Assemblany: Towards Democratic Corporations

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Democratic and/or Creative MMORPGs

I recently discovered that "A Tale in the Desert" allows users to vote on laws, so it could be described as a democratic MMORPG (though I'm not sure if the Pharaoh is up for election :)

Similarly Second Life (no link necessary :) would have to be one of the more creative MMORPGs - I hear that you can design vehicles and buildings as well as clothing (and hairstyles).

But I think there's still room for innovation. From a previous post: imagine a MMORPG where you could also vote in rules that allowed entirely new classes of objects; where the profit from fees was shared by developers or re-invested in the business; where new realms or worlds could be created at the whim of the players. (All of this, of course, assumes that the developers can actually implement the changes in a reasonable time :)

Friday, May 19, 2006

Differentiating Features for Assemblanies

Some possible differentiating guidelines for assemblanies:
* Be a seed for change in the world.
* Businesses can (and should!) be profitable and ethical at the same time.
* Write down the unwritten rules.
* Flatten the hierarchy.

How and why these are specific to or valuable for assemblanies:
* Assemblanies can be not just achieving goals in themselves, but also demonstrating a better (freer, more equal) way to work and live.
* Everyone having a vote on all major decisions makes it harder to fudge an issue or bury it under the carpet: ethical problems must be faced by the whole assemblany.
* Formalising unwritten rules reduces the fear of overstepping boundaries or making mistakes (in particular, reduces the prevalence of double bind situations); openness and transparency is good in itself, as well as promoting trust and increasing effectiveness.
* By definition, assemblanies flatten the hierarchy and share power; everyone has a vote on all major decisions. Usually in the corporate world empowerment is restricted to a narrow (technical) area and doesn't apply to broader, company-wide policies; in assemblanies, empowerment would be ubiquitous and almost invisible.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Africa on the Internet

Some more random thoughts:

Apparently Kenya now has 1.5 million Internet users - up from 0.5 million a year ago!

For listings by country, see here - what surprised me was Somalia having 89,000 Internet users (from 200 in Dec 2000), more than many other African countries, despite having no central government. But still obviously a long way to go - or, looked at another way, a lot of growth potential in mobile phones and Internet: see here on "a new scramble for Africa" and here on the new East Africa submarine cable being built.

Democratic countries and post-post-communists

Not related to companies as such, but definitely to democracy: I've just heard of Timothy Garton Ash, a journalist and author who wrote about the fall of communist regimes in Eastern Europe. So naturally I tried to find any articles of his that I could online ... and read a very interesting article on the future of Iran here, and fascinating interview on the end of communism here (ten years old but still relevant today).

Also found the recently released failed states index. Still, states do have longer lifetimes than businesses ... and then there's the comparison between CEOs' salaries and political leaders' ...