Apps for democracy

Via FutureGov’s Dominic Campbell, here’s Apps for Democracy (complete with American mis-spellings) 😉

Last Sunday was “Social Citizen Sunday” where neighbors were encouraged to talk to one another about the problems and ideas they have that could be address through better technology.

You can view some of the micro-proposals that it has thrown up here.


Political Innovation

picamp-logoI’ve just got back from the PICamp event in Belfast. For a first-time event in a relatively small polity, I think it went extremely well. Steve Lawson has posted a really good round-up of the day.

It highlighted the importance of ‘gamechanging’ as opposed to campagning, consensus-building and caucusing. Mick Fealty, the MC for the day put it well towards the end of the day (here’s the audio file) as he tried to pull the event away from identifying the problems and towards how positive action can come from informal gatherings such as this.

A number of people who came to PICamp were people who didn’t often go to political conferences.

Politics geeks and social media geeks come from quite a different background, and some of the people who had attended events like Barcamp, had seen the effectiveness of them as a way of addressing issues, saw PICamp as an opportunity to explore political issues.

The convening blog for the event, Slugger O’Toole, is a powerful player in Northern Ireland’s politics (Slugger’s PICamp round-up is here), and it attracts lots of comments on a regular basis. But many of the people in the room confessed that they regularly visited Slugger, but didn’t often comment because they either didn’t feel strongly enough to commit thoughts to paper, or they were worried about being attacked by the more fanatical trolls that inhabit all large comment blogs.

@alaninbelfast summed this up nicely here.

As long as they’re our scoundrels….

Bertie_Ahern_2005In recent weeks, I’ve been trying to tease out what kind of politicians that we want. So far, I’ve covered the posibility that we want them to behave in much the same way as jurors do, or that we want a paragon of virtue (in an expensive white suit).

With Esther Rantzen and The Jury Team in the headlines as alternatives to the menu of political parties, these are apposite questions.

But I’d suggest that there are other possibilities that deserve teasing out.

Do we, for instance, want politicians to be free-booting business people? The Republic of Ireland is widely seen as having a less proper political culture than we have in the UK. Continue reading

An offer to political parties

ballot boxBoth Labour and the Conservatives have moved to take away the whip – and effectively deselect – MPs that have offended public morality with their expense claims.

But is this really enough? Are we simply to be satisfied that a few examples are made of the most egregious cases of an abuse of parliamentary expenses and leave it at that?

Or is there a wider crisis the the quality of representation that needs addressing?

I think that this provides us with a fantastic opportunity to renew the entire political class in the UK. It is time for us to think about how we can reinvigorate widespread participation in political parties – old and new. For this reason, I’d like to propose that we – the voters – offer the political parties a new deal. It runs like this:

“We will double the membership of the local party that we support – but only if they will let us re-select our candidate.”

I’ve outlined how I think this can work on a new website – and I would urge you to do anything you can to promote this initiative. Continue reading

Politicians as jurors?

The BBC website has a nice post up about how the question of politicians being ‘in touch’ isn’t a straightforward one. It sort-of reprises a few points that I made in this post here a while ago – that no-body really agrees with anyone else about very much, and that – under such circumstances, politicians are in a bit of a cleft stick. On of my ongoing questions here is to ask what kind of politicians do we actually want? A few weeks ago, I asked if we really want paragons of virtue? And does a private personal wealth allow people the luxury of looking virtuous that their poorer rivals can’t benefit from?

The Jury Team

My next question is this:

Do we want politicians to behave like jurors?

We may actually have an answer to this question within the next year or so. I say this because ‘The Jury Team‘ are hoping to field candidates at the next election and they have a rather nice website up here. They are plainly enjoying the way that MPs are being exposed for their venality, or – let’s face it – their downright dishonesty in recent weeks. Continue reading

More visualisations

Providing an understanding of data by the creative use of graphics is a great way of improving the quality of public deliberation.

Here’s a load of graphics that show the way that we consume media has changed.


Click on the image for more.

Click on the image for more.

Look what is forcast for 2015.

(hat tip: Kathryn on Facebook)