• ...if it’s your Zoom line.

  • No, he knows how to do this. She does. [laughs]

  • Yeah, this is all part of your transparency thing, is making sure everything’s recorded?

  • That’s right. We can publish either as videos or as transcripts. Either modality is fine. We can determine it after the conversation.

  • Just curious if you had a chance to look over the 10 pages of stuff I sent to you.

  • Yeah, I did. I have followed every link, too.

  • [laughs] I don’t know how you do it, I can’t quite picture. I know you had this interviewer ask you, "What are your days like?" and you said, "Depends on what day." [laughs] I don’t know.

  • This is a Friday, so I don’t have to go to the cabinet’s office. Time structure-wise, I have six hours with this conversation.

  • I understand it’s late for you in the day. I’m not saying that we have to do six hours.

  • [laughs] Maybe we will. Maybe I’ll get to bed very late. I don’t know. We will see. I realized after I finished writing the stuff that I sent to you sorting out all these notes, which I’ve been doing for several days now. It summarized in my head, you know the story of the wise men and the elephant who are feeling, some feeling the leg of the elephant, some feeling...

  • I feel like vTaiwan, I’m looking through these different lenses of different people who are reporting on it. I don’t know what the elephant looks like myself. I’m curious where you would go. If you wanted to go through it step by step, or you see the general. At first, I don’t quite know what’s going on.

  • I would love to hear more details on that.

  • I would like to interject something small, which is I find it usually helps to define a purpose for a call at the beginning. It helps navigate it. I am not going to define the purpose. I am riding along, but if the two of you could get to a shared purpose, I think the call will be...

  • This is when we bring out the whiteboard.

  • (laughter)

  • In your 10-page document, there is, actually already, quite some purposes. Then there is also your perspective is to A, connecting as people and as change agents, catalysts, whatever, channels, and B, to go into the function, the process, and logic, not necessarily in that order of vTaiwan.

  • I still want to repeat my question, because this is what is proposed to do. The purpose is what is the hope that doing these things will accomplish?

  • Yeah. If this is a successful meeting, what will you each have gotten from it?

  • I will know the two of you more. That’s the connect part. I’ll perhaps ask you to share some ideas and life stories, and that’s sufficient for me. Supposedly, you will understand more the philosophy and the logic that led to vTaiwan, and so, learning, satisfying curiosity. I think it will be a mutual success right there. I can’t think of anything else right now.

  • Tom, do you have something of yours?

  • That describes it. It’s based on things that I wrote earlier. I don’t have all these things made as the purpose in what I want to do and the rest. Yes, I would love to have a sense of connection and reality. I feel like I already have some connection to Audrey from interviews, reading and listening to interviews in terms of your past, Audrey.

  • I know there’s more. [laughs] It goes on forever. Lives are fractal. There’s a way where my underlying need regarding the vTaiwan is a sense that I started out reading a couple of articles and thinking I kind of got it and got all excited. Then the more I read, the more complex it got, and it was harder to feel like I either knew or could know.

  • I’m interested in having a bit more of a landing place, because I want to talk about it, and I want to think about it. I want to write about it, because each little piece that I see feels like major breakthrough, and that it has many tendrils into my thinking and my work.

  • I would like to share it, and I don’t feel I can share it or be articulate about it at this stage. Everything I say feels like a radical oversimplification.

  • Share with simplicity, but not oversimplifying, then?

  • Yeah, the simplicity on the other side of complexity, instead of the simplicity on this side of complexity. [laughs]

  • That’s exactly right, with the right kind of simplicity. Let’s call it positive simplicity. Something like that, right?

  • Is that sufficiently purposeful? It is to me, so I’m fine.

  • If the idea is to find a landing place, I will start by describing vTaiwan as I see it, and then perhaps we can explore any and each of the tendrils, such as the bugs or challenges that you brought up, as well as the connection to other methodologies.

  • vTaiwan, simply put, is a 坑. This word, pronounced K-E-N-G in the first tone, is core of what this is about. Literally, it’s translated as, variously, a gap, or a hole, or a crate. It evokes the image of something that’s bumpy in the road that is below the surface, this shape.

  • This is the word that we use in the g0v movement and is one of the three core concepts. It’s people (人), it’s projects or gaps (坑), and there’s marathons (松), or meet-ups, or congregations. It’s pronounced "song."

  • This is one of the three main concepts. The idea is that we discover projects, or keng, which are, simply put, excuse for people to meet. The meeting is simply an excuse to get to know people better, and the people are, simply, an excuse to find more projects.

  • It is a recursive public, as some academics say, that really exists in a co-intelligent [laughs] fashion for people to randomly show up and do things. It’s very much just a moniker.

  • As a keng, it leads to the song or the meet-ups. That is every Wednesday from roughly 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM, with plenty of pizza, and there was some wine last Wednesday. There’s also a lot of cooking involved, but mostly people having a good time.

  • The people who went there, again, from all the sectors, we talk about, as excuse for meeting, how to deliberate data integration, how to integrate government data, open data, with citizens’ contributed data, like this air pollution sensors, which 2,000 of them are built by the citizens. It’s parallel to the government’s legitimacy.

  • How to integrate those different sources of truth, or facts, to have a reasonable discussion, and whether we need a special law for it, or a special chapter of a certain law, like the Freedom of Information Act or the Privacy Act, or it could be a set of regulations. We send out rolling surveys to discuss stakeholders.

  • That’s all done in the space and time of, maybe, three hours over the previous Wednesday. We do that every Wednesday. Every Wednesday we do something different, and the agenda is always set by the people who happens to be there.

  • There’s some norms, such as making a transparent note of what happened, so the next week it could be a completely different bunch of people, but they could carry on the work.

  • That’s how I see vTaiwan. It’s a excuse for people to meet every Wednesday evening to have fun.

  • [laughs] That certainly turns everything I’m thinking inside out, and I have to start from square zero.

  • We did all those things that you saw reported abroad, and so on.

  • The people who were reporting had not had the benefit of this little talk, and were trying to land somewhere [laughs], or try to say, "This is what’s going on," missing the internal essence of what you’re doing and the motivational essence.

  • I don’t know to what extent that’s cultural, or that’s you, or whatever, but I have to either scramble or sit back to move into that reality, into that paradigm, which I like the sound of. I wish I could be more in that, but it’s hyper-new to me to think and feel that way as a form of participatory governance.

  • I keep wanting to go, "Well, this is this, and those do that." It’s like, "Well, OK, let’s push the reset button here." [laughs]

  • I have a clarifying question. The way that I’m understanding it, the people that you’re talking about are the people who maintain, sustain, design, and expand the platform, not the process of citizen participation. Correct?

  • That depends on who shows up. If a minister shows up, you get regulatory commitments. If a political scientist shows up, you get new theses or discourse. There’s quite a few master theses borne out of hackathons like this.

  • If a powerful civil society organizer shows up, as was the case a few months ago, you get completely new campaigns. If you have people who would later become moderator of the national forum of judicial reform, then you get to influence the process of the national judicial reform process.

  • (laughter)

  • Like an emergent incubator. It’s a place where relationship, platform, and ideas mutually influence.

  • I guess you can say that. It is like a incubator. Physically it takes certainly, place in the Social Innovation Lab in Taipei, which is a national program to incubate social innovations of any kind.

  • It’s helpful to say that before the 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM thing, already I spent the entire day, from 10:00 AM onward, in the same building in my office hour. Anyone, literally, can show up.

  • By the way, this is how this space looks like. It is a lot of fun, just by walking into this space. This particular football thing is designed by people with Down syndrome who turn out to be better artists than we are in designing this sort of thing. You have markets of social enterprises.

  • This is my office. You see, here, the red ones are the days that I happen to be elsewhere, but otherwise I’m all here from 10:00 AM, onwards, every Wednesday so people can talk to me with their ideas, and so on. This is published transparently.

  • What I’m trying to get at is that this space, itself, is the kind of place you are describing. VTaiwan is just one of the 400 or so activities that takes place in this physical space that shares more of its spirit, but there’s many other ones going on, too. The universal basic income gathering, also, is here, and many other endeavors.

  • It’s a funny way that this space is at least as much platform, or even more platform, than the online space. They’re coexistent. The online space lives in the physical space, the physical space lives in the online space, and the activities and thoughts flow between them.

  • It’s like a meta open space conference ongoing all the time, or something like that. I don’t know. I’m trying to find similarities with my existing knowledge.

  • The place, itself, it was established just six month ago, or something. It was completely ruined a year before.

  • We had a co-creation workshop, the result of which was that we need five more co-creation workshops. We hold five co-creation workshops every week and talk with hundreds of social innovators.

  • The government really just provided a budget and a hardware, but how it need to be allocated is entirely co-designed. People said we need a kitchen with proper oven, and everything. We get a kitchen and a café.

  • People said we need a chef. We have a resident chef. People said that we need two very large rooms with nothing in it, bar wireless connection. You get that.

  • People said we need a basement so that we can have blind facilitators to lead the sighted people to show their vulnerabilities, dialog in the dark. We have that.

  • They say the Minister need to be here every Wednesday. We did that. That’s how this space came about.

  • Is there any kind of pre-intentionality of any given person trying to bring another person there, or establish a particular kind of discussion, or it is totally emergent in the moment?

  • In my Wednesday office-hour we have people who are running for mayor in the upcoming campaign at the end of year, trying to have a talk, and bring their own live streaming equipment to try to steer or harness this energy for this particular county. We’re fine with that.

  • There’s many political forces, but they’re ephemeral. They’re not recurring.

  • What’s recurring become part of the culture.

  • The culture is very porous, malleable.

  • It can absorb and eject things. If something absorbs and stays there, then it starts participating in the process of shaping, like a recursive shaping.

  • That’s exactly right. Yes, which is why we call ourself a recursive public.

  • What is the relationship of this process to what’s going on there? because that has a level of continuity to it, at least part of it.

  • I’m curious how that process unfolds. Does it sometimes start, and halfway through it dissolves, because nobody’s interested in doing it anymore? What does it look like?

  • Pol.is, for us, is a time saver. It’s easy to get people to commit two minutes of their time, especially over the Internet, but even face-to-face it’s not too hard.

  • Everybody has two minutes of kindness. 20 minutes, it’s harder. Two hours, it really requires some convincing. For us to have a six-hour discussion, it means that we must both be enjoying this, because otherwise there’s no point.

  • Facilitators, the rare, wise souls, as you describe, are usually saddled with so much work -- work for good, I’m sure, but work -- so that if we say you don’t have to manually sort through 4,000, 5,000 comments, we can have the crowd moderate themselves, but in a transparent way, it can save you much time. Then it becomes attractive to any facilitator who want to engage with thousands of people.

  • We don’t use pol.is if we don’t estimate there will be thousands of people. If there’s just 20 people we get much more high-quality discussion face-to-face, anyway.

  • It’s only when it is a controversial or very popular topic that we anticipate thousands, tens of thousands of people. Then we use pol.is, because otherwise the facilitators run out and we don’t have much fun anymore. That’s how we use, or see, pol.is.

  • The energy for pol.is comes totally from the grassroots in this space. I’m beginning to see there isn’t a specific pattern of conversations afterward. The conversations that come after an exercise with pol.is are whatever various people have energy for and whoever can be pulled together for them.

  • That’s exactly right, because all the data is open, you can’t really misinterpret it much. Everybody else keeps everyone in balance and check, but if you have the energy to harness it in some way, you’re always welcome.

  • The government is bound to the degree that it need to answer to the consensus items, but it could be done in a way that’s entirely written. It doesn’t have to verbally defend itself, especially if it is a law, rather than a regulation. Then usually it is defended in the parliament, rather than in a citizens’ council.

  • If it is a regulation, though, usually it leads to face-to-face discussions while we go through the points one by one. It really varies case-by-case.

  • The difference between parliament’s involvement and the ministers’ involvement is whether the implications of what you’re doing it for involve law or regulation?

  • That’s clarifying. In terms of the conversations afterwards, a bunch of people go up to the people who run the talk in Taiwan activity, and say, "Hey, we have a couple of people we pulled together for a conversation. Can you schedule that and let us know when it is so we can spread the word?" kind of thing. That’s how it happens?

  • This sense of trying to achieve representation of the population, or representation of the full spectrum of stakeholders, or whatever, there isn’t any expectation of that happening. Whatever somebody has energy for, how much of that is there, and everybody’s taking that into account in how they respond. [laughs]

  • Yes, you have the experts here who define the problem statement. You have a lot of controversies here.

  • Pol.is is really good at making sure the divergence in the first diamond more fair, in the sense that it doesn’t skew any whichever way. You really get a full spectrum of possible creativity. Maybe it converges a little bit, by way of crowd moderation.

  • Everything onward, as you said, usually people do a referendum here, or do a parliamentary vote here, or a random council, sortition. We did all these at this stage.

