Loomio Collaborative Decision Making: Interview with Richard Dennis Bartlett

Richard Dennis Bartlett is one of the co-developers and co-founders of Loomio, an online  collaborative decision making tool. One of the things I didn’t know was that Loomio came out of the core group’s experience in Occupy in Wellington New Zealand. I had previously thought that Loomio was designed to solve decision making for the Enspiral group network.

In fact, according to Richard, Occupy was foundational as an experience in understanding non-hierarchical and inclusive decision making. As he explains, Loomio was an expression of the reflections and evaluations on Occupy … and as Occupy converged with Enspiral through the development of Loomio, Loomio’s design ecology included solving decisioning making challenges for the Enspiral enterprise, as well as for the next generation of creative activism worldwide.

This is an absolutely fascinating interview, as Richard brings deep insights into both the domain of horizontal and distributed decision making, next wave activism, and the design of a breakthrough innovation.

Richard Dennis Bartlett – Development of Loomio Collaborative Decision Making from Jose Ramos on Vimeo.


Joshua Vial on Enspiral and Trans-national Collectives

Joshua Vial is the founder of Enspiral, the community, network and social enterprise in Wellington (New Zealand) which practices open source, networked and commons based enterprise creation. Enspiral is different from traditional businesses in a number of ways. They have an ethos of collective ownership and social impact, they have a networked form of organization with little hierarchy, and they make their work and innovations open source, contributing to the global knowledge commons. Finally, they take the cultivation of heathy and nurturing relationship seriously, indeed it is a foundation for their success.

Because of these reasons, Enspiral represents one of the critical seeds of the future. In a world struggling to re-invent itself, develop ethical business, and turn relational value into social value (rather than privatised), Enspiral shows a critical way forward.

Enspiral is behind such innovations such as Loomio, the collaborative decision making system, and Cobudget, the collaborative budgeting system. They have innovated networked based, non-hierarchical and inclusive approaches to a variety of organisational needs.

Joshua talks about the history and development of Enspiral and his vision for the development of trans-national collectives of value exchange, what David de Ugarte and Michel Bauwens discuss as “Phyles“.

Interview with Joshua Vial: Past, Present and Future of Enspiral and Trans-national Collectives from Jose Ramos on Vimeo.


Mix Irving on Cobudget

I had the great pleasure of hanging out with some of the Enspiral network members at the  end of March 2016.

One of the more fascinating elements that I learned about was Cobudget, the system that Enspiral uses for sourcing and allocating finds. It is like participatory budgeting, it is also like internal crowdfunding … but it is different to anything I’ve come across so far as well.

It is important to note that Enspiral have been working on a variety of network based and non-hierarchical systems and approaches to decision making, as well as ways to do distributed and remote decision making. Cobudget is definitely a great tool to use for these sorts of things.

In this interview Mix Irving, an Enspiral member and active in a variety of startups, talks us through what Cobudget is, how it is used in Enspiral, and its broader applications.

Mix Irving MVI_4398 from Jose Ramos on Vimeo.


Interview #31, Sonke Klug, District of Friesland

Early on I met Djure Meinen in Hamburg, who talked about a whole number of Liquid Democracy related things, one of which was the “Liquid Friesland” experiment. From what I understood from Djure, the software developed by Axel, Andreas and co (interview #37-38), Liquid Feedback, had been applied across Friesland, a district in Lower Saxony, Germany bounded by the districts of Wesermarsch, Ammerland, Leer and Wittmund, and by the North Sea.

Given this, I wanted to find out about this experiment, and people’s experiences in implementing and using Liquid Feedback.

Djure was instrumental in setting up the trip. I didn’t know anyone there at all, and Djure was able to make introductions and connection between a whole number of people involved in its application, use and evaluation.

One of these people was Sonke Klug, who was the operational drive behind the implementation of the Liquid Feedback system there. As a district based government project, Sonke was the chief person responsible for its implementation. His interview provided some key insights into understanding the dimensions and challenges of applying liquid feedback within this governmental context.

Liquid Democracy Documentation Project – Interview #31 – Sonke Klug from Jose Ramos on Vimeo.


Liquid Democracy Video Sampler

For the project, Volker Grassmuck asked me to prepare a short example of the kind of audio visual documentation we were doing, for Leuphana University’s Centre for Digital Cultures (CDC), through which this research project was funded.

Marcus and I worked for several days looking for shots from the interviews that could convey the kind of audio-visual research we were doing and also which expressed the spirit of a potential film.

We abandoned attempts to find music tracks that would instil emotion into the trailer, the fit didn’t seem right, and the harsh beauty of northern German in winter did lend itself to a more raw portrayal.

The following is a sample of the many interviews and cinematography that makes up the documentation project.

Liquid Democracy Trailer.mp4 from Jose Ramos on Vimeo.


Interview #37-38: Axel Kistner and Andreas Nitsche, Interaktive Democratie e.V.

Axel Kistner, Andreas Nitsche and their developer colleagues ostensibly created the first Liquid Democracy platform, Liquid Feedback, for the German Pirate Party. This interview provides some insights into the development of Liquid Feedback, the rather rigorous logic involved in its use, and a window into the emergence of the effort to built it.

Many thanks go to Axel Kistner, Andreas Nitsche and their Interaktive Democratie e.V. colleagues for giving the interview and for enduring rather cold interview conditions.


Axel and Andreas – dec 2015.mp4 from Jose Ramos on Vimeo.