Cyberfolk was an experiment developed by the Cybersyn team.  It conceptually consisted on giving the people the chance to have a real time connexion from their homes with Government decision making groups, and thus be able to have a democratic participation in decision processes.

The Cyberfolk system was implemented experimentally in two Chilean cities, Tome (region 8) and Mejillones (Region 2).  They connected the municipalities of both cities with the homes of a group of inhabitants of each of the cities. A closed television circuit enabled the people to view municipal council sessions and take active part in these democratic processes.  For example, one session was devoted to deciding on a specific budget devoted to different alternatives, and the inhabitants could send signals of approval or disapproval by means of an algedonic system.

The algedonic system consisted of a wooden apparatus and analogous circuits that had a graph representing a semicircle that read “agree” and “disagree” on each of its sides. A rotation button enabled people to choose their option and send the signal in real time using a closed circuit system installed in the municipality.  For the team, the system was a perfect tool for the democratisation of the process of Government decision, providing the people with scientific tools to express themselves and take an active part in decisions affecting their respective localities.  Nonetheless, the system was too advanced to be applied in a social system that was not ready to face tools of this kind. This kind of analogue “People Meter” might have been improperly used by both population and Government.  This system required total commitment and honesty on both parties, a situation that was impossible in those times owing to the socioeconomic instability that characterised the country.  Those groups that opposed the Allende Government wrongly accused this experiment as a tool to control people, when in all truth it would be the people who would finally have the chance to take part in the civic decisions of the State.

Scheme draw of Cyberfolk made by Stafford Beer