  • It is so far removed from the initial expansion stage, where is most of what the vTaiwan effort is, so that we don’t care much, really, about the representativeness, either in a statistics way or in a democratic representation kind of way.

  • It’s closer to a brainstorm. The way it’d be looked at is, "Here we’re going to generate a whole pile of possibilities, check out which ones seem to be attractive"?

  • That’s exactly right. We care about the representation, the accurate presentation of the ideas as it’s originally written. We don’t try to synthesize too much.

  • It is a representing of what people have originally thought. We carry it through a accountability trail, all the way to the final decision. The methods used in the phases here, here, here, and here are completely different for each case.

  • In the second triangle, different kinds of conversation are happening in an effort to get to something solid that’s been through a more focused conversational process, or seven different focused conversational processes? [laughs]

  • The intention here is to start from whatever results have come out of the first section, then newly expand from them in new ways, and then come to some conclusion?

  • ...the first part, where you have the question marks, what is it that people are talking about? Where does that come from? What’s the articulation of that piece of the puzzle? Whoever has the energy to create one, and then they say what it is?

  • We need at least two people to have perspectives. Yes, if people think, that is to say, something that has the potential of become something public, then they use...

  • E-petition, for example, is a great example, because if you have 5,000 people, there’s bound to be at least five different perspectives in those 5,000 people. It is predetermined that if you send out invitation of pol.is to tens of thousands of people who are counter-petitioners, then you get something valuable out of it.

  • Sometimes the petition activity is going on at the beginning and generates a pol.is activity. It’s not necessarily directly to. It can be, but it’s not necessarily...?

  • It can be. The triggering threshold for using pol.is is simply that we anticipate there will be thousands of people.

  • That’s whoever is organizing the use of pol.is? Anybody could organize pol.is?

  • In order to get enough people saying, "Yeah, let’s use pol.is," you have to demonstrate to them that it’s worth their while to do that?

  • Exactly, yes. We have many other tools. It doesn’t have to be pol.is.

  • I understand. In Colin’s chart there were lots of, "Over here we use this," "Over here we use this." I don’t know all the things, but I do get the sense.

  • His chart isn’t like, "This is how we do it all the time." His chart is more like, "This is an example of how we would do it."

  • Exactly. For the next case we have a completely different methodology of people all have a rough consensus about it.

  • That’s where the rough consensus comes in, in terms of operationality, the rough consensus being a group of engineers who are talking about this. The working group that they’re talking about is, in a sense, a group of people who are gathered together either online or in the space you showed us.

  • They’re talking about whether they want to focus on this, that, or the other. There are facilitators of that who are like the chairman they’re talking about in the...?

  • That’s right. We have a few norms, like the facilitator need to be neutral, preferably not strongly affiliated with one of the sides of the stakeholders, and they’re at least fluent in translating the issue into common language that can include more people, but if they are not, we have people who can help.

  • It is more of a group effort than anything.

  • The roles are not solid. People go into various roles, depending on their mixture of their skills and what they want to do at that time, or somebody calls them up and says, "Hey, we need a X. Come on down."

  • The level of self-organization, again, when I talked about the connection that we would have, because of my experience in the peace march and your Sunflower Movement experience, I go [laughs], "This really is at this level of self-organization."

  • What is it? Whoever shows up at the right people, and whatever happens, the only thing that could happen. [laughs] I am blown away.

  • I have, again, a clarifying question, which is suppose there is an issue that has a very sharp divide between urban and rural people. I’m making it up. The way that you describe everything, when I imagine the typical participant, they don’t look very rural to me.

  • I completely understand that it doesn’t matter to have representative sample. All that matters is that the issues and perspectives are on the table, but if there is a perspective that is wholly rural, how will it ever make it here?

  • There’s many concrete cases. There’s one I can talk about, the helicopter case, which is a fascinating case.

  • It’s about in the south of Taiwan there’s this little town called Hengchun. It’s a very popular tourism place, but it’s a small town in the south.

  • There’s about 8,000 petitions at the time for this place, which has a airport that has been neglected for a very long time, for a few years. The petition says we need to ask the Minister of Interior to deploy the Black Hawk helicopters to our airport to serve as ambulance cars so that people who run into strokes or had a diving accident can get to a major hospital in Kaohsiung, here, in time.

  • Despite being a popular tourist destination, there’s no big hospital there. There really is nobody who can operate a surgery for the brain, or anything like that.

  • The nearest large hospital that has both the equipment and the doctors are 90 minutes or 100 minutes away. People die because of this, so it’s a real problem. Ambulance helicopters is not a unheard of idea.

  • They garnered support, not because there’s 8,0000 people in that town, but because they, in their bed and breakfast, put up those signs that says, "Do you know what will happen if you have a diving accident? Here is this QR code. Bring out your phone. Sign the petition before you check-in our bed and breakfast."

  • There’s grassroots mobilization that lead to one of the fastest petitions we ever saw in petition platform.

  • Because every month we have participation officers in every ministry who bring these kind of things to the table, and the Ministry of Interior’s participation officer says, "We really don’t have that many Black Hawk helicopters to spare, and we’re not sure people with stroke are the best to be carrying by helicopters, anyway," but it’s very difficult to convince people of that.

  • We have this regulation that says when there’s multiple agencies who each consider other agencies to be responsible agencies for a petition, all of them become responsible agencies. [laughs] I personally wrote that in.

  • (laughter)

  • It’s a snowballing regulation. The agency for Black Hawk says it’s really the firefighting department’s thing. They say, "No, it’s the Minister of Defense." They said, "No, it’s the Minister of Transportation and Communication, because all they really want is a faster road, a highway."

  • The people in the Ministry of Transportation said, "They don’t really want a highway, because that kills the tourism along the road. What they really want is a larger hospital, so it’s the Ministry of Health and Welfare," and so on.

  • We have this many agencies finally become coauthoring agencies. We went to Hengchun. All the agencies that you just saw went to Hengchun together.

  • We met with the petitioners who insist, instead of the usual five countersignature representatives, that they have 10 different viewpoints, so they really need 10 people. We have 10 people, each with a very different viewpoint on how to solve this quagmire. [laughs]

  • There’s a video that I can play for you. Let me quickly find it, maybe. It’s just two minutes.

  • We have a thing here that what’s everybody’s responsibility is nobody’s responsibility. [laughs]

  • You turned that around. You said what’s nobody’s responsibility is everybody’s responsibility. [laughs]

  • I started by saying anyone can join through Livestream and through Slido, which is a way to ask questions. This is our facilitator saying that we’re here to solve a systematic problem, to effect systematic change, not to solve a one-shot issue.

  • Here’s she explaining where we are in the double diamond. We’re done with the expansion of possible opportunities, and we’re now trying to delve into the visibility into each one, but we will not make a decision right here. We’re not at the last quarter. The ministries responsible for them will be responsible for the grey places.

  • This is our petitioner, who speaks very strongly for helicopters. Everything they say, not just immediately transcribed, but also are mapped in a mind map that looks like this.

  • This is the Black Hawk operating unit. He’s a surgeon or something, I don’t really know, a senior officer, and to explain why it’s really not a very good idea.

  • The green ones are the concerns that’s raised. The yellow ones delves into the details of the concerns. The oranges ones are the initial response from ministries, and the blues ones are supporting facts.

  • This is the town representative, one of the councilors. This is the head of the largest hospital, which is rather small, in that town, in front of Minister of Health and Welfare, talking with the hospital people.

  • This is the county councilor, not the town councilor. Here she is citing a fact that there really is zero doctor who can perform this kind of surgery in all the three small hospitals there.

  • We have MP who is voted, this is his district, who sent his staff to propose his ideas. This is a local lawyer and community organizer who have already gathered support and aggregated opinions from a particular faction.

  • The MP, himself, calls in from Taipei. The Minister of Transport people are trying to say that it won’t make tourism and economy better if we have a highway.

  • The airport people explains about how they try to revitalize the airport. There’s many technical arguments about what kind of flights, what kind of planes can be flew on the airfield there. This is the local county present.

  • We took, easily, more than four hours. If you include the pre-meetings and the follow-up clarifications, it’s easily an entire day, from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM officially, but it’s actually much longer after the 2:00 PM.

  • We are reasonably sure we explored all the different solution paths and the pros and cons of each. The Minister of Interior made a documentary, the short version of which you just saw.

  • Finally, the inside here is whether people who are born there, and when become surgeons and nurses, will keep their heart there. What makes them go to urban places? What makes them not service their extended family there?

  • It turns out that if we do deploy helicopters, more of them will go away, because they don’t have anything to exercise their skills on. The rough consensus at that end of the day is that we need better dormitory, we need high-end equipments.

  • We can fly people from the north, from the city areas, to practice their skills here, if necessary, so that we can fly doctors here, instead of flying patients north, but at the end, we need to support their extended family, their education, and so on, so they will want to stay at this place.

  • They allocated...I’m translating to US dollars in my mind. Let me make sure that I don’t get the numbers incorrect.

  • Every Friday, when we have this meeting, I bring this mind map into the meeting with the premier and all the ministers with a portfolio the very next Monday. This is live streamed, so the press are all over it.

  • We allocated, at the end, $10 million USD to build a large hospital there. It’s not that this is the solution that is proposed for the first time. No, it’s been proposed 10 years.

  • It’s always, in the utilitarian sense, not the most cost effective solution, but we can demonstrate to the prime minister we explored everything else and none of it has the same consensus as this solution. There’s $10 million, so it’s now building the large hospital.

  • What I’m trying to get at is that, first, we always go to the place. Second, we return to the place. We make sure that when we have meetings like this, they’re ordered, in the sense that people know each other face-to-face.

  • Then we follow-up with meetings, touring around Taiwan, by connecting people -- for example, in Haiduan or other in other south, rural places here -- with 12 different ministries in Taipei. This happens every other Tuesday, so we can follow-up on what we have promised.

  • The prime minister, himself, visits two counties or cities every week this way. I’m more of a recurring round-trips thing. Over time, people get to know the ministry people from the central government more, and so we get to more, I would say, coordinated or more focused conversation every time I return to a particular place.

  • We don’t think urban and rural are, essentially, two places. As we systematically deploy projections, connected rooms, it might as well be the same place. The Taipei video conferencing space is always the Social Innovation Lab, so the senior executive who go into there are already in more playful mood.

  • It is a long-winded answer, but I hope it answers your question.

  • [laughs] That’s a long wind that blows here.

  • I want to see if I understand the answer. What I’m hearing is that when there is any reason to believe, either because of the source of the petition or because of the nature of the issue, that there are specific populations that would be necessary to involve, then the design of how to bring people together will incorporate that consideration.

  • We’ll put the idea of re-presentation first, because their natural modality is not to travel 10 hours, 5 hours to Taipei and speak for 20 minutes. That’s not very useful.

  • The natural way, if we think about representation, is to bring a 360 recorder and make everyone who can have a VR Glass, or something, relive the experience of the town hall locally, which we did in the Penghu Islands. It’s a very rural island, so the virtual reality immersive recording’s really important because not everyone can travel there.

  • They are experiencing it after it’s happened? They’re not in the midst? Virtual reality is not helping people be in the midst of the conversation while it’s going on?

  • It’s helping, maybe, 50 people. The majority of people did that after the fact.

  • I can easily see pieces of this being applied elsewhere, but it feels like the culture, the history, the subculture, your own personality and capacities, all of these add up to making this possible, functional, productive where it’s happening now. You can always export pol.is, but it would be contained within some other structure, some other series of steps, or motivations, or whatever.

  • To try and replicate it you’d have to start with people who are in love with open space, self-organization, and each other, and try to find where that is. If you wanted to transplant the whole kind of thing you have, you would have to transplant it into that kind of soil, and hopefully they would be a government that was responsive to that kind of activity.

  • I don’t know how one would find such a place, but I’m sensing the foundations of it are not, "This process does that, so we’re going to do this process." It really is grounded in the conversation among people who are interested in the topic, the process, each other, whatever.

  • I’ve been in conversations talking about what is an open space organization. [laughs] I’ve never seen anything remotely like this, but it’s very recognizable in terms of the open-spaced principles and spirit.

  • I have a question, if it’s OK. Is it, Tom?

  • Go ahead. I’m still in the process of reorienting to figure out what else I want to ask, because I recognize I’m treading water in a much bigger sea than I thought. I’m looking for ground to stand. That’s not what’s going on. [laughs]

  • I like to think in terms of building blocks and principles. I have a sense that the building blocks here are specific platforms, specific, cumulative experience of different things that work in different contexts that you can then generalize and get little bits. Then, there is design principles. I’m talking about at the middle level of design principles. Let me say what I mean.

  • A core design principle that I am gleaning from this is use the natural and emergent strengths of the culture and the people that are involved.

