Robert Bjarnason, citizens.is
Digital tools for the democratic revolution in Iceland and beyond
Citizens must have a strong voice in policymaking with formal and persistent participation in the political process.
The Citizens Foundation created three open source tools:
- Your Priorities, an idea and debate platform, on crowdsourcing. Your Priorities is about building trust between citizens and government.
- Open Active Voting, on budget voting, but very pedagogical on how budgets work. Participatory budgets are not only about having a direct influence on expenditure, but also on knowing how much things cost and what it means to have a budget. After that, trust is built and better decisions are made in collaboration with citizens.
- Active Citizen: improved participation with artificial intelligence and virtual reality. Artificial intelligence helps in participation with little time spent, helping to overcome bubbles and biases; virtual reality for data visualization and online meetings.
Participation must be fun, informative and educational. Yes, it has to be democratic, and rigorous. But also engaging, something you enjoy doing. Gamifying participation is a good approach for a successful participatory initiative.
Participation tools have to meet people where they are. Tools have to have a “mobile first” design in mind.
But the key for participation to succeed is that it has an impact. Decision-makers do have to listen and take into account what citizens say. If citizens feel they are participating for nothing, they will quickly move away from all other participatory processes.
Participation is also about communication and marketing: people do have to know to be able to participate. It’s not propaganda, but informing the citizen.
If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:
Peña-López, I. (2016) “Metadecidim (I). Robert Bjarnason: Digital tools for the democratic revolution in Iceland and beyond” In ICTlogy,
#158, November 2016. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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