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My Plans For 2012

24

Swarm Management

Swarm Management

In 2011, I managed to transition from leader of a local Pirate Party to an international voice on information policy and civil liberties matters. These are my plans for 2012.

At the turn of the year, I precisely reached my last goal for 2011 — to attain one million readers in direct readership. These are my goals for 2012.

1. First, turn 40. One week from now, on January 21, I’m turning 40. There will be a bit of media around that and I’ll celebrate with friends in the evening. This isn’t really a delivery as such – even though failing to turn 40 years old would have a dramatic impact on my other deliveries of the year, I can’t honestly say that’s a risk I’m anticipating. This is what’s currently the most on my radar, naturally.

2. Then, release the book Swarmwise. I’ve been writing a book that summarizes my leadership experiences from the Swedish Pirate Party – what I did well, what I learned from mistakes, and how I would redo it today. In short, the costs of organizing hundreds of thousands of people to push public opinion have fallen dramatically, and this will more or less be an ops manual for activist organizations and business alike in cutting-edge leadership that changes the world on shoestring budgets. The target date for text completion is March 31; I don’t know how long it takes from text completion to general availability, but I can tell you that it will be free to copy and seed, of course.

3. Then, open up Activizr. Those who have heard me discuss organization and administration more informally have frequently heard me mentioning the admin system of the Swedish Pirate Party, PirateWeb. We would absolutely not have been able to pull this off without PirateWeb as a background support system.

This code is in the process of rebranding and replatforming to run on GNU/Linux, in order to open it up to other organizations that want to use the techniques described in the book Swarmwise. In the process of writing PirateWeb version 5, it is being renamed Activizr as to not repel non-pirate activists. Where this system really shines is in three areas: joining online with offline activism, abstracting tasks that detract from activism, and decentralizing control. A quick bullet list of what it does already:

  • Manages members, activists, volunteers, and officers of the organization. Access is decentralized, so officers in a city can only see and manage the roster of that city.
  • Fully geography-aware down to the municipal level, sometimes more. Notifies officers in a certain area when members/activists appear there, and sends personalized welcome mails from each appropriate level of the organization.
  • Communication to members/activists/officers (per area) and to the press (per area or topic). The ability for local officers to send SMSes to anonymous activists in a general area to gather flashmobs quickly is particularly useful.
  • WordPress integration: Write press releases directly in your WordPress blog and have Activizr mail them to reporters, per area and topic as specified in WordPress. This enables and encourages much more people to write press releases, particularly at the local level.
  • Auto-creates mail addresses in the proper domain for every new officer taking responsibility in the organization.
  • Handles financial work flows — expensing from activists, donations, receiving and sending invoices, complete with automated background bookkeeping. Last year, the Swedish Pirate Party had about 20,000 lines of bookkeeping — over 99.8% of them done on automatic by Activizr.
  • Financial auditing down to scans of the individual document that was used as basis for every cent leaving the organization, complete with who uploaded them, approved them, and validated them.
  • Budgets are arranged in a tree where budget owners attest expenses from activists/members, which are repaid swiftly. Cash advances can also be paid out and covered by uploading receipts later.
  • Virtual banking: use one physical bank account but subdivide the means internally across geographical suborganizations in virtual bank accounts that they control individually. Leads to less spoilage in the physical bank account compared to having dozens of physical accounts, most with very small amounts in them.
  • Connections to major banks and PayPal for auto-notification of donations/payments as well as electronic imports of bank statements.
  • Handles inbound paper mail: sends the scan to the correct recipient and archives it.

There’s more, of course, like conference management with self-signup and automated summaries and invoices, but this list will do to give you an idea of the general system as it looks today.

Currently, I’m working with removing all the things that are hardcoded for the Swedish Pirate Party and making them customizable per organization, at the same time as I move the entire codebase to a Debian package. Quite a bit of work, really. I expect this to open up for sandbox testing some time in late summer.

I know a lot of people haven’t gotten a good response from me about when PirateWeb would be ready for outside use, and I apologize for having been less than transparent with my plans before. Future plans for expansion include handling inbound mail, too, and quite likely bitcoin integration.

4. Kick off a new global activist organization. There’s one component missing today in the global pirate ecosystem, and that is the international organized think tank that keeps everybody aware across cultures and borders. I see that I can fill this void successfully, and plan to do so in early Q4 of 2012. As the battle for civil liberties goes down in Europe, a tentative name would be “European Pirate Academy”. This depends on Activizr being ready for external use and will use Swarmwise as ops manual. I aim for 30,000 activists 12 months after kick-off, which would be enough of a swarm to mark a presence anywhere.

Note that this activist org will be independent of the Pirate Parties, and must be so in order for the ecosystem to work.

5. Speak at at least 20 conferences in 2012. In 2011, I could have three to five conferences per month, which was admittedly quite heavy. Some two per month on average is more manageable and still a high bar to reach. Currently, I’m notably booked at two TEDx conferences, which I’m quite excited about. I expect this will increase with release of the book Swarmwise, as my range of topics will broaden considerably towards business and leadership.

6. Increase readership along the way. At the end of 2012, I aim to have increased my direct readership another fivefold, from one million to five million. This requires a lot of diligent work in keeping explaining, explaining, explaining the issues of information policy – work that I’m already doing and will keep doing throughout the year.

Also, in contrast to these goals, I’ll probably fail completely in my new year’s ambition to get into shape.

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About The Author: Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and is a political evangelist, traveling around Europe and the world to talk and write about ideas of a sensible information policy. He has a tech entrepreneur background and loves whisky.

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Contributors take own responsibility for their comments.

