The mySociety call for proposals closed a few weeks ago. We’d love to know what you thought were the top three best proposals, or, if you don’t like any of them that much, the best ideas buried within the proposals.
So, please leave your thoughts in comments on this post, preferably arranged as a top 3. And even better, why not use this brand new experimental PledgeBank feature to meet with other people near you, so you can discuss the best ideas before posting here?
1. Freedom of Information repository
2. A to B Travel
3. London Sport Program (perhaps expanded nationwide)
1. Write to your newspaper
2. fantasy high street
3. A to B Travel
A to B route travel, definitely. Write to your newspaper is interesting. Can’t see an obvious third.
Oh, and someone might want to look at “Building a Better Home…” of 15th June; it really does seem inappropriate at best and spammish at worst
1. I’d find the Freedom of Information archive really interesting – something I could get hooked on – like a FOI Wikipedia!
2. Mary Reid’s “Get Out” – I like the idea of a non-commercial, free database of local knowledge
3. A to B travel
A while back I went through and read virtually all the proposals.
There are LOTS of very good ones, but I was particularly stuck by the amount of community currency/exchange and participative planning type ones.
It was encouraging to see so many people suggesting the creation of tools that really could greatly empower citizens if done right (like community currencies and participative planning).
I think I bookmarked all my favourites, so I’ll come back here and post up my top 3 at a later date…
1. YouAskThem – Supporting Freedom of Information requests and presenting responses
3. Create your own currency
1. Freedom of information repository
2. Fantasy High Street
3. Do something about it
1. A collaborative consumer protection and representation portal.
Why shouldn’t we be able to read what they’ve written about us? The power to ‘correct’ would be difficult to operate and enforce, but the right to add a note owuld be much easier.
2. Let’s Boycott It.
3 You Ask Them.
Great idea. What’s already been asked and delivered/refused.
I vote for They Want to Work For You (I think this would be great for councillors who are campaigning on very local issues), and You Ask Them.
2) Create Your Own Currency
3) Database of graffiti, broken street lights and other issues*
* Third place is a difficult one, while this idea has been done in parts in a lot of places, and could be expanded to a reporting tool for all arms of the government, it still strikes me as one of those ideas that the public at large would genuinely find usefull at a national (maybe international) scale.
On the participative planning and advocacy side, PledgeBank is already the “killer app” here, and small tweaks to its capabilities could easily take in the core ideas expressed in some of the made. Don’t bow to the community-niks for anything more than PledgeBank!
The Freedom of Information theme has been given some legs by Francis and Phil, and I’ll certainly join the calls for a site along those lines to be built.
Two proposals concerned asking questions of people running for office. Nice idea, and technically possible, but have you really ever had any trouble finding out the opinion of someone who wants your vote? They’re on the doorstep, in the newspapers, in my village hall, on the local radio. I don’t see the need here.
An overlooked one is Dan’s Geo-wik-ocracy proposal to map local political, campaigning events and off-the-beaten-track resources. A “Back o’ the Envelope” project perhaps?
‘Freedom of Information’ archive, definitely, with YouAskThem – see Peter Ferne. And ‘Write to your Newspaper’ for those like me who really want to write but just can’t find the time to look up the website and find the contact details! For third place I like the idea of a non-commercial database of local knowledge, which could include local campaigns and would presumably be contributed to by local people: difficult to know where to stop though – would it (say) include info on where you could find ripeish bananas at low prices?
1. A collaborative consumer protection and representation portal
2. Let’s Boycott It
2. FOI repository / YouAskThem combo
1. Freedom of Information repository (especially if it helps sift through the Home Office report binge each month)
2. Write to your newspaper
3. TheyWantToWorkForYou / AskTheCandidates
Oh, heck. All the formatting disappeared, and I can’t edit it! Please delete the previous post. Fingers crossed that this revision works:
I should probably apologise in advance for the length of this, but since it’s feedback you want, feedback you shall get!
The short and sweet version of my assessment is that there are too many good suggestions to choose from, but by thinking more broadly, I have chosen three themes which I think can act as a further guide. The subsequent development of a specific project might come from cherry-picking aspects of several proposals to combine in a thematically-oriented approach to one of the themes. While I could probably narrow my selection to three existing proposals, it would take a lot of time, and is a task I’d rather leave to the MySociety folks.
In browsing through all the proposals, and picking those which appealed strongly to me, I came up with a representative list of proposals, exemplified by the following:
* Virtual Neighbourhoods: Meet your Neighbours; Community website for every street in England.
* Sharing: Loaning, sharing, and favour-giving system; KOODLE; like e-bay but local and free; socialcreditcard.org; Do me a favour; Local Borrowing Scheme.
* Citizenship: Hybrid virtual real democracy; Jaxing; Virtual Community Game.
* Power Tools for consumers/citizens: A collaborative consumer protection and representation portal; YouAskThem – Supporting Freedom of Information requests and presenting responses.
