name discipline

Some name discipline notes by Craig Hubley sent to GPC process committee on 2005-12-14. Name precedents and naming conventions are outlined in depth here. The advice still stands for Green Party of Canada Living Platform but has been ignored since the GPC Council Crisis.

It was sent to Michael Pilling, Douglas F. Jack, Lynette Tremblay, Van Ferrier, Jim Banks, Jessica Gal, Tom Manley, Mike Nickerson, Tom Huston, Wendy Gorchinsky, Perceval Maxwell, D. W. Powell, "hypersneeze"

Subject: get the names *EXACTLY* right, and you will not be wasting each other's time so much - was RE: Paradox of the Living Platform

Get this right first:
then this:

and you'll be getting a lot fewer complaints about confusion and
complexity, almost all of which is caused by *BAD NAMES ON PAGES*.

I repeat: *ALMOST ALL*. Compared to that, Doug's issue is a non-issue:

On Tue, 14 Dec 2004, Michael Pilling wrote:
> "The paradox of the living platform is that is enables a grassroots

It enables a *technocratic* and *anticipatory* process. Whether that is
"grassroots" or not depends on education, eloquence and electronics and
how widespread they are.

> participatory process which has the unintended result of disempowering and
> distracting people from grassroots "local" organizing and activity.

Not sure at all that the same people edit policy pages as show up at live
meetings. The role of policy pages is to provide something worth arguing
about at a live meeting - nothing more - the output of the live meeting is
still going to need approval/ratification in some broader party-wide process.

> Particularly in that we are using this technology for the federal platform,
> we are intrinsically adopting the methods of federal government to solve
> problems (regulate, tax and control) instead of adopting the methods

Any net media implies regulation, financial support of some kind, control
in the form of at least the command verbs:

If it's done right, then verb phrases like "draft plank" or "tax polluter"
are handled in the same way as lower leverage phrases like "edit page" or
"add comment". A "reflexive" intranet deals with all such command verb
phrases in a common way to move easily from understanding the techniques
of a wiki up to the techniques of fiscal and monetary management. A single
hierarchy or tree of deference is implied and even created by that method.

Beyond mere commands, there are "control verbs" (a more general concept" -
see http://imaginehalifax.ca/term for a decent list of control verbs )
that describe other actions that are not direct commands from authority to
authorized. A command verb is necessarily a control verb, but, a control
verb may also be a suggestion or request or implication between people -
"wear", "run", "call", etc.. Again these must be documented consistently
so that "run for office", "call your MP", etc. are documented in the same
way as "draft plank to address major issue". Anything less is failure:

  • When designed properly, interactive person-to-person control verbs do not
overload or distract from person-to-system command verbs or even very low
leverage system-to-person monologue boxes (the ones that say "OK/cancel" -
hardly a dialogue). They simply slide some technology under relations
that already exist and already work, and accelerate collaboration itself.

  • When designed poorly, or worse, not designed at all so that everyone is
choosing their own idiosyncratic conception of command and control in
their sloppy or inconsistent choice of words, Doug is right, it becomes
an absolute distraction, and a net minus. Struggles over words distract
also from the larger conceptual struggle to grasp the actual constraints.
The group is ignored by outsiders, and cannot achieve media penetration.

I believe the Green Party of Canada is presently badly failing at this.
For instance, at present the list of platform proposals is not kept
up to date, and there is wildly inconsistent naming of what is an issue
list, what is a proposal, what is a "plank", and what is an underlying
(and already-defined-in-general-use) policy term. The platform proposals
obey no fixed scheme, making it hard to tell from the title what *IS* a
proposal and what is not. A proper scheme would have only name like:
*Help Parents Cope (properly named to become the Help Parents Cope Act)
*Promote Healthy Living (in law this becomes the Promote Healthy Living Act)
and so on. There would be a one-to-one relation between platform proposals
and Acts to be introduced by a Green government.

Why teach the public two different phrases to describe the same proposal?
It is this kind of total failure of naming discipline that creates failure
in recognition and coordination, which extend right down to the telephone
conversations about the editing process that are now taking place.

Given the right terms, these problems are minimized but never quite go

Getting the terms right is critical. Google has made a deal with the NY
Public Library, Oxford, Stanford, and others, to make EVERY SINGLE PUBLIC
DOMAIN BOOK IN THE WORLD visible and readable via Google itself. If you
wish to control a concept in the public mind, you must find out how it is
named on google, AND CONTROL THAT TERM. Anything less, again, is failure.

The people that do not comprehend this ALREADY are necessarily failures
and preventing advancement of these concepts. Dermod of course among

> required to implement the green economy (networked decentralized
> communities, participatory economics, community standards and community
> action)."

Before all that you must have a way of naming things that let decentralized
parties coordinate, that let bidders meet askers, that notify communities
that their standards are being challenged or violated, and which motivate
the community to take action. Before ANY of that you must have vocabulary:

Greenspeak, if you must.