  • In some other place, the same principle might result in a design that will be semi-top-down. In some other place, it might result in a design that is very organized, where there are local circles that then send representatives to something else.

  • If you apply that meta-principle of what are the strengths of the local culture and the local people, not what did they do in Taiwan and how can you do it here, but how did they go about figuring out what they could do? How can we replicate the process of figuring out what to do? I want to know if what I’m saying makes sense to you.

  • Totally, totally.

  • Yes. I will note that this is precisely how Internet was born, was formed. It is people initially of a more academic and well-connected to DARPA academic culture, and gradually including the telecom operators and the initial bunch of human/computer interaction experts, and finally, academics of other disciplines, then, the general public.

  • If you start the Internet protocol with a different bunch of people, with the military people, it will be very top-down, even though technically, it’s the same Internet protocol.

  • Yes, it’s like a mobile. There’s certain mobiles that only operate in one way. There’s certain other mobiles that, if you pick this piece and you hang it from this piece, it looks a certain way. If you pick this other piece and you hang it from there, it looks a different way, but it’s the same building blocks. They’re changing.

  • Relationship and capitalizing on local strengths and local sensibilities is paramount if this thing is going to be extrapolated. It can’t be replicated, can’t be exported. It can only be extrapolated, packaged into principles and building blocks, and then, redeployed in some other place based on the capacities that are in existence there. Am I making sense to you?

  • Yes. The specific procedures or processes, as you said it, but I prefer procedures, it seems more lowercased. The procedures, as you said, are like LEGO blocks. You can take pol.is, you can take this real-time board. You can take Slido.

  • There’s many, many procedures, microprocedures that people can use to generally save their time, to reduce their risk, and occasionally get more creative, then, all these are good things. The policies and I mean it in both a written policy, in fact, regulation kind of way, like I wrote many regulations that enabled this structure without me having to maintain it by force.

  • Also, then cultural norms, that is a mirror of the local norm. Finally, above the procedure and policies, you have the power structure that is what people recognize are influential in their way of action. For that, we can’t export it. We’re not some other more violent regimes. We don’t export democracy this way. [laughs]

  • It’s always bottom-up in this fashion. It’s true. I think I understand what you’re saying.

  • Part of what occurs to me, when you were talking, Miki, was of a pattern language, because a lot of the elements you’re talking about is here’s a pattern, here’s a dynamic that is an essential piece of the whole, but it will manifest differently in every place, in every circumstance.

  • To have that level of abstraction that is not total abstraction is design abstraction. You need a pillar to hold up the roof, kind of thing.

  • Since I’m coming from looking at the whole world and where the whole world is headed, and things are getting better and better, and worse and worse, faster and faster, simultaneously, I would love to enhance the better and better part to address the worse and worse, because some of it’s pretty hairy.

  • It’s not a matter of exporting, per se, as we are going to export this full-blown car or this full-blown social system, but I try and go, "What would allow or encourage this kind of living system to sprout in other environments?"

  • It’s sort of consultant. There’s some kind of catalytic energy. There’s a deep understanding of what’s going on here, a sense of the patterns and the limitations to how one applies the patterns to real life situations.

  • There’s a sense to which it’s a permaculture project. A permaculture designer is there to be present with what the site and the life in the site is telling them, and then dancing with the site, and "Try this," "Try that."

  • You couldn’t just read the book and apply it. You would have to see, first of all, are the basics of what would be required, what are the fundamentals? There’s something about the energy, the networks, the eagerness, the situation that would say, "This is a space within which this thing can grow."

  • Once that is identified, then the life energy of those people can dance with the catalytic consultant. It’s not like, "Take the training." It’s like, "Let’s try this to see what happens. Let’s try that to see what happens."

  • The sensibilities, the discernment capacities of the catalyst can be applied into this situation. They go, "Oh, have you thought about this?" or "Let’s look at how this is unfolding. It’s not going in the direction we thought it was going to go," or whatever.

  • There’s some kind of dance going on there. I would love to know how one would do that intentionally. [laughs] When I said process change agents, transformational agents, evolutionary agents, it’s a very risky language, because you’re not an agent, per se, when you’re dancing. Agent has a little too much linearity in it.

  • Do you know Nora Bateson’s work?

  • Do you know Gregory Bateson?

  • Nora Bateson is his last daughter from his last marriage. She’s American, but based in Sweden. She has a Swedish husband.

  • She is carrying on and extending Gregory’s work. She has created a new paradigm based in a couple of key concepts.

  • She’s created a word called symmathesy, which she defines as mutual learning in context. Her sense of what learning is is not school learning. It’s not necessarily progressive.

  • It is the kind of responsiveness that leaves a trace, and that every part of life, at every level of life is symmathesy. Therefore, each entity is, in fact, symmathesy. Every one of our cells is interacting with every other cell, blah, blah, blah.

  • There’s a funny way in which this is one of the most interesting [laughs] things that I have ever seen as an established practice. There is constant context. The responses are contextual.

  • She has a thing she calls "warm data labs," which is different stations in a space. People can go to talk about what the topic looks like from that perspective, and then move to another space, and "what does the topic look like from that perspective?" and get a sense.

  • Transcontextuality is another one of her concepts. Interrelationality would be another. The lens you look through is a context, as well as the history is the context, situation is a context, and all that.

  • I think of it, the energy of it is a dance energy. Since conversation is one of the primary ways humans learn in context together, the artists of conversation are artists of the dance of meaning between us. I’m trying to get Nora to think more in terms of social change than just theory.

  • I have to tell her about the video, when we get the video finished. I have to go, "Check out this video. This is closer to what you’re talking about, as it applies in real life, than anything I’ve seen." Where do you go with that, in terms of how to use non-linear intentionality to dance with a system into more life for that system?

  • It feels that’s what you’ve been doing, you’re a model for how one would play that game. [laughs] I hope it doesn’t require that somebody, in a couple hours, can read 10 pages of weird stuff from a totally different frame of reference, [laughs] like you did. That’s a whole other skill on top of this dancing capacity you have.

  • I’m just trying to find the place to tread water, not to stand, a place to dance from. Miki, you’re bubbling with something. Go for it.

  • I have a little, tiny loop that I want to close about something from before, really tiny. We were talking about this hospital. You were saying that the hospital is not the most cost benefit...

  • ...was not the most cost effective. I want to challenge that. I think that it is the most cost effective, if you factor in the right costs.

  • That’s exactly right.

  • I was saying that in our preliminary material, from the factors that could be translated into dollar terms, it was evaluated at not most cost effective. Our deliberation was essential in establishing that the methodology was flawed, so I do agree with you.

  • It felt important to name it. How do you define cost? If you go back to basic science, the definition of efficiency is the relationship between input and useful output. You want to maximize the ratio.

  • In modern capitalist culture, it has been flattened into only one dimension of linear time. The concept of efficiency has been emptied of content. In the same way, cost has been emptied of content and is now one-dimensional about money. That’s all.

  • The thing that Tom was accurate that I’m bubbling with is I learned this concept that I really like. I don’t know who invented it or where it came from, but I’m sure you know of it. It’s called adjacent possible. You know this?

  • Adjacent possible, yes.

  • I’m thinking, here we are. The three of us are talking. You are in Taiwan. You are doing this thing. Tom and I are each doing our thing in a variety of ways, contexts, and purposes. What unites us is something that we could conceivably try to define, but may not be necessary even.

  • It’s only important to recognize that there is something that is an intersection of our interests, purposes, personal predilections, and all of that, and here we are. Might this be the seeds of something virtual that is like the space that you have in the Social Innovation Lab?

  • That was the thing that I was bubbling with. Not every week, but maybe you define a once-a-week or roving time. If you want to do it global, it wouldn’t be able to be the same time each time, and not the same people. You rove the time, and you open the platform.

  • The first conversation is three people. The second conversation, maybe those same three people and two others that they bring, the third conversation, the first three may not even be there. I’m just taking the...

  • The replication of your lab.

  • I am exactly applying the principle to what we have. The question that you asking, Tom, you feel like you’re treading water, because you are single, individually trying to solve the problem of, "What of this can be transported where, in what form? Who would support it? Who would be the stakeholders?"

  • You can’t, I can’t, Audrey can’t, but if we open a conversation and think about, "What is the next, immediate step?" It seems to me always important to have the most unrestrained, largest vision and the most concrete next step. Those are the two things most important.

  • That’s what came to me. I’m curious, Audrey, if that appeals.

  • Tom already knows that there is an endeavor from Jerry Michalski called REX that is a series of conversations that are structured more or less the way you phrased it. I’m currently engaged, for example, in the Digital Seven. It’s seven countries, each with a government digital service or a social innovation lab. We are holding regular calls.

  • This is with Jerry?

  • It’s separate. Not with Jerry. This is another group.

  • This is at a governmental level, so it is less emergent than whoever shows up.

  • I do agree. Yes, if you set up a time and a space, I can participate if it is Friday at this hour, this week, the week afterward, and the week afterward, but maybe not for a couple weeks afterwards. We can certainly figure it out in more detail if we do meet in Seattle, face-to-face.

  • This is April 28th, Miki. There’s a chance to talk face-to-face in Seattle.

  • ...recharge my earphone. Tom can explain this.

  • Right now, it’s just...

  • Audrey is coming to the US?

  • He’s coming to the US to talk to the pol.is people and has potentially a lot of time available on the 28th, and been looking at it. I don’t know. If you want to drive all the way to Seattle, we can try that. [laughs]

  • The driving would be very complicated, because I’m in Israel at that time.

  • A little impossible.

  • Yeah. There’s ways in which this fits really well with some other things that I’m working on. In some ways, it doesn’t fit. It’s like the GPSs go, "Recalibrate." [laughs] I am definitely going to refer people to this video.

  • It feels like this video is a starting place for all sorts of things that could happen. If people watch it, then they have the shift in perspective that makes this either a total mystery or compelling.

  • Which video are you talking about?

  • The one that’s being made right now.

  • The conversation we are having?

  • You’re an actor in it.

  • There’s a piece of me, in terms of getting to know each other better, that wants you, Miki, to share your PhD project, among many other things. That feels like a major piece reflecting who you are in your core that Audrey might be interested in hearing.

  • I don’t mind doing that. I’m not sure that is the thing that I would choose. What I am more drawn to is a very different level of question. I want to ask you, Audrey, is there any place where you’re challenged and need support?

  • Can you still hear me?

  • I didn’t hear what you said. I’m sorry.

  • (laughter)

  • I was saying whether my sound is still going through, because I’m recharging the earphone.

  • Tom listed quite a few challenges, which I would like to go through very quickly, like a minute each, at most, one by one. We can identify the frames of which we’re talking about, as well as possible ways to collaborate. I’m going to take a picture of my screen and project it. That’s the challenges section.

  • The first one, I think, already happened in the Airbnb case. The Airbnb case, the Airbnb company send a letter to all its members in Taiwan, asking them to go to pol.is on vTaiwan and support the legalization of Airbnb, basically turning itself, as a mainstream media, because it has so many members, into campaigners.

  • Much to their surprise, only the one-third of their constituents supported their position.

  • (laughter)

  • The other two-thirds has many other thoughts about Airbnb that they did not let Airbnb know, because it was not an open questionnaire that Airbnb used to ask them. I think this proves one of the major principles of emergence. If you ask people only yes and no questions, you get into this hallucination that you have a constituency of people who said yes or people who voted for you last time.

  • They are people. In a much more open, multi-level dialogue, they think what they all think the best campaign plan is collectively. I’m not that worried about a PR campaign. As long as they’re drawn to the ways that is reflective, people reflect. That’s what they do. I think we’re OK with this.

  • Bots are technically capable of participating, but if they’re only voting exactly the same way, over and again, then on pol.is, they’re just a single dot, because the pol.is map accounts for diversity. The area of the group is how diverse is opinions on, not how many people they have. It will reduce the number of people hearing that cluster.

  • You have a cluster here, a cluster here, a cluster here. This will read 20K, this will read 200, and this will read 100, but it doesn’t really matter. We don’t even look at the numbers when interpreting a pol.is result across groups. We don’t compare the population of groups, so to speak. All we want is a full spectrum of possibilities and overall resonance.

  • While this is a challenge, and I will welcome any theoretical support or mathematical support, I think we’re doing OK, because the interface rewards diversity over numbers, if bots come and are able to generate authentic, good, creative ideas...

  • (laughter)

  • So far, that has not happened.

  • (laughter)

  • You’re answering the question in a different way from my intention. My intention was almost personal -- not personal-personal, but personal. You’re talking about assistance.

  • Right, I’m talking about technical assistance or theoretical assistance.

  • I wasn’t talking about this. I was talking about, really, what do you need?

  • If you get worn out, or you have somebody to talk to, whatever.

  • For example, you can say, "I need technical assistance to solve certain challenges." Great, I know this is not something I can help you with. Do you see what I mean?

