L7 Information Clearinghouse

Tools For A New Political Economy

Public Information Clearinghouse

Initially I had conceived of this idea as mainly for producers and consumers of goods and services — as a way to manage that relationship in an informed way, based on people’s values orientations and values hierarchy. Then I realized that this actually extends to all information in all areas of life, and has particular import for an accurately informed Direct Democracy. For example, what is the consensus around some concept or approach in a given discipline? What is the proven efficacy of a given medical treatment, medication or procedure? What independent confirmation of a set of facts is available from another source? How are sources of information rated, in terms of their historic veracity? What is the highest quality data available on a particular historic or current event? How can we have easy, fluid access to alternative viewpoints on a given topic, with tools to analyze those perspectives?

Right now the answers to such questions will be generated by the exhaustive diligence of the information consumer, or their trust in a given information authority or source, or whatever pops up at the top of their search engine results. And this is really not a good system, especially with respect to maintaining an informed electorate. Instead, independent, competing non-profit organizations, with oversight from both elected officials, citizens councils and
Daily Direct Democracy, could be implemented to offer not just the huge wealth of information available on the Internet, but portals to analyze, sort, prioritize and verify that information according to different methodologies, algorithms and self-defined preferences, values and priorities.

In addition, there could also be a central aggregation site for all of this competing information that ranks veracity and relevance of resources — again filtered by requested topics, fields of study, values alignment, etc. — and then offers expert overviews. On such a centralized site, there could be two independent ranking systems: technocratic “expert” ranking scores by those who meet established thresholds for qualifications, and a non-qualified crowd-based ranking. In other words, rankings could be differentiated based on quality of knowledge and quantity of popular sentiment, much the way
Rotten Tomatoes evaluates movies and TV shows.

At the decentralized end of the spectrum, the Public Information Clearinghouse could also utilize blockchain data storage, competing Open Source aggregation interfaces and search facilities, and openly transparent tracking of all edits and revisions (much the same way Quora.com retains a history of all changes and by whom). There is no reason the Clearinghouse must be centralized, as long as the quality of information can be maintained (through user ID verification, pruning of trolls and active deception and misinformation, etc.). As with all other Level 7 efforts, there will be the necessary prerequisite of moral maturity both individually and collectively, or the effort to achieve helpful information that facilitates healthy democracy will inevitably fall short.

Critically, the Public Information Clearinghouse will also likely become a check-and-balance for the Fourth Estate, as an independent mechanism that can help hold mass media accountable to honesty, fairness and integrity.

A more detailed overview of Public Information Clearinghouse features and strategies can be found on pp 37-42 of the essay “The S.A.P. Hypothesis.”

In The Meantime: Sources for Good Data to Make Informed Decisions

Before such a comprehensive project is realized, how can we find good information — information that has at least some built-in process for validation and veracity — where we might trust alignment with our values to some extent? Here are some possible sources (please feel free to submit ideas for additional resources to me via email):

Journalistic Bias and Veracity

Fact-Checking on Politics, News & Conspiracies

Scientific & Academic Websites & Research Portals

Medical Research Websites & Portals

Information About Businesses & Products

Economic & Governance Resources for Evolving a Political Economy

Worker-Owned Business Models

Effective Non-Profits

In terms of avoiding propaganda and misinformation, it will also be helpful to review the list of think tanks, PR firms, news sources, politicians, scientists, economists, pundits and “warning signs” found here:

Opposition & Disinformation

Neoliberal Objectives & Propaganda

Origins & Purpose of Science Skepticism

Umberto Eco’s 14 Features of Fascism

Additional information resources are available at the Integral Lifework
Supportive Organizations and Other Resources pages.

The Original Proposal - A Clearinghouse for Informed Transactions & Investments

Here is how I had initially proposed such a clearinghouse could assist people in their search for companies that aligned with their values — clearly this is about big, deep data and carefully crafted searching and organization tools:

(Excerpted from
True Love)

“I would propose that a clearinghouse be established for both consumers and producers, so that every layer of production, distribution and sales can be scrutinized through existing avenues of data mining and reporting. Anyone should be able to search that clearinghouse based on customized criteria, with an easy-to-understand rating system for each set of values. The goal would be to quickly and easily answer questions like these:

• How much labor does this company outsource, and where is it outsourced to?

• Does this service provider support fair labor practices? What is there record in this regard? Am I paying for sweat shops, prison labor, illegal immigrants, workers from oppressed populations if I spend my money here?

• Does this manufacturer participate in environmentally responsible methods?

• What was the outcome of lawsuits against this company, and how many lawsuits or settlements have there been for the last three years?

• Is it a public or private company? Who owns a majority of shares, who are the members of its board of directors, and what are the personal values, goals and ethical profiles of those owners and board members?

• Are executives and managers held accountable for implementing values-driven business plans? Is exploration of personal values part of the hiring and managing process?

• Were animals used in product testing? Are products harmful to animals?

• Has this corporation ever participated in bribing public officials? In drafting legislation? In lobbying efforts?

• What is this manufacturer’s overall record of reliability and cost of ownership for all its products?

• What level of customer satisfaction has been independently verified, and can it be sorted by demographic?

• How well are female employees compensated at this company compared to men? What about minority employees? Do they hire older employees? Have they ever forced out aging workers?”

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