Working Wikily, a paper and idea crafted by The Monitor Institute and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation (although originally coined by Lucy Bernholz), describes a collaborative way of working that is inclusive and transparent.
The Obama administration is putting these ideas to work using wikis and public policy on their Change.gov site reports Nancy Scola. Launched yesterday, the health care discussion with two members of the transition team, Dr. Dora Hughes and Lauren Aronson, on a wiki on Change.gov. This certainly strikes me as more transparent and constructive than the black hole of resumes with which the site started.
I like the opening statement on the page, “Our policy teams will be sharing new developments with you, the American people, and asking for feedback. It’s up to you to respond.” In particular, the “it’s up to you to respond.” part putting the onus on us, citizens, to participate is great. Brava!
Here’s the part that I don’t like about this wiki: it’s not a wiki.
This is a blog post, think Huffington Post not Wikipedia. Here’s a wiki: http://votereport.pbwiki.com/FrontPage. This is what we used to organize Twitter Vote report and you can see the different pages that participants created throughout the project on the right side: such as partners, media outreach, project tracker, user stories. Volunteers created these pages, posted content, others revised and edited it.
Perhaps I’d let this technical issue go if the opening question were better. “What don’t we like about the healthcare system” is waaaaayyyyy too broad as a starter. Here, I’ll give you all the answers and then we can move on: It’s too expensive, not portable and doesn’t provide things we need, like medications, inexpensively.
OK, so it’s not a wiki and the opening question doesn’t work, is that all I’ve got? Nope, here’s the big one, and the one that stops too many efforts from being truly transparent: Drs. Hughs and Aronson posted a question, invited us to wrestle with it, and . . . And, what? What are they going to do with this conversation. Without a commitment to listening it runs the risk of becoming a long thread that starts out with long, thoughtful responses (and these really are that so far) that will ultimately degenerate into something less civil and run the risk of petering out all together. Why not extend the challenge by posing several questions that people can begin to wrestle with (e.g. what are you willing to pay for health care? what are the pros and cons of a government-run system? how can we reduce the significant liability risks that health care providers have now?) and asking people to wrestle with them online, and engaging groups like Public Agenda and Everyday Democracy to facilitate local disucssions and develop real proposals and solutions?
You had us at wiki, Change.gov, now really challenge and engage us, please!