Platforms for citizensourcing emerge in Egypt


As people watching the impact of social media in the events in Egypt know, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube played a role. Today, Microsoft’s director of public sector engagement, Mark Drapeau, sent word that the Redmond-based software company’s open source ideation platform, Town Hall, has been deployed at nebnymasr.org to collect ideas.

The highest profile implementation of Town Hall to date was for crowdsourcing ideas in Congress for the incoming Republican majority in Congress at “America Speaking Out.

This Town Hall instance and others show how citizensourcing platforms can be tailored to channel feedback around specific topics, as opposed to less structured platforms. As governments and citizens try to catalyze civic engagement using the Internet, creating better architectures for citizen participation will be critical. Clay Shirky’s talk about the Internet, citizenship and lessons for government agencies at the Personal Democracy Forum offered some insight on that count. Using taxonomies to aggregate ideas instead of a single list was a key takeaway.

To date, the Egyptian citizensourcing site has logged a few dozen questions and votes. Whether usage of the site will grow more or not is up for debate. The network effect may working against it. As ReadWriteWeb reported last week, Egyptians are using Google Moderator to brainstorm Egypt’s future. Wael Ghonim, the Google executive who played a role in Egypt’s recent revolution, started a Google Moderator page for Egypt entitled, “Egypt 2.0, what does we need? What are our dreams?!.” To date, the Moderator instance has logged 1,361,694 votes for more than 50,000 of the ideas submitted by nearly 40,000 users.

About Alex Howard

Alexander B. Howard is a DC-based a technology writer and editor. Previously, he was the Washington Correspondent at O'Reilly Media, where he covered the voices, technologies and issues that matter in the intersection of government, technology and society. If you're feeling social, you can follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook or circle him on Google Plus In addition to corresponding for the O’Reilly Radar, he has contributed to the Huffington Post, Govfresh, Mashable, ReadWriteWeb, National Journal, The Atlantic, CBS News and Forbes. He graduated from Colby College with a bachelor's degree in biology and sociology. Currently, he is a resident of the District of Columbia, where he lives with his greyhound, wife, power tools, plants and growing collection of cast iron pans, many of which are frequently used to pursue his passion for good cooking.

4 thoughts on “Platforms for citizensourcing emerge in Egypt

  1. Hi Howard,

    Thanks for your coverage of the site. I am one of the creators of NebnyMasr (which rougly translates to “we build Egypt”). We actually came up with the idea and started working on it at the end of the revolution that happened in Egypt as we wanted a way for the Egyptian people to collect their ideas and share with the appropriate political parties/government in this new era of Democracy in Egypt.

    There are several things from the Townhall platform that we thought would make the site better than the existing ideas already out there as you mentioned. First of all, all of our ideas are categorized under certain topics. It makes it much easier to browse and contribute to the areas you are interested in. Looking through 50,000 ideas without categories/topics is a daunting task.

    Additionally users can tag their posts and get responses/feedback on them. You can post questions and have a discussion, and even put videos from Youtube of certain ideas if you like them. We’re also leveraging facebook platform for logins/accounts and a fanpage which a large number of the youth in Egypt use. You can follow your favorite users. There is also a fun gaming aspect where you can gain reputation “points” and earn badges.

    We also have lots of new features that we plan on adding to the site such as mobile apps, polls, integrated facebook page and more.

    This is a project that we started in our spare time as we love our country and are very passionate about it 🙂 We got it up and running over a weekend, and have been working on it every day since and are optimistic for our country and its future 🙂

    Thanks again!

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