  • What would support you? This is a beautiful picture. I am also imagining that you sometimes have a lot of fear about, "What if this happened?" or, "What if that happened? I don’t know how to deal with this. I have too much going on. I don’t know who to talk." I don’t even know. I’m just making it up. It can’t all be going well.

  • Where are you challenged? I’m asking you to shift realms, if you’re willing. If you’re not, it’s fine.

  • It’s good. I really just had lunch, so I’m fine.

  • The very fact that I can, with very short notice, schedule a six-hour meeting, potentially, with you, says that I’m not busy at all. Otherwise, it would not be possible to reply email in this frequency.

  • The fact is I’m surrounded by genuinely good people, who are good at what they’re doing, and they’re better than me in what they’re good at doing. We happen to hear these core values, which are written in Chinese, but I will very quickly translate for you, because it is going to be important in the answer of my personal answer.

  • The office that I’m working in with about 20, 25 full-timers and 35 interns, we don’t call ourselves an office or a digital service. We call ourself a space. I don’t give commands to my peers. They pick whatever they want to do, the green parts in this chart.

  • We do co-creation workshops every once in a while to make sure that we stay true to our core values, of which there are five. The central one is to build trust across sectors, and that’s it.

  • Yeah, between sectors, between public sector, between the civil society, between people in part in the society. To trust people, and then maybe build some trust back, this is our core value. The second value is to empower the civil society, so that they can be well-informed and take delight in participate in public affairs.

  • Our third value here is to simplify the process of career public servants, so they have a better quality of life. Our fourth core value says to absorb risk for innovation in the public service, so public servant can innovate without fear. Finally, the fifth says to let people see the value of digital services. These values are...

  • So that people see the value of what?

  • Of digital services. All these five, they have tension. They are not always coherent, but I think we picked the central one, which is rebuilding trust. I am not in fear of anything, really. Every little bit I do, as long as I’m accountable and transparent, it’s inching toward that value.

  • This is the overall picture of my office. In my office, my role is the not-doer. I don’t do anything, really. I don’t assign things. I maybe give inspiring speeches once in a while, but otherwise I don’t do much.

  • If there is something that needs to be done -- taking out the trash or ordering pizza -- that everybody’s too busy to do, I do those things. That’s my role. With a role like this, it’s hard to be frustrated.

  • [laughs] You should write a book called "The Tao of Democracy."

  • (laughter)

  • Someone did that... You did. [laughs]

  • When you were going to go for the values, I don’t read Chinese or anything, but I do know, because I have been to China. I have a couple of Chinese friends. I have some sense of the value of harmony in Chinese culture. I was very unsurprised that you picked trust. I didn’t know what it was going to be, but I had an internal bet that it was somehow going to be related to harmony.

  • It goes back to this question of local culture strengths. You cannot build anything in the US, for example, that has trust as its more important value. It will go nowhere, which is not a criticism of the US or a criticism of China or a criticism of anything. It’s just phenomenological. It just won’t fly.

  • If you don’t put some version of autonomy right at the center, nothing happens. It’s really interesting that what I’m seeing that you do is you take values that would be familiar to people.

  • You’re speaking? I’m not hearing you because you’re muted.

  • No, it’s OK. I’m speaking to someone out of the frame. I’m sorry, just a second.

  • There’s a way in which autonomy is not exactly autonomy. The sovereignty of the self is also part of Audrey’s world, as I understand it.

  • There’s something like that that’s central, which could be translated as a quicker bridge between the thing you’re saying is essentially American and trust. I’m just curious if Audrey would speak to the anarchic...

  • Fundamentally, the way that I understand it, there are two aspects. There’s the aspect of freedom and the aspect of interdependence. A culture that can integrate both is going to be very strong and solid, or a human being that can integrate both.

  • Or very liquid. [laughs]

  • Or very liquid. That’s what I sense. There’s a way in which what Audrey is developing, that integration is much closer. There’s more of a yin-yang dance and "internalized in each other" kind of dimension to those.

  • It’s air? [laughs] Excuse me. I was grounding you too much, Audrey.

  • (laughter)

  • Yeah, we need all phases here.

  • My question is how can we serve you? You are being so generous with your time to give us information, ideas, and all of that. I feel motivated in some way to serve you.

  • First of all, the original goal is to learn and to explore. The very concept of symmathesy and the various work that you cited that I was reading, it’s very useful, actually. It gives me new English words. I learned English as my fourth language, fifth language.

  • I’m sorry. I didn’t hear what you just said.

  • I learned English as my fourth or my fifth language, when I was already 20 years old or something. It is an acquired cognitive tool to me, and so I don’t have an innate feeling of what words makes most sense when I’m trying to translate.

  • Any word that can evoke a more accurate representation of the feeling is a gift to me. Then, for the next conversation, I learn to refer people to these ideas, including the patterns that Tom outlines on his website. Those are very useful, too. In many ways, you have already helped a lot, is what I’m trying to say.

  • Just so you know, symmathesy is not a general English word.

  • It’s coined and new.

  • I understand that. That’s why it’s useful. All the old words has been caught and sold and bought again. [laughs] It’s commodity, which is why we need new thoughts and new words. It matters in which thought those thoughts are thought, because I don’t think natively in English...

  • Without the headset, if you can get closer, it would be good.

  • Let me see if I can do it in a software way.

  • Is it better? Can you hear me better this way?

  • Oh, yes. That’s much better.

  • You are very loud, Miki, just so you know.

  • What I’m trying to say is that it matters, when I try to think with people who think in English, which words is used to think. That’s the part that’s been the greatest gift. Otherwise, I’ll think in new terms in other languages, but I’ll have to reduce its dimensions with my limited English vocabulary of common words.

  • Miki is a coiner of phrases, too, and has a couple of ones that are central to her work, which might serve you, like the noncontroversial essence.

  • I would be happy to share with you some things that I’ve learned through my work. In this context, if you go back to the pol.is picture with those three areas, when you have this picture, it doesn’t matter how many people are in each one, but you have three clusters. What current mechanisms do you have to bring these three clusters together?

  • There are two main ways. First, I have to explain how, mathematically, pol.is works. Pol.is works through an idea called k-means clustering. It means that, based on how people react to each other’s offerings -- to use Tom’s word -- how alike they are, that forms clusters.

  • If there are 100 comments, then it is a 100-dimensional space, which is unfathomable in human brain. Which is why it use another mathematical construct called principal component analysis, and try to find an axis, a vector of the most controversy and use it as the x dimension.

  • It try to find orthogonal, that is to say independent, equally controversial or slightly less controversial aspect as the y-axis. We prototype it in virtual reality, which gives us a third axis, but, otherwise, it is just trying to find where the diversity stems from, and then re-project the clusters, of which there may be one to five at any given time, into this image.

  • It is the face of the crowd. It’s not machine learning or artificially intelligent in any way. It is mostly a way to draw pretty pictures of diversity and uniqueness. To bring these together, mathematically speaking, is resolved either by a novel idea that suddenly everyone can identify with, which will result in a new group that looks roughly like this one, that re-coalesce around this new idea.

  • It could be done by having essentially no new ideas, but an eclectic blending of existing ideas that the less radical part of the people can agree to, in which case you will start to see groups moving into the middle, people from the old groups joining the new group, and the new group growing slightly larger, in a radically centrism kind of way.

  • Sometimes both dynamic happen at once, and the system has to recalibrate and re-find the x and y axes that represent new controversies. What I’m getting at is that the two dimensions in this picture, they are not fixed. As long as they become noncontroversial, the system find new controversies to become x and y axes. To achieve a perfect unity is very difficult or impossible in pol.is.

  • This is the core of the pol.is idea. It constantly find a place where people still disagree.

  • Why? What’s the point?

  • (laughter)

  • It’s more fun this way. It’s more engaging. It gets people coming back. Also, it makes people think. If I think I’m in this tribe, but I see my Facebook friends, my Twitter friends, everyone I know, my family, in other tribes, it really engage me to think, "Maybe they do have a point." These are people I have personal connection with. We just did not talk about Airbnb over dinner.

  • By representing people through the dimension of how they disagree, actually engage conversation if those are people they already have a personal connection with. All the while, there is this majority opinion tab, which is the default display anyway, that keeps track of what consensus people have already reached, despite the currently displayed factions.

  • It is a game that is infinite. We harness its power and play it for a few weeks at a time, but it is a game that could go on and on. I don’t think this is a completely to-the-point answer to your question, but this is how I see the system.

  • Isn’t your point, at some point, to find a solution that people can go along with, like the hospital?

  • That’s the governance interest in this. That’s the hook for the prime minister to join this game.

  • I don’t know how to explain this properly. [laughs]

  • You are just enjoying the process. You’re not particularly wedded to this or that result.

  • That’s exactly right. I’m just having fun.

  • There’s a whole other dimension, which is where they’re going toward an actionable convergence -- this is something I’m newly thinking I understand -- that the actionable convergence doesn’t specifically come out of the pol.is process.

  • The pol.is process is showing certain possibilities where consensus seems to have emerged, and then tossing that into face-to-face interactions, as a stimulant. Both disagreements and agreements can be stimulants, but it’s the face-to-face thing. If you’re going to get something actionable, it’s going to come out of that.

  • This is just a really powerful way of jerking around the conversational system. [laughs]

  • Yeah, that’s right. It’s crowd agenda-setting, but it’s not a substitute for the conversation following the agenda.

  • That’s a total major revelation.

  • From what I read about it, I had a completely different picture of what this was. What has been written about it presented it in an entirely different light. I now feel embarrassed not in relation to you, in relation to truth. I included a paragraph or two about this in a chapter that I wrote for a book.

  • What I wrote in that little bit is completely incorrect, but it’s already beyond the editing process, so I’m not sure what I’m going to do.

  • If you were writing about the Uber case, then all the reported facts are probably right.

  • There was another article I no longer remember that indicated that what happened in relation to Uber was extrapolated and scaled, and that this process is used to make all decisions. The parliament doesn’t make any legislation without consulting with the people first. All of this...

  • That’s actually true. We have a central system, the join.gov.tw system. It’s like regulations.gov, where people publish the regulation that are to be passed. All the regulations, all the laws do post on here, usually for 60 days -- there’s some exceptions, but usually for 60 days -- and get, wow, any number of participation, like large number of participation.

  • This is about electronic ID. This is about marriage equality, essentially, and decriminalization of adultery.

  • This tells you the participation, but how does it inform the legislative process?

  • Here is where we need to talk about constitutional difference between the Taiwan system and the US system. In Taiwan, the MPs can present a bill to the General Assembly, but the administration can also present a bill to the General Assembly.

  • The Supreme Court, the judicial system, can also present a bill. The corrective, the Control Yuan, the independent auditing agency, as well as the agency for examination and public service can also present a bill. All the five organs can present bills for the General Assembly to consider.

  • Usually, it is the version that is proposed by the administration that becomes the base version for MPs to decide. There is no senate. There is just a General Assembly. If the president appoints the premier and is the head of the party of the Parliament, as the situation now, essentially regulations and laws are very close.

  • The law still gets another round of deliberation, but they stem out of this same regulation-forming process. You don’t need an MP to support this version at all. You just talk to the majority party. This is important, because then the Executive Yuan, the administration, when it makes a point-by-point response to people’s ideas or consensus get it from online spaces.

  • It can’t substitute for the MPs, but it provides the MPs, in their deliberation, all the basic facts that they use for deliberation. This is a different system than the US system.

  • I understand this. I think that the piece that I wrote that is completely erroneous is that, from the article, I had understood that the pol.is thing was a tool for convergence. It’s actually a tool to identify divergence, and then use other tools to create convergence.

  • OK. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Pol.is does converge, like here. [laughs]

  • Yeah, it’s true. It is a converging tool, but not in the place, but not in a place maybe you did imply here, not at all.

  • Then, a lot of the articles gave more potency to the convergence that came out of pol.is, and that was part of my initial excitement. I’m grateful for the transformation of my excitement...

  • (laughter)

  • ...to something that’s more complex.

  • If the prime minister herself or himself or the ministers in charge of this participate in the initial gain of pol.is, they are, like any good deliberation, they will be changed a little bit when it comes to the later processes. It’s not like it’s not useful, but it’s a psychological use. It is not a hard, codified use.

  • They will be influenced by any number of things, including any convergences that happen to show up in pol.is, but it’s not as if they have to take every item of convergence that happens in pol.is and either implement it or say why they can’t or won’t.

  • No, they do that. It is true. They do that, usually at a face-to-face meeting here. They do do that, but they don’t do it here. This is very important.

  • That’s understood.

  • Just for the Uber case, we did a point-by-point answer. I think we accept all of it, one with some reservation about a driver able to join multiple fleets. That’s still in a gray area. We ended up doing another consultation for the platform economy guidelines for that.

