Archive for the 'E-democracy' Category

eDemocracyCamp ‘09

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

As someone who is not entirely without blame for coming up with the idea in the first place, I was particularly bummed to not be able to attend the second iteration of eDemocracyCamp in person this year. Oh well, next time…

Watching the event from a distance, though, it looks as if things went well and people enjoyed themselves, thanks to a truly great team effort of sponsors and organizers.

Here’s a random (and yet mostly un-vetted) list of projects and resources I picked up via Twitter over the course of the day. Some cool stuff there for sure:

  • Selectricity — Selectricity is voting machinery for the masses. We help groups make better decisions, more easily. We allow voting, usually in form of ranking a list of choices in order of preference, and have the computer help groups make better decisions.
  • — is an easy-to-navigate regulatory portal. Every day, federal agencies issue dozens of rules that affect you, your business, and your family. We make it easy to keep track of proposed and final regulations and to submit comments to the agencies.
  • OpenDialogCoalition — The OpenDialogCoalition is a loose collaborative of people and organizations proposing and exploring web 2.0 technologies with best practices in user-centered identity, online community and cross-boundary integration for open government and the digital economy.
  • Knowledge As Power — Our mission is to help invididuals become effective citizens within the legislative process.
  • The OrangeBand Initiative — People who take an OrangeBand and display it someplace visible demonstrate their commitment to practice listening at work and in life. When asked about the OrangeBand, they say something like, “It means I’m interested in listening to what’s important to the people around me. What’s important to you?” And the conversation begins.
  • Democracy 2 — Democracy 2 is the ultimate political strategy / simulation game. Based on a sophisticated neural network, the game simulates the motivations, loyalties and desires of everyone in the country.
  • Why, Kai? — Kai Degner Is Mayor Of Harrisonburg, VA
  • Government Innovators Network — This portal is produced by the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School, and is a marketplace of ideas and examples of government innovation.
  • Metagovernment — The goal of the Metagovernment project is to make the governance of any community as accessible as a free software project. No one is required to participate, but everyone is allowed to participate, just as software developers can contribute to open source projects and editors can contribute to Wikipedia.
  • — We’re your constituents, and we’re here to serve you. Type a legislator’s name into the box, or put your address in and we’ll figure it out. Complete list of legislators.
  • — Making government accessible, reliable, and transparent with advanced permalinks.
  • — “Congress should change its rules to require that non-emergency legislation and conference reports be posted on the Internet for 72 hours before debate begins.”
  • — The mission of DeepDebate.Org is to create the best open and transparent forum for ideas to compete.
  • Sustained Dialogue — ustained Dialogue (SD) is a systematic, open-ended political process to transform relationships over time.
  • — Educating & Informing Chicagoans About Fighting Parking Tickets & Parking Issues
  • MixedInk — MixedInk takes a fresh approach to collaborative writing. It’s a fun, democratic and elegant way for people to weave their best ideas together. (Plus, it’s free!)
  • White House 2 — White House 2 is a multi-partisan network of 8325 citizens imagining how the White House might work if it was run completely democratically by thousands of people over the internet. It’s free and all U.S. citizens can join.

Thanks again to everyone on the ground who made it happen.

New Flickr group: Online Campaigning in Germany (Internet-Wahlkampf in Deutschland)

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Following my efforts to collect a few snapshots and impressions from the recent US presidential (online) campaigns, I thought I’d start the same for Germany, where 2009 looks like it might be a big election year (federal parliament, president, various state parliaments, European parliament etc.).

Since I probably won’t have the time to cover everything, I started a new group on Flickr:

Online Campaigning in Germany (Internet-Wahlkampf in Deutschland)

This group tracks innovations and interest finds around online campaigning in Germany.

Diese Gruppe sammelt Innovationen und interessante Fundstücke rund um Internet-Wahlkampf in Deutschland.

It’s open for anyone to join and contribute.

While many doubt that Germany is ready for significant advances in fully embracing the internet as the tool for political campaigns in 2009 (if ever), I am pretty confident that a few candidates will figure it out.

Either way, let’s see what evidence we can find together.

Ameritocracy: new social fact-checking platform

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

I just signed up for Ameritocracy, a new social web app (currently in beta) for collaborative fact-checking.


From their blog:

About Ameritocracy

Ameritocracy is a user generated content site that allows people to rate the credibility of statements made by our leaders and information gatekeepers such as media outlets and businesses. Our reputation system helps to make the information you read more credible, and the succinct nature of the content will help anyone keep up with social and political news.

From the about page:

What is Ameritocracy?

The internet today is pretty neat. It’s given us access to more information than any previous publishing medium, and gives everyone with a connection the tools to broadcast their views to the masses. With so many opinions, we can learn about all sides of any issue, but it still takes a lot of time to do the research. Ameritocracy was born out of this frustration of not knowing who to trust and not having the time to try to figure it out.

