Thursday, 1 July 2010

Wisdom of the citizen?

Very interesting to see the new government initiative launched today by Nick Clegg which calls on the public to help decide which laws they want scrapped.

Now I should point out from the beginning that I'm not passing any political judgement here on its relative merit. What interested me was how the proposal reflects the whole 'wisdom of the crowd' ethos which as many of you will know I have long been advocating as a model for ensuring records management.

The idea is explained more fully in the Daily Telegraph and elsewhere, but in summary (and to quote from Nick Clegg)

"Today we are taking an unprecedented step. Based on the belief that it is people, not policy makers, who know best, we are asking the people of Britain to tell us how you want to see your freedom restored"

Certainly echoes there of my belief that the creators and users of records are often far better placed than Records Managers to understand their records and how we should be looking for innovative ways of extracting this knowledge and using it for management purposes.

And how is this to be done? To quote from Nick Clegg again:

"We are calling on you for your ideas on how to protect our hard-won liberties and repeal unnecessary laws... we're hoping for virtual mailbags full of suggestions. Every single one will be read, with the best put to Parliament"

Again, interesting to see an example of how technology can now be employed to gather and quantify information from a large cross-section of interested people and then used to inform the deliberations of those whose formal role it is to make such decisions.

Now whether this is just political gimmick or a genuine attempt at change is not for me to comment on. But as a high profile example of how technology now has the potential to empower individuals (be they 'citizens' or 'users') and how decision makers can and should now make use of such decision does seem worthy of comment.