A Historic Opportunity for Hawaii’s Tech Community

Trivia question: What is the most important decision you will be making at the ballot box at this November election? (Hint: it’s not the election of any candidate).

Answer: Whether or not to hold a Constitutional Convention or “ConCon”.

Every 10 years, voters have the opportunity to decide whether or not we can hold a ConCon which is where wholesale changes can be made to our state constitution.

Our last ConCon was 30 years ago and in 1978 some important changes were made, according to Dkosopedia including among others:

• Creation of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs
• Term limits for governor
• Requiring a balanced budget

And so in 2008, we once again have the chance to hold a ConCon.

So where’s the historic “Geek Component” opportunity?

I believe that we have before us the potential to put our heads together and create a web application that lends itself to democratic participation and decision-making. I believe this model can be applied to ConCon and if successful can subsequently be used for other public decision-making systems like the City Council and State Legislature.

Open source development paradigm meets public decision making
From what I’ve learned so far, my understanding is that ConCons have strong grassroots elements. They are a chance for the people to engage in an open conversation about Hawaii’s future. In 1978, they didn’t have the Internet. Today, we have broadband networks and powerful computers. Do we have sufficient technological resources to enable digital debates? I think so.

We have Internet-based political campaigning. What about Internet-based lawmaking?
Barack Obama has taken Internet-based campaigning and fundraising to a new level. He has permanently “torn the fabric of space” in regards to merging Internet with politics. I believe we can take the next logical step and use the Internet for public debate, decision-making, and perhaps even legislation. Imagine the kind of input and diversity of thought that would result if any citizen could participate in a serious debate on important issues from the comfort and convenience of their home. What kind of increased participation could we get from that?

A bold step has been taken
There’s only one way to find out and I’m proud to say that together with other leaders like Burt Lum, Ryan Ozawa, Former Congressman Ed Case, Jay Fidell, and Representative Della Au Bellati, we’ve launched HawaiiConCon.org. Today, it’s a combination of Ning social networking and pbwiki.com wiki infrastructures. Tomorrow, who knows? The users will drive the need.

E Komo Mai!
I’m cordially inviting all of you to come over to HawaiiConCon.org and participate. Get involved. There are some issues about Hawaii’s government you must hold dear or want to change. What are they? Tell us about it! We too are using Ning so there’s no signup process.

We need Geeks Like You to get involved!
So far the initial success has been great. But as the site grows in popularity, people will need both help and more features. And that’s where YOU come in. Hawaii’s tech community could and should be the ambassadors that herald in a new age of Digital Democracy. It can happen if you help us make it happen.

Be a part of the solution
This year, the voters will decide if they want to hold a ConCon. Right now there is only one site that is encouraging learning, discussions, and decisions regarding this most important issue and with your help and participation, HawaiiConCon.org can become the epicenter of a new paradigm of public political participation.

See you there!