Loomio: A New Tool for Inclusive Decisionmaking

It’s clear that there is a great deal of momentum for developing new forms of online deliberation and decisionmaking.  I’ve discussed LiquidFeedback in the past and how open networks are making it inevitable that we will soon have some major shifts of authority and governance to online platforms. 

Now comes word of a crowdfunding campaign underway for Loomio, “a user-friendly tool for collaborative decision-making: not majority-rules polling, but actually coming up with solutions that work for everyone.”  We must be in a Cambrian explosion of rapid evolution!

The Loomio project is driven by a small team in Wellington, New Zealand that is trying to take its prototype to a new level entirely.  The platform provides a way for participants to start a discussion on any topic and bring a variety of perspectives into the open.  Then anyone can propose a course of action with which people can agree, disagree, abstain or block.  With enough agreement, a proposal can be developed and a deadline set for achieving group goals.  Here is a video describing how lots of people can have a complex discussion and make decisions.  

I confess I haven’t experienced a group discussion via the software, but it certainly seems to have the right design principles and the early responses to the Loomio prototype seem quite encouraging. Loomio has collected some stellar endorsements from folks like Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing, Timebanking and The Guardian as well as a variety of mainstream media (whose credibility may or may not be impressive).

The plan is for Loomio 1.0 to be mobile so that it can work across all devices; secure in its handling of data and people’s privacy; and accessible to anyone as free and open source software licensed under the GNU Affero General Public License 3.  Loomio aspires to be a full-featured platform for decentralized decisionmaking and “organic group formation,” supported in 17 languages so far.

So what happens when online decisionmaking becomes more accessible, transparent, credible and effective than the corrupted analogues now hosted by governments?