Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Crowdsourcing--grassroots constitution

Taking a page (sort of) out of James Surowiecki's classic, The Wisdom of Crowds, the political leadership of Iceland invited "ordinary citizens" to have a direct role in the creation of a new national constitution.  Amazing process it seems. 

Makes me wonder how our communities, our state and our nation might find ways to tap more directly into the intelligence of our various crowds.  Couldn't be any worse than the current rhetorical quagmire! 

What do you think?

Iceland Is Crowdsourcing Its New Constitution

Andrew Price
Web Editor
June 10, 2011

Vikings. They're the vanguard of 21st-century democracy.

In the wake of the devastating collapse of Iceland's commercial banks, the country is drawing up a new constitution, and it's doing things a little differently: It's "crowdsourcing" the process. For real.

The country's 25-member constitutional council is posting draft clauses on its website and inviting the public to comment on them there or on its Facebook page. And their comments are actually being incorporated into the document. The council also has Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr accounts and is streaming all of its meetings live. It's perhaps the most open and participatory constitutional process in modern history (the Greeks were pretty good at democracy in their time).

The draft Human Rights section currently contains an expansive clause barring discrimination for just about any reason (including "genotype" and "social origin") but also guarantees universal mental and physical healthcare, academic freedom, and the protection of natural resources. It's shaping up to be a pretty awesome document from what we can tell.

The council's Facebook page is full of comments, not only from Icelanders, but also well-wishers from all over the globe. If you think this is as inspiring an experiment as we do, drop by and tell them so.


Chris said...

Does that mean I could marry my dog?

foodforthought said...

this is one of the few international affairs that brings a smile to my face. hopefully power doesn't get to appetizing to those in charge.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't sound like you have much respect for our Constitution. The experiment is not inspiring at all and is doomed to fail.

Anonymous said...

That's a very interesting idea. When you get right down to it, it's not very different from the Constitutional Convention that gave us the US Constitution. They didn't have the technology to make everyone's individual voices heard, so they chose representatives who would give a general voice from their particular region and have their interests heard that way. It's entertaining to imagine how that Convention might have looked if each member was checking his message board daily to see what the folks back home thought of the days proposals.