Adhocracy (Software)

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Definition

Adhocracy is an open source software based on the concept of liquid democracy and, as such, allows for "decision-making through cooperative discourse, delegation and voting." 

Problems and Purpose

Liquid democracy is a decentralized method of governance and would not be possible on a large-scale without the connective power of the internet. Adhocracy, like LiquidFeedback, was designed to give community engagement leaders and politicians the ability to operationalize the 'liquid' form of governance. However, whilst LiquidFeedback initially focussed on participation in political parties, Adhocracy developed from Liquid Democracy's view that "participation via delegated voting should be extended to the whole of society"[1].

Adhocracy is a modular platform, meaning that for each project it is utilised for, organisers can tailor which modules to use, out of:

  • brainstorming/consultation: used to collect, discuss and rate ideas
  • survey: used to gain feedback on specific topic/s
  • mapping processes: used in civic/planning projects where participants can pin their ideas to specific places
  • text review: allows participants to annotate text documents
  • agenda setting: used to set an agenda either by organisations internally or wider community
  • participatory budgeting

History

Adhocracy was developed by the organization Liquid Democracy (not to be confused with the liquid democracy theory of governance) who, like LiquidFeedback began their work in 2009. The Liquid Democracy Association have developed a range of online tools for participatory processes and is based in Berlin. Since Adhocracy's inception in 2009, additional versions have been released, alongside the development of Adhocracy into a software library where users can choose which 'blocks' are most relevant for their purposes.

Adhocracy has been used for a range of different projects, including meinBerlin, an e-participation platform for residents of Berlin to participate in decisions about urban planning in the city.

Participant Selection

As Adhocracy is a software tool that can be used for different projects, there is no set process for selecting participants. Projects may do this in whatever manner they choose.

Deliberation, Decisions, and Public Interaction

Adhocracy was developed with the notion of deliberative democracy in mind, as well as enhancing democratic and transparent processes [1]. Each project varies slightly according to its needs. Its founders cite an increased emphasis on the process of decision-making rather than just the final decision. The emphasis in process is realised through the different modules of Adhocracy which were conceived as the different steps of a collaborative decision-making process.

Adhocracy projects may also involve offline participation alongside the online tool. One of its key founders, Rouven Brües, describes a project in Berlin to decide how to design and develop the site of a former airport. The online platform was used to collect ideas, and these were then discussed in offline workshops that were open for everyone to participate, regardless of whether they had contributed online.

Although it was initially inspired by the concept of liquid democracy where people can delegate their votes to others, so far none of the projects using Adhocracy have actually requested this feature [1].

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

 

Analysis and Lessons Learned

A detailed interview with Rouven Brües can be found on Open Democracy, outlining some of the lessons and development of Adhocracy.

Secondary Sources

[1] Brües, R. and Deseriis, M. (2017) Adhocracy helps create a future of political engagement, Open Democracy [online], available at: https://www.opendemocracy.net/digitaLiberties/marco-deseriis/adhocracy-h...

Liquid Democracy (2018) Adhocracy: software, available at: https://liqd.net/en/software/ 

Liquid Democracy (2018a) meinBerlin.de, available at: https://liqd.net/en/projects/meinberlin/

External Links

 

Notes