Yesterday (July 15) the initial brainstorming stage of this project came to an end. We used user voice and got 44 suggestions which between them secured 847 votes (with people being allowed up to 10 votes, suggesting that at least 85 people took part). Many thanks to all who took part. Now the question is: where do we go from here?
We are, of course, analysing the results and you too have a look at them either by going to the original site itself where they are ranked by number of votes or by looking at them on David’s excellent debategraph tool. The brief we gave for the ideas was pretty broad and the suggestions do range pretty widely both in terms of area and in degree of specificity. The clearest message was the enthusiasm for transparency and in particular the release of government data in free, open readily accessible formats. There was also strong support for increased citizen involvement in public services and an interest in encouraging (or requiring!) government to move away from big IT projects towards smaller projects based on open source principles with Web 2.0 objectives.
In terms of framing the next steps, we should perhaps start with the aim in mind. We want to have the maximum impact in terms of persuading European public sector decision-makers to embrace the opportunities of Web 2.0 to the benefit of all citizens. To do this, we need to involve as many people as possible (to give our initiative credibility and authority) and have a relatively clear and easily graspable message. So, subject to your input (!), we plan to do two things:
1) An Impactful Manifesto: Collaboratively produce a very short manifesto or charter that captures the essence of what we think European governments could and should do but can be easily understood and endorsed by non-experts. Once we have this short (less than one page document) we would then try to get a large number of people to endorse it in September/October via a Facebook group or some other similar mechanism.
2) A More Detailed Programme: Collaboratively produce a longer document that would set out specific measures governments could consider taking to implement the principles set out in the manifesto. We would probably need to do this mainly via a wiki.
One interesting difficulty we face in moving forward in this direction is that creating a focussed manifesto will involve dropping many of the suggestions made at the brain-storming stage not because they are not good ideas but because the manifesto needs to have a clear focus. How do you make this sort of decision in an open process? I don’t know! The best way forward I can see is transparency plus plenty of opportunities for people to argue against any decisions and change them!
So this is what we plan to do. We have done an initial draft of a manifesto on mixedink http://mixedink.com/Eups20/Manifesto and you can go and change that manifesto in any way you wish. Do, however, bear in mind that our aim is to have an impact and that therefore the manifesto needs to have a clear focus and be easily understandable (and supportable) by non-experts. Please bear this in mind both when drafting and when voting. Anyone can draft and vote and whatever ends up being the final version on September 14 will be the version we seek to get people to sign up to in between September 21 and October 31.
We will also set up a wiki so people can work on the detailed document supporting the manifesto. We will populate the initial wiki document with as many of the suggestions from the brainstorming session as we can, but we will also include a section where people can see the ideas that have been left out of the document and an explanation of why they do not currently feature in the detailed document itself. Obviously the detailed document will need to reflect the manifesto, so if a totally new principle suddenly secured support in the manifesto (or a principle got dropped), we would have to adjust the detailed document accordingly. We will obviously do our best in good faith here, but we will also aim to be as transparent as possible, so people can challenge any decisions that seem wrong. Without the community this project will not get anywhere, so hopefully that will be sufficient incentive to keep us on our toes and responsive rather than inappropriately directive!
So next step! Please comment on this post and/or go to our mixedink site and improve the current draft manifesto. Also do please keep twittering and blogging about this initiative to maximise the number of people who get involved and contribute. Many thanks.
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