The Tough Questions
What makes you competent to make this a success?
The initiator DBT Foundation is probably the best suited organization in the world to do this. DBT has developed the “World Wide Views” concept (see it here), and although GlobalSay is more viral and community-based it builds upon the important experience from that. Also, DBT Foundation has 25+ years of experience with policy development, technology debates and co-creation of solutions about very difficult and complex matters. With regard to software development DBT Foundation has its own coders and contact to high class developers who already subscribe to the idea in GlobalSay and who have more-than-needed skills to help us make this happen.
Doesn’t this exist already?
No. It may be surprising, but it does not. There have been different ways of making multi-site debates, but they are not in any way global in their aim. They are not really connected to policy-making. And they are much less sophisticated than GlobalSay.
Is GlobalSay only open for those who have funded it?
In the short run, yes, because we want to use the crowdfunding exercise a) to build up a core Community, b) to make this economically feasible. Thereafter it should be open to all to participate for free, except for the Partners and National Nodes who will be paying a fee to take part. At that time we hope, and will work for, that some large actors (municipalities, town-councils, NGO’s…) will join and make large-scale meetings to which citizens are representatively invited and can take part for free.
What does it take to become a Partner?
See the menu item ‘Partners and National Nodes’. The organisation should be non-profit, have a democratic mindset and be ready to put some resources into GlobalSay Actions in the future. We do not expect all partners to contribute every time, but all partners to contribute now and then. We will not accept sleeping partners, because GlobalSay is not a window-dressing platform for organisations who want to enhance their public reputation. Nothing wrong with enhancing it – but it should be on the basis of real engagement.
Will the software be open source?
It will be coded with OS tools and it will be prepared for being developed as OS at a later stage. It would be great if OS developers would join us.
Will the software be available to anyone?
No, not yet, and maybe never. Since we want GlobalSay to become a world covering and highly legitimate community, which makes results that can be compared to (but even better than) highly scientific polling techniques we want to gain experience on how to manage processes to increase trustworthiness to its maximum. If we open up for others than the Partner team to use the GlobalSay system, then we run a risk of lowering that trustworthiness. So, if we do it at some point then it will be on a certification basis – users will have to live up to standards and they will lose access to the GlobalSay system if they don’t. Organisations can join as Partners if they want to make use of the back-end of GlobalSay.
What is the philosophy behind this idea?
Democracy++. The initiator – the DBT Foundation – has a mission of enhancing collaborative democracy in Denmark, Europe and globally (see the mission here). We hope for and foresee a future where solutions are being developed and decisions are being prepared in a collaborative space between citizens, experts, stakeholders and politicians – and in which the politicians then take the final decision. We see this as a natural extension of democracy, which builds on and maintains our representative democracy.
What about countries who do not have democracy?
Such countries can gain from taking part as well, and many rulers in non-democratic countries know that. Even if the final decision is not made by a representative democracy a country can certainly gain from collaborative development of solutions and from society taking part in assessing solutions and policies. There is a difference between the ‘small’/local democracy and the ‘big’/national. The first can work well without the second. If we want to have a global conversation on important issues then we need to accept that things look different across the world.
How will you spend the money?
Developing the software, building the community, make real case tests, make as many showcases as possible to prove the concept.
Do you make profit from this?
No. We earn our wages from it, like staffers do at an NGO or philanthropic institution. If revenue is made then it will go into the capital of the DBT Foundation and be used for common good purposes – e.g. making more GlobalSay Actions and improving GlobalSay. But we do not expect revenue to be made – we expect that GlobalSay becomes a great success and that any excess funding therefore will go into GlobalSay. The DBT foundation is made in a way so that no person can take out profit of the capital. See the DBT Foundation constitution here. In Denmark, donations to DBT Foundation are tax exempted. All involved – DBT foundation and the developers – work with an overhead coverage of the same size as in EU research projects, which is 25% of the costs. That helps us pay the rent, the computers, power and heat, administration etc.
When will GlobalSay be ready
Most of the thinking work has been done. We have made mock-ups of all web-interface screens and we have a rough coding specification ready. What we need to do is a) to code and test the software, b) to build up the Community, which in fact will be an ongoing work, but will have some very intense periods, c) to revisit the software solutions and add functions to them over time, d) and to run showcases of 2-6 months each. GlobalSay will be able to get serious by end of 2016 the latest.
Why don’t governments pay for this?
That should not be necessary, because the Community is expected to become so large that it is easily able to crowdfund the GlobalSay Actions, and we will seek funding elsewhere as well. We don’t always want governments to pay. We want GlobalSay to be a truly independent democratic factor in social and political life, which does not always play well along with being funded by governments. But we imagine situations, where it would be good to collaborate with governments or international institutions about making a GlobalSay Action and find the funding.
When do you think your fundraising is a success?
It is a success if we get funding to code it – that is, 40.000 USD or even less. Having it coded means that we can begin to create Actions around it, or that we have a basis for running a new crowdfunding for tests and showcases.
From there the success can just be greater and greater. We can use whatever we get because the donations will all be used to make future GlobalSay Actions and to improve the whole GlobalSay solution.
If many people give funds then we know that there are many people who think that there is a need for GlobalSay. That is valuable information for us, and a success in itself. Similarly, if many people choose to create Member status when giving their donation, since that means a big community to start with.
What about privacy?
GlobalSay will be privacy enhanced. DBT foundation has for many years been promoting privacy responsibility in Denmark and EU. We will take our own medicine. GlobalSay will be made so that each single participant will deliver answers that can be coupled in order to allow for state-of-the-art statistics. But there will be no link between the sign-up by named citizens and the answers they will give. Hackers will, for example, not be able to link Members with answers given, if they should succeed in breaking into the system. We will not know who answered what and we will not be able to ‘triangulate’ answers to break the privacy protection. GlobalSay will undergo a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) in order to ensure that it protects privacy as intended.
Can you give more details on the GlobalSay software functions?
We have plans for a version 1, 2 and 3 of the software. Functions will become more and more sophisticated as we develop new versions. Version 1 will be able to run a full GlobalSay Action, but only with the most simple solutions. It will include:
- Setting up a new GlobalSay Action
- Sign-up-to-Community functions
- Keeping stock of and communicating with the Community
- Distributing material to National Nodes for translation. Receiving translated versions
- Setting up on-line facilitation of meetings (for meetings not having a Facilitator)
- Online training of Facilitators
- Managing local meetings: Where? When? How many seats left? Signing up.
- Create statistics of response/answers from meetings
- Distributing results to participants after synthesis
- Presenting results on-line: Graphics; Compare meetings, nations, regions etc; Video presentations of results; Social Media connectivity etc.