NDP Internet Democracy Resolution

Page Last Updated: Oct 22nd, 2002.

Proposed Resolution

I am hoping to present this resolution to the Federal NDP leadership convention of January 24-26, 2003. I've added the numbers to simplify discussion. I also have a page with just the resolution, which is suitable for printing.

  1. Whereas the representative democracy we have now was not possible without the printing press and other communication technology, which is required to provide enough information for voters to make their decisions,

  2. Whereas the development of the Internet is a great leap in communication technology because, unlike older technology where only a relative few people could present their view to a wide audience, anyone can freely present their views to anyone else,

  3. Whereas the development of the Internet will allow a much greater degree of participatory democracy then was possible before, because everyone can equally and easily contribute to the debate and it makes the logistics of voting much simpler,

  4. Therefore be it resolved that the NDP establish a Internet based forum for discussion open to party members to participate in and non-members to view,

  5. Be it further resolved that this forum attempt to resolve the conflict between keeping discussion on topic and civil and the principle of freedom of speech by using the idea of "a place for everything, and everything in it's place",

  6. Be it further resolved that a standing committee be established to operate the Internet site and to develop any custom software needed, which shall be released under an open source license,

  7. Be it further resolved that this forum can submit resolutions to future conventions the have been approved by more then 50% of the participants.

Notes

The Federal NDP already has Mouseland, a standard Internet e-mail discussion list. What I am planning will be much more capable then that. It will have a general discussion area grouped by topic as well as an area to propose, discuss and vote on resolutions. There would also be a system to allow readers to rate messages in order to allow other readers to avoid messages they don't want to see.

The system would be designed so that people can spend as little or as much time as they want and still be able to contribute. Some people will spend more then an hour everyday, read everything submitted to the system and frequently adding their own comments. Others could visit every few weeks and read a few top rated comments and vote on a resolution or two.

A virtual deligate system could be created by matching someone's votes with other people with a similar voting patteren and have the system automatically vote for you based on how they vote.

The range of topics that can be discussed would be very broad to support the "a place for everything, and everything in it's place" idea. This would include not only federal party policies, but most any political discussion, be it international, federal, provincial or local. Provincial sections could grant resolution submitting rights to the forum, with voting and, perhaps, discussion limited to members from that province.

Adding French translation software to the site would help Francophones to join in the discussion.

The are many different ways a Internet site like this could be laid out. At first we could have more then one running at the same time to try them out.

The cost of setting up a website like this would not be high. The server would need not to be especially powerful at first. Even an older desktop may be sufficient. As the site grows the server could be upgraded. Volunteers could remotely administer it. Hosting could be sponsored, but the best method may be to host at the home of a volunteer who already subscribes to high speed Internet, so it could be easily accessed and pay them the difference to upgrade them to the business level of service.

It was suggested that an amendment to the federal NDP constitution would be needed to allow the forum to submit resolutions, but the list of groups that are allow to submit resolutions includes, "other standing committees, as established by the Federal Council." The committee that operates the forum could submit the resolution on behalf of the group.

I have written further on this topic. InternetDemocracy discusses the advantages of using the Internet over meetings for discussion and debate. Wikiocracy is a proposal for is discussion site based around the Wiki Wiki Web.

This resolution is toned down from the original which had more on what's wrong with delegate conventions and suggests that this Internet forum should eventually replace them.

I would very much like to hear what you think about this and any suggestions you have to improve the resolution. Please email me. If there is enough interest, I may set up a email discussion list. I also would like to see some riding associations pass this resolution. If you agree with my idea please present it to your riding association or NDP associated group for consideration. The deadline for submitting resolutions is Nov. 26, 2002.


Darwin O'Connor doconno@gmail.com