Announcing a new project: The Participatory Planning Interactive Prototype (PPIP)

April 4, 2024

We’ve been talking for a long time about the idea of creating a basic software of participatory planning that enables people to take part in a simplified version of the annual participatory planning procedure. I’m glad to announce that we’ve finally started work on it! We present to you PPIP (pronounced “pee-pip”): the Participatory Planning Interactive Prototype.

What is PPIP?

Participatory Planning is an annual decentralised democratic planning procedure of a post-capitalist economy when every December, all citizens in the society take part in deciding a rough plan for how to use society’s resources for the next year. It is proposed as a type of cooperative economy that is an alternative to both market competition and to top-down command planning. 

Our project is to create a basic software version of annual participatory planning. A group of users will be able to join a new session. In the session, each user takes on two roles 1) a representative of a democratic workplace, and 2) a resident of a neighbourhood consumers’ council.

A user will do two things: As a representative of a workers’ council, they will submit a plan for what the workplace proposes to produce for the year ahead and the inputs they will need. As a resident, they will submit a plan for what categories of goods and services they expect to consume for the year ahead. When all data is collected and prices are updated based on any differences in demand and supply, users will refine their proposals over a series of rounds until a plan is reached.

Our prototype will include a list of basic goods and services for users to choose from, and it will create workplaces in all the main industries in the economy. One user will be assigned to one workplace.

What are the aims of the project?

The project meets several of our overlapping strategic aims:

  • Education: it will be an educational tool to enable people to learn about how participatory planning works through directly interacting with the software. While there are written texts in books and articles explaining participatory planning, some people learn best by doing, and we hope this software will help people grasp how participatory planning works. The aim is to start with running controlled planning workshops with groups of 20-30 people online and in classrooms.
  • Research: The software will be an experiment for us to put the theory of the model into practise with real people for the first time and get feedback. We will test how users behave taking part in the planning procedure and how long it takes to reach a feasible plan.
  • Prefiguration: It will be the first version of a software that has the potential to be scaled up over time to be one day used in a real-world scenario.

Who is in the team?

Jason Chrysostomou is leading the design and Mitchell Szczepanczyk is leading the software development. We will be drawing from the expertise from others in our group.

What are the next steps?

We have currently started the initial design phase. Based on the User Story Mapping work we completed last year, which captures the users and their journeys using the software, we will be designing mockups, making clickable prototypes, testing, refining and repeating the process until we have a version we are happy to move on to the next phase: development. This when the software will be coded up into a functioning usable application. After some functional testing, we will then be organising initial tests with small groups of people online and then in classroom environments.

Any questions about the project?

If you have any questions about the project or want to express your interest in taking part in the planning workshops once the software is ready, leave us a comment below!

Notable Replies

  1. Glad you like the project. We are at the early stages but yes I think the plan will be to make the source code open source at some point. Mitchell (@msszczep) is the developer and he will be able to say more about that.

  2. This rules. I’d love to be a part of it when it’s ready.

  3. @Nour : Yes, we plan to open the source code of the project once it’s completed, and very possibly during the course of development. The source code will reside on Github once we have something to share, but as @Jason mentioned we are still at the very early stages and there’s nothing to share as yet.

  4. Interesting! You are recruiting volunteers right?

  5. Yes. Once we have a working version, we will set up experiments and invite people to participate. It will take some time to get there - will keep you posted.

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