I recently posted an idea on the Open Government Dialogue under the Public-Private Partnerships section on Creating Accountability for Non-Profit organizations receiving government funding. At this point my idea has a positive score of 20. I was pleased with the process, happy to have been able to engage in dialogue in the comments section, and to be honest had a bit of a thrill seeing how complete strangers voted on my idea.
As I browsed through other ideas on the site, I saw a few things that impressed, but mostly I was shocked at the types of ideas and comments people were posting. I encourage you to check out the site for yourself, but until then, I’ll share with you the Open Government Dialogue Approval Matrix I created for my favorite posts:
In all seriousness though, there were some very racist and very disturbing comments and posts on this site. [Not to mention at least 20 postings requesting President Obama's birth certificate - apparently there is a conspiracy theory going around that he is not a U.S. citizen.] I love the first amendment and the openness of our democracy (I mean I really love it), but I worry about the patterns of oppression and inequality (and ridiculousness) that are surfacing on this site. I think the Open Government Directive truly innovative and has to potential to enhance our democracy, but I worry about issues of equality and the Tyranny of the Majority.
Is the OGD meant to solicit meaningful policy solutions from the crowd? If so, how do we ensure that minority rights are protected? If not, is it meant to serve as a vehicle through which people can publicly express their grievances, but without the expectation that it will lead to policy solutions? How can governments create processes that are open and participatory AND productive towards solving pubic problems?