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Bibliography: Consensus and Related Topics

2023. First compiled in 2008 after the publication of Letters to the World (see below), this bibliography and its celebration of the Internet now refer to a “time past.” Many of the links are old and the joyful egalitarianism of the early Internet has been drastically transformed by the advent of social media. Even the Wom-po Listserv did not survive. Yet I am leaving it here—on its home space, the Internet. The ideas it refers to are still of huge importance to our collective human undertaking. And many of the links and topics stand as a testament to the young Internet—what it offered and how it shone with possibility.

~2008. A work in progress.
Compiled by Rosemary Starace as background and corollary to the international anthology, Letters to the World: Poems from the Wom-po Listserv, edited by Moira Richards, Rosemary Starace, and Lesley Wheeler (Red Hen Press, 2008). Letters to the World is the result of a consensus-based Internet collaboration across three continents that arose from Wom-po: The Discussion of Women’s Poetry Listserv.
This bibliography contains references and links to inform and support consensus-based, collaborative projects.

See below or download here: StaraceBiblioConsensus2.html

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

1. Letters to the World and its process
2. Definitions and descriptions of consensus
3. Collaborating on the Internet
4. Openness, egalitarianism, and the Internet
5. Feminism, collaboration, and consensus
6. Women in Cyberspace
7. Origins of consensus process and egalitarian principles: in Quaker, Native American and other native peoples’ philosophy and governance
8. Related ideas:
A. The Commons
B. Co-operative Economic Ventures
C. The Gift Economy
D. Cultural Imperialism
E. The Egalitarianism of Creativity
F. Non-violence


1. Letters to the World and its process:
Cento for an Anthology of Women Poets, Fisher-Wirth, et al., in New Zealand based, JUNCTURES: A Journal for Thematic Dialogue, Issue 10, Group.
2008 AWP panel on Letters to the World
Wom-po Archives of the initial discussion that started the Letters to the World project in November and December 2005. See posts titled Community Wompo Journal, and others on the anthology.
Description of Letters to the World, publisher, and other info.
• Reviews: Poemeleon, Calyx, Junctures, Botsotso, Prairie Schooner
First Annual Festival of Women’s Poetry (“The Wompherence”): an Internet collaboration by members of Wom-po: The Discussion of Women’s Poetry Listserv that compiles extensive information and work on and by women poets, including section on Letters to the World.

2. Definitions and descriptions of consensus:
Wikipedia on Consensus. Note especially the Models section: Quaker, IETF
Starhawk: Consensus is Not Unanimity
Anarchism and consensus
Explanation and critique of consensus decision making
Website of the Open Politics Foundation
(This is basically the same as the article on consensus at infoshop.org. above.)
• Visit here for handout on how to practice consensus decision-making. [Note: this was developed for use in a college class project, but the general principles apply to any consensus-based endeavor.]

3. Collaborating on the Internet:
Internet Collaboration: Good, Bad, and Downright Ugly
This article describes a collaboration, but not a consensus-based one. Some of the ideas here reflected our experience, some didn’t. Notably, they recommend setting times where everyone is present on the Internet forum at once in order to facilitate discussion and decision making. The Letters to the World group never “met” all at once, due to time zone differences and work schedules. Coming to the project at our own convenience helped us sustain the long commitment required to complete the project and to give thought to others’ ideas before reacting.
• There are now many kinds of Internet based forums and tools that facilitate collaboration:
1. Yahoo groups and the like. (This is what we used for Letters to the World.
2. Basecamp This is a paid service, but there is a limited free plan as well as a free trial period.
3. Wikis are a free system for collaborative creation and maintenance of websites. There are lots of wiki spaces to choose from, including pmwiki.

4. Openness, egalitarianism, and the Internet:
How the Internet Got Its Rules, STEPHEN D. CROCKER New York Times, April 6, 2009
• Engineering and Structure of the Internet:
from “The Tao of IETF: A Novice’s Guide to the Internet Engineering Task Force_draft-hoffman-tao4677bis-05:”
What Is the IETF?
Letting Go Gracefully
‘Rough Consensus and Running Code’ and the Internet-OSI Standards War, (a basic document on the origins of the Internet—unfortunately now you need a paid subscription to read it!)
Also available in print, “‘Rough Consensus and Running Code’ and the Internet-OSI Standards War,” Andrew L. Russell, IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, July–September 2006, 48–61.
Berkman Center for Internet & Society

5. Feminism, collaboration, and consensus:
• Lisa Ede and Angela Lunsford, Singular Texts / Plural Authors: Perspectives on Collaborative Writing (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1990)
• Helen Cafferty and Jeannette Clausen essay, “What’s Feminist about It? Reflections on Collaboration in Editing and Writing” (in Common Ground: Feminist Collaboration in the Academy, edited by Elizabeth G. Peck and JoAnna Stephens Mink. Albany: SUNY Press, 1997)
• Afterword to A Women’s Picture Book: 25 Women Artists of Aotearoa (New Zealand) (Wellington: Government Printing, 1988) by two of the editors, Marian Evans and Bridie Lonie
Truth or Dare: Encounters with Power, Authority, and Mystery, Starhawk, New York: HarperOne, 1989
Egalitarian dialogue. ”...not only self-confidence gets enhanced through egalitarian dialogue, creativity improves as well.”
• See also sources under section 1, above.

