[LINK] E-participation pilots in Australia?

Ivan Trundle ivan at itrundle.com
Mon Feb 18 11:22:43 EST 2008

On 16/02/2008, at 12:33 PM, Tom Worthington wrote:

> The idea of everyone collecting in one place for two days to work  
> out the future of a nation seems a quaint last century idea.

But it works. And always will. There is much more to be gained from  
face-to-face meetings of this kind than putting words onto paper (or  
bytes into hard disks). The outcomes are more than the tangibles.

> The Australian Government Information Management Office has  
> experience at using online forums with their GovDex system <https://www.govdex.gov.au/ 
> >. This is intended just for bureaucrats to talk to each other, but  
> provides a precedent and some experience which might be used for e- 
> participation.

If this is an exemplar of what is possible, then there is much room  
for improvement. Any website that chooses to use the term 'Children'  
as part of its interface should allow its developers and programmers  
to get out more. I see lots of rough edges elsewhere, and its pretty  
clear that this tool is either not used much, or needs some serious  
cross-platform user testing.

> Another group who may be interested are "Online Opinion" who run  
> online forums and ran some events in conjunction with the last  
> election  <http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/>. I am on their  
> editorial advisory board.

If we're giving shameless plugs, then I feel compelled to do the same.  
I work for a company that builds and manages online forums and focus  
sessions, and which has the capability to provide pre- and post-event  
forums, surveys, and strategic planning inside that space. We  
specialise in online engagement of all kinds, using software that we  
have developed here in Canberra. But since Link isn't an advertising  
forum, I'll encourage people to contact me directly if they want  
further information.

> I put in a nomination to attend the 2020 Summit. However, I have  
> serious doubts about the idea of such "Town Hall" meetings. I have  
> been to a few real ones of these in actual town halls and do not  
> find them a particularly useful way to run a town.

Such is the hazard of the democratic process, Tom.  It's a good thing  
that only 1000 people have been asked their opinions, or we would be  
running dangerously close to a plebiscite - not that any decisions  
will be made at 2020.

> More seriously, the idea of a town hall meeting seems like window  
> dressing on the actual political process.

Except that 2020 is not intended to be a Town Hall meeting. Nor is it  
intended to subvert any particular political process.

> The citizens get a chance to say something and so feel part of the  
> process, meanwhile the real process is going on behind closed doors.

Even without the 2020 summit, this will not change. But to be part of  
a democracy, it is wise to let the population have their say - and not  
just at the ballot box. This is why the Howard government lost favour  
- it became out of touch with 'the Australian people' (I loathe that  


Ivan Trundle
http://itrundle.com ivan at itrundle.com
ph: +61 (0)418 244 259 fx: +61 (0)2 6286 8742
skype: callto://ivanovitchk

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