Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A new commons?

Following a session on the potential and pitfalls of an online political communication strategy, and in particular encouraging participatory interaction, on of my group forwarded an interesting Facebook message from Mike Rouse. The whole thing is reproduced below, but the idea is a WebCommons, a virtual space where citizens and politicians can interact from which feeds will be transmitted around the subscribing online community. The question is whether this is about connecting politics and the public or about promoting the Conservatives given Mike Rouse's allegiances (which he is quite open about): I note reference to Donorgate and Discgate (but think that can be excused). 18 Doughty Street, a project Rouse has worked on, has a definite air of partiallity at times, will the WebCommons? A question that's all. But it looks interesting, not quite sure why CVs are needed but see the email and sign up if interested. Clearly there is an attempt to get a momentum behing it (see the Youtube vid).

Early Slurge

From WebCommons

Hello WebCommoners!

I thought you might appreciate a little more information about what we are going to do. If you're too busy right now - either poking people or playing Scrabulus - please do come back when you're feeling fighting fit and ready to digest the below...You're going to be a part of something very special - a revolution in how people access information about their elected members throughout the UK.

But, more than just information we're about establishing a two-way process between the elected and the electors, but we're not going to call it "a conversation". Part of the problem with other sites is that they tap into useful information and news, but then have to add their own twist to it, spoon feed it to you, or make you jump through party poltiical hoops to get at it. Then, they wrap it all up in a "conversation" and pretend that they're sewing democracy a new suit.

But, do elected members really have time to sit down and have a two-way "conversation" with somebody over the internet that probably isn't in their constituency? No, they've got better things to be doing with their time, and rightly so. So, what we're going to do is give them a platform that they'll like because it's going to increase their profiles without them having to trawl through masses of comments and data.

For the most part it'll gather the data automagically. For you, the dear old WebCommoner, it's going to provide you with more information and access to your elected member than you could shake a stick at. You'll be able to hear directly from them with our blogging platform and blog aggregator, which will update every five minutes of the day - Imagine the old teleprinter they use on the telly for the football results - It'll be like that. Short. Snappy and too the point. Like a newswire for politics, but open to everybody.

What's more, you'll be able to see all the rising political issues as they develop. Remember "Donorgate" and "Discgate"? For the first time, you will be able to track these issues from the first time they rear their ugly heads until their conclusion - whatever it may be. Well, we hope that none of them result in the collapse of British democracy as that would kinda make us all redundant.

And if that wasn't enough, and oh how we like to spoil you, we're going to develop a daily podcasting service that will be available on the site at an amazing 6am every morning. We'll call it WebCommons Today or something like that and it'll basically tell you what's been happening the day before and forecast the day ahead. It's a bit like the Shipping Forecast for politics. BBC Radio 4 hold on to your hat!

Finally, and this has to be the icing on the cake, we're going to provide an indepth performance tracker in the site, which is going to let you see how the public at large perceive the performance of an elected member. Bit like a stock price for politicians... How much is your MP worth?

The site is not going to work unless we make some pretty hefty relationships with commentators and elected members. We're not just restricting it to Commons Members either. If you're an elected member in any public body in the UK you can bet you'll be on WebCommons. We should have called it WebElectedMembers, but that hasn't really got the same ring to it, has it?

Thanks for tuning in to this rather looooooooong update. Hopefully, you're still concious enough to make the decision as to how involved you'd like to get. If you're really keen, just drop Mike Rouse your CV on mike.rouse@messagespace.co.uk and let him know what interests you about politics and what you're up for.

Thanks a gozillion!

WebCommons"Bringing order to chaos"

PS: Share the Page with a friend!

1 comment:

Mike Rouse said...

Hi Darren,

Thanks for the blog post.

To address two points. Firstly, WebCommons will be entirely devoid of political affiliation. I am working closely with a number of figures, some left, some right, and some who don't care much for the traditional left-right divide.

What we are trying to build is a platform for elected members, candidates, and campaigners. It will also provide a robust set of tools. How they get used and by whom is not something we're too bothered about.

Secondly, I was asking for CVs in case anybody wanted to get really involved in the project so I can match skills to the needs of the project. I am still looking for help in sales, marketing, editorial, audio-visual production and more. We're looking at initially starting off by offering commission only for sales and taking it from there.

Thanks again, and if you want to know more just drop me a line. mike.rouse@messagespace.co.uk