On the streets of the Chicago Women’s March 2017

Overview: 5 Ways Holochain Can Save Democracy

We will be covering five ways that Holochain can save democracy as a five post series. This is our overview. Let’s look at the big picture on democracy and then we can dig into the grit of Holochain and how it can solve challenges that democracy faces (and lots of interesting governance dilemmas).

First, what does democracy mean? Merriam-Webster Online defines it:

For purposes of this discussion, let’s say it involves citizen engagement in governmental decision-making, organizing civil society groups, having feedback loops between governmental agents such as politicians with their constituents, the election process for representatives, and the civic dialogue that keeps it alive. Widely agreed upon challenges to democracy include: voting security, compromises in civic dialogue through digital media, accountability of politicians, corruption, and now the emotional and psychological manipulation of people to influence politics.

Some of the solutions Holochain creates use existing applications and websites and then add the benefit of distributed networks not owned and operated by a single organization. This increases their resilience and their trustworthiness. Other ways that Holochain can save democracy are uniquely created by the architecture by shifting to an agent-centric structure. We will point to both types in the series.

  1. We will cover how Holochain can be a solution to the poison stories that have been hijacking democracy by triggering our anger and other feelings to direct our attention and shape our beliefs. This is about how the very architecture of Holochain can lead to different drivers in applications and still pay journalists for doing great work.
  2. Another great concern in democracy today is election integrity. Election information has moved into the cloud. Putting that in a centralized cloud exposes us to unnecessary risks while creating a massive store of personal data that we may not want cloud corporations to have on us. Shifting to a distributed crypto-secure cloud makes sense for something as valuable as election data.
  3. Corruption is a major concern in polluting the mechanisms of democracy. Holochain can both be a vehicle for reporting on bribery and corruption as well as tracking what politicians say against what they do. Already existing solutions like IPaidaBribe.com can benefit from becoming distributed applications. Greater security within an un-enclosable carrier (can’t be turned off or centrally controlled) enables better reporting of bad behavior. Indeed, we can move from reporting on the ways democracy is being manipulated and toward a world where our representatives can be more aware of our collective concerns and truly enable self-regulating systems.
  4. A few major platforms dictate everyone’s use of the Internet and limit possibilities of what can be done. It’s time that we get creative about the digital public spaces that we’d like to see. Time to protect our Public Commons. This is where Holochain comes in. Designed as agent-centric, Holochain starts with individuals owning their own data. This makes it easy for individuals and groups to “vote with their data” by choosing to contribute their information to public works and scientific endeavors that they care about, rather than having this information collected automatically and sold to the highest bidder.
  5. Most of the ways Holochain can save democracy thus far have been things going wrong that we can reduce or limit. Going further, Holochain can increase our ability to engage closer to our democratic ideals. The architectural design of Holochain, so deeply based in living and learning system principles increases our collective capacity, expands our understanding by providing context, and provides new combinatorial possibilities at scale.

Democracy is one solution to how to scale collective management of resources and needs. The design operates on the assumption that not everyone can participate all the time or in all ways, and so we can delegate our decision making to full time public officials. However, whenever power aggregates, it also corrupts. Holochain can not only reduce the problems of the way democracy is currently structured, it can also move us into new forms such as a crypto-version of participatory democracy.

Sign at the Brooklyn Superhero Store


Is that enough to save democracy? Well, it can save what we want and build toward something even better. Let’s go beyond saving something as limiting as democracy has been. We have the tools and capacity now to move beyond this form of collective governance to something more dynamic. A system for the technological age we live in. We imagine governance beyond democracy. Holochain can provide a foundation for upgrading democracy, making it more responsive to our needs and delivering outcomes that work for an increasing majority of us.

The articles as they come out: