Original Draft Notes for 'The Melioration Project'

The Melioration Project

May 30, 1992

The goal of this project is to put forth a new theory of communications based on the modification of communicative space offered by digital and new communications technology and organizing methodologies mediated by computer software. This theory will attempt to explain

1) the ways and means by which power in industrial manufacturing means of production is shifted by the implementation of computing hardware and software mediated work.

2) The extent to which the mediation of communications by current technologies can effect change in the public sphere.

3) Opportunities and Pitfalls offered by reorienting primary economies around computer mediated activities. "Is all post-industrial economy truly service?"


Personal Orientation


A Priori

Black Americans need to extend their input into the global village.

In the search to create new type of institutions which do not support form of domination often left unchecked in the organizing principles of modernity, the computer model of peer to peer communication serves a good basis.

In written language, there is no hierarchy implicit and therefore does not support any forms of hierarchy. As well in computer space availability is the sole requirement. Yet the advance of computer technology is predicated on improving performance. So a combination of the two is not likely to constrain democracy unless it is specifically done for that purpose.

Yet any software program is translatable into any other.



What ethics, such as 'intrapreneurialism' are seen as economically progressive which utilize computing technology?

What are strategies for the division of labor in digitization movement?

How is computer technology - especially end-user computing being successful at changing the social logic of bureaucratic administration within corporate capitalist institutions?

What specifically is the nature of encapsulation of information in digitization movement which subjects it to bias towards or against hierarchical control?

How does the mediation of authority in computing space differ from that in material space?

In oppressive situations, how is political information sought? What strategies are employed to inform political opinion and instruct political action when the resultant expression of majoritarian will is to their collective or individual detriment?




Digitization Movement


Outputs / Experiments

This project has several parts.

1) BNet2

An international English based private network of individuals which allows private conversations and encryptions of messages to subgroups. Includes the hookup which have rap lyrics to popular artists - (link to standard protocols - channel one style into high schools - written) Emphasis on literary input to deal with societal problems - educational supplement to standard curricula and research inputs by post-graduates c.f. Real-time.

2) Real-time Publishing

3) Policy Database

The policy database allows access to documents created by and for the particular interest.

Privatization of interests - what is the consequence for liberation movements? Upon which model of public organization should allegiances be built. Is the state - citizen relationship primary? Of what good then is the systematized religion - worshiper. What about corporate citizenship. What of intellectual insurgency or the bourgeois model?

Political Melioration Project

Much of politics is educative. What would be the consequences of delivering factual and political information along with statistical data to the decision making public. How does computer mediated discussion of political topics effect the quality of political decision making. How accountable would politicians be to constituencies whose collective access to polling and source data were equal if not superior to that of the elected official?


Research Resource

In his insightful work, Speaking of Politics: Individual Conversational Choice, Public Opinion, and the Prospects for Deliberative Democracy, Michael MacKuen explores the interpersonal dynamics which alter the decision making process. He argues that public consensus may be misleading because people exhibit certain behaviors and interactive strategies based on their individual expressiveness and comfort level with the politicization of issues. Does the computer mediation of significantly alter expressiveness. I think yes. I believe the flame phenomenon in electronic mail networks increases expressiveness. As well in elongated electronic mail discussion groups, individuals are likely to 1) hear out dissent. This has parallels to the editorial pages of periodicals and is a salutary introduction to scholarly debate and 'special interest' in which the motivations and rewards of

"Institutional arrangements often produce rewards for public activity that dwarf the soft incentives outlined so far."


Questions and scope of the melioration project.