Thursday, May 12, 2011

Hive Mind Hope: Comments Turned Blog Post

I really liked some of the questions/challenges TJ presented in the comments from this morning's post, so I thought I would move them up to make it a post all its own. 

TJ writes:

On voting in the villages: Here's, as an outsider, what I heard in the last comment thread on this:

People are too complacent to vote.

People are complacent because they think (know?) everything is fine. Why bother?

We need people to get involved!

To begin with, I'm a big believer in community involvement. However, if the hoi polloi are satisfied, and things do indeed seem to be going swimmingly, why do they need to be involved? A commenter mentioned the 80/20 rule, which in this case is probably better approximated as the 95/5 rule. If that 5% is happily donating their time and, in doing so, keeping the other 95% well-fed, the possibility is strong that increased involvement will not led to increased performance, and may in fact decrease efficiency.

If your desire for increased involvement driven by a sense of fairness? ("We all share the load.") Nostalgia for the glory days of Columbia? (Which may or may not be accurate. What was voter participation in the seventies?) True belief that increased participation will lead to increased performance? (The "Anti-Too Many Cooks Theory").

Perhaps Colombia has become a test case for an Ayn Randian world where a small, select few perform as the engines of society.

(Note: Devil's advocate alert!)

My Response:

Great stuff! (Although I normally interpret "Devil's Advocate" to mean "I would like to abandon this position at some later point. Consider this a warning.")

We are a growing community that will absolutely require innovation to maintain our current way of life. From my perspective, that means we need more people at the table to brain storm and represent unique perspectives from the community. Village Boards were partly created to be a counter-balancing voice to those driven solely by profit. If that voice weakens, it is no longer relevant.

We have some brilliant folks in this community (and I mean that literally). The mundane tasks of village governance are not my concern. My concern are the opportunities to do more and innovate. Fostering community for the sake of community. Not because X needs to be improved.

TJ responds:

First, on advocacy for the devil: it's my way of (hopefully) avoiding lesser rebuttals like "but voting is important!" and focus more on things like your response. If someone comes out of the woodwork with a "you elitist!" comment, I can retreat under the cover of the DA qualifier. (Not that such a thing would ever happen in this forum, of course.)

I like your response. I'm hereby shorthand it the "Hive Mind Hope." Given the known high level of education and ability of our citizenry, we should be able to squeeze some bleeding edge innovation out of them- if we can get them to the table. The Maryland broadband plan, headed by HoCo, seems like an example of this. Our community can more easily be convinced of the potential of such a plan, and serve as a model for others.

Or HHAP, for that matter.

And once you say "counter-balancing voice to those drive solely by profit," I'm sold.

With that, I agree that getting someone like your Anon A. Mouse friend on the Village Board is at the core of the Hive Mind Hope. However, if we're dealing with a choice between two five per-centers in an election, what difference does it make? Get them both on the board! In fact, your hand-selection of such a person trends even more towards the Atlas Shrugged model, as John Galt taps each worthy individual on the shoulder for inclusion in the brave new world. In this construct, participation by those not in the "brilliant" category is unnecessary, if not damaging.

Perhaps Village Boards should go from generally elected positions to appointed by standing selection committees? (And only gold should be used for currency, of course.)
My thoughts:

I think the idea of appointment instead of election has existed since the invention of democracy.  Appointment breeds despots.  Democracy cannot distinguish ability from popularity.  Furthermore, in terms of Village Boards, you would definitely create a "Ruling Clique" that would be very difficult for any new entrant to overcome.  (Some have said that this is what went wrong with the CA Board).  The neat thing about democracy, especially when you have two comparatively equal 5 percenters, is that they need to distinguish themselves with ideas.  While that may be true for those applying for appointment, I trust the Hive to pay more attention to the value of the ideas than the buddy-buddy appointment system, but that is admittedly idealistic and not necessarily representative for how Village elections go down.

Overall, I have to go with democracy...mostly because of that trite Churchill quote.