Friday, 3 February 2017

100. The wiki constitution

Constitution of Athens, British Museum Credit

Ok, so only one more of the 101 localopolis posts to go after this.

As this is 100 I thought it would be cool to link back to my first in April 2010 (!!).  In that post I suggested that the messy complexities of local accountabilities could be sorted if only we had a single local constitution for the area.  This would cover the council and all of the public service providers in the area as well partnerships, community councils etc.  I think it has some things in common with the idea of a local public accounts committee since promoted by the Centre for Public Scrutiny.

The other thing I did in that post, which I've occasionally tried to do in other posts since, is to underline how few ideas are truly new.  In this case the Politics by Aristotle could be seen an early discussion of the local constitution idea.  Always worth checking if the Greeks got there first.

My suggestion here is to go one step further and make the local constitution open source.  In fact it doesn't have to be an all embracing local constitution - why not make council constitutions open source as a first step?

Constitutions are the operating codes for local democracy so why not open them up to citizens to edit and improve?

The technology is out there and it is easy.  Wikipedia provides a model that works and that everyone understands.

Of course there would have to be some editorial control - if we are talking about a local council we just need a small weekly committee to consider any edits that have a minimum set level of support by citizens.  So maybe this committee wouldn't agree everything but it would be in public and the very fact that there was an open conversation would so much better than the closed legal process we have now.

I was going post this anyway but I think it fits really well with this James Smith Open Source Democracy workshop at next week's Notwestminster event.

This is one suggestion about open source democracy - there must be many others.










 

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