At the center of technology-enabled politics are people. They are people of varying degrees of expertise from the big thinkers who have made careers out of the big thinking they do, to regular people who experience policy consistently, but often unconsciously, as it is part of their everyday lives. We've seen the change this people powered movement has brought to our political campaigns and yet our government is still behind the curve, with processes and services tooled to respond to the 20th century needs but wholly inadequate for dealing with 21st century challenges.
Consider the expectations we have for online commerce, A good web marketplace gives people choice (what color do I want?), customization (I want both brown and lime green), flexibility (my left foot is a size 8 and my right an 8 1/2), and responsiveness (I'd like my new tennis shoes shipped next day). Marketers have learned to use the tools of the web to meet people's expectations and they deliver their products and services in ways that fit into how people live their lives.
How do marketplace demands of choice, customization, flexibility and responsiveness make their way into governance? People want control over their lives. They expect institutions to listen and hierarchies to be flat. They want transparency from their government, they want access to information and they want to be able to see and hear what is going on.
That is why Netroots Nation launched an effort, an experiment in pursuit of a more interactive government, called AskTheSpeaker.org. At AskTheSpeaker.org you can submit your questions for Speaker Pelosi and vote the questions others have submitted up or down. Then, on Saturday July 19, Netroots Nation will host a forum with Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Author and blogger, Jeffrey Feldman will join me in moderating the discussion where Speaker Pelosi will be taking your questions along with interacting with convention attendees. But this will only be a success with your help.
Our time with the Speaker will be brief, so help us make the most of it. This opportunity will be what we make it, so I hope you will join us as we take first steps in moving towards an era of a more interactive government.