Social Life: A new way to make decisions

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The Loomio team.
The Loomio team.

Some people are terrible at making decisions. I take forever to choose which ice cream I want at the dairy, and every day I um and ah over what to have for lunch. Making decisions in a group, that's even harder.

Fortunately for those group decisions, there's Loomio.

Loomio is a free open-source online decision-making tool, created by a small group of facilitators, activists and software developers based in Wellington.

Basically, groups start a discussion on a topic. Anyone can propose an idea or course of action, and the other members can vote they agree, abstain, disagree, or block the motion, and everyone can see how everyone feels, and why. From there, decisions can be made.


Loomio co-founder Alanna Krause says the idea came about following a meeting between the Occupy movement and Enspiral, a social enterprise tech hub in Wellington.

"We realised that, while a movement and a business are quite different, actually we shared a common problem: how to make timely, effective decisions that include everyone affected. We saw that by moving the process online, we could facilitate groups to get better information, consider diverse perspectives by including more kinds of people, and ultimately come up with better outcomes together."

Since being made public nearly a year ago, Krause says at least 5,000 groups have signed up to the Beta prototype.

In New Zealand, the Loomio prototype has been used by groups such as Generation Zero, a youth-led network of climate change activists, community-based mental health service providers Pathways, and even the Wellington City Council, who used Loomio to run public consultation on its alcohol management strategy.

Loomio has also been used internationally, including by the Wikimedia Foundation (who is behind Wikipedia) and the London School of Economics, and has been translated into 17 languages. Loomio users have also started translating the software into Ukrainian, in response to requests from activists there.

"Loomio is for anyone tired of trying to get everyone in the same place at the same time for meetings, and sick of long, messy "reply-all" email threads that never come to a clear conclusion," Krause says.

"Loomio is for people who want to stop talking endlessly in an unfocused way on social media, and instead take collective action to solve real problems. Loomio is for anyone who wants to live in a more inclusive, democratic society where including all voices means we all benefit from better outcomes together."

On Tuesday, Loomio launched a global crowdfunding campaign, aiming to raise at least US$100,000 so developers can create Loomio 1.0.

"Loomio 1.0 is all about making a truly inclusive tool, because real democracy has to include everyone," Krause says.

"This means it has to be mobile and work across all kinds of devices, opening it up to situations and parts of the world where computers aren't available. It will be easy to host your own instance on your own server, so people with high security concerns can take complete control of their data and privacy.

"It will be accessible, and work great with assistive technologies like screen readers. And most importantly, Loomio 1.0 will be easy to use and intuitive, meaning anyone can participate simply and easily in decisions that affect them."

Already more than US$20,000 has been raised from about 300 donors.

As long as the support keeps coming, Krause says Loomio 1.0 is on target to be released in November.

Now I just need something to help me choose what to have for lunch.

We don't like Mondays. Or Sundays in December.

Twitter analysed the use of words and phrases in tweets last year by the day of the week and month and found some expected and surprising results. People are more likely to tweet that they are "feeling sad" on a Sunday in December or a Monday in October, while "hungover" surprisingly is most often used on Tuesdays in January as well as Thursdays and Fridays in November.

Check out more from the study here.

Tweets of the week

Politics have dominated my Twitter stream this week. So here are some tweets about flags, scandals and something happening on September 20

If you've seen any great Kiwi Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, Vine, Twitter, Youtube or Pinterest accounts that deserve wider attention, or you're involved in an online project or campaign that deserves a plug, let me know me. Suggestions are also welcome. I'm on Twitter here, Instagram here and Vine here. You can also email me here. Send abuse here.

- NZ Herald

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