A proposal for testing Assembl


first a short introduction for context :

I have been thinking about the use of networked computers as a aid to thinking at a global scale for a long time (about 30 years). During that time I did some test implementations, but there always were some obstacles for getting at the stage of a functional prototype with the free software tools available. Now appropriate free software tools exist.

The first project I know of that has a somewhat similar approach is the Incoma project

http://blog.incoma.org/new-release-of-incoma .

I participated in the workshop that started their first implementation in Madrid in 13’

http://medialab-prado.es/article/interactivos13_proyectos_seleccionados .

But it is still not really functional, and its aims are more limited than what I think of.

But my main problem is not implementation anymore, it is that I still do not see how to prevent that, future, tool being (mis)used by the present hierarchical power structures to maintain their hold on power.

So I am now trying to write a (hyper)text which clearly presents what is at stake. The aim is to see if a core group aware of the pitfals can emerge and aggree on a way to avoid them.  I consider that as a social prerequisite to begin on a progressive implementation.

The text does not even mention an implementation, it is mainly philosophical and anthropological.

To help form such a core group I would like to have an online discussion about that text, when it is ready.

From what I have seen Assembl could perhaps be used for that aim.

So, if you make Assembl accessible on edgeryders, I would start a project using it, to see if it usable for my aims (which could become yours too). If it works it would mean that I would invite selected people I know, with very diverse backgrounds, to participate in the project.



Hi and thanks for sharing your idea, there’s probably a number of skeptics out there for many reasons. Being a qualitative, iterative way to aggregate information I somehow think it’s too cumbersome to become instrumentalized.

Your running it to produce a collaborative research piece sounds interesting, especially because you would see a discussion evolving right in Assembl. My goal is more modest, as I want to use it to aggregate content that is already here on Edgeryders.

Right now me and @Ruxandra are trying to get hold of someone in the Assembl team for a demo and to get access, and then I assume we can all play with it. I’ve seen the sandbox but it’s hard to tell until you get to test more…


Very interesting perspective indeed. I agree with you that its not the tool that is important, but much more the philosophy that lies beneath the tool, that should reflect true bottom up, collaborative approaches.

Did you here about Loomio? Might be worth a try as well, I think they have a similar approach to Assembl. As soon as we get access, and not just to the sandbox, we will know the tool better. Keep in touch!


Loomio, and decisions

From what I see Loomio seems to be aimed mostly on decisions about separate practical issues.

What I want/need is a representation of an ongoing discussion about many interlocked subjects and arguments. It is the connections that must be represented. Consenssus may happen in some parts, which would be great, but mostly it is about evolving configurations, not decisions.

I hope Assembl can help. In what timeframe do you think having access ?

I hope by the end of next week… I will let you know.



This is what Assembl was designed for to a T!

We’re even integrating visuals to represent how participants are connected and how arguments are connected. What kind of discussion are you looking to start?

start discussion, and representation

Yes, visual representation of connections is what I want/need. For me the main connections are those of arguments; in a certain sense participants, for the purpose of the discussion, are mainly “defined” by the set of their arguments.

As I wrote at the start of this post, the first discussion I have in mind is about a “philosophical” text that I am, slowly, writing at the moment. It is in french, because most people I wanted to start discuss it with do not speak english. The title, for the moment, is “Vie et langage, representation et relation” (Life and language, representation and relation). The aim is to understand the origins of hierarchical power structures at a fundamental level, in order to understand if and how they can be obsoleted.

But, if you are willing, we could start at the more practical end of the question, which is : how are we going to prevent that the tool we develop will be used mainly to perpetuate hierarchical power structures ? It is the difficulty of answering to that practical question, and I have tried hard and can share the arguments, that led me to the philosophical level.

There is a precedent : the internet is fundamentally p2p, but the process of using it mainly to perpetuate hierarchical power structures is well underway. How can we prevent that happening to what we develop?