e-democ / e-gov

Citizen Space

This one has been in my to-blog pile since Friday so under the better-late-than-never heading here goes…

The folks over at DELIB have launched CitizenSpace which is essentially a portal for consultations. As they say:

Citizen Space acts as an intermediary between policy / law makers, and you.

This is useful. There is no national clearing-house for consultations and I think we desperately need one. Citizen Space could just do that. I would like to see an XML format (using RDF like FOAF does) for creating 'consultation feeds' to automate tracking all these participative practices. Anyone keen to start work on such a standard? Drop me an email.

It also is a showcase for how consultations themselves can be developed. DELIB have implemented their take on the current consultation on Prostitution Law Reforms. All responses they generate will be fed into the Home Office's work. DELIB's version is not earth shattering in terms of any new angle or technology. It's just a multi-page questionnaire form done pretty much exactly right.

In one sense not that exciting. But in another, exactly what we need. Many government consultations are only ever going to be forms like this due to time and resource limitations. Yet these forms are often created without any sensitivity to vital usability issues. DELIB have shown us how this most fundamental of online consultations forms can be done well. And we should thank them for that.

Now bring on the deliberative, social consultation tools!