Our goal is to help people cut through the noise and gain quick access to the whole picture. We want to encourage a healthy skepticism of all claims, and offer a meaningful way to participate in the dialogue between the people who consume information and the people who own it. We want to give the public a chance to say, “We’re listening”, and demand that we be listened to as well.

How does it work?

The core features of Ameritocracy are adding statements (made by a person or organization) and assessing statements. For example, if you hear Jane Doe say something on tv that you find questionable, you can submit that statement to the site to see what the community has to say about it, or you can add your own assessment. Members can then rate Jane Doe’s statement for credibility and relevancy, add their own assessments, or post a comment.

From this, Jane Doe will develop a reputation based on the community ratings, and you and your sources will develop a positive reputation so long as no one identifies your submission as a misquote or deliberately inaccurate information. The goal is to get a few different perspectives for each statement, so anyone looking to know more about a statement can get a broader picture and make their own assessment.

There will be some really exciting trends to watch during this process, such as what the public feels about certain topics, how public opinion changes over time, and how the government, media and business react to the views of the Ameritocracy community.

Over on the IPDI blog, Julie Germany has an interview with Porter Bayne, one of the co-founders (she’s also giving out invite codes so check it out): Building Ameritocracy one quote at a time

At first glance, this looks very similar to Munich, Germany-based Trupoli (which I looked at briefly back in December).

PolitCamp Graz: May 30-31, 2008 in Graz, Austria

Friday, January 18th, 2008

About PolitCamp Graz (in German):

Das PolitCamp soll eine Unkonferenz zum Thema Politische Kommunikation im Web 2.0 werden, wobei die detaillierte inhaltliche Vorbereitung Sache der Teilnehmer ist. Dazu ist dieses Wiki da. Wir hoffen, dass viele Besucher kommen, für die Unkonferenzen dieses Typs neu sind: z.B. politisch Aktive, PR-Leute und Journalisten.

Bei einer Session auf dem letzten Wiener BarCamp haben wir Ideen für das PolitCamp gesammelt. Sehr gut hat mir dort die Formulierung gefallen: zeigen, was mit Web 2.0-Mitteln in der politischen Kommunikation heute möglich ist. Ein wichtiges Thema wird sicher auch der long tail der politischen Kommunikation sein: Wie kann die unbekannte Expertin das Web zur politischen Kommunikation nutzen, wie können die Betroffenen der Politik öffentlich kommunizieren?

I’ve taken the liberty to add the event to Upcoming.

Meet me at SXSW Interactive, March 7-11, 2008 in Austin, Texas

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

Just signed up for SXSW Interactive 2008.

Last year was a lot of fun, so looking very much forward to going again this year. SXSW 2007 was when Twitter really took off. See a list of Twitterers attending this year’s conference here: Given their recent performance issues during Steve Job’s keynote at Mac World, it’ll be interesting to watch whether the service will be as reliable and fun as it was last year. And fun it was, with half of Twitter’s then-userbase congregated in the same city (in a way, it almost felt like a location-based service). So here’s to hoping they can figure things out.

Also, if you’re coming to SXSW from Europe, I’m organizing Kraut by Southwest, a little get-together for the German and European community on Monday, March 11 (see Upcoming or Facebook for details).

SXSW will be my third event on this trip, following eDemocracyCamp (provided it actually happens, sign up on the wiki, Upcoming or on Facebook if you’re interested) and Politics Online Conference 2008, both of which will be held in Washington DC.

If all goes well, I will be able to share more details on a little project I’ve been working on over this past year, and which seems to finally be gaining some traction.

Virtual Petition

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

Another e-participation project I just came across today: Virtual Petition

Looks like things are just getting started. From their first (and so far only) petition, here’s the instructions they give:

  • To sign your name, click on the edit button on the top of the screen, find the right place, add your name, then hit “save page”.
  • If this issue gains enough signatures it will be submitted to our elected officials and to our news outlets. Thank You.
  • Why the Presidential Elections are Broken
  • To debate this issue please post on the discussion page
  • Everyone is invited to help refine the above paragraphs.

Interesting, as always, though I have yet to find an example of wiki-based dialogue and deliberation that actually works.

Here are some of the issues I see with a pure wiki approach:

  • Unstructured, flat text — Almost impossible to slice and dice data in meaningful ways (generally true for most wikis, as far as I can tell): Which arguments or ideas are viewed more often than others? Which are considered relevant? What’s the level of agreement for each item?
  • Little to no process support — Workflow, business logic etc. are practically non-existent on most wikis (and while oftentimes that is exactly the reason why they are so useful, in this case it’s a considerable weakness)
  • Scalability issues — Ever try to run a vote on a wiki with 1,000+ participants? Now try that while the content of the item you’re voting on is in flux.
  • Fairly limited (or at least very loosely structured) social networking capabilities — Who are my friends? What do they think? How can they help me filter information or peer activities?

