Policymaking should be an ongoing conversation between government and stakeholders, not a process where government stops listening when the consultation closes.
That’s the vision behind Innovation Nation: Interactive which we’re taking the wraps off today. In a nutshell, it’s a summary version of the white paper on innovation which DIUS published in the Spring, developed using WordPress with the CommentPress theme to enable readers to post a response at chapter or paragraph level.
In terms of the technology story, it’s amazing how CommentPress transforms a plain vanilla blogging format into such a dynamic tool for analysing a text, and just how easy it is to implement. Inspired by Glyn from Open Rights Group at a TeaCamp a while back, the site was put together in less than a day (though we’ve done less fancy customisation than ORG’s impressive implementation). The project is also one of the first public outings of our sandbox server, designed to be at arm’s length from the corporate site and with greater scope to test innovative tools and approaches online. Finally, we also used the excellent MailBuild email distribution system to help alert key stakeholders and contributors to the initial consultation about the new site via a branded email.
But we hope the bigger story will be the breaking down of the classic consult/deliver dichotomy which we’re challenging policy teams to overcome. We’d love this interactive document to become a place where policymakers, stakeholders and interested citizens come together to help move a policy forward, and we’ll be doing our best to act as a bridge between commenters and the civil servants who are working hard to change things. Don’t underestimate the scale of the cultural challenge here: we’re asking seasoned, busy public servants with a familiar way of working to take extra time and effort to make engagement a continuous process – and to do so in a whole new way. Help us out: take a few minutes to look around, and give them your thoughts.