Consensus Re: [Imc-uk-features] RE: Imc-uk-features Digest, Vol 30, Issue 24

ekes ekes at
Thu Oct 20 13:51:08 PDT 2005

I'll be chipping in again about the nicely developing discussion about 
the newswire, front page etc. at some point in the next couple of days.

Before I do I felt what Noel said about Consensus was actually more 
important for an organisation that is based on developing 
non-hierarchical structures of working. Indymedia is a global 
organisation of hundreds of people working on new ways of deciding and 
doing things, which greatly depends on new technologies.

Cass, Noel wrote:
>  We should perhaps drop the mentions
> of 'consensus' as such is not possible on-line with the existence of
> people like me who are mostly benevolent 'lurkers', who strongly
> support IM and are watching over its unfolding practices. Consensus
> is only genuine when everybody is 'there', everybody offers some
> opinion, and all present are tested for consensus, as i understand
> the term anyway. at the moment, the application of hiding policy is
> largely a debate between certain individuals with a 'delegate' or
> even 'representative' status - those who do the work.

Even within a smallish (we are talking 15+ people) organisation working 
by consensus with face to face contact there are people who are more 
interested in one part of the task than another. The rest trust them to 
get on with doing something the details of which aren't of interest to 
them (or bore them to tears). Sometimes when the task has a bearing on 
something else they will get involved or become more interested in 
having their input; etc. There are often in these organisation also 
benevolent 'lurkers' - who like yourself in this e-mail will 
occasionally give their input when they feel it important. The status of 
people and the tasks they undertake are never 'delegated' or 
'representative' they are much more fluid people move in and out of 
groups undertaking a particular task. Larger group interest in something 
happens at times. No individual(s) have the specific role for more time 
than it is useful.

Groups of more than around 10 never really have full input in the total 
way you describe. Now for IMC UK we more than the 15+; we are talking 
about geographically spread people; yet this model is still a good one 
to build on. It doesn't box people in as delegated to be the 'wire 
cleaners' or what ever. It doesn't create areas of specialism anymore 
than people want (and realistically need), they can be fluid, and need 
not last longer than required. This can still work on a principle of 
non-hierarchical consensus. But, we need to be conscious of how it 
works, and how our temporary structures, groups etc. come and go as 
required. We need to make sure that they are not exclusive and are fluid 
enough for people to join in.

We also must work with new technology, e-mail lists, wiki's etc. to 
develop this consensus. Develop this consensus with the fluid 
involvement. I actually think we aren't that bad at this... lots of 
stuff to keep developing like - but I did say it is a character of the 
Indymedia project that we are making these new ways of organising, and 
we do it as we go!

I actually think Noels e-mail was a classic in this process ;-)

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