  • There is a point-by-point response, but it’s not at a stage of signing the bill or presenting to the president to sign. That happens here. There’s more process after this point.

  • Right. It’s the point in the middle of your bow-tie here. [laughs] The point in the middle is where there’s a very explicit digestion of what has come out of the pol.is thing. That digestion is an informational input into the further deliberation that results in what finally comes out.

  • This second part, the second diamond, is not visible in the vast majority of reports that are coming out of Taiwan.

  • That’s right. Even though, in all our introductory materials, like in the video you just saw, the facilitator said explicitly that this area will not be visible to you at this meeting. This area, the ministry will go back to their respective ministers, and the prime minister will someday -- it turns out really quickly, but there’s no guarantee -- make a response somewhere down the road.

  • We made that very clear in the beginning. Yes, as you said, many English write-ups skips that.

  • The official deliberations, the ones that are confined to government, are happening in the convergence part of the second diamond?

  • That’s right, and we often, but not always, invite people who make really good points at the initial diamond phase. I will make another example to show the dynamism of it.

  • For example, there was this petition that says we have an explosively difficult to use tax filing system by a petitioner. That’s because, in Taiwan, only people using Microsoft Windows have a good experience filing their taxes online last year. People with Mac, Linux, iPad, and Android had a very bad time. There’s a technical reason.

  • There’s a petitioner who petitioned before it. Even before there’s 5,000 people, we intervened when there was just a hundred people or so and say we will do the first diamond with you, which we did. After the first diamond, it turns out all those petitioners, they’re experts in design, in interaction, in communication, and they did know more than the government people, the vendors.

  • We opened up the user journey, which outlines the entire service journey and say, "OK, you guys know more than we do." We hold five co-creation workshops after that, and everything is transparent for the second diamond.

  • This does happen, but it only happens when the public service thinks the civil society, the stakeholders know more than the government for this particular issue. We did end up co-design this year’s tax-filing experience. The government mostly provided a budget, just as in the construction of the Social Innovation Lab.

  • I would say only about one in five cases that makes to the second stage. The other four-fifths are politics as usual in the last half of this diamond.

  • The beginning, the first diamond happens only when there’s some energy from civil society to do it?

  • People in the government are not necessarily convening that, although [laughs] I recognize they are also citizens and could do this, but they also have the power...

  • They did a lot of petitions about working condition of public servants. You won’t believe it. There’s this huge petition about how we can only take absence of four hours units, but the people want to take one-hour unit of leave. That gets amazing number of petitioners very quickly.

  • I can understand that, and that’s different from the president deciding he or she is going to have a view of the first three-quarters of this process, or they’re going to directly insert a proposed bill into the last quarter of the process.

  • We are now having laws that mandate this process currently in the parliament, one of which has already passed, the new referendum act. It’s Switzerland style, very low threshold for the first diamond, slightly more for the second diamond, referendum act, which is binding to not just the president, but to the parliament, as well.

  • The first batch of such referendums will happen end of this year. This is a very co-learning process. We have another law called the Digital Communication Act that, in its initial draft, has the name vTaiwan written in its text. It’s been since taken out to be more inclusive, any civil-society-initiated, multi-stakeholder open mechanism. It means the same thing.

  • Ironically, this is one of the laws that passed the vTaiwan process, so it’s bootstrapping itself, I guess.

  • (laughter)

  • It’s specified that this process must be used, with sufficient budget and support, for anything related to Internet governance, which means digital issues that affects everyone, not just people in Taiwan. That is, again, part of the CPTPP, the Trans-Pacific Pact.

  • The Trans-Pacific Pact, without US at the moment, but maybe someday with the US again. It’s on the fast track. If we pass it in the next few months, then we bind the administration to run this process for arbitrary issues, not just petitions and things that has ministry and civil society energy. We’re codifying this process.

  • This process has been tagged on to the legislation for the pact?

  • It’s nice to see something tagged on for such a thing that is actually creative. Here, there’s all sorts of things that get stuck onto bills that have nothing to do with it and are horribly destructive.

  • The rationale, in very simple, one paragraph, is there’s one part in CPTPP that regulates the junk mail, unsolicited advertisement. People can click to unsubscribe. That’s part of the pact. Any cross-country pact like this need to be deliberated in a way that include all the stakeholders, including the spammers. Spammers are people, too.

  • We need a fair deliberation mechanism, and to support that, we need fundamental freedoms, and to support that, we need to be vTaiwan-like spaces. It actually makes a lot of sense, that...

  • I’m realizing, Miki, that your conversion to facilitation is a precious resource for the second diamond.

  • For the second diamond, totally.

  • Dynamic facilitation, and other things. There’s a number of things that fit well in there, but I think the logic of conversion facilitation is particularly comfortable within the way of thinking that Audrey is expressing. That’s an invitation, in case you don’t recognize it. [laughs]

  • Yes, I recognize it. Let me explain. Convergence facilitation is a methodology that I developed. I haven’t adopted it yet. I don’t think I will, because I’m not a techy person. Do you know the Loomio people?

  • Yes, very intimately, because we used that during the Occupy.

  • Great. I have talked with them, and they are now creating a mockup of adding two features from convergent facilitation to Loomio. I can take a screenshot of this and produce it.

  • One of them is kind of like a principle that says that people can disagree at the level of their positions or ideas, preferences, or what they want, but you can reach agreement at a deeper level of underlying principles much faster than at the level of positions.

  • For example, most recently, I was using it with people from the UN, academics, International Labor Office, and a few government...all of that. They were looking at the topic of child labor policy. There is a huge schism within the field of child labor. I don’t need to get into the details.

  • So much so that some of them were very dubious about being in the same room for three days, for what purpose? Yet, within a few hours, we were able to come up with a list of 15 principles that they all agreed on, that if you are going to address the question of child labor, you need to give attention to these principles.

  • This move, I call it the noncontroversial essence. I don’t have the techy thing like you do, so I’m just going to paint it in your imagination.

  • There’s a spectrum where, on one side, you have each person’s exact, specific preference of what they want and exactly the way that they want it, etc.

  • Somewhere, all the way on the other side of the spectrum is the fundamental, very core way that each one of us wants to be aligned with life, and thrive, which doesn’t preclude death.

  • As we move deeper and deeper on this spectrum, you lose specificity, but you gain coherence. If you move fast enough...I’m going even deeper than core value. Core value is a spot on the spectrum.

  • If you move in the other direction, you gain information about how to solve a problem. I created this term. I call it the noncontroversial essence, which is a kind of a sweet spot that is the minimum loss of specificity that would allow controversy to disappear. It’s always there. It’s somewhere between core value and preference.

  • What I’m exploring now with the Loomio people is how they can, either through their platform, where there can be a particular board, where somebody could say, "Hey, from what I’m hearing, from what different people are saying, I think this might be a noncontroversial essence in the discussion that we are having."

  • If people really agree on it, then you end up having a list of things that no longer represent advocacy or disagreements. They represent the essential characteristics of the solution space.

  • Once you have all of them, and you have a commitment to a solution that works for everyone, your search for a solution is very well defined. It speeds up the process of convergence, and it speeds up the process of trust building. That’s one of the two.

  • The link to trust is a very interesting one for him.

  • This is...Yes, you wrote it right. Just your handwriting was a little bit...What did you say, Tom?

  • I was saying, Audrey, the trust dimension is fundamental...

  • ...the idea of this as a trust-building thing is also of interesting tool. There’s so much that I didn’t realize before today that is fundamentally about the transformation of relationship. It’s not just problem solving. It’s a way in which the problem solving activity is, as you might put it, Audrey, an excuse for people to meet.

  • (laughter)

  • Absolutely not. No, because what ends up happening is if you have ideological differences, in my experience, they won’t converge. What makes it possible to converge is that people have a practical problem to solve that affects them, that they have stakes in.

  • If they just come to talk about the abortion debate, they won’t, but, if they are entrusted with coming up with a solution to the abortion divide that all of them can agree on, and they are from across the divide, but they are entrusted with policy for the country, they will converge, which is what happened in Ireland.

  • This is an old idea, right? This is overlapping consensus, from Rawls. This says people with different ideologies converge if you present them with specifics, rather than abstract...

  • Yes, they have a problem to solve that affects them. It’s not an excuse for relationship. It’s really driven by solving a problem. It uses relationship as a tool to problem-solving. It recognizes that you need relationship in order to bridge differences. Differences are not bridged on the basis of rational argumentation.

  • I do agree, and also the importance of food need to be injected at some point. I do agree, seriously. The noncontroversial essence, I think, is very insightful. I’m not very clear on how Loomio, with its discussion board-building flow can incorporate it. I can’t quite visualize it in my mind, at the moment.

  • I visualize it as people identifying a summary of a statement that captures the essence of what’s already been talked about. People somehow commit to talk about this instead, in order to find a solution space.

  • I can do screen shares. Give me a moment. I will find this thing, the core principles.

  • You said there’s two augmentations. What is the other one?

  • Let me just show you this...

  • It’s easier seen.

  • ...just so you get a sense of what these principles look like. This would require you to get out of screen share.

  • There you are. I’m no longer sharing, and it’s your turn.

  • I will do that. Here. Everybody agreed with all of these. There’s a couple more below. They are significant. They’re not, "We believe in love." They’re very significant and specific, but they are just below actual policy. You see?

  • They seem coherent, also.

  • For Loomio, I’m thinking methodologically, because for...

  • Audrey, you will need to talk to Tom about it. I don’t actually know what they’re going to do, technologically. They were very excited and they wanted...

  • OK, but what I’m trying to say is that all the 16 points, they’re coherent. They’re surprisingly coherent. Do they arise by having 1, then 2, then 3, and then finally 16, with the criteria that the new one’s added to the list must not be logically paradoxical with the ones already on the list? Or, do they surface in some other way?

  • Just about any application, they can surface in a different way. In this particular case, the facilitator team came up with a draft based on things that we heard from people. We presented it to them. We presented, I think, eight. There were tweaks, and then there were additions that came from the group, in this particular case.

  • In other cases, people are saying, "We should do this!" and "We should do this!" and "We should do this!" and "We should do this!" Then I come back and say, "This is what I believe is important in what you are saying. I added only when I feel in my gut that it’s actually going to be noncontroversial.

  • The non-controversy is a value that is held in the facilitator’s mind?

  • The group can take that on, also, but the facilitator is the source of that.

  • Yes. The most interesting cases are cases where you actually need two different principles that are in dynamic tension with each other in order to achieve non-controversy. Either one of these will leave someone unsettled, but if you add the other one, because they’re in dynamic tension, they’re going to be fine.

  • Just drawing this little tai chi here.

  • That’s the one component. The other one is the aim of this process is a solution that is acceptable to all, that really works for everyone. That’s not the same as consensus. It has, I would say, a 90-percent overlap with consensus, but not 100.

  • Did you read the material on rough consensus, Miki?

  • I’m wondering if it’s closer to that.

  • I don’t have it integrated enough to be able to do the mapping. It was interesting to read. There is a similarity in terms of attending to all concerns, integrating them, and evolving the solution or evolving the principles, depending whatever you need to do.

  • In a certain point, as the facilitator, to ask the question, our version of the question is, "Is everyone OK with it?" It turns out that how you ask the question has different results. I will illustrate it dramatically. I would never use either one of these, but it’s a spectrum.

  • On one end, I can ask, "Is anybody going to kill themselves if we adopt this decision?" Of course, that has so little room for discussion. I think, "No, I’m not going to kill myself. I’m going to be super unhappy. I’m going to hate them. I’m going to be resentful. But, I’m not going to kill myself." You can get a decision this way, always, but it’s not really something that engaged the people.

  • All the way on the other end of it is, "Is there even one letter in this proposed decision that anybody has even the slightest discomfort anywhere in you?" Of course, if you ask it at that level, you will never reach a decision. There’s always going to be something that’s going to be uncomfortable for someone.

  • You’re not trying to make everybody happy. There’s an art and a skill to finding the question. What is the threshold at which you are inviting dissent? What it has in common, in an odd way, with pol.is is that it invites dissent. It doesn’t create pressure to agree. It invites dissent. It’s just a question of how much.

  • "Does anybody have concerns?" will raise more discussion than if you say, "Does anybody have significant concerns?" or if you ask, "Does anybody have concerns that you believe will actually impair our capacity to function if we adopt it?"

  • There are different levels, and choosing the right threshold to ask changes things. As you invite more concerns, ultimately, theoretically, you can have a more powerful decision, because it has incorporated more dissent, more concerns. You are wiping people out, because the process of engaging with dissent is very taxing. It’s a sweet spot.

  • That’s it. Those are the two core innovations. There is a sequence, there’s a process, all of that. You don’t really need to know more about it in the moment, but these are the two specific things.

  • The second one, I think the way that Loomio people will integrate it is that there will be a possibility to have a dropdown menu of threshold questions. The person who asks can choose which one. Each installation, they can create their own threshold menu. That’s what I’m hoping they will do, but I don’t know.

