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[liberationtech] Imagining a New Public Information and Communication Infrastructure

Doug Schuler douglas at publicsphereproject.org
Thu May 18 21:49:24 PDT 2017


The idea of a big open-source collaboration for a problem-solving
not-for-profit global platform seems to becoming more popular. I wouldn't
call it a juggernaut just yet.

I wanted to mention my recent article for the Computers and Society
Newsletter: "Imagining a New Public Information and Communication
Infrastructure which is available at
http://www.sigcas.org/newsletter/volume-47-issue-1/6.pdf for a few weeks at
least (and on the public sphere project site at
http://publicsphereproject.org/sites/default/files/public-infrastructure.preprint.pdf
).

Incidentally a reporter at vice.com did a write-up (
https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/a-plea-for-multispace-the-diy-civic-internet-that-will-never-exist)
of the article. It was somewhat encouraging while mentioning the technical
naiveté of the author a couple of times (a "rosy treatise"). In my note
back to him I mentioned that I believe the technical challenges are
miniscule when stacked up against the social challenges.

The way I'd propose starting something like this from the ground up would
be to start developing a "pattern language" that depicts the broad — and
evolving —"rules" that would help guide us. These would be incrementally
developed by the researchers / developers / practitioners and would change
over time to reflect current and expected circumstances. This process bears
some resemblance to the Request for Comments (RFC) and the Portland Pattern
Repository (which led to Wikis, Wikipedia, etc.) approaches that was used
in the development of the Internet.

I'd suggest a number of Public Infrastructure Development Pattern
Categories under which the pattens would fit. Here's the draft list so far:

Purpose
Principles
Community
Architecture
Governance
Development
Functionality and Services
Looks and Feels
Policy
Outreach / Communication
Users and Use Cases
Projects & Experiments
Long View, Strategy, and Planning

And the patterns within the categories could be in various states: in
development / comments requested / accepted / accepted provisionally /
tabled / others?

I'm curious whether people think this approach sounds useful or practical.

Thanks!

— Doug

PS. I also looked into this via another perspective in Creating the World
Citizen Parliament,
http://interactions.acm.org/archive/view/may-june-2013/creating-the-world-citizen-parliament
.
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