Open source software: it seems to be the way of the future – sharing, cooperating, working collaboratively with a deep understanding that together we are more than the sum of all our parts.
Loomio is an open source software project that’s helping groups make better decisions, together. The team at Loomio recently started a PledgeMe campaign, and have already managed to raise 2/3 of their goal. If they reach their goal, the money they raise will be used to keep them surviving on 2-minute noodles for a few more months while they finish the first stage of development.
I met the team at a recent Intersect event, and forewarned them that I would be sending through some more questions about their project and their team. Richard countered with an offer of coffee (which I can never refuse!), so we caught up a Deluxe over a trim flat white and talked participatory decision making, Loomio, and social entrepreneurship.
So how did the Loomio team meet?
Ben (comms), John (lead developer) and Richard (support) were all amazed at the collective decision making process that saw the Occupy movement establish more than 2,000 camps in city squares around the world, all without centralised control or hierarchical organisation of any kind – united by a belief that the world can be made better, for everyone.
Their involvement with the Occupy Wellington camp impressed upon them the power of participatory decision making, but also the need for a tool to make this process more efficient. These three were introduced to Enspiral, a social enterprise incubator in Wellington with a focus on building software with positive social outcomes.
There are now about a dozen people working on the project – a mixture of programmers, business-people, community workers, and activists. They’re all passionate about getting the broadest range of input into the development of the tool. Their aim is to build a tool that’s immediately useful, agnostic, self-improving, and participatory; and they want to make something that surprises them and supports collaborative decision making.
Why decision making?
There are tremendous implications from supporting collaborative decision-making, and the wonderful things that come out of consensus. The group decision making process combines bits of all good ideas to make something better than any individual could come up with on their own.
What’s your goal for 2012?
“There are a lot of people that want to use this tool, so we’re going to bring them on progressively in stages. Currently we have about 150 alpha-testers already using the software. Three weeks from now the software will be mature enough to open it up a step wider, to say 1000 users. We aim to have a public release as soon as possible, probably within about 2-3 months. We want to nurture a community of feedback, so as more users start testing the software we will need to bring on more developers, to keep up with all the input we’ll be getting.”
When can we use it???
I say decision making, you say: