Alternative Institutions

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

Has anyone read the entire text of the stimulus package?

The ambiguity of this question is intentional.

Teaching Metacognition to 7th Graders

Gary Marcus says he’d like for there to be a course on metacognition for kids:

Call it “The Human Mind: A User’s Guide,” aimed at, say, seventh-graders.  Instead of emphasizing facts, I’d expose students to the architecture of the mind, what it does well, and what it doesn’t.  And most important, how to cope with its limitations, to consider evidence in a more balanced way, to be sensitive to biases in our reasoning, to make choices in ways that better suit our long-term goals.

What a brilliant and practical idea.

Anyone want to take a stab at a syllabus?…

The Challenge

Here’s a contest model for spurring innovation that I’d like to explore:

  1. 50 participatns ante a pre-determined amount of money
  2. Each participant submits original work (of a pre-determined type)
  3. Each participant votes for one winner (other than themselves)
  4. Winner gets the money

Global Economic Constitution?

U.S. Government is Open for Questions

Taking the cue from social software sites like Digg, the Obama transition team is leveraging the wisdom of your crowd to find out what the most important and relevant questions are that the public wants answered.  Judging from the top page of questions as voted by several hundred thousand people, the relevance/importance quotient is very high.  Below is the email that tipped me off to this latest development in “government 2.0”.…

Social Entrepreneurship Tax Credit

I typed “social entrepreneurship tax credit” into Google and the top result was this page on BarackObama.com.  There are some good ideas there, and I hope they get implemented once he takes office.  But I’d like to see even more.…

Greening the Bailout

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He makes so much sense!  Kevin?


Your Seat at the Table

The Obama Transition team wants your input on how to fix the country:

No, seriously.  Check out the various meetings they have upcoming and the comments sections that go with each.  Some topics like Health Care have lots of comments.  Others like the Humanitarian, Refugee, and Asylum Policy meeting currently have no comments, which means you could have quite a bit of influence by being the only one to spout your opinion…

So, what do you think?  Will Obama policy be shaped by this promising open forum with unprecedented input from the average citizen, or will this end up as just good PR?

p.s. is that Stephen Colbert looking askance at the bald dude?  :-)…

The New Model for Primary Care Medicine

Rebooting America

Rebooting America

Anyone interested in how technology and policy can work together to form us a more perfect union should read Rebooting America.  If your budget is tight right now, you can download the PDF version for free.

While you are at it, check out the Personal Democracy Forum which is the larger effort that Rebooting America is part of.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed. It is the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead

Change.gov

Okay, Kev, here’s your chance on affecting climate policy, go crazy!…

How Grandma Saved Democracy

Visiting my 90 year old grandma a couple of weeks ago, I saw the opportunity for a product that I think would have a lot of success in the marketplace.  Like the iPhone though, it’s not so much the idea — I’m sure someone is working on or already has the idea — but rather in the implementation and interface.…

Crowdsourcing Election Verification, part 2

Back in June, I suggested that public voting records would be healthy for our democracy if the populace were comfortable revealing their voting records.  There is now a movement* and new web site for this called Who Voted? though they are not going as far as I am in advocating for revealing your actual choices.…

Want to Influence Financial Crisis Policy Debate?

One of the talks at Pop!Tech this year sparked intense emotions regardless of whether people agreed with the premise or not:

Juan Enriquez (2008) Pop!Tech Pop!Cast from PopTech on Vimeo.

To address these intense feelings and the demand for public discussion, a wiki was created, in which you are invited to join the discussion.  This forum was designed as “a place for a rich, lively, respectful and facts-based dialog on what’s necessary to address the serious economic challenges confronting America today.”  Hope to see you there.

Click here to go to the policy debate.

Hive Mindstein

David Basanta’s blog has an interesting thread (quite a few of them actually).  Here’s the setup but you should read the original post, including the Wired article:

Apparently, some people are seeing some potential in cloud computing not just as an aid to science but as a completely new approach to do it. An article in Wired magazine argues precisely that. With the provocative title of The end of theory, the article concludes that, with plenty of data and clever algorithms (like those developed by Google), it is possible to obtain patterns that could be used to predict outcomes…and all that without the need of scientific models.

Dynamic Architecture

National Popular Vote

Yesterday I blogged about personal vote verification.  At the group level, I recommend supporting the National Popular Vote.  While most people (70%) favor a popular vote for president, the U.S. Constitution calls for an electoral college system.  The National Popular Vote movement is extremely clever in that it doesn’t require a constitutional change:

Under the U.S. Constitution, the states have exclusive and plenary (complete) power to allocate their electoral votes, and may change their state laws concerning the awarding of their electoral votes at any time. Under the National Popular Vote bill, all of the state’s electoral votes would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538).

Crowdsourcing Election Verification

I take it as accepted fact at this point that the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election would have gone to John Kerry if everyone who attempted to vote that day were able to and all the votes were counted correctly.  Here’s the the Wikipedia entry on the subject and here’s a documentary to get you started.…

Global Warming

A few months ago a friend of mine engaged me in a discussion about the controversy surrounding global warming.  If you are surprised to hear that there is still controversy, read on; I was equally surprised.…

Charity + Prediction Markets

A new prediction market site with a twist: your profits in the market get donated to the charity of your choice.

I was concerned that it may look noble but that they might be profiting from the bid/ask spread, so I wrote and asked them.  Here is their response:

No fees, except the 5% on top of any funds put into your account. That fee does little more than cover the credit card processing charge. For example, if you want to put $5 into your account, you will be charged $5.25, and you will have $5 in your account to trade with. After a while, maybe you’ll have grown your account to $50, all of which you can ask us to give away to the charity of your choice. No fees on donations. Another way of saying it is that 100% of the funds that are in trading accounts will eventually be given away to charities chosen by the winners.

Very cool, I hope …

Open Letter to Gotham Prize

The Gotham Prize is a laudable new effort to provide incentive for new approaches to cancer.  In response to their recent announcement of their first awards, I have sent them the following open letter.  If you would like to express your own opinion on the matter, I encourage you to provide your feedback to them directly from their contact page.

Notes from TED

Here are some notes that I took at TED 2008.  I have a bunch more on each of the speakers individually which I may post as time permits.  Let me know if you want me to expand any of the notes below into a full post.

TED Talks: Iqbal Quadir

Mobile phones fight poverty

Complex Links: TED

I attended the TED Conference this year for the first time.  It was a transformative experience, one that I hope everyone can have in some form or another before too long.  One way to simulate being there is watch as many of these incredible talks from past TED conferences as you can in a short period of time.  If you are inspired, check out the TED Prize and how you can be a part of a growing global meta-movement for positive change in the world.

I will be blogging about things that piqued my interest at TED, but below are some cool links that I came away with:…

X Prize Annuity Funds

In the March 9, 2008 Sunday Magazine section of the NY Times, Freakonomics authors, Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt wrote about an idea I shared with them (with my permission of course). Given all of the interest and critique that’s resulted, I am posting the original conception below and encourage you to express your thoughts about the project either in the comments here or on the Freakonomics blog. If you are interested in becoming involved beyond just providing public input, just say so in your comment and I will contact you directly.