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Župa: Making Democratic Society Machine-Readable

The next session at EDEM 2010 starts with Alois Paulin, who introduces the problem of modern government as being controlled by representatives and bureaucrats. if they are good, they are inefficient and expensive; if they are bad, they're corrupt. To solve that problem, we need to substitute their tasks: the role of the representative would need to be replaced by a more direct form of democracy, while the role of the bureaucrat (who follows rules) would need to be replaced by a technological system.

Indeed, the cost of government has risen dramatically over the past century: where citizens of Munich would have paid 2.4% of their income to finance government in 1909, by 2009 that cost has risen to 27.6%. The solution which Alois suggests would be to arrive at an e-society, and after the Slavic word for community he calls that model 'Župa'. The model builds on natural paradigms like social networks and opinion leadership. Offline parties and elections can still exist in this model, but online tools do take on a central role.

The rules for such an e-society would need to be written in a standard (machine-readable) code - clearly and without any danger for misinterpretation, so that they can be handled by automatic tools. Župa is designed to operate in a layered mode, too (across the layers of local, state, national, and transnational government).

Alois and his colleagues have explored this model in the context of a student organisation, providing the online tools for managing the organisation's affairs and orchestrating its votes on various issues (using transparent, standardised, and digitally signed participation mechanisms).

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