By January 8, 2013 2 Comments Read More →

We The People: democratic engagement and digital credibility

WeThePeople-petitionsWe The People is an official petitioning site established by the United States government in September 2011. The intent is to make it easy for US citizens to create actionable petitions. According to the site, every petition reaching 25,000 signatures will be reviewed by an evaluation team and, where practical, by policy specialists.

I’m fairly certain not every petition which makes the cut will make the cut. One recent petition calls for a recount of the election. Another petitions to Peacefully grant the state of Texas to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government. Gabrielle Levy of UPI.com recently reported on a petition to Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016.

But the site is about more than reducing the friction on democratic participation and criticism about what the government will and will not do. There’s a back-story about the culture in which the site was created. The software code used to build the site has been shared with the public as ‘open-source’ on a geeky site called GitHub. This shows some pretty slick digital savvy on the part of the government.

There’s more. The site also says a lot about how data can be collected, evaluated and used productively by governments within its own parameters, rather than relying on general service petition sites which could be gamed.

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About the Author:

Mark Blevis is a digital public affairs strategist and President of FullDuplex.ca, an integrated digital communications, public affairs and research company. His work focuses on the role of digital tools and culture on issues and reputation management. He also leads research into how Canadian opinions are shaped through online content and interactions.