- Democracy meets Web 2.0

The government presence at baacamp was impressive - two ministers attended, each of whom were not only giving talks, but listening to the feedback they were being given, and - dare I say it - engaging in thoughtful interchange on topics. I was highly impressed to hear Judith Tizard’s idea on what official information government should release - speaking happily of opening everything not restricted by the privacy act as raw feeds, even if the departments involved have strong opinions to the contrary. Good on her.

Compare that to Jack Straw, who once wrote;

…we have a problem in the House with researchers trying to prove a point, and with the website, which seems to measure Members’ work in quantitative rather than qualitative terms. That is an issue for the whole House, not just for Ministers.

Perhaps somebody could send this man a copy of the Cluetrain Manifesto.

I’m wondering whether Labour party insiders think that it might spell the end of the new Muldoonists in favour of parties that can do more than just bandy slogans about. Imagine that - politics being used as the centrepoint for debate relating to social change. Or maybe they just think they’d be invited to more parties that way.

Robert McKinnon gave a tour through sites like, as well as talked about his plans for setting up in New Zealand - but with a different focus. Sure, you still have the sites that let you do things like see commentary from unreformed Maoists in parliament on one page, how many times MPs have spoken “she sells sea shells by the sea shore” and other useless statistics. But these figures are best suited for people who are resigned to letting the powers that be drive their country into the ground while they sit around watching the telly and eating takeaways, sighing with a compelling sense of dispassion.

Robert said that while he was looking at a site that let people with no social skills or sense of sponteneity flock together at big festivals so they can avoid the pressure to try and have fun on their own, and it occurred to him that instead of recording information about the pathetic comings and goings of TV-watching, white stripe-drinking louts trying to escape the hell that their collective apathy had allowed to raise, that he could instead track people’s submissions on bills in parliament, as well as link to people who are writing about bills. A bit like getting everyone to chip together to see if collectively, we can cover them all with half the skill and diligence as Idiot/Savant.

And, he’s doing it in Ruby on Rails. And, there’s a Ruby user’s group in Wellington. Why did nobody tell me?!

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