Also discussed on this wiki : http://www.socialtext.com/
Most recently I've been wondering what Emergent Democracy could offer the anti-war movement. (EmergentDemocracyAndTheAntiWarMovement) This is a long post with some interesting feedback. Worth reading.
Richard Bennet thinks it's (Smart)Mob rule. And that Plato argued against it : http://www.bennett.com/archives/week_2003_02_23.html#001417
RossMayfield thinks that certain hubs (Mavens? Connectors? Sneezers?) are individual people who act as an interface between the small scale social and creative networks; and the power law following political network. (http://radio.weblogs.com/0114726/2003/03/07.html) Sounds like these are gatekeepers, responsible to their own conscience, but also have a potential for corruption. If I create an idea in a social network, I have to win the patronage from one of these hubs for my ideas to bubble up into the political. It's exactly TheCourtOfKingBlog.
My comment to Ross : Ross, this idea that there will be gatekeepers or hubs who move ideas up from the social networks to the political one gives the lie to the idea that Emergent Democracy is a *democracy* at all. I'm starting to feel this discussion is misleadingly named.
Either we have a *netocracy* which is a network of connections, and power and influence belong to those who know the right people. Or we have a *democracy* where everyone has some kind of right to influence what goes on. But we can't pretend one is the other.
I moved the discussion here : http://www.socialtext.com/workspace/index.cgi?Emergent%20Democracy%20Problem%20With%20Term%20Democracy though you need to be a member to read.
I said : I believe in NetoCracy ("the networking aspects of legislation and coalition-building will be influenced in some way by the tools and techniques of electronic networking.") I think that it's coming. My concern is that this isn't altogether a good thing. And the fear I've started having about the "emergent democracy" conversation is that it's helping to obscure the debate, because it's muddying the terms.
Update April 2005. DocSearles? gave a good talk to Les Blogs. But this slide strikes me. The internet can't be both a meritocracy and democracy at the same time. The two ideas are exclusive : http://www.searls.com/doc/2005lesblogs/source/slide21.html
It seems that no-one's talking about the bigger problem of direct democracy, that some decisions are necessarily interdependent (eg. taxation and government spending) The finer the granularity of the direct involvement, the more chance there is that the things being decided are interdependent, and the greater the possibility that the electorate choose inconsistent policies (low taxes and high government spending). One of the justifications for indirect democracy is (or should be) that representatives combine policies into consistent packages.
Maybe to reproduce this in a more direct way, we'd need referendum software which highlighted the constraints : perhaps like Touch Graph, showing them as elastic connections between different policy decisions. Or an Amazon recommendation system ("citizens who voted for low taxation also voted for low government spending." :-)
(PoliticalSimulation might help.)
I don't like the term Emergent Democracy. When you look at democracy from the historical perspective you see that democracy was an emergent behaviour. So that term is a pleonasm.