideologically based in utopianism. They immediately argue against it and invariably support the 'need' for government. The existence of government is not an argument for its necessity. Further, I propose a simple epistemological question: Do you support the use of violent coercion to achieve your goals? If you support violence to achieve your personal vision of utopia, you support the idea of government. If you prefer mutual consent and exchange to achieve your version of utopia, you deny government as a legitimate institution and instead promote any other alternative. Anarcho-Capitalism is one. Libertarianism is nearby, but still implicitly supports the idea of 'government'. I will come to no one's surprise: I do not vote. I believe it is an unethical act.
+Morgan Laco, +Antonius Maximus and everyone else. I can understand the freedom associated with anarchy (no government), but as a mother I see the benifits of limited government with a rule of law. Such a structure can give a person freedoms anarchy cannot. Anarchy is survival of the fittest, might makes right and curses a human to go against his better nature in order to succeed. While a rule of law based, limited government can free a person from the stress and anxiety associated with lack of security and reduces violence if it teaches personal responsibility. America's current crisis has been created by creating an entitlment society that believes it deserves to have its way paid. I believe this was done deliberatly by communists a socialists to create a society dependant on them and the types of government they promote. None of these people believe in individual responsibilty or accountability. Those "victims" of such societies like it because then nothing is their fault, especially their own circumstances, rich or poor. Guilt then becomes non-exsistant.
+Veronica Cawelti +Antonius Maximus The definition of anarchy does not include any of those things. At least one of the definitions.


a state of disorder due to absence or nonrecognition of authority: he must ensure public order in a country threatened with anarchy.
• absence of government and absolute freedom of the individual, regarded as a political ideal.

When I speak of anarchy, I am referring to the latter, and it isn't a given that such an absence would lead to "disorder". There are many demonstrable ways in which a government, especially ours, threatens our security rather than protecting it. You would be enraged if you woke up one day to find that 83% of everything you've been saving since 1970 (if you're that old) had been stolen. But this is the amount of value that the Fed has taken from the dollar since that time; by their own figures! If that devaluation was needed to protect the stability of our economy, then why is it in such a poor condition? We have made enemies of many nations of the world by fighting in wars for 209 of our 235 or so years of existence.

Especially today, now that HR 347 has been passed, the military is now officially authorized to operate on American soil and arrest and imprison any of us without due process or charges. That is not security or freedom. Freedoms are not things that can be given; a freedom is simply something that we have the ability to do and are not prohibited from doing. Outside agents can do nothing except reduce freedoms.

I don't claim that we should be without defense and policing services; but I refuse to let anyone take for granted that we could not have those things without a government to coerce us into funding it. I've described, I believe in this thread, how such things would be funded. Now, I firmly believe that there is a prerequisite for anarchy to work; that is a peaceful population. I know that the popular assumption is that peace is against our nature, but the true roots of violence come from abusive childhoods. An important thing to realize is that THE PEACEFUL TREATMENT OF PEOPLES HAS CONSISTENTLY SPREAD, AND RARELY BEEN REDUCED. Once personhood is extended to a group, for instance African Americans being released from slavery, we simply do not go back. Children are the last minority in this sense. Their revolution is coming, a time when child abuse is as frowned upon as spouse abuse. I encourage you to view this video for evidence:
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