Technology, Democracy, Participation, and Constitutions

location The Macmillan Room, Portcullis House | Friday 26th February 2016, 11.00-13.00

Seminars for people working in Parliament who want to find out more about digital

Technology, Democracy, Participation, and Constitutions, Eleanor Saitta

In 2010, Iceland began the process of replacing its provisional constitution, in effect since 1944. That process has stalled, but the form it took was a major step forward in accessibility and fairness for the drafting of a constitution. I worked with a team of Icelanders as volunteers; together, we used a novel set of analytic approaches to significantly improve the resulting draft. Iceland, along with several of the other Nordic countries, has continued to break new ground in the structure of democracy. Many of their innovations let parliamentarians have new and more flexible relationships with their constituencies without requiring adoption en mass. In the long-run, these may lead to a renewal of the democratic contract and a chance to fix some of its current imbalances. In this talk, we'll take a trip through the recent history of democracy and see where we might have new opportunities.

Eleanor Saitta is a hacker, designer, artist, writer, and barbarian. She makes a living and a vocation of understanding how complex, transdisciplinary systems and stories fail and redesigning them to fail better, and takes a particular interest in structures of governance and decision-making. Eleanor is a co-founder of the Trike project (, a member of the advisory boards at the Freedom of the Press Foundation (, Geeks Without Bounds (, and the International Modern Media Institute (, a contributor to the Briar project (, and a security architecture and strategy consultant to news organizations and NGOs. She is nomadic and lives mostly in airports and occasionally in New York, London, and Stockholm. She can be found at and on Twitter as @Dymaxion.

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