Friday, September 02, 2011

Fwd: [DW] Sustainable civic hacking - mySociety, App contests beyond the bandwagon

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Steven Clift
Date: Friday, September 2, 2011
Subject: [DW] Sustainable civic hacking - mySociety, App contests beyond the bandwagon

Two great articles:

How to create sustainable open data projects with purpose
Tom Steinberg on making a website vs making a difference.
by Tom Steinberg  | @mysociety  | +Tom Steinberg  | Comments: 4 | 30 August 2011

Everyone jumped on the app contest bandwagon. Now what?
The next wave of government app contests need to incorporate
sustainability, community, and civic value.
by Alex Howard | @digiphile  | +Alex Howard  | Comments: 5 | 19 August 2011

My comments below ...

As the likely original person suggesting FixMyStreet should be
FixOurStreet to my friend Tom ;-), I enjoy his laser focus on the end
user. I do want to counter and say that I do see a continuing problem
with narrow, often one-time online experiences, from my community
builder perspective. If "my" marketing and a focused problem-solving
service brings more people into a service, how do you leverage that
engagement as an organizer for broader civic purposes/good? What I
really really like about FixMyTransport is that it really is that by
definition it is a broader -OUR- public service. So "my" marketing
aside, it will be interesting to see this effort unfolds.

One quick lesson, our city-wide "online townhall model" - - attracts some 1% of households for
engagement that often lasts _years_. As Tom might say, most people
don't wake up and say, I want to engage my city government today. Too
abstract. On the other hand, in a few neighborhoods in Minneapolis,
our model using the exact same technology, rules, facilitation, etc.
as a "neighbors forum" is attracting 20% household participation (or
over 800 members in my neighborhood - ).
Someone loses a pet, joins us, then finds their pet ... 9 times out of
10 they stay on our general purpose neighbor-to-neighbor exchange and
are exposed to the serendipity of local exchange they would not have
click on or searched out. The silos of local interest can and must be
broken at a level where the common interest in protecting or building
your very local community trumps differences in ideology, ethnicity,
income, etc. which often divide us.

To me this points out the missed opportunity for mySociety and many
other break through projects - you have place-based participants, why
not put some trust into those who want to connect for more generalist
local purposes and channel them into spaces so they can reach critical
mass? I am continuously amazed by the capacity of local people, once
they have an ice breaking online public space, to not just ask someone
else to fix something for them, but to share ideas and take action.

Steven Clift

Steven Clift -
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