Thursday, August 8, 2013

Crowdsourcing Using Social Media

Wazzup Pilipinas!

It's great to hear that our politicians are now actively pusing for the use of social media to get feedbacks and suggestions form the common people. Social media is indeed a powerful medium where many elements for a successful implementation of new directives from the simple guidelines to the most complex laws could easily get the much needed consultation from the masses.

After all, the primary stakeholders are the people themselves so it is but natural to get their opinions, may it be harsh violent reactions, or calm and reserved feedbacks. I believe the making of plans, final decisions and everything else that mainly concerns the people should not be confined to the offices of our politicians whether lawmakers or implementers. It should be submitted for the approval of the majority.

It's just like the problem we are having right now with regards to the new traffic schemes being implemented by the MMDA and the local governments of Manila. The authorities should have put themselves in the shoes of the people and what the ordinary commuters and drivers will experience from the abrupt changes.

Yeah, we may have eased the traffic on our roads....but what's the point if the commuters just get stranded along nowhere and could not even get to their respective destinations. I would rather choose to suffer in a traffic jam (at least I'm seated comfortably) rather than finding my luck getting a ride along with thousands of irritated commuters all sweaty and dirty with smoke and dust. Some of us may even get "lucky" and get robbed by a pickpocket or a snatcher.

Sen. Teofisto "TG" Guingona III has recently launched a website where a bill pushing for the crowdsourcing of proposed laws will also undergo crowdsourcing.

Guingona is backing the passage of a new crowdsourcing bill that allows ordinary citizens to comment on pending legislation via the Web and snail mail.The senator said the legislative mill can be a tedious process such as when resource persons and stakeholders are invited to Senate hearings and present their opinions about a particular bill. It is very difficult to be there at a specific place, date and time just to make your voice heard.

Actually, this is nothing new. Finland has been crowdsourcing new laws online, and Iceland’s citizens green-lit a constitutional draft that they helped put together through Twitter and Facebook. Even the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, has made minor milestones in its own similar efforts.

With crowdsourcing, any Filipino can give their two cents' worth on any piece of legislation before it is passed. He likened the process to the old town hall meetings where ordinary citizens can speak up at an assembly. He used Facebook as an analogy where once a bill is posted, netizens can easily comment and someone else will react and give their own point of views. This takes away the barrier of time and expense.

Guigona also added that crowdsourcing is just a new term, but the practice has been here with us all over the world. The law will institutionalize the process and make the comments part of the official record of the lawmaking process.

The senator said the crowdsourcing bill also allows Filipinos to send their comments via snail mail, noting that many Filipinos still do not have access to the Internet.

The crowdsourcing bill also supports the pillars of the Aquino government, which are transparency, accountability and participation.

Congresswoman Kimi Cojuangco has expressed interest in filing a counterpart bill in the House of Representatives, while Senators Bam Aquino and Koko Pimentel have also expressed interest in backing the bill.

I think the idea here is that, if a proposal for a new law gets support from majority of the citizens, the lawmakers will have to “give serious consideration” to the proposed bill and is more likely to get implemented asap. If the people disagree or have major issues with the proposed law, then it is more likely going back to the drawing board, and may get another chance once all improvements have been enacted.

If our lawmakers decide not to push forward with the law despite the public clamor, then they’ll be obligated to do some serious explaining to the people.

However, what happens when you have a mass-participatory system like this but only a few people really paid attention? You get a golden opportunity for lobbyists to game the system. This is probably the final and perhaps most deadly problem of a crowdsourcing system.

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