First part of Dan Bashaw's overview of Harel B's "On Funding" is:
Thresholdware (orig. copy)
September 28, 2006
Filed under: woc2006, information architecture, thresholdware,
webofchange, SocialTech Dan Bashaw @ 12:17 pm

I've just come back from the excellent annual Web of Change conference, held on Cortez Island in BC. Always thought-provoking and often passionate, the conference has sparked a number of thoughts and follow-up projects, some of which will appear on Shifts and Devices over the next few weeks.

One topic that resonated with several of the conference participants was the concept of thresholdware.

Thresholdware is my term for software that stores transactional commitments, then acts on them when a specific critical mass or threshold has been reached. The point of thresholdware is to allow users to commit to an intention that can be carried out successfully only when this predefined tipping point is reached.

Perhaps the clearest example is in fundraising, where a $100,000 project might be built out of many small donations. Using thresholdware allows users to rack a $50 donation onto their credit card, with the knowledge that it will not be processed until enough donations have come in to make the project a success. By using thresholdware, the risk of your donation disappearing into a black hole because a project does not raise enough funds to succeed is eliminated: every donation is actualized in the real world, and donors can be confident that their contribution will make a difference.

The economic concept behind thresholdware is outlined in some detail in Harel Barzilai's essay 'On Funding: A Plan to Put the Movement on Solid Financial Basis'. As far as I know, Harel is the originator of the concept, though I would be glad to post other links to similar approaches. It's the sort of powerful but simple idea that likely has multiple origins, and has just been waiting for the correct conditions to crystallize.

Personally, I consider it a key interface/functionality enhancement, straightforward to code but socially very powerful, with applications that go well beyond fundraising -- one of which I will discuss in an upcoming post: 'Queue|Cue the Revolution' -Dan Bashaw

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1. Thanks for a very concise, and good summary of the piece. I wonder what folks think about this and about the more far-reaching elements -- applications to labor organizing and to draft resistance (and the withering of the state generally) that this activist strategic vision piece of mine outlines in the latter half. Thresholdware is a good term for the software itself. A term, or terms of the range of applications, as far and wide as those just listed, would be nice, too [image: :-)] Harel

Comment by harel -- October 15, 2006 @ 6:06 am **

2. Let me just add that I have no doubt that the concept itself in the voting or donations arena, must certainly have occured to others.

What I suspect would be harder to find elsewhere, are the notions of deep applications to social justice and democracy in the examples cited there.

But even there, it's not a matter of a "who typed it in first" beauty contest, of course; it's a matter of the moral imperative for us all to collectively work together to make this toolset for social justice, this toolset for democracy, this toolset for enhancing the public's ability to apply restraint on policies imposed either top-down upon us or via more indirect means (e.g. market externalities), and thus this toolset for human survival -- a reality.


Comment by harel -- October 15, 2006 @ 8:41 pm **

3. [...] Thresholdware (software that stores user transactions, then acts on them when a specific critical mass or threshold has been reached) has many applications beyond the fundraising discussed in the previous Thresholdware post. [...]

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