I know that slashdot and boingboing will catch this on their radar: Clay Shirky on the nomic world. (Link not available yet, but it will be shortly).
In fact what often happens, both online and off, is that structures are created which look like citizen input, but these structures are actually designed to deflect participation while providing political cover. Anyone in academia knows that faculty meetings exist so the administration can say “Well you were consulted” whenever something bad happens, even though the actual leverage the faculty has over the ultimate decision is nil. The model here is customer service — generate a feeling of satisfaction at the lowest possible cost. Political representation, on the other hand, is a high-cost
exercise, not least because it requires group approval.
Interestingly, Shirky invoked a game I used to play a few times, Nomic. It brings up fond memories of arguments and getting my pants whipped in a fun sort of way.
Finally, and this is the most important point, we are moving an increasing amount of our speech to owned environments. The economic seriousness of these worlds undermines the ‘it’s only a game’argument, and the case of tk being run out of the Sims for publishing reports critical of the game show how quickly freedom of speech issues can arise. The real world is too difficult to control by fiat — pi remains stubbornly irrational no matter who votes on it — but the
online world is not. Even in non-game and non-fee collecting social environments like Yahoo Groups, the intrusiveness of advertising and the right of the owners to unilaterally change the rules creates many fewer freedoms than we enjoy offline.
This whole essay is full of insights. One more thing. An interesting analysis about the Paradox of Self-Amendment. by Nomic found Peter Suber. Probably more in depth than interests me, but worth skimming over at least.