Crowds are not necessarily wise; nor are they necessarily evil. The
internet has ways of connecting us in virtual crowds that can bring out
the best and the worst of groupthink. Chris Hedges in Death of the
Liberal Class refers us to Jason Lanier’s warnings about digital
collectivism and its ability to erode good thinking, innovation, and
honest journalism. Lanier also warns about the internet’s capacity for
crowd manipulation, for reducing us to clans, pitting one against the
These are real dangers.
But the Internet also has the potential to connect us in healthy ways. The problem is, those tools have not fully been developed yet and they need to be if we are going to be intentional about creating the structures that will inevitably inform the way we think, interact and interpret our world.
On the one hand, we have systems (of economics, of decision making, of policy making) that do not serve or benefit the vast majority of human beings on this planet, or any other species for that matter. Also, we have countless networks of people who are working hard to design new tools and new lenses for interpreting our world. As these networks connect to each other and gain enough power and visibility to threaten the dominant structures, we will see their repression in subtle and sometimes brutal ways. This is inevitable. And it makes it all the more necessary that we have the tools to give us the capacity to connect with each other, and to align our shared intentions in ways that will most effectively enable us to achieve our goal of a world that is healthier and more just.
Ethelo is a software tool that uses the Internet and social media technology to help mobilize collective human intention for effective decision making. It offers a way of tapping into a growing proliferation of voices (such as those, most notably, within the Occupy movement)—voices that are longing for and demanding changes in the “corporatic” systems of governance that currently dominate, suppress, oppress and blind us to even the possibility that there could be other ways of doing economy, politics, decision making, civic engagement, food, housing, etc. It offers a means by which these growing networks for social change can listen to each other, influence each other and finally, align with each other on key initiatives and strategies for effecting change.
Ethelo was developed by Vancouver based lawyer, mathematician and passionate advocate for social justice, John Richardson. In 2000 John founded an innovative and highly regarded non profit organization called Pivot Legal Society which works to change laws so they are fairly applied to marginalized people, rather than consistently favoring privilege. In 2005, he was inducted as an Ashoka Fellow for his work. John has now turned his talent and vision for social justice to creating software which enables communities and organizations to make robust decisions that provide for the greatest satisfaction and the greatest equality among all constituents.
Ethelo can be used wherever there are complex decisions which need to be made by communities or organizations of any size who value or require consensus in the decision making process. Traditional representative democracy inevitably excludes, disconnects and dissatisfies a significant percentage of our population. Ethelo offers a flexible, scalable means of enabling fairer, more inclusive decisions, and it offers a way of mobilizing the collective will of large groups of people, who have, until now, been left out of the public consultation process despite a strong desire to make a positive difference in local and global issues.
Ethelo offers the means by which the 99% can finally align their voices and their agenda to bring about justice and real democracy in a world that is literally crying out for it.