There was a lot of comparing which Mesh sessions resonated most with those in attendance, last evening. I was particularly impressed by the Metronauts session (Government 2.0: from community participation to co-creation) and found that there were some folks in the session that disagreed with me. Their argument was that it was a familiar story — old news.
While Metronauts has elements of familiarity, it’s a particularly important case study and something to be excited about. You see, a group of citizens was able to thwart a long-established public procurement process that was well underway — a process that, in many cases, presupposes the winning contractor and that suggests that the public consultation process is a charade to appear transparent.
For all of the frustrations that Metronauts may be experiencing dealing with the municipal government, Metrolinx appears engaged and committed to the open-source process despite its incovenience. Indeed, the success is probably due mostly to the open-mindedness of the Metrolinx brass and the safe third-space in which the Metronauts have invested a lot of thought and energy — two important achievements.
Much like the corporate examples we are all familiar with, Metrolinx has and is going to be the beneficiary of great publicity and a lot of public goodwill for their legitimate collaboration in this process. There’s a lot of trust capital to be gained and for government to be tapping into that is significant.
Metronauts teaches us that there are opportunities for citizens to engage collaboratively and productively with government no matter where the government is in its long-established processes, and we are at the beginning of an era in which the public sector needs to hire open-source/social-media marketing and communications folks to be their community evangelists.