6th Open Source Government Session

Date: 17 September 2017

Time: 15:00 – 18:00

Location: MAMA office

The following text unfolds the session by a timely order.
This session was meant to function as a core group meeting, and not a public one. The audio recording has not been recorded for public usage and the members where not notified as such. However, the content of the session are made public.


First members did go through a round of introductions


1. Open Source Government (OSG) so far

a)       Make a blueprint with which we can create a constitution/legislation. The design should be such that it helps us form the basic institution of a society or a community.

b)      Make a platform and find roles for the members to play, while giving a platform to new ones who want to be a part of OSG and prove sustainable.


2. The example of Leeszaal

The co-founder, Maurice Specht, describes it as a place for community, 5-days a week, Tuesday to Saturday, from 10-7, where they are giving away 20,000 books (as of now), and newspapers are always available. Books are organized in main categories: fiction and non fiction. And within the non-fiction they are organized by category. Leeszaal also hosts and organizes all kinds of things which have something to do with language, literature and imagination.

2.1. Private to Public

In Rotterdam, we have so much space, money and other resources to use. People are willing to fund, all they need is a cause and someone to work for that cause. Leeszaal gets 1000 books a week. Individually, a good may become useless, but publically it becomes useful. The idea is to bring together private (individual) goods in a way that they become public goods again. The conversion from private-public without the administrative formalities is simpler than we thought. Leeszaal has also picked out that it is easier when the “giveaway” is not related to the “takeaway”.

2.2. How will people use the books?

This brings us to collective decision making where we need to care for our neighbors. Most people will only take the books that they need or find useful, but 1 out of every 100 people will take more books than they need. Should we organize to restrict “misuse” or should we organize to “allow good use”? One solution is to track the books. But, instead of complicating the system, we intend to make the books available so readily that people will not misuse.

2.3. Volunteers

Leeszaal does not allow for members, only public and volunteers. These volunteers are not paid. The time they give to us, is traded with what they want to learn. For example, a lot of people want to learn languages; Dutch, English, Chinese, etc. so they are taught that. It can be anything they want to learn; computer skills or any other skills. It is about “trading without money”.

2.4. Unlearning or learning new routines

Leeszaal makes things very easy to organize for itself to run. There are no specific database or record of which book is available. So you just walk in and enjoy yourself looking for a nice book. Also, it makes it easier to organize. It uses volunteers as a workforce, who are confronted with the question “What do you want to learn?”, which enables them to learn something in return for their work at the Leeszaal. People are often surprised by the easy method with which the place works, but that brings the topic of unlearning. People would have to unlearn what they know from a regular library, or better said, to learn a new routine. They adopt to the new system, and that brings in creativity to the whole picture. If we unlearn complicated systems, then we can have some room for thinking of new ways to do things.


3. Example of Neverland Cinema (by Stad in de Maak)

The coordinators of Stad in de Maak disclose the main challenge, which is to involve and interact with neighbours. They have produced the model of living and working for the residents of the building, who live in a place where they can share their life and work together. There are several buildings available to this project, but the one which the guests of this session are from is situated in Pieter de Raadtstraat in Rotterdam. The top floor is to live, while the ground floor is to work, build things, talk and show movies, play music, and even wash clothing. Neverland Cinema is the name of a program which is basically a cinema that shows movies with selected themes by the members, every Monday night. The doors are open for the public and the neighbours to join.


4. Agora

Ancient Greek “Agora”, the place where you can speak and sell. The idea of public speaking spaces grew from there.


5. Dewaniya – Ideal Decision-making Space

Download project info here

In Kuwait dewaniya is a social space where men gather and discuss business or other matters while enjoying green tea, or kahwa. The seating works like a hierarchy, where the head sits above the room (like on the dining table). All members sit on the floor with no table. Cam Liu, one of the members was focusing on this project as his graduation project as an architect. To design an ideal decision-making space based on the idea of Dewaniya. The idea is based on simplifying the complexity of governing the society through individuals. How to place this in a physical space, as a public Diwaniya. Just like public library. Both central and decentralized.

5.1. Different settings at Dewaniya:

  1. Private setting for family issues
  2. Political setting
  3. Social setting for the neighbourhood
  4. Religious setting

5.2. A 3-layer Device

In Kuwait, people also gather in marketspace and discuss things, however, at Dewaniya it is all formal and well organized. It is a 3-layer device;

  1. Public
  2. Sharing insight
  3. Discussing space

5.3. What type of conversation will be discussed at the Dewaniya?

It can be any kind of conversation, depending on what is imperative for people. Kuwait already uses it, what we are trying to find is how everyone else can benefit.

5.4. Discussion or Decision-making

Dewaniya is about what goes on behind the decision-making – discussing and sharing opinions. Thus, we will focus more on discussions rather than decision-making. Not just with politics but with all matters we should discuss and vote, and then depending on that voting, decisions shall be made.

5.5. Size

In Cam’s design, there is a large building and then a network of smaller spaces for the Dewaniya. In decision-making, some issues are less public. Like a family problem, or a small society problem. We already have the parliament as a large room with complete transparency for decision-making. What we do not have is the clusters of decision-making spaces for individuals to more freely share thoughts.


6. Democratic experience

People are not born as decision-maker democrats. It is important be thought and experienced why is it important to be actively engaged. So, the reason why people are not participating is not because they do not want to, but rather they are not used to.


Next Session:

  • The session will be held at W139 in Amsterdam, during an exhibition titled “Ideology Meets Implementation”, as one of the public events.
  • Rethink title: Open Source Government to Open Source Governance. Open source “governance” in place of government, which makes more sense as OSG is about enabling self-governance via discussions with each other
  • Examples and projects and guests to be introduced during the session were discussed.

In the end, the example of “Relearning” in Rotterdam was given by one of the members, where a group of people come together and put down their proposals, share some insight and knowledge, and learn some facts about their neighbors. The example was given as a suggestion for guest for a next session.

Dewaniya project PDF download