ICTs for Development

February 13, 2008

Legislation 2.0

Filed under: Uncategorized — clapsansky @ 6:02 pm
Tags: ,

Our discussion of the use of ICTs to promote participation in the creation of government policies reminded me of the work done  by another PhD student in my cohort this past summer. While working with Senator Dick Durbin, he managed to start a partnership between the senator’s office and the progressive blog OpenLeft.com to open avenues for public participation in the drafting of a new broadband legislation.

Check out this article from PC world for the details.

Senator Durbin joined the online discussion – fielding questions about media consolidation, net neutrality, etc.and posting YouTube videos along with his blog entries – and said he would use the ideas from the blog (as well as from the conservative blog RedState) in crafting his legislation.

The co-founder of OpenLeft is quoted in the PC World article: “The online legislation-writing effort isn’t designed to eliminate lobbyists… but to give other people voices into the process as well. OpenLeft plans to host more legislations-writting discussions”

This is a great example of how ICTs can be used to bring the legislation-writing process into the public. As Durbin wrote in his blog post,  this marked  ” a unique experiment in transparent government and an opportunity to demonstrate the democratic power of the internet”. But it also raises some questions that we touched on in class as to whether this form of participation really gives the public power in the process: will the thoughts of the public actually be incorporated in his draft legislation? With so many diverse opinions being gathered through this process, does the process just become a way for politicians to justify whatever decisions suit their own ends? Does this really promote greater accountability to the public? Durbin’s draft legislation is not out yet, so it is hard to tell, but according to the student who worked on this, it was effective in educating Durbin’s staff about public opinion, so in that sense, it was a success.

Initial post: http://openleft.com/showDiary.do;jsessionid=70E645990165E9DDB362EF4867D422A5?diaryId=363

http://openleft.com/tag.do?tag=legislation+2.0 has all the posts related to this project.

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