6. Women in Cyberspace
Ellen Moody blog, 8Feb 06:
Women Weave Webs, but men invent, name & control technology
Cited in the above blog:
Gender Differences in Computer-Mediated Communications: Bringing Familiar Baggage to the New Frontier, Susan Herring
Searching for Safety Online: Managing Trolling in a Feminist Forum, Susan Herring
Nattering on the Net, Dale Spender
• See Moody’s blog entry for links to several more articles on the subject.

7. Origins of consensus process and egalitarian principles: in Quaker, Native American and other native peoples’ philosophy and governance:
Quaker Faith and Practice (Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends in Britain 1994–2006). Note especially sections 10.21, 20.68, 20.71, 20.75, 3.02, 3.05, 3.06. Or see any edition of same from any Quaker group.
Mothers of Feminism: The Story of Quaker Women in America, Margaret Hope Bacon, Quaker Press of Friends General Conference, 1995
The Reader’s Companion to U.S. Women’s History, edited by Wilma Mankiller et al., Boston: Houghton Mifflin Books, 1998)
• The chapter “Who is Your Mother? Red Roots of White Feminism” in Paula Gunn Allen’s The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions, Boston: Beacon Press, 1992). See also other work by Paula Gunn Allen.
• See also the work of Sally Roesch Wagner on Native Americans and early feminism.
Group Decision by Consensus: Reaching Unity in the Society of Friends 1, AP Hare – Sociological Inquiry, 1973 – Blackwell Synergy.
• Or Google “Consensus Quaker grassroots” or the like for various examples.

8. Related ideas:
The Commons
“The commons is everything we inherit or create together and must pass on, undiminished, to future generations.” (from the website)
On the Commons
Lewis Hyde’s website
Lewis Hyde’s page on Onthecommons.org
The Ecstasy of Influence, Jonathan Lethem, Harper’s magazine, Feb. 2007
The Creative Commons. Licensing creative and intellectual work. “Free tools that let authors, scientists, artists, and educators easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry.”
• The Poetry Foundation’s Poetry and New Media: A User’s Guide. Excellent discussion of access, copyright and fair use issues. Contains detailed bibliography and reading list. Free download.

Co-operative Economic Ventures
A community-supported, community-supporting alternative to corporations.
[coming soon]

The Gift Economy
An alternative to the “exchange economy” (an economy that relies on money or other forms of “this for that”). Gift economies often exist parallel to or intertwined with the economy of exchange. The arts, formulation of ideas, household work, and raising children are some common endeavors that naturally partake of a gift economy. (Note: this does not mean people should not earn a living from their work!)
The Gift, Lewis Hyde, Vintage Book, 2007
Review of the 1983 edition of Hyde’s The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property in “The Nation” (Jackson Lears).
• Feminism and the gift economy (Genevieve Vaughan and others):
Gift Economy Conference. Contains links to many articles.
Gift Economy site
• Lewis Hyde on supporting the arts in “The Kenyon Review, Winter, 2008. (Afterword to the twenty-fifth anniversary edition of The Gift. )

Cultural Imperialism
Describes the process whereby a dominant culture comes to subsume, erase, or affect another. Takes on new weight in the age of the Internet and other global communication technologies.
Cultural Imperialism, American Studies resource at Washington State University.
Can also describe a process that takes place within cultures, when a dominant group sets the rules or norms for participation and defines who is “in” and who is “out,” or what is true or good.
Regarding the latter, one example is within the literary arts in our own society, where often the white male point of view is held by the society in general as “correct.”
See WSU’s pages on Gender and Race. For other articles on gender biases, see also Ellen Moody blog references, above.)
Arts-specific antidotes include:
1. Open Internet forums and listservs, like Wom-po: The Discussion of Women’s Poetry and its archives
2. Books like Letters to the World that reflect egalitarian principles in selection and process.
3. Open sharing of ideas and intellectual property, as is done with creative commons licenses, shareware, free music downloads, etc.
4. Copyright laws that protect creators during their lifetimes but return work to the public domain within a reasonable period where it can be widely and cheaply available to seed new creative work.
5. Self publishing or publishing others on the Internet using blogs, wikis, online zines, youtube, etc.
6. Self publishing or publishing others in print, using print-on-demand services like Lulu, Blurb , and many others. Requires little monetary outlay, allows books to stay in print indefinitely.

Egalitarianism of Creativity
The opposite of cultural imperialism, holds that all people are creative and that the creative work of all peoples and groups is equal. (See the cultural imperialism sites for extensive bibliography and multicultural points of view.) With regard to the arts specifically, holds that all people have the capacity and the right to make art (to create artifacts that hold meaning based on their own experience). Bibliography in progress.
For interesting insights about art-making:
William Stafford’s books on writing, Crossing Unmarked Snow, Writing the Australian Crawl, and others.
This Craft of Verse, Jorge Luis Borges
The Art Spirit, Robert Henri
No More Secondhand Art, Peter London
The Transformative Vision, Jose Arguelles
Art and Fear, Bayles and Orland
and many more.

There is much good material on this topic, online and in print. Bibliography in progress…
Google: nonviolence; consensus and peace-making; Quakers and nonviolence, etc. Many of the links given above address this topic.

Creative Commons License
all content by Rosemary Starace is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.