So here is an updated version of the post which I made back in June, just after YearlyKos, where I summarised the part of our presentation in Vegas which talked about the Energize America process.
Again, both the plan and the full presentation can be downloaded in pdf format from www.ea2020.org, the existing website for Energize America.
This first slide is pretty explicit. I recalled how energy is intertwined with economic policy, international relations (sometimes murky), military activity and Washington politics (even murkier), and how intimidating it can be, with big numbers flying around (a billion dollars is a small sum in the energy sector), bigger companies, and strategic or national security considerations often used to obfuscate the stakes and stifle debate.
This is worth flagging: we did not choose a simple topic to start with, and yet we managed to talk about it smartly and to approahc it from many angles and considerations. The lesson: we should not let ourselves be intimidated, and should not accept to be told to "trust the experts". If not the experts themselves, DailyKos hosts all the competences required and we have kossacks able to write smartly about any topic under the sun. So let's not ever be intimated or overwhelmed by a topic, and let's just have a go at it. This obviously applies to economics or healthcare.
I recounted briefly how I came to blogs through a desire to correct some fears or wild theories about energy projects or the behavior of energy companies - for instance the conspiracy theories about the Afghanistan pipeline (a complete diary on that topic was posted here last year: Pipeline economics - why the Afghan pipeline will NOT be built).
I talked briefly about my son, his disease, and my hopes that he will grow up in a world of peace, prosperity and sustainability which can allow him to contribute to society and to benefit from its solidarity when needed, and not in a world defined by resource wars.
As a first point on process, I noted the role of my diaries which became, through sheer repetition and persistence, the meeting point of the energy community on dailyKos, and compared this aggregation role to that of dailyKos for progressives in general.
We come here because others interested in that topic are here as well: the "location" information embedded in dailyKos begins to have as much value as the content itself (i.e. people come to dailyKos not necessarily because they love the content, but because they know that this is the place where others, friends and co-progressives will be there, and where the topic of urgency to the community that day will be discussed).
The second point on process is linked to the technology of dailyKos. The ability to recommend diaries gives them visibility if there is quality - or a desire by enough to give a topic, in this case energy policy, prominence. That visibility attracts more participants and more comments. Comments provide input, corrections, additional information. Ratings can then be used to assess that additional information, and to flag the most relevant, interesting or useful.
This allows the community to provide content and to vote on content, to provide expertise and to provide an idea of the general opinion of the kossacks. It allows to vet information and to give a feel of what the community prefers, policy-wise or politically.
Again, I cannot stress how important this vetting process is. This is what SEED Magazine recognised, and labelled "near scientific process": we get rid of bullshit. It's an open forum, so we cannot prevent stupid or false content from being posted. However, we can debunk it, correct it and, in the most offensive cases, hide it via the troll ratings. Sure, there is a lot of noise on DailyKos, as we all know, but the site is also extraordinarily good at extracting signal from that mass of noise - and it is possible to focus on this.
With all the input and propositions provided all year long by kossacks, and with the attention of the community focused on the topic after Katrina struck, it made sense to try to propose something to actually use all these proposals. Thus the first draft of the plan was born, posted on the site and critiqued, complimented, complemented, criticised, "get real'ed", and supported.
Several iterations of the process were run with the support of Meteor Blades (whose absence at Yearly Kos we deeply regretted and noted, but he was travelling) and devilstower initially, and Adam, George and many others afterwards.
With a well targetted process like the successive Energize America diaries, we can both concentrate the attention of a lot of smart minds on a given topic, and ask them to work on very specific issues, to provide instant feedback, evaluation of the initial proposals, counter-proposals, supporting links, additional relevant information and discussion of the whole.
That ability to focus a lot of brain power like this is, in my view, one of the defining characteristics of DailyKos and what makes it such a novel tool.
The important point to note here is that Energize America is STILL a work in progress, and we do not pretend to detain the truth. We request, and indeed hope for more criticism and help to correct any errors, shortcomings or weaknesses. We expect to come again to the community in the future with more specific requests on the weaknesses we have identified ourselves, and we will welcome any other comments in that respect, provided that they are given with the goal to do better and not just to slam the plan.
Other energy plans exist. Many are of great quality (and indeed have inspired us for part of EA). What we propose is not just a new plan, but a process whereby the plan can evolve - at all times under the scrutiny of citizens.
This is people power. Focusing on policy