Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The first official Federal consultative blog

The eGovernment Resource Centre has tipped me off that the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy has set up a consultative Future directions blog for two weeks with the purpose of soliciting public comments that will contribute to the development of a Future directions paper for the digital economy.

It's good to see that some time has gone into thinking about having a Terms of use, Moderation policy, specific Privacy policy (rather than relying on the general policy for the site).

There's also a feedback tool for people who wish to comment on the blog itself rather than on the policy.

What is not good to see is that the approach isn't using an effective blogging platform and the moderation approach has meant that in 11 pages of comments so far, not one commenter has referenced other comments, which means that no cross-dialogue is occurring. There's also been no official responses to blog comments as yet, but it is early days (less than 24 hours since it went live) - hopefully we'll see more conversation than talking past each other.

Given that the aim of the initiative is to collect community views and reactions, fed by a series of posts by the department, a blog is a reasonable, if not the best, choice of tools and the Future Directions blog at least gets the ball rolling.

Working in government, I've encountered the difficulties in using a real blogging tool, also commented on in this APC Magazine article, The 10 sins of Senator Conroy, the blogger, and hope that as the government's acceptance and experience of the internet improves, so shall it's capacity to engage.

I am also hopeful that the Department will look further afield than at direct responses in this blog at the posts on other blogs, forums, wikis, micro-blogging channels, timelines and other Web 2.0 mediums related to the topic (here's an example).

There's already a large number of comments on the blog - dominated by the Filter discussion, which is a topic I have been developing a post on, focused on how internet users have self-organised via Twitter, blogs and forums to oppose the initiative, culminating in a series of rallies in all Australian capital cities this Saturday 13 December.

It will be interesting to see whether, with the current focus on the Filter debate, many people will respond on the specific topic of the Digital economy.

I will also find it interesting to see whether the community perceives there to actually be a 'digital economy'. Personally I think there's one economy but with a range of different communications and distribution channels (but I'll say more on this in one of my comments on the Future Directions blog itself).

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