Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ask and You May Receive

Recently, I learned about Mike Honda, Congressman, 15th District California and his initiative to "crowdsource" the redesign of his website. As he explains it himself, "the final design will be chosen based on constituent input, design functionality, usability, and other criteria. I believe that this crowd-sourcing initiative will usher in a new era of government transparency."

This stirred my curiosity as to what design/features the crowd will choose for the winning website and my guessing led me look at my bookmarked list of some of my favorite current government websites whitehouse.gov, utah.gov, army.mil, epa.gov, dtv.gov just to name a few! Take a look and see if you agree.

When I click through this list, I notice that the largest differentiating factor these websites have that others may not at this point is their interactive or "stay connected" element - access to blogs, feedback, flickr, twitter capabilities (even aggregated feeds!), facebook, youtube, subscribe feeds, vimeo, itunes - you name it.

When I consider the reality of these websites having these interactive elements and what this means, I see that in a way, all of these newly created websites were crowdsourced. The government noticed how and where the public was conversing and delivered on these platforms - essentially - they gave us what we voted into popularity by sheer usage.

In this memo Obama issued, he said government should be more transparent, participatory and collaborative. Websites like the ones I mentioned above demonstrate that if you ask (via usage), you may receive. At least it seems so.

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