WRITTEN ON December 1st, 2009 BY William Heath AND STORED IN Ideal Goverment - project, Political engagement

Time was that government IT strategy was a bit of a geeky fringe interest. But today the idea of crowdsourcing a better government IT strategy becomes part of mainstream political debate with the launch of Makeitbetter.

Chip in people – give it your best ideas. I know I shall when I have a mo’

As an aside: they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and these good ideas are there to be shared. Of that, Alan Partridge would say, there can be no doubt. The flattery is piling up. When Alan Mitchell, Liz Brandt and I designed a new business to share insights about empowered customers, customer-managed relationships and VRM we called it Ctrl-Shift. The implications of VRM for public services are considerable and intriguing, but government (with very rare exceptions) is wholly committed to an organisation-centric model of personal data management. Not so HM Loyal Opposition, which listened carefully and took up the idea with enthusiasm, enough indeed to call their local-government strategy “Control Shift”. That’s cool. Memes are for spreading.

When @ntouk and I saw the (unrestricted) draft Cabinet Office ICT Strategy (on top of all the earlier government IT strategies we’ve had to wade through) we were numbed and provoked into launching a crowdsourced contest to do a better one among our geeky friends. But soft! The idea holds appeal at a national policy level! So we held the announcement pending this national launch. Again, we’re wholly in favour of this, because we want a good discsussion among our mates but it’s more valuable as precursor to a really good, customer-aware, contempory and realistic government ICT strategy for those who are running the country.

I wonder which will work better: theirs or ours? Also – this development raises a question: what happens when crowdsourcing goes partisan? Is it “you source with your crowd and I’ll source with mine”? That will be a bit like crowdsourcing; better than nothing, but limited. Or is it “we’ll compete with you lot to be more open in how we crowdsource and respond to policy ideas?”

If it’s the latter, things could get interesting. The Labour administration has some bad habits to drop pdq, and some bad ICT policies. But the Tory Opposition, as well as getting a better government ICT strategy, might get some robust input on other questions such as copyright, their support for the digital economy bill and drugs policy.

5 Responses to “What happens when crowdsourcing becomes part of the party-political contest?”

John Fitzgerald wrote on December 1st, 2009 10:03 am :

Surely they’re missing a ‘meta’ crowd-sourcing point here? If the idea is that Govt don’t have a monopoly on good ideas, why should they have a monopoly on techniques for soliciting them?

William Heath wrote on December 1st, 2009 4:14 pm :

…and another thing. It’s a hell of a hostage to fortune. Sam Smith has been running “CommentonThis” services for some years, some linked with IdealGov. But now “comment on this” is becoming part of the political mainstream. And what goes around comes around. A future Tory administration can expect any half-thought-through or mediocre-quality policy document to be [ripped to shreds] ably examined and supplemented with constructive suggestions. Hey – it might improve policy-making. So much will depend on the quality of enagement, and the quality of listening.

FutureGov » Useful links » links for 2009-12-02 wrote on December 2nd, 2009 1:01 pm :

[…] Ideal Government » Blog Archive » What happens when crowdsourcing becomes part of the party-politi… (tags: guerrillagovernment idealgovernment conservatives politics policy technology government gov20 uk) […]

[…] UPDATE: The excellent William Heath has blogged on the same issue here […]

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