The Governor asks … again
Governor Tarso Genro of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil has done it again. The Governor and his team completed a second round of their amazing open government project called Governador Pergunta (The Governor Asks), which collects public feedback on important policy challenges using a customized version of allourideas.org.
The first Governador Pergunta collected about 1,300 proposal and 120,000 votes on the topic of improving public health. Building on that success, the second Governador Pergunta focused on traffic safety, a major problem in Rio Grande do Sul, and it collected more than 2,000 proposals and 240,000 votes, culminating in a public meeting between the authors of the highest scoring proposal and Governor Genro.
I’ve helped many governments try to do public outreach with allourideas.org, and there are two features of Governador Pergunta that I find particularly impressive: the outreach and the accountability.
wiki surveys to assess risks of state-led mass killings
As part of their work with the Holocaust Museum’s Center for the Prevention of Genocide, and Ben Valentino launched a wiki survey to help assess the risks of state-led mass killing onsets in 2014. You can read about their results on this interesting blog post.
giving wiki surveys a try
Jay Ulfelder, who blogs at Dart Throwing Chimp, has two recent posts on his experimentation with wiki survey to forecast rare events and crowdsource policy suggestions.
- Using wiki surveys to forecast rare events
- What Should the U.S. Do in Syria: Survey Results and Lessons on Process
If you are thinking about using a wiki survey, I think you will find these posts interesting and helpful.
allourideas in Norwegian
I am happy to announce that the voter-facing portions of the site have now been translated into Norwegian. Thank you to volunteer translator Lene Guthu.
All Our Ideas is now available in 11 languages other than English thanks to the great work of volunteers. If you would like to help translate the site into another language, please send me an email.
UN Global Sustainability Report 2013
We are happy to announce that the United Nations Division for Sustainable Development is using allourideas.org to solicit ideas from scientists around the world for the 2013 UN Global Sustainability Report. The report will attempt to summarize the scientific perspectives on sustainable development, as well as provide key insights from previous policy efforts. Because sustainable development is challenge that is global in scale, the UN has been working hard to get input from scientists around the world. Through a series of expert consultations, hundreds of scientists have already contributed to the report in some way. Yet, despite these efforts, there are still many talented, creative scientists who have not been able to participate due to the inherent limitations of face-to-face meetings for massive collaboration.
In an effort to reach more social and natural scientists and to potentially find new and innovative ideas, the UN created a series of wiki surveys with questions such as:
- Which sustainable development issue should decision-makers consider for action?
- What policies or actions are needed more for achieving global sustainable development?
- What is a more suitable, overall measure of progress toward sustainable development?
The UN is hoping that social and natural scientists from all over the world will participate here.
thank you ale!
Also, if you read Portuguese, you can learn more about how Ale is going to use wiki surveys as part of his public health research project.
The image of Tux the Linux penguin is from Wikimedia Commons.
new york city parks
We are happy to announce that the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation has launched a project using allourideas.org as part of their community outreach during the redesign of the Rockaways Parks. One aspect of their outreach that is particularly interesting is that they have created wiki surveys by topic (e.g., shoreline protection, recreation, etc.) and by location (e.g., between Beach 57th Street and Beach 90th Street). We expect that this flexible approach will lead to better feedback from the public.
The Parks Department’s effort with the Rockaways builds on one of their earlier projects using allourideas.org for public outreach during the creation of the 2030 master plan for the parks in Northern Manhattan.
introducing our new design
I am happy to announce that we have improved the look and feel of allourideas.org. The biggest change is that our new responsive design should work well on any device: laptop, desktop, mobile, and tablet.
I would like to thank:
- The ICT4Gov Program at the World Bank for funding Ben Nickolls and his colleagues at mysociety.org to develop some of the initial responsive design code.
- Paul Yuen and Luke Baker from Agathon Group for creating and implementing the new design.
- Twitter for releasing Bootstrap open-source. Without all the work that went into Bootstrap, our responsive design would not have been possible.
I hope that everyone enjoys the new design.
The Success Equation
I am happy to announce the publication of The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing by Michael Mauboussin. I think the title really captures the essence of an insightful and entertaining book. I’m particularly excited about how Michael and his editor, Tim Sullivan from Harvard Business Review Press, settled on that title: they used allourideas.org.
Their wiki survey had the question “Pick the best title for a book about the influence of skill and luck in sports/business/investing” and started with 12 title ideas such as: The Origins of Success: Skill and Luck in Business, Investing, Sports, and Life; Untangling Skill and Luck; and Winning over Lady Luck. Just two days after sending a link to their wiki survey to some friends, they had about 65 new ideas and 2,000 votes. Many of the uploaded titles were quite bad, but some were interesting. For example, one of the uploaded titles that scored well was The Success Equation: Skill Plus Luck in Sports, Business, and Investing. This title, which they later found out was uploaded by Dan Callahan, one of Michael’s colleagues, sounded promising so Michael and Tim decided to blend it with one of their earlier ideas resulting in the book’s final title: The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing.
I think there is something very nice about the way that Michael and Tim used their wiki survey. Notice that they did not use it as a decision-making system. Rather they used it as an information gathering system to aid decision-making. This is, in my opinion, the right way to think about how wiki surveys should be used for complex decisions. An analogy that I like is to x-rays and doctors: an x-ray does not tell a doctor what to do, but it helps a doctor make a better decision. Likewise, a wiki survey didn’t tell Michael and Tim what to name the book, but it helped them make a better decision. Remember, Michael is an expert on this topic — he just wrote a whole book about it — and Tim has years of publishing experience. It would be crazy to disregard that wisdom and completely turn things over to the crowd. But, sometimes the crowd can offer a bit of fresh thinking that can magnify the wisdom of the experts.
If you’d like to learn more about the book, here’s a link to the introduction, which begins with the memorable first sentence: “My career was launched by a trash can.”