CitizenEngagedGovernment

By SamuelRose, published at 10 May 2007 - 8:12pm, last updated 11 years 13 weeks ago.

[Via Social Synergy Wiki]

Wikipedia:Zephyr_Teachout, Director of Internet Organizing for HowardDean’s presidential campaign, posted an election day blog posting to New Assignment with some suggestions about how politicians can engage networks of citizens (quoted from Blog posting:

  1. Hold weekly online chats for any interested constituents
  2. Hold online consultations where your staff identifies 50-400 people (NOT the online opinion makers, but people who don’t generally have a voice) to engage in consultations on particular topics, using existing list-serv technology (yahoo or google groups work fine).
  3. Put your daily schedule on the Internet, including all meetings. Just as you put your public campaigning schedule online, you should now allow people to know how you are spending the time they earned for you.
  4. List your overall priorities and general schedule for the upcoming four-to-five months, to engage people in the prioritization process.
  5. Before you propose or sign any bill, put it online for at least three days for responses, and create “chat times” for discussions of the bills with staffers and constituents. There is a legislative proposal for this, but in the meantime members of Congress can act on their own.
  6. Follow the lead of Estonia, and create a forum where people can track, suggest and review legislation – and commit to having your staff review any that gets at least (x number) of people supporting it. American politicians should be chastened — Estonia started that website five years ago.

I would also add that local groups can be given access to easy ways of accumulating their own data, and accessing data accumulated by government about their local area, and inserting it into these engagement platforms.

Also, alternatively, recurring telephone conferences are very inexpensive, and can give an access outlet for people who are not computer literate, or who do not have access to computers. These calls can be recorded and uploaded to websites as well.

For number 5., Post the bill onto a Wiki, and allow people to directly edit a copy of the bill, or place comments on or near it.

A message board or forum, or comment section in ThreadMode, with the document at the top, and a discussion at the bottom allows you to discuss what is wrong with the document at the top. a threaded conversation can become very difficult to read, and possesses a low SignalToNoiseRatio. A wiki page allows you to actually make the change (referred to as DocumentMode). Of course, a wiki also allows the freedom of a MixedMode (threaded discussion, and editable documents). The point is, don’t limit people to just talking about what is wrong. Give them a way to change it, and a way to PeerReview those changes.

Wiki-enabled feedback can help familiarize people with the language and processes of legislation. It would attract people who have expertise in the area of legislation and legal matters, as well as people who have no such expertise. MixedMode talking about, and directly changing proposed legislation in wikis can both generate debate and give people ways to demonstrate exactly how they would like to be governed.

Explore and add to these concepts more at CitizenEngagedGovernment.