Designing methods for the madness, so our complexity cannot be weaponized against us

Elizabeth Barry serves as Head of Partnerships at The Computational Democracy Project, the 501(c)3 organization she established with the creators of the Polis technology to steward its open source code and methods. Elizabeth works with facilitators, social movements, civil society organizations, journalists, indigenous nations, democratic governments both young and old, and peacebuilders to implement "listening at scale." The collaboration began when her presence at Taiwan's 2014 Sunflower Revolution and subsequent relationship with g0v led to her writing up the first coverage of vTaiwan in the west, in the 2016 piece for Civicist titled "vTaiwan: Public Participation Methods on the Cyberpunk Frontier of Democracy," now republished by Taiwan's government.

Her large-scale facilitation skills were developed and honed through listening to ~100,000 strangers on the sidewalks of New York City and across the United States with a sign that said "Talk To Me" and a couple of lawn chairs. Her large-scale coordination skills were tested in global participatory science projects. In response to urban tree death rates and the lack of support for tree stewards caring for their patch of the urban forest, she co-founded TreeKIT. With TreeKIT, she developed an accessible method for thousands of people to scientifically hug every tree on every sidewalk in New York City. Through a partnership with NYC Department of Parks, TreeKIT generated the City's most accurate spatial inventory of biological assets, now powering the official NYC Tree Stewardship Map. In response to the information blackout imposed on journalists and scientists during the BP oil spill, she co-founded the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science. With Public Lab's open research community, she guided the interplay between place-based organizing and distributed peer production for 10,000+ active members in over 100 countries. In recognition of this experience, she was elected to the first Community Council of the Gathering for Open Science Hardware -- a global community of hackers dedicated to making open science hardware ubiquitous by 2025 -- to design their networked governance system.

Trained as a landscape architect and urban designer, she tunes human-environment-technology relationships by applying design to community organizing, science to environmental justice, and math to democracy. Her work is carried out in service to collective self-determination. Often characterized as collective intelligence, she refers to her collaborative initiatives as "methods for the madness."

Socials, profiles, and blogs

Authored and co-authored articles about Polis and vTaiwan

Authored and co-authored articles about Public Lab, TreeKIT, community science and environmental governance

Vintage press about Data Rescue NYC, garden metrics for Five Borough Farm, and large scale interactions with strangers