A Fractal Vision for Loomio

• Written by Richard D. Bartlett

I think productive, inclusive human organisations and productive, inclusive human discussions can be typified as being “organic”, and any systems we build to try to coordinate & organise these organisations and discussions can be thought of as “inorganic”.

So when we have a meeting with lots of good free-flowing discussion, that's what I mean by ‘organic'. In order to share the value of that meeting though, it needs to be distilled into minutes or notes: I would say these are ‘inorganic'. This is the crux of the organic/inorganic problem: the notes or minutes are never going to catch all the details and the subtlety of the actual meeting: for it be of any value, it has to be relatively brief, digestible, shareable.

Groups and sub-groups are another version of the problem: the organic reality is that most humans are involved to different degrees in different overlapping sub-groups. The problem is, in order to get anything done you need to impose some kind of inorganic structure, but there is no perfect way to compartmentalise people into defined roles & responsibilities.

The problem we are grappling with is how to make a system that simultaneously captures the subtlety of reality while effectively summarising these subtleties into digestible chunks.

The answer is… fractals!

My intuition says that the ideal Loomio will have all kinds of fractal characteristics. By fractal I mean self-similar at different scales, zoomable to infinite depth, recognisably beautiful.

I want Loomio to eventually be facilitating groups of millions of people. I think one of the likely keys to success will be to ensure that the user interface for the million-person discussion is almost identical to the interface for the small group discussion (self-similarity at all scales). That is, we start small, and add features to the small group platform that progressively increase the workable population. (Delegation is one feature that I'm sure will play a big role in this, but there will be plenty more none of us have thought of yet.)

– Rich

p.s. I highly recommend this amazing documentary about fractals by Arthur C. Clarke:

Tags: News rich rant fractal

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