Is public policy crowdsourcing undemocratic?

The US government is turning to crowdsourcing to shape its public policy via new independent initiative Expert Labs, which will develop a platform to tap into the expertise that sits outside the Federal Government. The Director of the new venture, Anil Dash, is a man with over 250,000 Twitter followers, and a blogger since 1999, so it’s fair to say he has a good handle on social media tools.

In his launch presentation below Dash notes that there are always going to be more experts outside the beltway, but falls short of saying that there is greater expertise. My view is that the main challenge for Expert Labs is going to be to create a platform that filters the volume of ideas into a meaningful flow for government to make use of.

Dash’s ambitious aim is that by leveraging the Expert Labs crowdsourcing platform, the magnitude of the issues that the US government successfully tackles will be increased. On the other hand, I imagine that critics of the approach contest that democracy is already a perfect example of crowdsourcing, and that since the crowd has cast its vote based on an election manifesto, having a second election of ideas is undemocratic. These concerns will need to be mitigated by the scope of the platform’s influence.

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  • Dan

    I would strongly argue, that our democracy today ,as we know it, is an example of crowdsourcing...The bigger the election campagin expenses (and many more things), the higher the chance to get elected. And where does the money for the campaigns come from? The industry lobbies who consist of national and international companies; I just can't see any democratizing factor that would matter or change something...
    A crowdsourced government (if there was one) on the other hand would allocate the right power and capacities to the right people!...

  • Hi Dan, I think you mean not an example of crowdsourcing, judging by the rest of your comments. Unfortunately crowdsourcing policy ideas will not counteract the influence of the lobbyists you refer to.

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