they wound up giving them to the three
citizens who had proposed the three
plans. You might guess that one represented my political party, the second
represented my opponents, and the
third was a wimpy independent, but
no, all three were apolitical! And the
selection was to destroy Grassy Plains.
I don’t know if all this was a plot,
either by my opponents, by a malicious foreign power, or just the citizens, but as soon as the demolition
team had assembled their crusher
vehicles to begin their grim job, a new
vote changed everything! A real-time
referendum, fluctuating from minute
to minute, would steer the demolition
fleet to some other building, and rip it
suddenly from its roots.
At this very moment, I am watching
the local news on my wall-size monitor, as the demolition fleet passes
Grassy Plains and heads toward... Yea!
It is approaching the legislature building! In one corner of my screen I see
the votes streaming in, increasingly
aiming at the legislature as its doom
nears. But wait! The votes to destroy
the legislature are decreasing. The demolition parade turns, and I run to the
front door, not having any windows left
to look out in this age of virtual reality
caves. Oh, no! The voters have decided
to demolish my Governor’s Mansion!
William Sims Bainbridge ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
is a sociologist who taught classes on crime and deviant
behavior at respectable universities before morphing
into a computer scientist, editing an encyclopedia
of human-computer interaction, writing many books on
things computational, from neural nets to virtual worlds
to personality capture, then repenting and writing
© 2019 ACM 0001-0782/19/8 $15.00
One of my
Because we had used the example
of Grassy Plains School in our false flag
fake news campaign, my opponents
posted that as the first referendum
question. By a close margin, the winning plan was the lawn ornaments 3D
printing workshop. Essentially all the
voters made their own selections, rather than delegating. I guessed they knew
something had to be done with this recently abandoned building, and wanted to avoid the right-wing and left-wing
options this early in the development
of Columbville’s new political system.
Over the following weeks, Grassy
Plains Ornaments made apparent
progress. There already was some antiquated computer-operated manufacturing machinery in the building, left
over from the occupational training facility when it ran out of raw materials.
By “raw materials,” of course I mean
students. Local hobbyists enthusiastically repaired the existing equipment
and donated a good deal of their own.
Their neighbors began placing orders for wooden swans and Hobbits.
However, the early results were not as
expected; for example, white-winged
Hobbits and swans with big feet. It
proved very difficult for an uncoordinated group of individualists to assemble essentially obsolete technology into a reliably functioning system.
Interest faded, and people began proposing other uses for Grassy Plains.
Meanwhile, people were becoming
accustomed to visiting VoterBooth every morning, during an advertisement
on the local virtual news program,
and paying their $10 to buck whatever trend the news was promoting.
A feature in the system allowed them
to propose new legislation, and many
of their ideas concerned iconic Grassy
Plains. A new proposition emerged:
( 1) keep the ornament workshop but
invest tax money to improve it, ( 2) convert it into a museum of old computers
donated by citizens, ( 3) tear the building down and decide later what to put
in its place. By this point, most of the
voters were delegating their votes, and
One version of
the fluid democracy
give each voter
a daily vote to cast
or to delegate
to someone else.
[CONTINUED FROM P. 104]
For further information
or to submit your
on Social Computing
ACM TSC seeks to publish
work that covers the
full spectrum of social
systems, and design
TSC welcomes research
employing a wide range
of methods to advance
the tools, techniques,
practice of social
research that designs,
implements or studies
systems that mediate
social interactions among
users, or that develops
theory or techniques
for application in those