The Obama and European gouvernments have started using Digg-like tools in order to know what really worries citizens and adapt political action to those ideas. People offer ideas and can vote for those that have already been suggested. Unfortunately, what comes out from these sites, some kind of civic crowdsourcing, is not necessarily what most of the population expects from the public Administration.
As an example, right now the Spanish version of the European tool says that open source and copyleft are the main worries of Internet users, while the Obama site puts marijuana legalization and green energies at the highest. Why? Mainly because geeks have “hacked” the European tool and Obama most leftist supporters are too important in his site. In other words, activists get too much attention, as the rest of the population is just quiet.
How could we solve this problem? Not easily. There must be some type of representation, so that these representatives do establish which are the things that do really worry most of the population. Crowdsourcing is very important, but it is not easy to find the right tool. Digg like sites could help but they are just part of the solution.
I think there must be something else, a tool that forces people to put themselves in the place of the rest of the population and take decisions not just with their heart and heads but with everybody else’s. That’s what a politician is supposed to do. So we still need politicians, but we need open and transparent ones who speak with the people they represent. Ideas might come from citizens, but somebody needs to filter them, not just a machine. Otherwise, it will just look like marketing.