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Roger Clarke's 'Infrastructure for Participative Decisions'

We Need Information Infrastructure to Support Participative Public Policy Decision-Making

Roger Clarke

Principal, Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, Canberra

Visiting Fellow, Department of Computer Science, Australian National University

Version of 4 November

© Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, 1997

Quick notes belted out in response to Victor Perton's request for thoughts

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Utopian and anti-utopian scenarios are literary (or maybe political?) devices to encourage a search for balance and reconciliation.

Balance is often assumed to mean compromise between views that are poles apart.

The power and scope of modern I.T. is such that positions that at first seem irreconcilable may, with imagination, be capable of being satisfied.

Finding these opportunities for 'win-win-win' solutions requires awareness among, and constructive consultation with, all stakeholders.

Terms like 'summit' and 'convention' are not in great standing. We need a new word, and a new procedure to achieve involvement and commitment.

I.T. is the key, and services industries need to rise to the challenge, and facilitate this emergent new form of policy decision support.

The immature communication patterns and tools currently available on the public Internet are not a suitable basis for the new patterns. Indeed, there has to be considerable doubt that fully open, 'populist', direct democracy will be functional.

The new policy-decision infrastructure needs to link, and engage, advocates and representatives. By 'representative' is meant someone who has some form of agency responsibility on behalf of a group of stakeholders. By 'advocate' is meant someone who (credibly) claims special expertise in a relevant topic-area.

The proposition is for a new kind of consultative forum and process, facilitated by advanced I.T., and existing in both physical and virtual space.

This proposition is relevant to the audience in two ways:

For a related diatribe on written forms of communication, which are a kind of counterpoint to this suggestion, see 'Instrumentalist Futurism: A Tool for Examining I.T. Impacts and Implications'.

There may also be some food for thought on public policy processes in the later sections of my recent paper for the Montreal Privacy Conference, on 'Chip-Based ID'.

Another source of ideas about community resistance is in the 'Countermeasures' segment of my recently revised and extended 'Privacy On the Internet: Threats, Countermeasures and Policy'.

There are also my three related papers about CyberCulture, at:

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The content and infrastructure for these community service pages are provided by Roger Clarke through his consultancy company, Xamax.

From the site's beginnings in August 1994 until February 2009, the infrastructure was provided by the Australian National University. During that time, the site accumulated close to 30 million hits. It passed 65 million in early 2021.

Sponsored by the Gallery, Bunhybee Grasslands, the extended Clarke Family, Knights of the Spatchcock and their drummer
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Created: 4 November 1997 - Last Amended: 4 November 1997 by Roger Clarke - Site Last Verified: 15 February 2009
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