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White House 2.0: The Public is Knocking on the Door

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, October 28 2008

The election is a week away, but two new online projects were just launched focusing on involving the public in what comes next. BigDialog.org and Whitehouse2.org are complimentary efforts that seek to crowd-source the process of putting pressing questions before the President-elect and identifying the top priorities of the public. We don't know yet if the next President will join in and respond, but if these sites garner a lot of participation, he'd be wise to pay attention.

BigDialog's "Ask the President-Elect" is a project of the Massachusetts-based eCitizen Foundation, the MIT eCitizen Architecture Program, Dave Colarusso's CommunityCounts, techPresident.com, the OpenDebate coalition, and a growing list of academics, bloggers, nonprofits and e-communities. The site builds on our experience during the primaries with 10Questions.com and is designed to take video and text questions for the President-elect and then enable users to vote the best questions to the top. If we manage to get the President-elect to respond, users will then get the opportunity to rate his responsiveness.

What the site is looking for now is lots of questions, which you can submit directly from this page. Either you paste in a video link, or just directly add up to 500 characters of text.

Ray Campbell, eCitizen's president, sees BigDialog as the beginning of a shift in how elected officials govern. "Just as the Internet has revolutionized commerce and campaigns, it will revolutionize the way elected officials and citizens interact, creating new channels of communication," he says.

WhiteHouse2.org comes to the world via Jim Gilliam, the programming whiz behind BraveNewFilms. His idea is simple: "What if the people set the national agenda, and we tracked it like it were the Nielsen ratings?" The site looks like Reddit for politics. Users can enter simple statements as priorities for the first 100 days, and then endorse the ones they like. Here's Jim explaining the site:

Something tells me these sites are tapping into a deeper trend in the electorate, and all the bottom-up participation that we've seen in this cycle is going to continue. People don't want to be treated as a herd anymore, they want to be heard.