There was an interesting debate on crowd-sourcing this week, held by the Institute for Government.
Their video of the event is below, and I've also pulled out a few of the tweets from the event that raised some of the most interesting issues.
For me the most remarkable thing about it was how mainstream the idea has become since the last election (hard to get much more establishment than the IfG).
For all the flaws, which are often more in the implementation than the concept, the idea of crowd-sourcing is now firmly established as a tool in the digital engagement armoury.
This is a really important point about the 'black box' of the policy making process. It also applies more widely to issues such as freedom of information and open data. I've previously discussed the benefits of more openness in policy-making in a post on the slightly unusual subject of the Iraq war and eDemocracy.
An interesting point which is also related to this tweet:
Those two tweets raise a couple of issues.
The first is, do you really trust your crowd-sourcing exercise? This relates to a range of issues involving participation, self-selection, representativeness, etc.
The second question that follows on from that is even if you trust the validity of the inputs, does that make the outputs right?
The answers to those questions go into a deeper set of issues around deliberative mechanisms and user-led service design.
Last time I considered this point, I came to the conclusion that social media might well invert traditional roles and require civil servants to do more to represent the public than at present.
And for some more on the event, Simon Burall of Involve (one of the participants) has posted his thoughts on the issue.
And here is the video, which is worth watching.