Mic Check! Occupy Wall Street Reincarnated as Open Source Software
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Out in the Open: Occupy Wall Street Reincarnated as Open Source Software
BY KLINT FINLEY 04.28.14 | 6:30 AM | PERMALINK
It was 2011, when the globe was dotted with camps inspired by Occupy Wall Street, that iconic protest against economic and social inequality. As part of Occupy Wellington, Knight didn’t just camp out on the street. He participated in the daily “General Assembly” meetings, an effort to reach a consensus on a variety of protest issues and ultimately make everyone’s voice heard.
He loved the process — when it worked. Some discussions took hours or days without ever reaching a consensus. Worse, the ultimate decisions were sometimes made without input from the whole group. “Everyone has to be together at one time and in one physical place,” he says. “A few voices could dominate the conversation, or a small group become dominate by waiting everyone else out.”
With the right web software, he thought, it should be possible to give everyone in the group a voice.
He knew there had to be a better way. With the right web software, he thought, it should be possible to give everyone in the group a voice — regardless of whether they were able to attend every single physical General Assembly or not. So he and a few other activists approached a New Zealand tech startup incubator called Enspiral. “We basically turned up and asked them: ‘Hey, you’re a bunch of web developers. Can you make us a tool for making non-heirarchical decisions?’” Knight remembers. “And they said: ‘Sure, we actually need something like this for ourselves.’”