Hey, Tom Watson at TechPresident.com draws our attention to really good work happening in the UK. This really is a big deal.
Folks there have done a very impressive piece of work, the Power of Information Taskforce Report, which offers a lot of real suggestions about opening up the UK government online, for example:
Unlock innovation in leading public sector sites using a 'backstage model', a standing open online innovation space allowing the general public and staff to co-create information-based public services. This capability should be a standard element of public information service design. The government should start by creating a live backstage service for Directgov by end June 2009 or earlier.
To take advantage of the potential of new online techniques to open up the policy dialogue online the government needs to do the following:
* Implementing the tools - readily available elsewhere on the internet - which allow people to comment on individual items, to comment on other's comments and to collaborate in developing and improving the content (perhaps through the sort of collective authorship we see on Wikipedia);
* Participation by officials in the process in line with the Government's recently published code of practice on social media, so that the consultation period is one of active dialogue
* Use of the same tools to explain at the end of the consultation period, in the same level of detail, what the Government had decided and why
* Mandatory publication of consultation materials in open, semantic, electronic formats that not only allow the relevant government website to host the material but also allow others to take the material, present it, gather views and feed those back to government in innovative ways.