  • I used to be a computer programmer, probably before you were born.

  • (laughter)

  • I don’t know when you were born, but I was programming until 1989.

  • That’s the year I learned programming, when I was eight years old. Maybe I picked it up from you.

  • (laughter)

  • I was working on IBM mainframes, so I’m completely useless and not interested in programming anymore, but that kind of sensibility stays with me.

  • I worked on IBM mainframes, too, and AIX after that, but that’s a very different conversation.

  • I think our methodologies are very compatible. There’s a genuine insight, in that you can pick the interface from "any suicides" to "any one-letter changes."

  • I think this is a real insight, because that democratizing the humming volume threshold to everyone in the room. Whereas, before, it is a social norm, and so people get accustomed to a certain threshold. I think this is a genuine insight.

  • Everything else feels very familiar.

  • I also want to come back to Tom’s point. If we start from a time zone, a time feeling, that spans seven generations, then all these are, as Leonard Cohen says, "There are cracks in everything. That’s how the light gets in."

  • Preferably the crack is of a certain shape, so the light can shine through and maybe make a rainbow or something... It’s all part of the draw, so that people can come to the co-intelligent process. In this view, all these spectrums and issues and whatever are really just excuses.

  • When there is a much shorter time space, like there’s climate change, we need to stop it...In five years, we need to agree on something. Otherwise, we better start sending out spaceships. Then we don’t have the luxury of this building trust across generation worldview. What I’m saying is that it’s really the same process. It’s just how zoomed in or out you are on the time scale.

  • I want to say that for...You signed up for six hours. I didn’t.

  • I don’t need to leave right now, but I have many other things on my plate. I also want to go to sleep at some point. I would like to move towards closure of my presence here. I don’t know if there’s anything that anybody wants for me or from me. I’m open to hear if there are any open threads.

  • In terms of getting to know you, the two points that I’m thinking of, there’s the big thing of nonviolent communication which is a major, major piece of your life.

  • There’s the two things that I see particularly connecting Audrey’s world is your PhD thesis and your stories on willingness as the foundational thing. The bringing of emotion into sociology and the interesting way you went about trying to do that in your thesis is what I want.

  • It feels like I could summarize it in two minutes, but you’d probably scream, "No, no, no." Those things should come out of your mouth rather than mine.

  • I think part of it, to be completely honest, I am not seeing the link. I don’t know what to speak to. It’s more like I would be doing it because you’re asking me to.

  • Why don’t you, Tom, spend two minutes? Let’s hear the screaming.

  • Anyway, I have never read the whole thesis. I talked a bunch with Miki about it, and I’ve read pieces of it. What I got in essence is Miki was looking at the founding men, they’re all men, of sociology, Marx and Veblen and these guys. None of them dealt with emotion as a factor in their theories.

  • She’s going, "Wait a minute. You’re talking about the dynamics of society. You’re not including emotion? There’s something fundamentally wrong with this."

  • She tried to do her thesis both with a rational academic discipline and with emotion, trying to model what would sociology look like if it did take...Here’s an example of a sociological study if you did take emotion seriously. That’s my quickie summary.

  • There’s nothing wrong with what you said. I’m not screaming. I will add to it, that for me it is deeper than sociology.

  • For me, it is the entire patriarchal Western civilization rests on the assumption that disembodied rationality is what makes humans humans and a negation of nature, of emotion, of relationship, of embeddedness, all of that. I was aiming to offer a model that would integrate rationality and emotions into a larger, more coherent whole.

  • I’m wondering why you wrote "Universal Human Needs," Audrey.

  • Because I was go through the material, analyzing the material from 10 years ago, that identifies the...

  • I can’t quite comprehend how your mind works, your mind, body, whatever. NVC, nonviolent communication, Miki, is one of the, if not the in my opinion, leading practitioners and trainers. She’s embedded in it. She’s a master.

  • There’s lots of people doing nonviolent communication follow her, a rote kind of thing, which is powerful in itself. You can do rote things powerfully. Sometimes Miki does it when you can’t even tell she’s doing it. It’s just a great, smooth thing. It does delve farther into the thing, into where life energy and motivations and orientations and meaning come from.

  • You’re flattening it to a doing. For me, it’s a way of being.

  • Like I say. [laughs] There’s the force of life energy. There’s a level of human life that is a source of where life energy comes from. The word needs is an effort to put a tag on that.

  • People can do it in attempt to evoke that dimension of life from somebody else and work their way towards, how’s that going to play out in the way that works for everybody in this situation and you can live from that place, which is I think what Miki’s...

  • There’s a practice that I do that relates to what you were talking about in terms of the luxury, and we don’t have time. A while back, I was part of the project that most NVC people are still in that project of let’s train and ask people in NVC, reach a critical mass, and then the world will change.

  • From my perspective, considering the stressors that the world is in and the number of people that are born faster than we can even catch up with them to feed them let alone train them, that’s a losing project. I’m looking for interventions that are much faster.

  • For example, I can give you example of two questions that instantly raise people’s level of function. It doesn’t necessarily stay there when you go away. You can let’s say work with a group, raise their level of function, get them to connect with each other, build trust, make a decision and carry an action. Then even if they revert to lower level function, the action will sustain them over time.

  • That’s a faster way to move. I’m looking for these key phrases or principles or questions. One of them is this simple question, what is a solution that’s going to work for everyone?

  • I literally see when I ask people that question, whether it’s a group or even an individual, I see their eyes look to a different place. Something changes in their body. They move from I to we in a way that is really amazing. They start looking for different solutions. That’s one such question.

  • Another one is what is most important here? Another one is what’s the real purpose? You can come up with such questions that guide people’s attention. Attention is the most precious resource that we have of all, where we put our attention and what we do with our attention. That’s, I think, plenty.

  • What I can do is I can send you I have three or four condensed version of my dissertation. If Tom is right and some of it will interest you, you will then be able to tell me, "Chapter two and chapter seven, please." Then I will send that to you.

  • He’ll get it absorbed in a hour, not a problem.

  • Is that "The Little Book of Courageous Living"?

  • No, it’s not on the website. It was never published.

  • Then I would not have read it.

  • OK, so you’ve moved from gospels to koans which, I think, is awesome. I have just one clarifying question.

  • In our recursive public which we talk g0v, we really consciously bring technologies into it that adds to the recursiveness. Open space technology, OST, and nonviolent communication, NVC, are the two labels that we actually use a lot.

  • You’re using NVC?

  • Yes, these are the two main monikers we add to our recursive public. I have to admit that NVC is of less importance than the OST.

  • That doesn’t surprise me because most people who will introduce it to you will not introduce it in a way that you will see relevance and applicability.

  • Now, after seeing this picture, I think I see how more recursiveness and less instrumentality -- I think that’s the English word -- it could be as part of the integration. Thank you for that.

  • My clarifying question is when you start with those koans like, solution for all, things we can all live with, most important or most purpose, do you always want people to think about it and share it? Or do you just want people to contemplate it and go on doing whatever the process there is? Because it’s two very different facilitation methods.

  • I am appreciating the question very much. I think it depends on the application. Overall, I think that knowing what question to ask is one of the most important interventions that we can do as humans trying to create change.

  • So it’s in the evocation itself. It’s in the awareness level. It’s not necessarily in whatever gets written down. We do it when we have to or when the application falls for it.

  • Questions are not there to be answered.

  • Not necessarily. One of the points of the questions that I ask is to raise people’s level of function even if momentarily. They overlap. They intersect. The other purpose that I have is to get people out of the obvious, the thinking that what is happening is obviously the only thing that could happen.

  • One could say it’s a question to open space. They put people in this amount of space instead of a point.

  • It de-anchors people, that I’m completely fine with.

  • Thank you. Yes, I think we’re on the same page.

  • Excellent. I will be very happy any time you have a specific question about if there’s this situation and from an NVC perspective, what can you do with it, very happy to just send me a quick email. I can send you a quick email back.

  • Awesome. Thank you, and vice versa. If at any time you want a consultation about applied Taoism to politics...

  • (laughter)

  • Thank you so much. Thank you, Tom, for making this possible. It was very pleasurable.

  • Thank you for introducing me to Audrey. Thank you for poking your head into the possibility of being in this call. You’ve been absolutely essential to how it’s unfolded. I love the fact that you were here.

  • Thank you. Your generosity of spirit, Tom, is very touching. Audrey, I am in awe of how you manage to take things that are so significant and with such big potential and be so light-hearted and fun about it. Wow.

  • He can’t help himself.

  • Exactly. It’s just a lot of fun.

  • Bye-bye. I’m not quite ready to leave. Even though I don’t have anything specific yet, I would like to do a quick intro to dynamic facilitation for you since I refer to it...

  • ...a number of times. It’s my jewel in the crown of process. I really would love to have a conversation sometime with you with Rosa Zubizarretta for whom we have I know The Tao of Democracy to thank, pulled it out of me. I got her into dynamic facilitation.

  • She then wrote her master’s thesis about why it works, which was very instructive for me. Although I have taken courses in it and read about it and all that, her description is fascinating.

  • The facilitator is very dominant in dynamic facilitation, especially early on. You need to have people who are in some kind of conflict. To the extent they’re in conflict, there’s something to work with, if they aren’t in conflict at all...

  • The founder of dynamic facilitation, Jim Rough, some of us got him to come and talk to people who are on the board of the Fellowship of Intentional Communities who were largely trained in consensus process. He did several hours with them.

  • He got frustrated. He says, "Don’t you people care about anything? Because you’re all being so considerate of the larger whole of what other people think." He couldn’t get any traction.

  • It was very funny and frustrating, an instructive moment. Anyway, Rosa says that as facilitator, she is the designated listener, that the people come in drunk on their own ideas and can’t really hear each other. She is going to be a designated listener.

  • It starts out with, "Who has something they want to say about this thing we’re here to talk about?" Somebody raises their hand. Say, "OK, tell me about it." The facilitator, their goal is to have that person feel fully heard. There are usually these four chart pads with problems, statements, possible solutions, concerns, and data.

  • The facilitator is taking what the person’s saying, going, "Let me see if I’m getting that." They’re repeating it back but not word for word, not rotely. They’re trying to get at what’s the essence of what this person’s saying and with the emotion. All the emotion that’s in it is part of it also.

  • They’re stepping into that person’s universe so that that person feels companioned in their world with zero judgment. They’re just trying to really be there with that person. They’re writing stuff down on the chart pads, whichever one is right, going, "Am I getting this right?"

  • It’s an inquiry. It’s not, "What you’re saying is..." It’s nothing like that. It’s like, "Am I getting this right?" Person goes, "No, no, no. It’s more like this." "OK, dah, dah, dah." There’s this back and forth going on.

  • The fully heardness has a psychological and physiological reaction in people. When they feel fully heard, the fight-and-flight response evaporates. The withdrawal, the pushing their ideas, all that just disappears and they’re just there.

  • Simultaneously, everybody has heard what they had to say. They watched it being put up on the board, on the chart pads. It’s in there in the collective space again with no judgment attached to it. They’ve also watched an idealized form of listening being modeled.

  • Then she does the same thing to somebody else. Their turn takes as long as it takes. It’s totally the space is being held by the facilitator.

  • If somebody suddenly chimes in while she’s doing this, where somebody goes, "No, that’s full of shit," she turns to them and says, "Hold on. I’ll get to you in a minute." When she turns to them, she says, "What’s your concern? Give it to me."

  • Their negative energy is translated into a concern, which is a valuable piece of information for the group. It goes up on the track pads. "Am I getting this right?" Back to the reflective listening thing.

  • Each time for each person who isn’t automatically getting a solution, they’ll get the person with the concern. Once she gets a concern, goes, "OK, so what do you think oughta be done about that?" There’s a little turn towards a solution.

  • It goes up on the possible solutions, and reflective listening is happening. If somebody goes, "I don’t know what should be done," [laughs] The facilitator might say something like, "If you were king of the world, what would you do?" [laughs] "If you knew what, what should be done, what would that be?" Keep poking at it.

  • What is happening to the group is that when they walked into the room, they were looking at a particular frame or a particular context or particular lens, a piece of the whole that they were really attached to. Now, they’ve listened to all these other pieces of the whole. It has produced what we in the business call "the mess." [laughs]

  • The mess is now in the collective space. It’s up there on the chart pads. It would’ve been stuck on the wall, all those individual sheets. The facilitator might occasionally do a review of what’s gone up there so far. Shove the mess in people’s face.

  • Then, there’s a phenomenon that happens that is key to Rose’s thesis, her master’s thesis, is that there’s a shift that happens in the group where the group is now, everybody’s been opened up. They’re now looking at the mess. There’s the compulsion in people to make sense. There begins to emerge a collective energy desperate to make sense of the mess.

