Bibliography of Print and Online Sources with regard to Consensus Decision-making, Internet Collaboration, and Related Topics (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)

Contains references to inform and support consensus-based, collaborative projects.


1. Articles about Letters to the World: Poems from the Wom-po Listserv 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:,114,41)

• 2008 AWP panel on Letters to the World. Text here:

• Wom-po Archives, for the initial discussion that started the Letters to the World project in Nov. and Dec. 2005. See posts titled Community Wompo Journal, and others on the anthology.

• Description of Letters to the World, publisher, and other info: 


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, specifically,
(This is basically the same as the article on consensus at


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   Wikis are a free  system for collaborative creation and maintenance of websites. There are lots of wiki spaces to choose from, not just “pmwiki.”

4. Openness, egalitarianism, and the Internet:

• “How the Internet Got Its Rules” Stephen D. Crocker,  NYT Published: April 6, 2009

• Engineering and Structure of the Internet, from “The Tao of IETF: A Novice's Guide to the Internet Engineering Task Force
“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.


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


6. 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.


7. Women in Cyberspace

• Ellen Moody blog:

“Women Weave Webs, but men invent, name & control technology” 8Feb 06:

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

• Dale Spender: Nattering on the Net

• See Moody’s blog entry for links to several more articles on the subject.


8. Related ideas:

The Commons

“The commons is everything we inherit or create together and must pass on, undiminished, to future generations.” (from the “on the commons” website)

• Lewis Hyde’s page on

• “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 Gift Economy

An alternative to the “exchange economy” (an economy that relies on money or other forms of exchaning “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

• Feminism and the gift economy (Genevieve Vaughan and others):
• Lewis Hyde on supporting the arts


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.
• American studies resources at Washington State University—on cultural imperialism:
Cultural imperialism 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.”
• WSU on gender:
• WSU on race:
For more articles on gender bias, 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.” (home) (archives)

2. Books like Letters to the World:Poems from the Wom-po Listserv 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 common 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 and creativity:
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.