* Grassroots governance: Database of graffiti, broken street lights and other issues; Essential Information Request Service; Election helper; Ask the Candidates; PublicLobbyist; TheyAskedYou.com; Consult Your Community.
These five themes can be subsumed by three even broader themes: Neighbourhoods, Power Tools, and Governance, which might be sufficiently self-explanatory, but to which I will add my two bits worth.
**Neighbourhoods: forming online communities is one step towards wider participation in any number of arenas. I’m not sure it matters whether a community forms around a given street or an activity like lending tools. Given the runaway success of Freecycle, I am inclined to think that a resource sharing tool with other community functions built in could be a very popular, and potentially powerful tool.
**Power Tools for citizens/consumers: the core functions here are about helping ordinary people contend with institutional adversaries; about leveraging the power of the individual to gain information, apply pressure, and so forth. Perhaps it’s the equivalent of being able to ask parliamentary questions, or to challenge the activities of economic, governmental, and other institutional bodies. It might be particularly useful across geographic boundaries, where people in one authority are affected by processes in another, possibly remote, authority.
**Grassroots Governance: ultimately, it comes down to exercising some control over the ways out neighbourhoods, towns and countries are run. So, tools that provide directs means of access to request action, and the means to monitor the response to that request, are instrumentally valuable. With the current emphasis on citizen participation in directing and monitoring government, tools of this sort may help to break the barrier of people’s inability to commit the necessary time/effort to further participation.
Again, as above, I apologise for the length, and for the vagueness of my feedback. What I have done, though, is to identify themes that are important to me and to the people who have taken the time to write proposals. Perhaps the thing to come out of that is a hybrid that provides key elements of several proposals.
In no particular order
A to B Travel
Freedom of Information Archive
Collaborative consumer protection and representation portal
1) Freedom of Information archive/repository will grow, haphazardly for a while, as requests are met since most supplying organisations won’t want to answer the same question more than once;
2) Local trading schemes have been tried before in many ways. They work properly only where communities of interest meet communities of local geography, game currencies notwithstanding;
3) Local information databases are already here. Again, haphazard but growing as community projects usually headed by, but not run by local councils. Give them another three years to achieve critical mass and objective lessons will be learned;
4) Grassroots governance (David 15) will work only where efforts to make change can be seen to be effective. Therefore those that do succeed need a lot of publicity and analysis.
1. A to B travel;
2. A collaborative consumer protection and representation portal;
3. Some hybrid of KOODLE/Local Borrowing (which would also provide ‘a website for every street’ functionality).
1. Freedom of Information Archive / YouAskThem;
2. A to B Travel;
3. KOODLE, incorporating other local-community-enhancing suggestions
(namely, website for every street / local sport program /
job publishing /
Write to your newspaper / fantasy high street
/ Database of graffiti, broken street lights
/ Road Safety R.I.P. / Loki / database of support groups /
Recycling Centre Database / lost pets and people tracer
/ Inclusive Schools Initiative /
INeedGoodServiceNow / Do me a favour / Meet your Neighbours
/ Consult Your Community);
4. TheyWantToWorkForYou.com / Ask the Candidates /
Election helper / Councillor Information (prospective and elected)
— Great to have a single location giving equal access to all
I think that http://www.mysociety.org/?p=166 is a good idea, slight bias, but in essence it is a simplified online political newspaper, generated by the people and government, for the people and government.
The other ideas generated from this project have been service projects, that is you build a bridge between two databases of information.
A FOI wiki would be great to build, but I question what worth it would have on the grounds that it is isnt a service, mearly a repository. The wiki thing is likely to fail on such a ‘niche’ (for want of a better word), topic.
Wiki works because it is about everything, worldwide, this would be highly UK specific, and fraught with difficulties, not to mention inaccuracies.
1. Create your own Currency – What a terrific idea!
2. Freedom of Information database
3. Microcommunity Chalkboard
1. TheyAskedYou.com – I don’t think people even realise that the government runs such consultations!
I agree with ‘David’ and ‘David McKay’ that a hybrid of the various community based website ideas ( Koodle, my street etc) would be great. I think community websites would facilitate more engagement in local level issues allowing people to meet and engage with their neighbours
In addition to some of the ideas mentioned, I think commmunity websites should have
1. volunteering sections ( similar to mySociety’s where specific requests are made for specific help)
2. Mechanisms for reporting problems , anti-social behaviour etc to the correct agency
3. Children’s sections – encouraging children to get to know each other and find new friendship groups
They should, of course, be inclusive and be a forum for celebration of our cultural diversity
I would love to build one in my part of London but lack the relevant IT skills.
I think in principle, and once established, community websites could lead to ‘ grassroots governance’ along the lines of the Australian model suggested in another idea
Am also in favour of the FOI database.
Surely the next major target should be the Scottish Parliament?
Support renewable sources of energies
?????!:) ?? ???? ? ????? ?????????! ? ???? ???????? ????? 112 ???? ? ???????. ???????? ????????? ????? 20 ??????.