24

  1. 1

    I’m Green Pirate and I approve this message. xD

  2. 2
    c3l3st0

    European Pirate Academy sounds like a plan, though it also may be missunderstood, but as it is, the roots should should be cleary identifiable :). you got one “i ll surely check this out” guy here! good luck with all goals! it sounds like a lot of work^^

  3. 3

    Hey Rick,

    How come there is nothing in regards with bitcoins and 2012? :)

    cheers
    miner from serbia

    • 3.1
      Rick Falkvinge

      Oh, I expect I’ll be talking plenty about it, but my key near-term engineering effort will be bitcoin payment integration in Activizr. Can’t say if that will be in 2012 or 2013, though.

  4. 4

    This could perhaps give you some inspiration for your book. It is me speaking about direct democracy.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4L1HsWJlM0

    I think I even mention swarm once in the speech, and the fact that the new democratic movements really do not need any leaders.

    • 4.1
      Rick Falkvinge

      Thanks, although the material for the book is pretty much locked down by now, it’s just a matter of writing and refining. However, I’ve got more books in the pipeline. :)

  5. 5

    I really can’t wait for Swarmwise to be out, and will watch with interest the “European Pirate Academy” idea. Sounds like 2012 will be a busy year for you!

  6. 6
    steelneck

    One thing more for your todo list, get someone to fix this painfully slow blog if you do not find time for it yourself. There is just way to many bells and whistles taking down the experience of the site, my old laptop locks up on 100% processor load for so long that i actually avoid your site and makes the visit some other time from a faster box. I also think you lost a bit of discussions in the comments when you took away the “latest comments list”.

  7. 7

    This sounds just ridiculously fantastic! :) The best of luck with all of it!

    Just a few ideas: I think the AGPL license would be the best for Activizr, and it would be great if, in addition to PayPal (which we should all try to switch away from) and Bitcoin it would handle Flattr and as many other payment systems as possible. Actually it should be easy for anyone to create plugins for Activizr which can give it support for new payment systems, new banks (IMHO we should try to use more small banks, not the major banks that mostly screw up the economy).

    Also, if I too (like Robert above) can be so bold as to suggest one topic for your book, I would suggest that you mention the importance of federation of online communication tools. That is, that social media and the like needs to work like the internet; a network of networks, to easily circumvent censorship and commercial control over our crucial communication tools. I’ve blogged about this in more detail here.

    I can’t wait to read the book no matter! I trust it will be available as an .epub? :)

  8. 9

    Can say i’m looking forward to Activizr alot, as a member of a couple of organisations that could really benefit from using it.

    But besides that, 2 TedX talks! Wow, i’m really glad for you. Ted, (TedX), Khan academy and a few other organisations/events/phenomenen uses the information technology in a way that is really benefitial for the world. I think i know you well enough to know how good being asked to be a part of that must have made you feel.

    If it dosen’t come with it when you let go of it i’ll proably contribute with some code to make activizr plugin-able also.

    Be well my friend!

    • 9.1
      Rick Falkvinge

      Yup. I believe PPSE will offer Activizr hosting at very reasonable rates for the orgs who don’t want the hassle and risk of beta testing and maintaining own servers.

      The first TEDx of the two was announced just today, TEDxObserver: http://www.guardian.co.uk/tedx/speakers-2012

      The second is in the other half of the year.

      Plugins are a good idea. There’s already a necessity for plugin architectures to handle new banks and mail systems.

      Cheers,
      Rick

  9. 10

    I think that, given the desire to avoid alienating activist users (as indicated by the name-change from PirateWeb to Activizr), using the AGPL would prove to be a very poor choice. To maximize uptake by activist organizations of widely varying ideologies across widely varying political and legal circumstances, the best option is probably the most permissive licensing conditions reasonably possible. Unfortunately, public domain dedication is legally problematic across jurisdictions, which suggests the choices do not get any better than a simplest-language copyfree license. The ISC License, MIT/X11 License, and Open Works License are all (comparable) licenses of great linguistic simplicity, but still offer decent warranty disclaimer text and clear license terms.

    Is Activizr (going to be) a PHP application?

    • 10.1
      Rick Falkvinge

      It is Public Domain. Where that is restricted or not legally recognized, it is clarified as Creative Commons Zero. Also, it may be noted that I’m not the only code contributor, even if the principal one. I hope for more participation in development once more orgs find it useful.

      There are a few restricted components in it that are marked as such, like a UI package, the MySQL connector, and a few icons from a stock icon package. But the code is CC0.

      There’s several megabytes of source code, I haven’t checked the exact count in a while. The language is C# and it runs on Mono in one front-end component under Apache and one back-end component as a daemon, using a MySQL database.

  10. 11

    ;) I am sure my writing brings in at least 500,000 of your readers… Your welcome. (jk jk)

    This sounds like a good plan and I cannot wait for Swarmwise to come out, actually Activizr is probably going to be more helpful to me and the Pirate Party of Canada so I am kinda equally excited about both.

  11. 12

    Looking forward to seeing Activizr in action. Your contributions are very important. I am proud to kopi you.

  12. 13
    Byte

    I support the idea of a Think Tank, but I see that as separate from a 40,000 strong activist organization. The Think Tank should be more of a scientific bureau, for instance carefully analyze proposed legislation (ppl with a law background), financial statements from the copyright industry (business background), come up with realistic scenarios on how to implement PP policies, etc. (political sciences). For instance, the PP goal of copyright term reduction would require changing or leaving the Berne Convention, and all treaties based on it, incl. TRIPs which doesn’t have a clause (like the mob, you only leave it in a box).

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About The Author

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and is a political evangelist, traveling around Europe and the world to talk and write about ideas of a sensible information policy. He has a tech entrepreneur background and loves whisky.

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