Information Landmine

"The Americans keep telling us how successful their system is. Then they remind us not to stray too far from our hotel at night." - An un-named EU trade representative quoted during international trade talks in Denver, Colorado, 1997.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


One of the most interesting developments in administration of government in the last few years (if, indeed any public administration can be considered 'interesting') has been the move towards doing more and more things online.

First local authorities started doing clever things like letting you pay your council tax online (wow). Now it's all about participatory democracy - internet style-e.

You have two choices at the moment. The rather corporately branded 'Spending Challenge' and 'Your Freedom' offer the public the opportunity to submit their own suggestions and rate others for their ability to save public money and enhance public freedom respectively.

A quick search for the idea on 'Your Freedom' with the most votes, reveals that it's to do with scrapping the Digital Economy Act and has attracted the amazing high tally of 24 votes (25 now, I thought I might as well stick my oar in). Not exactly a lot?

Whether either of these projects will elicit anything like enough traffic to mean that any of the suggestions are taken in any way seriously, I'm not sure. I wouldn't take much notice of 24 votes myself, and the absolutely dreadful slowness of the site (which evidently has more traffic than it can handle?) will no doubt put most people off.

What it's worth mentioning though, from a quick look, is that there are some pretty bad ideas I've ever heard of on there (although perhaps it is the reasoning behind the ideas that is bad)... abolishing human rights, leaving the EU, banning the national speed limit, scrapping foreign aid.
Interestingly, the lowest vote I can give anything is 1 of 5 - which is still positive in my view - there's very little way of expressing what a dreadful idea it is - or just voting zero.

Is it worth engaging with? Probably only if it reaches a certain tipping point and that will only happen if we engage with it... hmmm.... perhaps a facebook campaign would have been a better idea...


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