Mass Sense

A “MassSense” project presents a situation and asks people from various perspectives to interpret it. These situations can be put out just before a time of big social change, such as before the vote on Brexit in the summer of 2016, or the inauguration of Donald Trump to the USA Presidency. Or, they can be used to gather consensus to aid everyday decision-making in a way that lets every voice be heard.

Once peoples’ interpretations of the given situation are collected the data then shows how different people have made sense of a situation. It indicates whether strong collective views are “compatible” or not, and allows us to see if/how a novel consensus might emerge over time.

As in the bees’ waggle dancing the system decides the new direction, but this is done by many individuals having the chance to spot a potential future. Consensus is then reached through mass-participation. Not one space winning over another, but by the emergence of coherence.

This form of research democratises decision-making. You do the interpretation, not an algorithm, not a policy-maker, not a researcher with her/his own bias. The power of participation is with the people.

A new way of reaching consensus with the chance for completely novel solutions to emerge.

Waggle Dancing

A “MassSense” project presents a situation and asks people from various perspectives to interpret it. These situations can be put out just before a time of big social change, such as before the vote on Brexit in the summer of 2016, or the inauguration of Donald Trump to the USA Presidency. Or, they can be used to gather consensus to aid everyday decision-making in a way that lets every voice be heard.

Once peoples’ interpretations of the given situation are collected the data then shows how different people have made sense of a situation. It indicates whether strong collective views are “compatible” or not, and allows us to see if/how a novel consensus might emerge over time.

As in the bees’ waggle dancing the system decides the new direction, but this is done by many individuals having the chance to spot a potential future. Consensus is then reached through mass-participation. Not one space winning over another, but by the emergence of coherence.

This form of research democratises decision-making. You do the interpretation, not an algorithm, not a policy-maker, not a researcher with her/his own bias. The power of participation is with the people.

A new way of reaching consensus with the chance for completely novel solutions to emerge.

The inspiration for MassSense came from the “Waggle Dance”.  When a bee colony has outgrown its nest the Queen Bee and a number of the oldest and most experienced bee scouts search for a new home.  Once a scout has found a potential location for a new hive they start to waggle their stinger in a dance that points to their location and sends out a signal to attract the other bees.

The only problem is that the other bee scouts do the same.

With any number of bees sending out signals how does the rest of the hive decide where to swarm to?

The answer lies in collective decision-making.  Scout bees have to take a break from waggle dancing once in awhile.  When they do so they venture around the rest of the swarm to check out the other potential hive locations.  On their breaks the bees can deliver a stop signal to another dancing bee, in the form of a head-butt.  This head-butt disrupts the other bee’s waggle dance and diminishes the signal sent out to the rest of the swarm.  What’s more the bee is discriminating with its head-butt, only disrupting the signal of the opposite bee to them.

Accumulatively these head-butts help to determine which location gets enough support when one or more of the nests has a lot of bees dancing around it. Once it is clear the swarm has reached consensus the bees head-butt any bee still waggling and the bees settle in their new hive.

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