  • People start to say things like, "What if we blah, blah, blah?" It’s like the "we" language starts to come up. Proposals start to pop up for the other people to consider. There’s a brainstormy kind of energy that starts to come out.

  • At that point, the facilitator stops doing the reflective listening. They’re just doing chart pad, recording stuff on chart pads. Then in the midst of that, somebody would go, "No, no. That’s really stupid. We shouldn’t." She’d go, "Give it to me. What’s your concern?" At that point, she steps in.

  • There’s this occasional interventions and reflective listening when the energy gets stuck, stopped. Then, as people start popping up with these, it gets into a kind of conversation that Jim Rough, who created this, calls "choice-creating," which is when we’re all together working on the problem.

  • It’s no longer one piece against another piece. The whole group is working on the whole problem and sensing in to it. When they’re in that mode, if it’s given sufficient time, there’s almost always some kind of breakthrough.

  • Sometimes the breakthrough is in a solution, where somebody goes, "Oh, we could do blah, blah, blah," and then the group goes, "Ah." There’s a collective "Aha," or recognition that this is, as a Native American guy said once is like we talk until there’s nothing left but the obvious truth.

  • There’s this, "Ah." There’s a settling into this. There’s other kinds of breakthrough, like people going, "Well, we’re looking at this all wrong." There’s a shift to a different perspective, a different level of system or thinking about it which reframes the whole thing. It’s almost like starting again in a new space.

  • Of course, there’s relational shifts of these people at each other’s throats before. They’re no longer that way. They’re in the space creating solutions together. It’s totally nonlinear and emergent. It’s in the class of emergent processes, because you can’t get from A to B. That’s not what’s going on.

  • There’s a loosening-up and freeing-up of life energy to address the collective intelligence. That’s the quick intro to how DF works. It’s one of these things that’s very simple and very hard. [laughs] It’s like the counting of breaths thing.

  • All you’ve got to do is breathe and watch your breathing. [laughs] So simple, but to be a master facilitator, there’s a kind of presence and a kind of flowing with the energy of the group and how things are shifting. You may notice somebody sitting with their arms crossed, and you realize that’s energy.

  • You’re following the energy of the group. You go after them, not just the person who’s jumping up and down. There’s all kinds of different energy.

  • The more conflict there is, the more juice, the more energy there is. Conflict is life energy, and dynamic facilitation recognizes and utilizes that. I see this as a close cousin of Miki’s stuff. The "getting to yes" principle of negotiation is a somewhat more linear version of that.

  • It’s trying to get at, underneath where people are thinking and reacting to each other, there is powerful common ground. It’s not just common ground. There’s power in that life energy.

  • The two in my pattern language, after I had come up with these 70 patterns...I kept wanting to put more, and the guy who was working with me say, "You gotta stop somewhere." He stopped me at 70. Then I needed to figure out the related patterns, because that’s part of...Are you familiar with pattern languages, in general?

  • Design patterns is a very important part.

  • There’s a practice called pattern language.

  • I read most of the pages linking to and linked from the total intelligence audit page on dynamic facilitation, so you can assume...

  • OK, so you’re already...

  • ...it’s in my mind. While you were talking, I also read the 2006 manual on dynamic facilitation.

  • So you can also assume that I’ve read the background information.

  • I can’t keep up with you.

  • (laughter)

  • No, it’s me trying to catch up with you. It’s where you are.

  • Yeah, but it took me years to get here. It’s taken you minutes.

  • (laughter)

  • The original pattern language was on communities that have this magical quality. All sorts of other pattern languages have been made. I was part of creating a pattern language for group process. I had to have juicy, productive, exciting, interesting, loving-group process.

  • The woman who developed that, Tree Bressen, with tremendous collaboration from lots of other people, created the idea of having these cards and designing the cards with a picture, a little 50-word statement, and connected patterns, related patterns.

  • I was going to model my pattern language after that, and I did. Because it’s not a card, there’s infinite connections between patterns in a pattern language, but you can only put seven of them on a card.

  • I made this big chart pad. Given the nature of this call, I think I will see if I...Yeah, here it goes. There was this chart pad. I’m a paper guy. [laughs] It has, 70 by 70, all the patterns across the top, all the patterns down the side. I go across, marking them with different levels of how related I think they are, for several days.

  • I couldn’t have 10, I couldn’t have 3, I had to make sure there were seven in each row that had the top ranking. Then it occurred to me I should see how many times each of them was listed as a related pattern. I added up the columns instead of the rows.

  • I discovered two of them stood out way beyond all the others. They had 24 and 26 connections. The next lowest was 14. They were "using diversity and disturbance creatively" and "well-utilized life energy."

  • I thought that was really interesting until later on. Several months later I realized they’re intimately related. That if you invite life energy into a space, use it, you will get diversity and disturbance. [laughs]

  • Needing to be able to use that creatively is a powerful skill. That’s fundamental to what’s going on in the Wise Democracy work, is how do we collectively utilize, primarily, diversity and disturbance, because they have lessons.

  • I recognized that as going on in vTaiwan and in the software. It’s in Miki’s thing. It’s in dynamic facilitation. These are the master practices for doing that.

  • You’ve probably read everything on the Wise Democracy Pattern Language website, but...

  • Not yet, maybe one-fifth.

  • (laughter)

  • Although they’re presented many different ways, each pattern has its own page. The video that is on the page is, because the guy that was working with me, Martin Rausch, who one day called me and said, "Hey, would you like some help developing a pattern language on Wise Democracy?" [laughs]

  • I was off and running instantly with that request. He was absolutely essential to getting that out of me. It would have taken me 5, 10 years to do it by myself.

  • After, I wrote these little 50-word descriptions, which Tree Bressen calls the heart of the pattern, then Martin, while we’re on Zoom -- he’s in Switzerland -- says, "Why did you describe it that way?"

  • I talked about why I described it that way. He recorded it on Zoom, and that’s the video that’s on the pages. Then he transcribed -- somebody else who transcribes things -- what I said in the video, and then I edited the transcriptions. That’s the big essay that’s on each one.

  • This is part of my story. He asked me what kind of picture would be good for each pattern, and so I gave him some words to describe what kind of picture. He went and got pictures.

  • After he’d gotten the pictures for all the patterns he had me go through and rate the pictures on a scale of 0 to 10. Any picture that had less than a five, or five or less, he found another picture, so that everything had more than five on it.

  • That’s the quality of the website layout. You compare that site to the Co-Intelligence Institute’s site, and you’re in a different ball game. [laughs]

  • I don’t know how you do all this stuff, but you do.

  • (laughter)

  • I added to the picture of the way you utilize life energy, just by taking a screenshot as e were talking.

  • I want to place your stuff somewhere in the pattern language, but I’m going to have to really do some digestion, because it is a different order of thing than the other examples and resources than I’ve put in here. Plus, if I do a version two, which I’d like to do sometime this year, it’ll be influential in...

  • There’s a funny way my mind works the way it works. I’m 71 years old. It’s worked enough that I can recognize what you’re doing, but I don’t operate in that world natively. You fascinate me partly because you’re an obvious native.

  • (laughter)

  • You live in this different world that I understand aspects of and intuit. I do a lot of my work intuitively, and then translating its ideas, words, and stuff. The intuitions are fundamental.

  • That’s part of when I met Nora. I saw somebody who recognized the deepest levels of co-intelligence that hardly anybody else I work with recognizes. They’re operating at a different level. She did something totally different with it than I did. It fascinated me.

  • I come here and I find I didn’t recognize you and the vTaiwan stuff on its own terms until this conversation started. I had to look through the lens of citizen-delivered councils, and stuff like that, and try to get policies and blah, blah, blah. How separate that was from open space.

  • There is the creation of policies, and then there’s self-organization activity. They’re both now woven together seamlessly. On top of that, it’s fun. [laughs]

  • I don’t tend to put the fun part in it. You put it right in the middle. [laughs]

  • I have three chapters on why the Tao democracy was Taoistic at the end of the book, but Rosa chopped the book. She got me to write it, and then she said, "It’s too long. You have to cut out two-thirds of it."

  • There’s only a couple of references to the Tao Te Ching in there, but the key one is that the leader leads well when the people say they did it themselves, and the idea of action and no action.

  • I may have lots of philosophy about what that means, but I have not seen anybody who comes close to doing that the way you do. [laughs] "Whoa, has this guy got that down."

  • It’s interesting to go through the cards. I was a player of a card game called "Magic, The Gathering." It was very popular among teenagers here, back in 1997, or something, maybe ’98. That’s when I...

  • I live in a co-op house with young people, and they every now and then pull out the Magic...

  • That’s right. That’s how I learned English. My first vocabularies of English are very complex things, like abeyance, [laughs] things that people won’t usually use, but because there are so many Magic cards-- annulation. They have to find new synonyms for the same spell, so my vocabulary is very weird when I started using English.

  • I like the pictures and how they convey a contextual thing on which these very complex words can be used. Otherwise, they are just complex words. The picture really captures the context, the association possibility, of the terms.

  • I really like the way the WBPO, World Democracy site, is organized, as in, it’s intuitive, it’s not sequential in the way that it asks people to apply it as a tool kit. Of course, if you have a strong need to post something useful, you can do that, too, but the website is not pressuring the viewer to do this.

  • I tend to think the same of vTaiwan. The thing with international media is that they have a narrative. vTaiwan is usually just one section, one paragraph, or one part of their larger narrative. Necessarily they extract the one example that fits the narrative and run with it, which we’re OK, too.

  • We relinquish copyrights for this very purpose. Anyway can say they did it themselves, and we won’t sue them.

  • (laughter)

  • That’s the core logic of g0v. It’s not just you can take any government website and change the O to zero to get a shadow government. Also, it echoes the idea of the creative commons zero, which is explicit waiver of copyright, including attribution right and personal right. That is to say...

  • I stumbled on an article of mine. It wasn’t on any of my websites. It was on this consultant’s website with his name as the author. I went, "Wow, he’s carrying my words on. That’s great." [laughs]

  • Yeah, exactly. We’re all just vehicles that the patterns inhabit, so ownership is a silly idea. What I’m trying to associate to is maybe it is not so much that the space is essential in connecting the life energy to diversity.

  • When space are understood in a topological way, people usually think space is something that, like a circle, it has boundary. It has the space where the space is in. It has a certain notion of dimensionality, like Taipei is part of Taiwan.

  • Speaking as a young migrant to the Internet, the Internet is having its own logic. People who feel the same way in all those three spaces, they form a tribe and try to recruit more people into this tribe, which forms a link graph that is related.

  • The space still provides safety, security, food, bandwidth to the link graph, but the link graph also appropriates resources and try to create spaces even when there are none, like through Occupy, which essentially says, "We want this space to carry the logic of our network."

  • I think it is in the dynamic exchange between the link graph and the space graph that these diversities are organized creatively. There’s a mathematical part of this language based on category theory, but this is how my mind sees the connections in life energy.

  • Something tells me that Nora will understand that better than I will. She has a list of about 15 different scientific principles or theories that you need to understand before you can name what’s called a "station" in her warm data labs. I go, "This is unnecessarily complexifying it," but I don’t know. Bertrand Russell’s level of categories is one of her things.

  • Space, to me, doesn’t necessarily have boundaries. Space is big. It’s one of those things I have an intuition for, and the words don’t...A bounded space is a specific kind of space. It’s like a realm. The word realm I use a lot. I have a colleague -- I have lots of colleagues -- who used to be a Christian fundamentalist minister who passed out anti-evolution tracts.

  • He got converted to the science-based story of evolution as our sacred formation/creation story, from the Big Bang till now. He totally reframed Christianity in science-based, evolutionary terms. God is reality and facts are God’s native tongue, and stuff like that, "You gotta get right with reality. Get right with God, or you’ll face consequences." It’s really interesting.

  • He wrote a book called, "Thank God For Evolution," and has a website thankgodforevolution.com. His name’s Michael Dowd. I became a close colleague of his for several years, and became finally unsatisfied with his work, where it was limited by not having enough about activism.

  • To me, one of the language of people like Michael Dowd is that we are evolution becoming conscious of itself. We are the universe looking at itself through telescopes -- all these inversions. If we are evolution become conscious of itself, then all our efforts to change conditions in the world are directly tied back to the Big Bang, all this whole thrust of evolution.

  • The great grand-mama of all activism is the evolutionary process, and we better learn from great grand-mama and not ignore her. That’s my "Reflections on Evolutionary Activism" book. What would it mean to try to learn from evolution, and not just be evolutionary agents, but take on that identity of being the evolutionary process? What does that mean?

  • One of the things when I was studying evolution, which connects back to this space thing, the invention of video games created a realm within which evolution happens. The creation of language creates a realm. It’s like this branching off. We’re really good at creating new realms for evolution to unfold.

