Digital Shadow Governments

Hey folks,

this is more me thinking out loud than anything else but I’d be interested to hear your thoughts

I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Audrey Tang and the digital democracy project she is part of

If you’re not I highly recommend this podcast episode which covers the fascinating story of how she came to be the digital minister of Taiwan

In a nutshell, she and her friends built a complete digital government infrastructure that could replace the opaque existing one and registered it under the domain .g0v (rather than .gov)
Later in 2014 there was a student-led protest which ultimately led to the government agreeing to use the gov zero infrastructure

Of course this was a black swan event and so many synchronicities came into play to make this possible…but I wonder if it wouldn’t be worth while to play with the idea to create more of these “digital shadow government” infrastructures
So that when the opportune moment comes they can upgrade existing democracies in similar ways as in Taiwan

HoloChain would AFAICT be the perfect framework for that since its decentralised nature would prevent a power grab by any party and thus make adoption by the government in question less risky (at least that’s what it looks like from my limited understanding of the technology, please correct me if I’m wrong)

Maybe there could even be a single shadow government framework which could be customised to the need of each individual country thus making development much more efficient?


  • build digital government infrastructure that is more transparent and efficient and is plug and play for the respective government
  • wait for the opportune moment (crisis, protests etc.) when the government will agree to adopt the infrastructure as a win-win choice
  • prepare it for LOTS of places to increase the likelihood of catching these opportune moments globally



This is a really interesting idea. I wish I had more time to participate in a conversation about this. I bookmarked the podcast to get back to it.
I believe we need to be experimenting with building parallel structures to the existing system. It’s great to see the idea sprouting up all over.

I agree that Holochain would be the best structure. While there are other “new internet” projects out there, e.g. Urbit, ThreeFold. I don’t think they have the same kind of resiliency that Holochain does. I don’t know them well enough.

It looks like lots of the tools are showing up in the Holochain ecosystem.
Neighborhoods, Flux Social, Hylo. Some group(s) just needs to start designing the patterns to apply the tools with.

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I do like that idea. I’d propose to design those digital government templates with a more decentralised pattern in mind - like implementing tools for direct democracy. Or at least design tools for rapid feedback.

I am rather frustrated with the way most western democracies are run these days. Every four years we elect a bunch of people. They make all the decisions. If we don’t like one of those decisions, our only true way of communication is to vote for someone else (in their entirety) in another four years - not a lot of informational flow here…

On a related note, such a digital government would be the perfect tool for direct democracy / idea incubation (which is actually something we could start testing, even if it hasn’t been adopted as the official platform yet). It goes a bit like this:

  1. Any person can formulate a proposal
  2. Next it will be sent to a dozen random people in the system for review
  3. If a majority regards the proposal to be at least discussion-worthy (fair points / no red flags), it will be passed to the next tier
  4. This cycle can repeat a few times, always increasing the tier of participants one or two orders of magnitude. If the proposal reaches the top level (lets say 100.000 people), it becomes an official point on the political agenda

That way it would be a pretty straightforward process for anyone to propose an idea. And we’d crowd-source the evaluation, therefore sharing the burden of the review process (just like Holochain).

Some more thoughts:

  • One can subscribe to certain topics of interest / competence to preferably receive proposals in that category
  • All proposals will be anonymous until they have gone through the whole process. Only after they have been passed / rejected, whill the author be made visible
  • Since the review process takes time (lets say two weeks per tier), there’s enough of a slow-down effect to stop impusilve proposals from being rushed through.
  • It will be a great (and important) challenge to design a fair and useful reputation system
  • A good reputation might allow fast-tracking of ideas (entering your proposal on a higher tier, thus shortening the review process)

Just imagine what an awesome display of Holo-Power that would be! :sunglasses:

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I love the idea @jakob.winter

Aligned with the Holo-Spirit I feel that what is of most value is an ecosystem of these pluggable democracy modules - the more diversity the better - so that each party can decide for themselves what they would like to use

Maybe this thread could serve as a place to crowdsource ideas for this democracy toolkit

Let me start by adding a classic: liquid democracy

Our current systems are really some form of abdicating our responsibility and selecting a new “king.” All the way down to local governemnt elections.

Are you guys familiar with @artbrock’s “The Future of Governance is not Government?” Cant get link for you now. Don’t remember what he’s said, but it is a good addition to the conversation.

You mean this one?

Reading this I get the feeling that the “battle plan” I outlined in my first post was actually a/the core motivation for HoloChain/Ceptr right from the beginning ^^

Cool to see the energies/ideas converge in this space

Let me add this resource outlining design criteria for future governance systems

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Yup That one!