Launching the ‘Political Innovation’ project

When bloggers meet, I often find that old allegiances (be they left right, or Unionist/Republican) often dissolve into a different political spilt. Those of us who imagine that we ‘get’ the read-write web against the political colleagues that we have who, we believe, fail to foresee the possibilities or the threats.

I’ve occasionally witnessed left-right-and-centrist bloggers in (non) violent agreement with each other – not about political direction, but about what is possible in harnessing the power of the web. About how a more effective participative political culture can bring about a range of subtle changes – to reverse the broken politico/media relationship out of some of the cul-de-sacs that it appears to have stuck in.

Today, a few of us have come together to launch a project called ‘Political Innovation’. It’s for anyone who has ever asked themselves ‘why is politics still done like this?’

We’ve put a call out through our personal networks for initial contributions and we’ve already had promises of more than ten essays suggesting serious political innovations that are based upon an understanding of what interactive social media and the web can achieve.

All of our proposers have been asked to ensure that their proposed innovation is one that could realistically garner support from all sides of the political spectrum.

The project is being managed in conjunction with political blogs of all hues. So from the right our largest media partner, The Telegraph will carry each essay which will be also be carried here, on Left Foot Forward, Lib-Dem Voice and SNP Tactical Voter.

Tweetminster will be helping us publicise each essay more widely and we’ll be doing some podcasting with The House of Comments. Other bloggers are welcome to get involved.

The essays will touch on a range of questions, including

  • a proposed recasting of the whole FOI-based understanding of open government into something more ‘interactive’,
  • a pop at the political problems that underlie dysfunctional government procurement,
  • a version of ID cards that may suit both supporters and opponents of ‘the database state’,
  • a proposal that could create a serious ‘reputational cost’ to politicians, journalists and campaigners who misuse facts and spin
  • a measure to help bloggers get more influence over public policy in their roles as conversation-convenors

…. and a range of other ideas (let’s not spoil the surprises, eh?)

The (short) essays will start appearing on all of these sites shortly. We plan to follow it up with open gatherings in Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Dublin and London in due course – as long as we can find some local partners there who will help us with the get-togethers.

In Northern Ireland, we’re going to want to blend this project in with our Awards – we’ve always framed them as a positive political project (more on that later this week though).

We’d be very interested to hear any ideas that you have for an essay of your own – we’ll need an email and we’ll want to discuss it with you before it goes on the site. All contributions will be archived on www.politicalinnovation.org – along with details of what we’re looking for from essayists and a bunch of FAQs and a guide to how we hope the whole thing will play out.

I hope you’ll get involved in this as a commenter, participant or maybe even as an essayist. Make sure you don’t miss anything by joining our Google Group, subscribing to the blog RSS feed, getting each post emailed to you and, of course, following us on Twitter and Facebook.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty