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Crowdsourcing a constitution

http://rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/crowdsourcing-icelands-constitution/

http://www.euractiv.com/enlargement/icelanders-opens-way-crowdsource-news-515543

 

Modern democracies are almost all based on the democratic system of the ancient Greeks where citizens of Athens were able to vote directly on issues. Direct democracy works well for small cities, however as populations grew and large nations formed, it became infeasible for direct democracies to operate. However, with today’s technology, information can now spread nearly instantaneously.

 

Iceland has used a Danish-based constitution┬ásince winning its independence in 1944. However, the economic downturn of 2008 that severely crippled Iceland’s economy. Much of the blame for the economic meltdown was placed corruption amongst the political and business leaders and entrusting the nation’s natural resources in foreign governments. It became clear that the constitution was not suitable and┬áproposals for a new constitution began to arise.

 

With 94% of its population having access to the internet, the island nation is now using crowdsourcing to write their new constitution, a very bold maneuver for a government. Social media has already changed so much about the way people go about their lives, and it now may change the way policies are written. Iceland has voted to rewrite their constitution through a Council of 25 citizens who gathered feedback from social media. Iceland is using Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to create a way for everyone to observe and participate in the creation of their constitution. People are free to discuss new and existing policies as well as add their own suggestions. Nearly half of the eligible voters participated.

 

It remains to be seen how a crowdsourced constitution will turn out. We will have to see what legal barriers this may face and how Iceland’s population will react to their crowdsource written constitution. However, we can be sure that this is a groundbreaking step in the use of technology, specifically crowdsourcing. It will be very interesting to see how technology can change government and policy in the next couple years.

 

-mso32

Comments

3 Responses to “ Crowdsourcing a constitution ”

  • Spiff

    Given the increased speed at which information can be transmitted, it may be interesting to connect this to the Electoral College voting system, as it seems like this is somewhat of a holdover from days when information did not transmit as fast. -lcf38

  • mjv58@cornell.edu

    This is very interesting, and it relates to something I have often thought of, namely direct democracy. The initial rationale behind representative democracy (where elected leaders make decisions instead of the people) was that it was impractical for the people to make decisions collectively, as they did in the original Greek democracies. However, with the advent of the Internet, this is no longer the case. The problem with direct democracy is security, namely how do you enforce one-person one-vote and prevent hacking. Organizations exist promoting this idea. http://www.directdemocracynow.org/

    Cheers for posting this. I hope Iceland finds success with their new constitution.

  • Alef

    This is an amazing idea. I have also been thinking about how the internet and our generation will change the political system. We already see changed being made with the online petition signing. When the government wanted to place laws in front of the free internet, it was the petition that made them overturn the law. Another example is when they outlawed unlocking phones, it was a online petition that made it begin the removal process. I think that once we figure out a better commenting and collaborative speaking tool for the internet we will have a collaborative government much like wikipedia. We see from the huge participation rate in Iceland that this is a project that everyone joined in and something that would re-invigorate the political system to the younger generations.

    The policial system looks outdated and doesn’t relate well to the world we live in. Its too old, slow, and non-reactive. Nothing really gets done well, and what does get done ends up making things worse usually. Its only a matter of time till someone thinks of a better collaborative tool and makes the government upgrade to this century.

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