I’ve written quite a few blogs and pieces on digital technology and democracy – most recently on the relevance of new-style political parties. Here I look at the practical question of how parliaments, assemblies and governments should choose the right methods for greater public engagement in decisions. One prompt is the Nesta-led D-CENT project which is testing out new tools in several countries, and there’s an extraordinary range of engagement experiments underway around the world, from Brazil’s parliament to the Mayor of Paris. Tools like Loomio for smallish groups, and Your Priorities and DemocracyOS for larger ones, are well ahead of their equivalents a few years ago. A crucial question is whether the same tools work well for different types of issue or context. The short answer is ‘no’. Here I suggest some simple formulae to ensure that the right tools are used for the right issues; I show why hybrid forms of online and offline are the future for parliaments and parties; and why the new tools emphasise conversation rather than only votes.
Read also: Is the disappearance of power in the age of networks a truth, or a fairy tale for the gullible?