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.