Equity of Crowdsourcing for Political Issue Prioritization

A tweet came across recently about a website that is working to prioritize political issues at a local level based on people input (essentially similar to change.gov – share your idea).

I think the idea of a non-partisan, transparent, framework for identifying and promoting the strength/concern of a particular issue is great…. unfortunately, I think it falls short of its goals, particularly at the local level. With Change.gov, one can argue that JoeSixPack has a decent chance of knowing about the website, its goals, and might be interested in adding his/her two cents. Whether or not it is statistically representative of the US population remains to be seen.

In order for crowdsourcing to work effectively for prioritizing political issues, there must be universal access to the web (and the crowdsourcing tool) by the population in question, full knowledge of the tools objectives and use, understanding of the issues, and some way to limit/prevent gaming the tool.

Without these in place, what is marketed as a “transparent” and “non-partisan” and “representative of the population” tool becomes just another mechanism for pushing a particular political issue based on one or another groups ability to game the tool. In fact, IMHO, it is worse, because at least with PACs and other organizations, one can research the bias and understand the context within which a political issue is presented. With a not-ready-for-primetime environment, etc. the bias is hidden.

Please comment here or to my tweet me .
I have a poll ….please go a vote your thoughts on this issue.
Poll results are here.

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Adriel Hampton

You are right, great comment. We have to approach Web 2.0 as one of the ways to reach people, not the right way. One of the acute problems to watch out for is that gaming of the system. Some of my thoughts on Government 2.0 for local gov are here.

Erik Jonker

The issue of universal access to the web/internet is a temporary problem in my view, internet penetration in my country is quite high (more than 80% of the households) and if the mobile (internet) platform really takes off this will get even higher.
As a government you have the moral obligation to include all groups in your society and always use more than one channel in my view, everybody should be able to participate. However, even if it is biased and there are (real) risks of gaming one should not lose sight of the fact that more people than ever can give at least some input into the policy making process through the internet. The real issue, at least in my country, is a more fundamental one, in recent history the population in general was not very interested in politics (via the internet or otherwise). A side-effect of the current recession can be that this will change (i hope).