eDemocracy reinvented

There seems to be a lot of interest recently in democratic reform, particularly around digital.  Specifically, the speakers commission on digital democracy and a new inquiry into ePetitions.

I have made a number of submissions and watched a number of public debates such as this.  Having spent a number of years’ previous working on digital democracy projects I feel suitably qualified 😉

They haven’t quite hit on a debate around rebooting the system yet but maybe this will come out in the final report.  I hope they also talk about more fundamental levers such as the OpenPolitics Manifesto and the concept of an Open Party based on it (hat tip to Phil John).  This is the sort of radical thinking we need (e.g. open candidate selection), not a renewed focus on ePetitions.

Some other bits I picked-up on:-

  • Time is a unit of scarcity and there are there are more and more websites requiring more of our attention.
  • There is a shift from mass engagement to smaller group engagement.  The challenge is, how to manage the expectation of smaller groups who expect individual responses compared to mass engagement.  Parliamentarians are inundated!
  • Intermediaries are useful but do not communicate well with democratic institutions or actors.
  • There are a lot of start-ups like ShouldWe which focus on social opinion polling.  How do we get individuals to debate policy issues collectively and output to decision makers rather than submit individual responses?
  • MP Douglas Carswell summed thins up nicely, including an observation that we don’t need intermediaries in the same way we think we do.  He’s even experimented with crowdsourcing legislation.  It’s clear that technology changes politics – and that it is a threat.  Douglas say we don’t need to fret about adapting or designing a response – survival will be a course of nature.
  • Lots of debte about the benefits of a digital citizen’s jury.  Personally I am an advocate.
  • Surveillance has a detrimental affect to democracy.
  • Almost half of young people get information from Facebook and Twitter and quite a lot follow politicians.  However, they don’t like politicians to be trendy.

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