> If I got that approximately right, I don't disagree at all about the
> critique - this, and your perspectives about the "sustainable economy" is
> something we should think long and hard about.

The numbers come *after* the core terms are defined but *before* peripheral
terms are defined. Capital assets for instance must have names before you
can put them on a balance sheet.

> In the platform 2004, I tried, in a small way (that was generally overlooked
> and misunderstood) to contribute words and ideas about the importance of
> networks and devolving control/responsibility away from federal agencies.
> One phrase I put in to describe this (which many people objected to) was
> that the federal government should "do less and help more"

Any parent or consultant knows the feeling. Also the sinking feeling of
realizing that the child is autistic and unable to learn the lessons and
will be dependent forever...

> I believe the most important thing we are doing in the living platform is
> developing and teaching a method - building our "human intranet" - that
> enables us to communicate, coordinate and build a powerful consensus. That

That's funny, since the most central things you have to do to build this up
are exactly those you are ignoring. Frankly, I don't see it. I see no
real effort of people to read each other's work and actually edit it, as
happens to articles on even minor issues at Wikipedia. I see "ownership"
issues and "entitlement" issues that are not quickly and instantly stomped
out. It's one thing to be lazy in conflict resolution, it's another to
let central concepts like schedule and policy terms rot or just "evolve"
when they simply cannot take on values other than those already out there.

Build all the consensus you want, if it is not clearly and directly
related to the one that already exists in the media/google/academia,
you're irrelevant politically, invisible electronically, and so on...

> we are using this first at the federal level is very convenient in that we
> can use it to seed similar practices at the local level. Living platforms at

That's exactly the problem - bad practices will be copied locally too.

> the municipal level would wed very easily to f2f methods and would be very
> powerful together, perhaps enabling cities to break away from nations
> altogether.

This was exactly the principle followed in Imagine Halifax, which was
backed by a wiki where dozens of citizen initiatives were worked out
over three months, and then turned into a candidate survey, and then
the answers to *that* contrasted to the initiatives in a series of
essays. This has been very successful in motivating the activists and
advocates to common causes and will be central in getting the Green
Party of Nova Scotia going - all we need to add is the rural material.
We have most of our platform.

> The most important step forward I believe has to be choosing our language
> wisely. About 30 years ago the "right" stole the language of economics. One
> thing we might think about doing is "stealing it back."

Start with monetarist assumptions that credit necessarily creates currency.
Then move on to "natural capital".

> The way to mass communicate complex issues and agendas is to choose terms
> and then build meaning into those terms. As a national party we are in the
> position to define our terms.

Nonsense. You are in the position to REFLECT THE TERMS YOU FIND EFFECTIVE
but these still must be there in discourse, you cannot 'define' them into
existence or carve reality differently than all the academics and media -
your PROPOSALS can be defined in such a way, and must be. Your TERMS OF
REFERENCE on issues cannot be so defined, you must reflect existing ones.

You drastically over-rate the power of a "national party" to define terms.
The Liberals are not using the terms "natural capital" and "social
capital" because they defined them into existence, they use those terms
because that's what they hear in the UK Blair government, in social
science papers, and at http://worldwatch.org, and even in some UN agencies.

You do not get to redefine those terms, you must simply work with them.

> My term of choice for all that you described would be "community economics"
> --- into it, we build the meaning that all other economics is wrong because
> it uses isolated individuals as it's base unit. "community economics" is
> very hard to dispute as a term. If you are opposed to "community economics"
> you are opposed to communites - it is that simple.

The term "community-based economics" has been used for what you describe
and probably has an objective meaning: money supply and credit under
strictly local control.

> What say you all?

I say you confuse policy terms and platform proposals, and think you have
far more power over the former than you really do, and far less control
over the latter than you really need.

> In the mean time we need (if we don't have already) descriptions in the wiki
> of the following. . .
> ...
> participatory corporations

plurals? worthless. So is the term, as there is nothing at

Try using a term real people use:

"The cooperative movement often has links and associations with Green
politics (in the US) or with Labour politics (in the UK), and with
socially responsible investing." There's your opening. If you have
a specific type of cooperative that differs, define one of these:
and link in stuff that should exist, but has been censored out of sight:

If you can't write a generic workplace democracy article and make it stick
in Wikipedia, you should not be inventing new terms to describe related
concepts. Fair?

> satyagraha


I don't think these exist as separate notions:
> First Nations economy
> Anabaptist economy
> social capital
already done, are you actually looking at the Living Platform?

> community economics
properly redirects to
and makes no sense until this is defined:

> guild system

Again the nonsense word "system"! Try
(the Swedish system is party-affiliated and more guild-like)
or for an interpretation for Green politics

I'll pay more attention to this once the definitions are actually in
place, and there is some stability on the list of policy terms, and
they are actually used in platform proposal writing. Until then, it
is a waste of my time to track this flailing and failing and poorly
coordinated mob of lecturers and preachers committed to nothing in
common. Get this right first:

Then you have something to write about.