[EM] RE: fun example

Abd ulRahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Thu May 19 18:34:06 PDT 2005

At 04:42 PM 5/19/2005, Simmons, Forest wrote:
>If (in order to share costs) all the participants were to contribute (to a 
>transportation pool) the average cost of getting to the winning city, then 
>it would be to their economic advantage to choose the city minimizing the 
>average voter distance (assuming that flight costs were proportional to 
>But that's a pretty big "if."

I mention in another post today that Alcoholics Anonymous decided years ago 
to hold their national Conference in one city (New York, where the national 
office is located) and to equalize travel expenses. Generally AA 
Intergroups or regional organizations, I forget the exact details, pay 
delegate expenses, which are equalized. Essentially, this made the choice 
of Conference city largely irrelevant. Yes, some city might be chosen which 
optimized total expense, but the variation would not be great, since 
delegates are coming from all regions, and having the Conference where the 
office was located lowered organizational expenses (for travel of staff and 
the like).

However, where a group of participants are travelling to a city by car, 
cost would be one factor, travel time, which is also a kind of cost, would 
be another. Theoretically, that could also be equalized in some way, but it 
gets more complicated.... If travel is by air, once you are flying it is 
not all that important how far you are flying, much of the difficulty is in 
getting in and out of the airports.

Anyway, creative devices like travel equalization, thus avoiding 
contention, can be much better than sophisticated election schemes which 
assume that only one outcome, one winner, is possible. If you have to 
choose one city, and there is no equalization device, there are going to be 
winners and losers and the support of the losers for whatever system is 
doing this to them will be weakened. Multiply this by hundreds of such 
choices and most people end up feeling pretty alienated.

To me, an ideal organizational system will maintain the enthusiastic 
support of participants that is common in new organizations. The trick is 
to maintain the kinds of relationships that exist in new, small 
organizations, as the organizations grow and mature. I think there is a 
way, I've been writing about it.

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