By sylvie | June 30, 2009
ReadWriteWeb presents a summary of the Open Government Initiative over in the US, where the government has been trying to get feedback from citizens. For the number of citizens in the US, the level of participation is woefully small. Jolie O’Dell asks the ReadWriteWeb readers why this might be the case.
I can think of several explanations off-hand, such as a possible lack of publicity, maybe people don’t feel they have the knowledge to participate, maybe people aren’t motivated to answer this type of non-directed question, and so on. What strikes me, though, is the amazingly short time limit that the people organizing this have given this project. For example, the first phase, a brainstorming session, went from May 21 to June 2. Really? Twelve days? That kind of short-term goal works if you’ve got a well-defined group of people working together, but when you open initiatives like this to the general public, limiting yourself to less than two weeks seems counter-productive. Although I haven’t done a study on this, I am willing to bet (or, to put it in a more scientific language, my hypothesis is) that if you look at any of the successful social network sites, it took them more than two weeks to achieve the popularity level that they now enjoy. Unless you’re doing something that becomes viral, it takes time for these kinds of initiatives to spread through the webosphere.
If I were the type of person who is conspiracy-minded, I would think that the organizers put these short time periods to ensure that the project would fail. But I think it’s probably just that these people are used to working with “small” (as compared to the total population of the US who uses the internet) cohesive groups where telling people that you need their feedback in two weeks time not only is acceptable as a limit but makes sense. You don’t want your group to linger too long on a specific phase of the project or you’ll never make any progress. But when you’re trying to populate a wiki, that kind of time limit is counterproductive.
Wikipedia, my friends, was not built in a day! Or even twelve.
Topics: Open Source |