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Article by Tim Bonnemann on Limits of Crowdsourcing

A commentary was published by NCDD member Tim Bonnemann at Federal Computer Week yesterday, titled The Outer Limits to the Crowd’s Wisdom. His timely commentary outlines the limits of “crowdsourcing” techniques in government decision-making and policy creation. Crowdsourcing, which Tim explains as “the concept of applying open-source principles to fields outside software,” is a popular topic right now in conversations about new public participation requirements in the Open Government Directive.

Tim points out that crowdsourcing projects like the online Open Government Dialogue so many NCDDers participated in, which are useful for such tasks as brainstorming and idea generation, tend to fail to live up to some of the basic principles of public participation, like inclusion and collaboration.

Tim writes, in a nutshell, that “there is more to public participation than crowdsourcing alone can deliver.”

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Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher co-founded the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) with Andy Fluke in 2002, with the 60 volunteers and 50 organizations who worked together to plan NCDD’s first national conference. She served as NCDD's Executive Director between 2002 and 2018. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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  1. DeAnna Martin says:

    Great article, Tim. I was just thinking this morning about how much of the Gov 2.0 field feels like a quantitative exercise (lots of people, a collection of comments/data, and applying metrics to sort and categorize) rather than a qualitative engagement (heartfelt individual contributions, co-creating something that couldn't have existed without all those individual voices combining to form some new whole). I think bringing the heart of long-established public participation and group process work to the technology of Gov 2.0 is key to successfully involving the public while using the gifts of technology to do it. Thank you for your insights!

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