Citizen engagement platforms grew in 2010. There will be more such platforms coming from top, through open government, and from the bottom, as civic developers create, host and use their own communities. The opportunity for citizens to participate in the co-creation of the most high profile open government platforms for citizen consultation, ExpertNet, will close on January 23rd, when the White House’s Request for Information will end.
So what’s interesting here? “It is the idea that the public will be (directly) shaping policy that is intriguing, and is a critical component to bridging the gap, both the economic gap as well as the digital gap, as the average citizen is the real stakeholder, and before now has had no forum for influencing change so directly,” said Megan Eskey, OpenGov Lead at the NASA Ames Research Center.
The White House is looking to build a web community to get its questions answered, sort of their own Quora, and they’re trying to do it the right way. They’re asking those who would participate to help shape how the community itself works. They’re not trying to create a network from scratch, but instead trying to connect to networks that already exist. And they’re not just making a community for the hell of it — they’re trying to build one with purpose.
But they’ve asked for our help, from those of us who build, and know, and love web communities. We’re being asked to share our expertise in what does, and doesn’t work on successful web communities. Our deadline for participating is on Monday. Giving them insights into our hard-earned lessons will only take 15 minutes of your time this weekend, and will keep us from having to wonder, “Why wasn’t I consulted?“
Many lively discussion threads have emerged, including suggestion for moderation, voting, ownership of intellectual property and more, including:
“It’s not so much the idea of a wiki or whatever platform ExpertNet rolls out, but rather the format they are looking at of matching experts with those seeking to solve immense problems,” said Eskey. “Whether it is a wiki or a social site or some other crowdsourcing tool like delib’s dialogue app, that feedback loop is critical, especially if the digital divide is to be bridged via new bills that are introduced into Congress, although at this time the project is envisioned for executive agencies and departments only,” she said. Eskey noted that any ideas for using ExpertNet within the legislative branch should be directed to elected representative(s) in Congress.
For those interested in the future of open government and citizen consultation, there’s no time like the present to weigh in. Tim Bonnemann of Intellitics has also posed six questions for ExpertNet for further consideration.
Last night, Washington’s first “Govup” saw dozens of government workers come together near Dupont Circle. In the brief video below, Marie Davie, Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Assisted Acquisition Services the General Services Agency praises Steve Ressler, the founder of Govloop, for his work in creating a platform to empower government workers to network and collaborate online.
“If you’ve got a great idea, and you want to change the world, try it, do it, take that risk” said Mary Davie. “We are a tribe. We’ve got linchpins. We’ve got people that are passionate and really want to make a difference. Thank you for letting us do that.” You can visit Govloop for pictures of the DC Govup.
Govloop and the next generation of government workers earned some coverage in the Washington Post earlier this month. The social network now has over 30,000 members and continues to grow. That’s only likely to continue, given demographic trends highlighted in the article:
Almost one in three of the 142,690 federal workers hired last year was 29 or younger, while more than one in four were between 30 and 39, a demographic that’s reshaping the bureaucracy — and creating tension and opportunity along the way. In 10 years, about 400,000 of the 2 million federal workers will be younger than 35, government personnel experts say.
For a more formal look at Davie’s work at the GSA with acquisition and wikis, read about the Better Buy Project and watch her presentation at the Gov 2.0 Expo below. As with so many areas, often real change is quiet, incremental and collaborative.
For more than four years, the intelligence agencies in the United States have been using a wiki called “Intellipedia” to improve knowledge capture and sharing. I interviewed Sean Dennehy and Don Burke at the Gov 2.0 Expo to learn more about Intellipedia. The two CIA officers have spearheaded the Intellipedia effort since its inception.