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Networking Distributed Public Expertise: Strategies for Citizen Sourcing Advice to Government

Commentary by Downes (Stephen Downes) on , Apr 05, 2011.

This is a really good paper not just on learning but on governance in general. Don't skip this one. Bill Dutton gets this right. "The very notion of crowds and crowd sourcing is misleading.ii In order to capture distributed intelligence, networks of individuals must be cultivated and managed. As argued in this paper, they are not crowds. Networking platforms and management strategies must be carefully developed to capture the value of distributed expertise."

He makes a subtle point, which is masked a bit by the terminology. "Citizens are more than constituents, whose opinions are equally legitimate. Citizens also have the potential to be experts on particular issues... Citizens are not necessarily experts, but any given citizen might conceivably have expertise in some specific areas." If you just count people's opinions, you are ignoring the person's connection to the issue. You need to allow people with the interest, skills and expertise to contribute to a solution to connect with each other and to develop the solution themselves.

This kind of organization develops through three stages:
- Sharing - The ability to create linked documents, data, and objects within a distributed network
- Contributing - The ability to employ social networking applications of the Web to facilitate group communication
- Co-creating - The ability for individuals to collaborate through networks that facilitate cooperative group work toward shared goals

Via Seb Schmoller, who summarizes Hutton's nine strategies for for fostering bottom up initiatives to harness distributed public expertise. (Hits Today: 2051 Total: 2051)

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