Thinking About Technocracy

Where to from here?

Archive for the ‘Who rules?’ Category

Money as a means of governance

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It takes very little argument to persuade that money is a means governance.  It settles who commands resources, who has certain liberties, and who can take certain actions.  Looking back over the last few thousand years, we have lived in an Age of Money as Means of Governance.   So why would this Age come to an end?

Money as a means of governance requires several social facts to be in place:

1. Money users must trust that the money used has value to obtain desired things.

2. Money can be “owned” and stored.

3. Money must have a certain rarity. 

The art and science of acting in the Age of Money as a Means of Governance is essentially the field of economics.  The field assumes that most actions are governed by money or value-related considerations and these considerations can be discreetly analyzed based on predicted rational (or irrational) operations.

I think we then look to problems with economics as a way to determine why and how the Age of Money as a Means of Governance begins to end.  What are the plausible issues with money? 

First, there is rarity.  If the production of money cannot be controlled, it is of declining value.  Money systems where value declines at a certain pace are like dishes that leak.  Their function is denigrated by the rate of decline.   People who worry about “fiat” money are particularly obsessed with this issue.  

Second there is storage.  Storage requires safety which implies insurance, time value/interest rates and all that entails.  Ownership of course leads to estates, probates, bankruptcies, etc. 

Third is trust.  Can I get the safety, permanance, continuity, stability, etc. that I want for the currency I store at some point in the future?  This issue is the prime motivator of governance in our Age. 

So we need to consider, are these items under threat?


Written by ryanlanham

January 19, 2009 at 5:38 pm

iRevolution considers the prospects for a “cyberocracy”

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Cyberocracy?  See iRevolution’s article here.

Written by ryanlanham

January 18, 2009 at 12:44 pm

eTEN gets more favorable press on advancing collaborative democracy

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I got this via a blurb at  It’s published at ICT Results and covers the seemingly rapid rise of the eTEN system.  While the hosannas are rolling in, I must say that nothing about eTEN strikes me as particularly new or interesting.  They have systemized their product quite well into something governments can absorb and purchase.  Whether that is good or bad depends on one’s perspective.  Maybe I’m being too snarky about this.  Product use often leads to open systems copies and broader acceptance even if the sort of product developed was originally more along open access lines.

Written by ryanlanham

January 16, 2009 at 5:32 pm

Shift of power from West to East?

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Asia Sentinel carries a Sarajit Majumdar article on the seeming power shift from West to East.  It’s happening at an accelorated pace to be sure, but Majumdar, like so many other economists, see technocrats as anti-liberty boogeymen.  Perhaps they are.  What never seems to come from the economist’s pen is the implicit political assumptions they make that are essential to their worldview.  Indeed economics is always political economy.  The underspoken deserves greater fleshing out.  Where are their boundaries?  What is a sine qua non of their liberty systems?  Human rights?  Free trade?  What about Singapore?  Switzerland?  Free?  Why or why not?  Economics seems to run from the discussion of necessary foundations.  As a science, that makes it weaker.

Written by ryanlanham

January 9, 2009 at 2:29 pm

Why not have charettes for society…a social charrette?

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Who would be invited to a social charrette in a technocracy?  One thinks of blue ribbon panels and legislative hearings, but those are not public deliberations in most cases…they are public hearings.  A charrette is a publicly deliberative process.  It has rules and structures that are pliant and disruptive influences are addressed by a combination of rhetoric and interest, not “leadership,” which is a term I find increasingly dubious. 

Web 3.0 will have us powerful new tools for social charrettes.  We ought to take advantage of them in some sort of intentional way.

Written by ryanlanham

January 6, 2009 at 2:56 pm

Posted in Who rules?

Communities of Practice and Technocracy

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Communities of Practice are one of the most exciting collaborative frameworks to emerge out of modern theories of learning and development.  I find no mechanism more effective at systematically transcending boundaries.  …That’s right, systematically transcending boundaries…a paradox. 

Learning is the classic example of systematically transcending boundaries, and communities of practice are effectively learning machines or (a phrase I dislike) learning organizations. 

I believe that CoPs lead to all sorts of technocratic governance prospects.  By esteeming information, learning and advancement in particular fields while not blocking access to newbies or other participants, the prospects are set for collaborative decision making and critical redirection in ways that few other means I have found can match.

A technocrat needs to not only have science but ought to define collectively the relevance of a scientific view to a set of questions and then test and refine (e.g. through adaptive management processes).   Communities of practice are self-governing, self-selecting units that have structure and yet, ideally, remain quite open–like human brains.  They are extremely effective for just this sort of application.  How low should carbon standards go?  CoPs can answer.  Who’s in the CoP?  It’s a social network of expertise that can be structured in any number of Web 2-3.0 sorts of ways.

Written by ryanlanham

January 5, 2009 at 7:02 pm

A Chief Government Performance Officer

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Eric Bergrud’s International Civil Engagement blog discusses a published interview with Don Kettl in which he calls for a Chief Performance Officer in the US Government.  It’s a good idea.   Here’s why:

It isn’t so important that someone focus on how things get done as Kettl claims, but that someone focuses on focusing.  A key aspect of technocracy is getting to a target, that is, acquiring a goal.  Turns out that organizations aren’t half bad at doing things once they know what they are doing.  The question is, what are we trying to do?  That’s where a chief performance officer could pay big dividends for government.

Hard to convince politicians of that though.  They believe they know all about what must be done.

I see politicians as more like corporate directors.  They guide and push management.  They don’t…do or even specify what might be done.  That’s an ideal of course.

Written by ryanlanham

January 3, 2009 at 1:56 am

Posted in Who rules?