When Collaborative Context is Valuable

Two articles for this week’s readings both displayed the collaborative power the Internet could bring to its users. My argument is that collaborative context does not create values under any circumstances. Sometimes, it is really helpful for information sharing and increase productivity by use of collective intelligence. But it may not be a good idea to depend on the Internet collaboration for a better policy document.

 Nielsen (2010) believed that since the system for measuring the collaborative values in a programming competition is successful, the Internet could also be used as a place to collect public interests or encourage the public to help the edition of policy documents.

“The idea is to allow open editing of policy documents, in much the same way the Mathworks competition allows open editing of computer programs.” Michael Nielsen

Johnson (2010) argued that in order to increase textual productivity, which was one of the most important facts about web’s growth, and better preservation of professional journalism, it is better for publishers provide free Internet access for users to remix and link information for their own commonplace book.

“WHEN TEXT IS free to combine in new, surprising ways, new forms of value are created. Value for consumers searching for information, value for advertisers trying to share their messages with consumers searching for related topics, value for content creators who want an audience.” Johnson

Collaborative Writing Tools

New values are created if online text is free to share and edit by a mass of audience. It is not only convenient for information-searching, but also creates a platform for messages-sharing and interpersonal communication. 

“Collaborative writing tools can vary a great deal and can range from the simplicity of wiki system to more advanced systems. Basic features include the typical formatting and editing facilities of a standard word processor with the addition of live chat, live markup and annotation, co-editing, version tracking and more.”  Robin Good

Online Civic Engagement

Considering the differences in literacy level, Internet usage, and digital divide, the public do not share equal character of civic engagement in political activities, including creation process of policy document, if any, even on the Internet. Even though, it is feasible to have the public involved in edition of public policy, it is still only voice from higher level of social class.

“even after unequal access to the Internet—what is often called the ‘digital divide’—is taken into account, the well-educated and well-heeled are still more politically active online, just as they are offline” Smith

Public Policy Issue

Many issues come out when the public is involved in policy document making process, like time limitation, lack of knowledge about political issues, polarization of group discussions, lack of efficiency.

“Some officials believe that the majority of citizens are distrustful and apathetic about the functions of government. That may leave them wondering about how representative the participants are.” MRSC

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October 31, 2010. Uncategorized.

7 Comments

  1. paulacunniffe replied:

    I didn’t think Nielsen’s idea of collaborative policy making online was a good idea. You raise the point about higher status people being the most active online and the digital divide being a barrier to democratic access for all online. So who would be editing policy documents? Would it be a free for all? Nielsen says at the end of his blog that he expects this idea to work better in theory than in practice. I expect that would be the case. Considering his story about how long disagreements can go on over a trivial thing on Wikipedia, I could not imagine collaborative work on something as important as policy reaching an agreement in a timely manner. If at all.

  2. tinamomo replied:

    I think you made a very important point regarding adopting open system for policy making: the digital divide. There has already been an incredible amount of discussion about the difficulty to reach consensus, not to say that the public who are likely to participate into policy making on the internet may not be the real ‘public’. It’s only a small portion of well educated citizens who are interested in politics. I think the idea of applying technological practice to deliberative democracy is a good one, it’s just it might be difficult to put this into practice, especially when the internet is not diffused to every corner of the globe.

  3. Blog post 9 comments « Tinamoore2222's Blog replied:

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  4. chentingchen replied:

    I agree with the points you mentioned. Just like we had discussed in class before, although we call the internet as a free space for people accessing, there is still hierarchical problem within it. When the people who grab most of the source of the internet are from majority group or are higher-educated people, the results of collaborative policy making/deliberation cannot be fair and representive enough.

  5. joneelauriel replied:

    “Considering the differences in literacy level, Internet usage, and digital divide, the public do not share equal character of civic engagement in political activities.” you brought up one of the key issues I thought about when I head this article and in class when I asked the question, is this a system that will only be available online because of the fact that everyone doesn’t have access or ability to use a computer. This means that those policies created and edited would represent and enforce views by those with more money. Often times in our society money=power but is this really democracy? Nielsen suggested a ranking system but if a vast majority of society doesn’t have the access or understanding to do so, how are we being benefited equally?

  6. Mindy McAdams replied:

    It looks like you did not use the quotation button in WordPress. That’s too bad. Didn’t you notice how nice everyone else’s quotations looked?

    This post makes a very logical argument. Good work! The last quote is a little strange, I think, because we don;t really care what the officials think about the citizens in this context, do we?

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