Having said that, there’s always the chance someone can figure out these things in entirely new ways. In that sense, best of luck to Virtual Petition.

Trupoli: First look at participation/engagement metrics

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

Note: Article originally blogged on Flickr on Dec 27, 2007.

Earlier this month, Munich, Germany-based Trupoli ended their closed beta phase and officially launched the site to the public. Trupoli lets you capture, share and evaluate statements by German politicians (federal, state, local) along criteria of credibility, agreement, and importance.

Trupoli: Top politicians (sort by popularity)

Time to take a first look at some basic participation/engagement metrics (as of 2007/12/27):


Total # of registered users: unknown (was approx. 1,000 at the time of launch according to the press release)

Total # of politicians (profiles): 3,910
Total # of statements: 2,484

# of politicians with at least one statement: 344 (8.8%)

# of statements per politician: 0.6
# of statements per politician with at least one statement: 7.2

Top 50 politicians (sorted by popularity):

# of politicians: 50 (1.3% of total)
# of statements: 1,674 (67.4% of total)
# of evaluations: 16,891
# of evaluations per statement: 10.1


Still too early for these numbers to be meaningful, though the patterns of a long tail seem to be showing (less than two percent of politicians have more than two thirds of all statements associated with them, while over 90 percent of all politicians do not have any statements associated).

It certainly is an interesting project, and it may take some time for its value to become apparent. My guess is that we’ll have a much better idea where things are headed by the end of Q1/2008.

Meet me at Politics Online Conference 2008 in Washington DC

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

I just signed up for Politics Online Conference 2008 in Washington DC (taking advantage of their early bird discount that gets you $150 off the regular price):

The Politics Online Conference sits at the intersection of smart politics, good governance, transparent democracy, and innovative technology, spotlighting tools, applications, strategies, and ideas that affect a range of functions, from writing policy to organizing democratic movements to running a smarter political campaign to building dialogue with your constituents.

People come to the Politics Online Conference to learn about cutting-edge trends and to gain access to the visionaries who make those trends possible. They come to find solutions. They come to discuss their ideas with other experts in the field and outside the Beltway. And they come to network.

The 2008 Politics Online Conference will be held at a new location, the Renaissance Washington, DC Hotel.

Here are the panels I would like to see (out of a list of panel nominations):

  • Laptop Quarterbacks: Are the Campaigns Listening? Should They?
  • Does Web 2.0 Work in Politics?
  • Emails to Congress: Coping with the Deluge
  • Technological outreach to minority/cultural groups
  • Assessing the Power of Political Games and Simulations
  • What’s the Matter with Kansas…Online? How Social Causes Have Replaced Economic Interests as Online Advocacy Motivators

You can vote here for your favorite panels.

The conference will take place March 4-5, 2008. I am organizing a barcamp on e-democracy the weekend immediately prior to the conference. So if you plan to be in town anyway, why not try the unconference thing and attend eDemocracyCamp? Simply sign up on the wiki, save the date on Facebook or Upcoming, or join our mailing list.

Here’s how we currently describe what eDemocracyCamp is all about:

eDemocracyCamp will be the first BarCamp with a focus specifically on e-democracy. eDemocracyCamp wants to connect citizens, researchers, developers, practitioners and anyone else interested in the topic to learn about the current state of e-democracy and share their visions for its future direction. Topics may include (but aren’t limited to): e-democracy, e-participation, e-government, e-voting, online civic engagement, online political campaigning, online dialogue and deliberation. Technical tracks may cover things like the importance of open standards, hacktivism, mashups etc.

The general goal is to learn/share how the web can help us better govern ourselves, support democratic structures, make online civic participation more accessible, convenient, fun, efficient etc.

  • What is out there today (in terms of tools, processes, projects, products, initiatives etc.)?
  • What works, doesn’t work, needs work?
  • What are opportunities for collaboration as we move forward?

Diversity is key: The more people we have who come to this from different angles, the better.

Hope you join us. See you there!

BarcampUKGovweb: January 26-27, 2008 in London (UK)

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

BarcampUKGovweb looks like it’s shaping up to be a great event, with 50+ people already signed up (some of the UK’s e-democracy heavyweights among them):

This barcamp is about creating a shared understanding and commitment to the vision for UK government web activity and helping establish the UK government Digital Network to bring together the community of webbies within central government and the wider public sector.

Unlikely I will make it myself, but if you’re in the area and into this kind of thing, definitely check it out.

eDemocracyCamp: March 1-2, 2008 in Washington DC

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

I thought this might be a fun thing to try: eDemocracyCamp

Sign up on the wiki if you’re interested in attending or want to help out with organizing.

This is the weekend immediately prior to 2008 Politics Online Conference, and of course the idea is to get a hold of some of the folks who will be in town anyway.

Still plenty of time left, still early idea stage. Let’s see how this goes…