Earlier this year I came up with an idea for an experiment in emergent democracy. I called it ThePeople.net. The basic idea is similar to collaborative grid computing projects like SETI@home -- except that instead of donating some of the cycle time on your computer to the collective, you donate some of your lifecycles to the community. Here's how it works...
Members of ThePeople.net agree to give 15 minutes of their time each week to do whatever ThePeople.net as a whole decides to do that week. So, for example, if the community decides that this week everyone will give $5 to a homeless person, that's what you do. If the community decides that this week on wednesday at 12 noon everyone will stop what they are doing, stand up and announce "ThePeople.net" and then continue what they were doing as if nothing happened, then that's what you do. It's a new kind of social contract.
Now how does the community decide what the members of ThePeople.net will do each week? For this to be truly emergent democracy, we don't want anyone to have control, we want the decision-making process to be truly bottom-up. So here's what I propose: Any member can suggest an action to the community. The community members then vote on the actions that are most interesting. The top n finalist actions are then put on the ballot for the next week's action. The members then vote on that ballot and the top winning 3 actions are chosen. Members must then do at least one of those three actions in the following week. There is no enforcement of member "donations" -- it's based on the honor system. A points-based award system could be provided, for example, to reward members for their participation, and/or to reward members whose suggested actions make it into the top 3 finalists.
ThePeople.net should also have a set of bylaws that govern what types of actions are deemed valid for the group: specifically nothing that causes harm or suffering to anyone, nothing that requires anyone to do anything against their will, nothing illegal, nothing that requires anyone to go against their beliefs. So the actions that are proposed and accepted are ensured to be acceptable to the group and hopefully, good for society as well or at least just silly and fun. Another version of the idea might have ThePeople.net organized into categories for various special interest groups and the whole process would take place in each category among like-minded people. In this model, you might divide up your 15 minutes of lifecycle donations each week such that you give 5 minutes to whatever your local community decides to do, 5 minutes to do whatever any interest group you choose decides to do, and 5 minutes to whatever the entire community decides to do. In any case, it would be interesting to try this sometime; who knows what the "group mind" would do? I'm curious.