Categories
Thinking

Networking for democracy

I’ve spent the last couple of months interviewing folks in the UK’s democracy sector — in order to learn about how better networking might help boost our efforts to improve democracy. (The work was previewed in this post.)

I’ve now finished writing up the report.

Here is the full report as a Google Document. This is best for reading on a phone.

Here are two other formats:

Or read on for the summary and list of recommendations.

Categories
Thinking

A democracy sector network? A needs, tools and capacity review

Previously, on this blog…

The other thing I’d want to see if I was a funder — and as someone in the sector — is that we’re working together, sharing knowledge and ideas, or at least avoiding repeating the same thing or competing for limited media attention. That’s where better networking comes in.

Me, earlier

There’s not much collaboration across democracy-related fields, despite some enthusiasm for it. My guess is that this is due to a lack of capacity among such organisations: no single organisation can volunteer the resources to run a central hub or a coordination role to support a network.

Before diving in to try to create something new, I’ve wanted to do a bit more research into the problems faced by the sector. Happily, the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust (JRRT) have awarded me a small grant to look into this further.

Categories
Thinking

Working up a proposal for a ‘Centre for Democracy’

Is this what a healthy democracy looks like?

Three months ago, I wrote a blogpost outlining projects I thought necessary to improve the state of democracy in the UK. After many helpful conversations and lots of feedback, I’ve tried to work out what’s most useful to do next.

The TL;DR: A Centre for Democracy — research, evaluation and network-building for the democracy sector. Equivalent to similar organisations in health, education and economics.

Categories
Thinking

New democracy projects, briefly

I recently wrote a long post about new institutions to support democracy, but I thought a three-minute version might be handy…

Categories
Reading

The #lockdown reading list

Given I now have a bit more time on my hands, I plan to spend my time working on institution-building for democracy.

I’m also planning to catch up with several years’ worth of Things I Really Should Have Read Earlier. The COVID-19 lockdown presents an opportunity to try to get through some it.

Categories
Thinking

A more democratic country

Update: This post is 4,000 words long. A very quick summary is available here.

This time four years ago, Sym Roe and I found ourselves working from the converted cellars of Somerset House, alongside the Thames at Waterloo Bridge. Nice spot. We’d joined the Bethnal Green Ventures programme for ‘tech for good’ startups, having decided that Democracy Club — the organisation that Sym had woken from hibernation for the 2015 general election — was worth throwing ourselves at, full-time, in an effort to make something happen.

Categories
Thinking

Berlin does civic tech. Großartig!

I’m back in the UK (is that still a thing?) now — but I have two more EuroTrip stops to blog about. 

First, Berlin. As you may know, Berlin is excellent. It also has a bit of a reputation for tech startups. And for doing interesting political things with tech.

It seems a long time ago that there was excitement about ‘Liquid Democracy’ — the German Pirate Party software that was going to revolutionise representative democracy. It allowed constant ‘delegative democracy’: you could choose to delegate your vote to someone on a certain topic, but take it away from them again or choose a different delegate at any time. In addition, your delegate could delegate your vote, and so on. Hence the ‘liquid’ bit — power would flow as voters chose and changed their representatives at will. The software made this practically feasible for the first time. There were some excitable blogs about it. But the revolution never came. I wondered what became of it — my trip to Berlin revealed the answer.

And there’s much more happening in Berlin today — in a way that is perhaps more realistic and more understanding of how most people want to engage.