Friday, 24 January 2014

Crowd-sourced democracy

Full marks to the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee (@CommonsCLG on twitter) for their recent example of how to use social media to engage a wider audience in the work of our democratic institutions.

The committee had one of their regular sessions with secretary of state Eric Pickles and, presumably with his agreement, they asked the twittersphere for questions they could put to him.

So far, so good.

But, as well as reminding people about the upcoming session (and reminding them again after the original date was postponed because Mr Pickles was ill), the committee went a whole lot further. They tweeted each of the people whose question was asked (me among them) the day afterwards with a link to a YouTube film of the committee session bookmarked at the point that the person's question was asked.

And there's more. Because the questions were split into categories (finance, localism etc) they have also tweeted out a section by section link too. So you can either watch the whole thing or a section that particularly interests you. And there is a storify tale of the event here.

It's not all positive, of course. It still relies on the secretary of state to answer the questions posed. Mine - on the unfairness of funding of rural councils sent Mr Pickles into reminiscences of his chats with Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, the former leader of Kent County Council. But evading the question is not the fault of the committee.

Let's hope many more bits of Parliament (and other democratic institutions) take note of what can be done and how to enhance the experience of those of us outside Westminster.

2 comments:

Harold Rowse said...

That might be considered to be a great step forward for democracy Alex, BUT please do not ignore the mass of the population, including the elderly,who are unlikely to be about to enter your `twittershere`

Harold Rowse said...

That might be considered to be a great step forward for democracy Alex, BUT please do not ignore the mass of the population, including the elderly,who are unlikely to be about to enter your `twittershere`