Thursday, May 31, 2012

Falkvinge on swarms vs traditional hierarchies. A re:publica video

This article is also available in Macedonian
- на македонски на Блогерај: Фалквинге за роевите наспроти традиционални хиерархии. Видео од ре:публика
- на македонски на Блогспот: Фалквинге за роевите наспроти традиционални хиерархии. Видео од ре:публика 

Good news! The organizers of re:publica conference (#rp12) posted the videos from the recorded sessions online a few days ago. Some of them are real jems, and I plan to recommend and reference them in appropriate context.

For starters, here's the presentation by Rick Falkvinge, the founder of the Swedish Pirate Party who talked about their experience in creating an activist movement based on "swarm" structure. Some of his lessons go against the logic used by traditional hierarchical organization, like the classical political parties.

For instance, Falkvinge mentioned the "three Pirate rule" - if three individual Pirates can agree to do something, they do not need any permission from the party leadership. In fact, the party leaders at every level serve more as community organizers or "janitors", taking care of logistics, while it's up to the members to figure out what to do - based on what they can do if it's within the limits of responsibility set in advance. "People won't joint the swarm if they don't know what it's for!" A swarm needs to have a purpose which is not up to discussion, a set axiomatic limits of why it exists in the first place. Therefore, it avoids the growing pains of other movements which have to put up with new ideas by new members on what everybody else should do.

Rick Fakvinge speaking about fun at re:publica 2012 in Berlin
Rick Falkvinge explains the importance of having fun to community
building at re:publica conference in Berlin, May 4, 2012. Photo: Filip Stojanovski

For internal and external communication (press releases! - traditional media are still important), the Pirate Party developed a software which they plan to release as open source. I asked Falkvinge whether such software, which basically can track members behavior and a lot more, has an added value of helping organizations that use it become more democratic, or it can be abused in this sense by non-democratic organizations. He said that the software helps flattening the organizational hierarchy, which removes the distance between the elected leaders, the activists &/ the voters, creating a tremendous "democratizing effect," creating universal trust. One could use the management features of this system "to support a dictatorship" too, but "it's not built for that. It's built to let everybody have a voice, and dictatorships don't usually like that, so it's not going to help them much..."

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