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Modular Politics: Toward a Governance Layer for Online Communities

  • Title: Modular Politics: Toward a Governance Layer for Online Communities
  • Author: Nathan Schneider, Primavera De Filippi, Seth Frey, Joshua Z. Tan, Amy X. Zhang
  • Format: paper
  • Website/Publication/Organization:
  • Year: 2020
  • Link: https://arxiv.org/abs/2005.13701
  • Description: Governance in online communities is an increasingly high-stakes challenge, and yet many basic features of offline governance legacies--juries, political parties, term limits, and formal debates, to name a few--are not in the feature-sets of the software most community platforms use. Drawing on the paradigm of Institutional Analysis and Development, this paper proposes a strategy for addressing this lapse by specifying basic features of a generalizable paradigm for online governance called Modular Politics. Whereas classical governance typologies tend to present a choice among wholesale ideologies, such as democracy or oligarchy, Modular Politics would enable platform operators and their users to build bottom-up governance processes from computational components that are modular and composable, highly versatile in their expressiveness, portable from one context to another, and interoperable across platforms. This kind of approach could implement pre-digital governance systems as well as accelerate innovation in uniquely digital techniques. As diverse communities share and connect their components and data, governance could occur through a ubiquitous network layer. To that end, this paper proposes the development of an open standard for networked governance.