  • They’re not necessarily physical. These are virtual spaces. Language is a virtual space. Then new varieties -- co-intelligence is a new word. It’s like a new species has shown up, the ecosystem of language, and that’s another kind of space.

  • That thing that I mentioned earlier, when Miki was on, of questions, there’s a whole page on the Co-Intelligence Institute website, if you want to poke in it and instantly see it a bunch of links, about questions and the idea that questions have power.

  • Questions can have linear power or non-linear power, in the sense of questions that open space. You’re directing attention, but you’re directing it to a space, not a point. Questions that have answers -- what’s four times four -- is directing you to a point. The World Café people -- you’re familiar with World Café?

  • That’s another one of the powerful, nonlinear processes. They are masters. I have a list of people, Quakers, and the World Café. The World Café people are brilliant.

  • One of my favorite what I call zipper questions because you can put all sorts of things into it, it’s like, "What could this conversation also be? What could vTaiwan also be? What could governments also be?" [laughs]

  • You plug in different things. They made that first with a school that was having all these problems. Instead of addressing the problems, they had them do a little café on, "What could this school also be." It’s like, bling, you’re outside of the whole frame of reference, instantly.

  • That brings me to another piece. You probably already read my blog post. [laughs] I’m predicting now how you behave. You’re so predictable. You’ve already done everything.

  • (laughter)

  • Network governance, multi-sector, multi-stakeholder, multi-scale networks collaborating is an emerging form of governance. I realize this overlaps totally with your stuff. You are practicing it in a very dynamic way.

  • This Tracy Kunkler is a consultant -- yes, that’s the MS3 stuff -- largely with networks that are involved with food systems in Appalachia. She wrote a little blog post noting that she was seeing the farmers have their networks. Consumers and groceries have their networks. Government regulators have their networks. They were all working together to evolve food systems across boundaries of states.

  • She was going, "This is an emerging form of governance." Several weeks later, another colleague, Nancy White...Do you know Nancy White?

  • She’s an online facilitator and does graphic facilitation online.

  • I think I’ve heard of the name, but not intimately.

  • She referred me to a guy named Steve Waddell, who had been working for years and written several books on it. He was noting that the 17 sustainable development goals of the United Nations, every one of them is gathering around it multi-sector, multi-stakeholder, multi-scale networks that are trying to collaborate.

  • They don’t necessarily know how to do that. Sometimes big players, like multinational corporations or government people, will try to take over and try and get everybody else to do what they want. Other ones are much more peer-based. That level of collaboration, across that level of difference, is new, and so there’s a lot of exploration there.

  • That’s happening. There’s hundreds of these happening all over the world. I connected up Tracy and Steve, and we ended up talking every week on Zoom for months. Then we did a session at a conference on democratic innovations. Out of 200 people at the conference, seven people came to our session. [laughs]

  • It allows for a deeper conversation.

  • Yes. Those seven people, when asked, "What are you observing and what’s needed," they say, "It’s a struggle trying to work together." I’m thinking, "We have such incredible tools to work together. If that’s your problem, there’s a match made in heaven here."

  • Out of all that stuff is emerging a thing currently, ENGI, Emerging Network Governance Initiative. Tracy, who is a very good organize, Steve is supporting Tracy to relieve some of her consulting to...

  • ENGI, Emerging Network...

  • Yeah, Network Governance. We’re going through very step-by-step kinds of organizing, which I don’t know how to do. I’m along for the ride. Have you ever heard of Three Horizons practice?

  • Three Horizons. The way things are now is horizon one and the things you don’t like about it.

  • It’s a McKinsey idea? Isn’t it something like that?

  • It looks like this?

  • It’s a practice.

  • No, it’s not that?

  • There is a visual. There are three curves. The first horizon is a curve that starts high, goes a little higher, and then goes down. This is the way things are is going to die off.

  • The second horizon goes up over it, overlaps the first, as it’s going down. The second horizon, which is things you’re doing to change things, it rises up, and then levels off. Horizon three rises from the middle, and goes way up. That’s the world that you want.

  • There are exercises. I could take you to an illustration. They do an online whiteboard with online Post-It notes. They asked us questions like, "What is it about the way governance is now that you can’t stand?" We all wrote our answers to those, for questions for horizon one.

  • We’ll go to horizon three next. What’s world look like that you want? If you really achieved your purposes, what would it look like? We wrote our answers to for that kind of thing. Then, "What needs to happen for that to happen? What are existing things and things that need to be initiated, etc.?" That’s the horizon two.

  • I don’t have this. They reduced our answers to Post-It notes that they put on the horizon charts. First, they put them all in a big rectangle, and we had to collectively sort them into groups, all our little answers. That was very frustrating, because the Post-It notes kept flying out of the group you were trying to collect them into, because somebody else moved them.

  • Once we settled on the clusters, then we had to agree, collectively, on Zoom, what to name the clusters. All of that was laid on the three horizons. Then there’s another level of abstraction, where the clusters are pulled out and laid along the three horizons.

  • The cluster names are clustered and feedback loops are drawn between these different dimensions of each of these things, showing how they support each other or block each other.

  • They said, "Then that’s your narrative. That’s a narrative of what your group is trying to do, is what’s that thing, over time. You need to use that to create texts or videos or whatever to tell people about what you’re doing."

  • It was a really interesting exercise. It took months of every-other-week meetings to do that. That’s the stage we’re at. We’re in the process. There’s a small group that has been researching case studies, different networks that are working together in specific places, doing specific things.

  • We’ll be looking for money, blah, blah, blah. It’s just another fact that these networks are trying to work together. We’re working on real-world problems, and they’re cross-sector. Once again, I look at your stuff and go, "That’s a manifestation of this, in a very different way than we’ve been envisioning it, but exactly the same energy."

  • You can frame it in those terms. How do we collectively, co-intelligently, wisely do our work together on the ground to get stuff to happen? You’re doing a variation of it. There’s a number of things I’m involved in, where this is another form of that, that has things to say big time.

  • Whenever we have linear things we’re trying to do, it’s going to take too much time. It’s got to be nonlinear, the impulse that I bring, which has probably too much linearity and seriousness for you, but you’re on to something. Actually, you’re not on it, you’re in it. You’re into something. [laughs]

  • Yeah, I’m right here.

  • (laughter)

  • In terms of the development goals. There was a big thing, with tons of money attached to it, on global governance. Did you run across that thing, a contest for global governance, that had a million dollars guaranteed to the winner of the thing?

  • Yes, I’ve heard of it.

  • I can’t think in those terms, and I have zero...You’re one of the few truly international, cross-cultural engagements I’ve had. I’m so American, Western, white guy, it’s pathetic.

  • It’s the Global Governance Challenge or something like that?

  • Right, right. When I looked at your stuff and all the things I wrote in that 10-page thing, which I’m not embarrassed about. It was my adolescence, a developmental stage.

  • (laughter)

  • There’s something really important about what you’re doing. I’m not even sure I’m built to recognize it, partly because of your relaxed, fun, center of gravity. I enjoy having fun, but fun is not the center. I’ve had to work, because other people, like the exuberance card...

  • When I was doing my evolutionary stuff -- I have it on my wall in front of me -- I had to force myself to think about the centrality of life energy. What is the evolutionary process through which exuberance came to be in all of its manifestations?

  • If you don’t have exuberance as the core thing that’s happen, but you just stick with natural selection, how did exuberance...Exuberance is wasteful, so I’m going, "How did it survive?" It’s like all the research on how collaboration came to be, when it’s a dog-eat-dog world.

  • I have to work at that part of it. There are other people who feel that kind of fun-life energy, the arts and all that, needs to be central. It is central. A lot of the manifestations that I see of that, I see being used in maintaining privilege, like, "We’re going to be having fun and happy in our conference and doing all these enjoyable things."

  • I go, "Hey, there’s business to get down to. In the meantime, people are dying and things are being destroyed, so what the fuck? It feels like "we’re here to enjoy ourselves" energy, rather than there’s something fundamental and core about it.

  • I bump into yours, and it is fundamental and core. I recognize that, totally, in who you are and how you describe what’s happening. I go, "What this is, I don’t know." Theoretically, I know exactly what it is, but at a gut sense, I don’t have it.

  • When I go, "How do we spread this?" It’s not even spread. It’s a dandelion. How does this take seed, discover where is the place to drop down and sprout and flourish? It’s got to be that kind of energy. There’s things to do to facilitate it, to catalyze it, whatever, but it’s not a tree-planting operation. [laughs]

  • There’s something far more organic, and I don’t know what it is. I hope this conversation and video at least, as it bumps into people who go, "Oh, yeah. I know what he’s talking about. Tom doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground." Maybe this will help that get planted somewhere.

  • Once again, with symmathesy, I had to do a major turn-my-head-around to center myself in her world. I’m feeling a similar kind of...I need to absorb this.

  • I need to watch this video 5 or 10 times and absorb the energy, become a different person to be able to see through the eyes that you see through, which I can’t ever do, because I’m not living in the world that you are with the history you have, but since this is my life passion, [laughs] I need to figure out how to take on this thing that you have created and are living in.

  • Before I even know I would be in public policy work, I gave this talk. It’s called Open Source Enlightenment.

  • It’s not even my talk. It’s one of my dear friends, Allison Randal, who’s president of the Open Source Initiative, the bunch of people who did this open source thing by convincing people like the old Netscape or now Microsoft, Google, and everyone to partially or completely abandon their copyrights, so people can have fun together.

  • We had to make this whole culture for it. She went to Taipei and gave a talk, and I did a real-time transcription. I added some more pictures, and it turned into a different talk. One of the slides or the cards I have is optimizing for fun.

  • What a picture. [laughs]

  • Yeah, I think it’s more fun than the person jumping here.

  • No kidding. That’s so funny.

  • (laughter)

  • Who has the copyright on this picture?

  • (laughter)

  • It’s on Flickr, so I linked back to the Flickr, which used Creative Commons, and the photographer shares their copyright. There is a fine print to this picture. You need a stable support. You need a safe space.

  • You need, a priori, unconstrained of the activities. Finally, you need to be accepting of new ways of looking at a world. It can’t just be reinforcing the status quo, which would be privilege, as you described it.

  • I think there’s a world of abundance that programmers take for granted in the past decade or so, because it really costs nothing to copy a web page. The abundance is felt strongly, because the software are developed in a way, and we have a word for that. It’s called CRDT. It stands for the mathematical concept of a conflict-free replicated data type.

  • What this means, mathematically, is that whatever I do in my open source work, I can feel comfortable to let other people take to new directions. It will cost us almost nothing else to merge our respective contributions into something new.

  • Historically, this part of the diamond is very expensive. It’s expensive not in the money sense, but you have to have a designated listener that’s on part of the two forks sense. The facilitator has to understand the language. If the systems fork -- diverge too much -- there is a limit of what a facilitator can do.

  • By using the data structures, the ways of working that builds a guarantee of healing themselves were emerging. Millions of people can type on the same Google doc. Thousands of people can edit the same spreadsheet, and so on.

  • This space, the automated space itself, works as a facilitator. This gives the hallucination of other data types are also conflict free, but they are not, which is why we have wicked problems.

  • I think there is this naive fundamentalism of fun that my generation of open-source programmers are bringing into the world of non-violent communication on public matters, and gradually learning the methodologies of dealing with the tangible world, keeping the inherent funness of the conflict-free intangible work. I think that’s the succinct way of saying it.

  • I don’t think mathematically. I have very low mathematical aptitudes.

  • It’s good. You can think in this picture. [laughs]

  • It’s something to meditate on. Yeah, I can think in that picture, easily. Do you know Swami Beyondananda?

  • [laughs] When you said "fundamentally," he does that. He goes, "Put the fun back into fundamental," and "Driving Your Own Karma." He’s a master of puns. He’s not a real swami. He’s a socially conscious, spiritually aware comedian who dresses up as a swami and does little punny-filled...

  • Swami Beyondananda is Steve Bhaerman. He just did an interview with me last week. If you enjoy puns, he says, "There’s a great upwising that’s needed," one of his frequently used -- we’ve got to wise up.

  • We’ve got to wise up. I think this is great. I’ll be using this word. [laughs]

  • Go look him up. He’s Beyondananda, and he has lots of stuff on his websites that you can absorb and use.

  • Awesome. I’ll do that. I do feel wised up in this conversation. [laughs]

  • I think by April I will have a little more orientation and be able to talk. I don’t know what will happen by April. I really enjoy the conversation, if you want to stay in touch. It’s a rare feeling to feel over my head. I tend to be thinking and perceiving in realms I don’t have a lot of company in. Here I’m going, "Whoa. Who is this? I better step up." [laughs] I am intrigued.

  • I’m happy, as I said in email, to catch up exactly one week from now or two week from now, if your time permits.

  • I keep adding layers of activity. I got five-and-a-half hours sleep last night and four hours of sleep the previous