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Publish Date: 
Mon, 03/05/2012 - 21:42

This month I've cleared my calendar to do the work I promised on my "Mathematics of Direct Democracy" research project. This is an initial update, to offer some orientation and outline how I'm planning to start.

I've created a chronological guide to the research so far, on my public wiki: The preliminary rounds of modeling that I've done are there, along with various notes and meditations, including "the Pizza Exercise", "the distributed computing metaphor", and "questions about the progressive stack".

Right now I think my starting goals for this month are these:

  • Fill out the literature review. I want to feel confident that I know what the state of the art is (that's kind of a big project, because it spans multiple disciplines, including math, computer science, and political science). Also, ideally, when it's time to write up for publication, I'd like to have enough notes on the existing literature that I don't have to go back out to gather citations.
  • After the preliminary modeling I did, I think I want to focus less on the idea of people making proposals and deciding what to do with them. Actually, I'm coming to wonder if that's a mistake that some actual organizations are making. I'm interested in opening up the focus to what happens when everyone agrees on a problem domain, but hasn't necessarily narrowed down the discussion about what to do about it. I want to try to flesh out that idea, and write notes about it as soon as this week.
  • If that goes well, I hope to go from there to opening up the model framework, to allow for possibilities that aren't considering one proposal at a time (such as brainstorming, or weighing multiple candidate proposals).
  • It would be great to have something like a working paper or draft manuscript by the end of the month. Blog posts and notes on the wiki pages are great, but in my experience it's not easy to turn them into manuscripts, so I'd like to be oriented toward manuscript production in some way as well.
  • As promised to some, I'll print up postcards and posters later in the month. Maybe I'll generate some good images during the month. I've already got the Pizza Cube (in the pizza exercise notes), and I have one or two other things in mind.
  • I'm going to attend an unconference on horizontal organizing in San Francisco in the middle of the month: I've signed up to present this project at the "5 minutes of fame" event that kicks it off.

I'll write updates maybe once a week, in my lab notebook feed: I am very open to feedback, questions, suggestions, and participation.

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