Reflecting the Rise of the Ideation Platform
The following entry was written by Justus Lenz with Philipp Mueller:
One of the “Web 2.0-type” concepts for a (semi-)structured citizen e-participation are ideation platforms. The aim of these platforms is to tap into the wisdom of crowds to discover and develop ideas. The first big ideation platform was Dell’s Ideastorm. It was launched in February 2007 as part of a new strategy to engage consumers in conversations after a public relations disaster concerning Dell’s after-sales service. Other companies using such platforms are Starbucks and in Germany, Tchibo. Typically these ideation platforms allow users to:
1. Propose ideas
2. To comment on other ideas
3. To vote ideas up or down
The public sector also implemented e-participation platforms including elements of ideation, like Baltimore’s Citistat, the e-Petition system UK’s number10, or Peer-to-Patent, the US patent offices pilot program for distributed patent review. In May of 2009, the Obama administration introduced the Open Government Initiative, the biggest governmental ideation experiment yet. So in less than a year, ideation platforms have become fairly main stream projects of governments on all levels. However, they are not yet well understood both from an operational and from a democratic theory perspective. There are several questions that we need to ask:
What problems are amenable to ideation platform types of projects? In what contexts?
How do ideation platforms interlock with other forms of online collaboration (peer production, data-mining, implicit voting)?
What population of self-selected (expert) participants do we need in order to assure success?
What population of participants will satisfy our democracy requirements? How do we distinguish between context where we care (e.g. participatory budgeting) and where we assume that the quality of the outcome itself legitimizes the process?
What else? What do you think?