Ben Knight’s Loomio Software Rallies Spanish Political Party
Spanish political party Podemos (We Can), the first party to ever use a website – Reddit – to organise its members, is also using Loomio, a company co-founded by New Zealander Ben Knight (pictured) which creates decision-making software to assist groups with collaborative decision-making processes. About sixty per cent of Loomio’s traffic comes from Spain, and, as of this month, there are more than nine hundred Podemos-related groups on Loomio.
Dunedin-raised Knight, comes out of Occupy. “Being involved in the Occupy movement was my first experience with collective decision-making on a large scale,” he told the New Yorker. “That’s true of a lot of people involved in Loomio. It was seeing the potential of democratic organising and seeing it happen all over the world.”
He was, by turns, inspired and bewildered by what he saw – so much potential for collective action but also such unwieldiness. Loomio, which is still in its beta version, has been used in seventy-four countries, in twenty-five languages.
Podemos is employing it on the largest scale to date. Knight is sanguine about Podemos’s prospects, and not just because a hundred and seventy-five Loomio users have been signing up each day in Spain; he also appreciates the party’s ethos.
“So much of the public discourse in Spain is about collective intelligence. How do we get the government to unlock this collective intelligence?” he said.
Knight is the recipient of a Commonwealth scholarship with which he undertook a PhD in evolutionary psychology at Scotland’s St Andrews University.
Loomio is based in Wellington.
Original article by Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, October 7, 2014.