Over the weekend I remember thinking about the similarities between distributed software development and democracy. There is an article called the Cathedral and the Bazzar by Eric Raymond that explains how a decentralized decision making process is a sound management philosophy. I'm among the minority of Open Source proponents that disagree with his conclusions. Linus Torvalds is the self proclaimed benevolent dictator of the operating system known as Linux. It is the result of thousands of developers working together on a project that is now at the top of Microsoft's threat list.

Here is a quote from the guy that commented on my blog about a quote from a philosopher "Yeah, Socrates was right when he said that rule by the many can do the least harm, but also the least good." In fact the whole electoral college system is designed to prevent the majority from dominating the minority...

"Thus, the intent of the college is to favor a candidate whose appeal is more broadly distributed on a geographical basis across the nation (see the 2000 election, below). This may lead to the rare circumstance of giving the election to a candidate who did not win a majority, or even a plurality, of the popular vote. This is seen as preferable than giving the election to one who is favored by a majority of voters but whose support is concentrated in a minority of regions or only by voters in large states."

I think my point here is that people are only proponents of elitism because our current system creates the exact opposite. They say "find a job you love and you'll never have to go to work again" People who love philosophizing about political ideologies will gravitate towards a system where their voices are heard. That system doesn't exist in America today. OpEd pieces are too slow, rebuttals in Foreign Affairs take two months to appear.

If we think of a democracy as an open source project where the source code is the constitution and law then couldn't the same ideas that work for Linux and other massive collaborative projects work for government as well? I was reading about how the Republicans were having a hard time finding someone to run for an office because it would cost $7-$10 Million dollars. Nobody wants to run for office these days. What if all of those great thinkers without $10Million burning a hole in their pockets could actually have a say in how things work? I guess the problem isn't whether or not it would work but the more practical issue of how to change the momentum of the most powerful nation on the planet.

Here is an interesting read with similar ideas. And a Free Book about the subject.

My entire blog is a rough draft, I need to cut the fat off the edges and edit some of my posts.

Next time:
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  • Sandia Labs