Elections won’t save our democracy. But ‘crowdlaw’ could.

RiskMap is a paradigmatic example of collective intelligence, which in this day and age means using the Internet to connect groups of people so they can share knowledge….

Yet despite the emergence of hundreds of collective intelligence platforms like RiskMap — including my new favorite, Penguin Watch, where people count the number of penguins in a picture to help scientists measure changes in their population — our political institutions seem to be getting stupider. That need not be. Collective intelligence isn’t just a tool for improving disaster response or enhancing scientific study. It can be used to improve governance too.

More than a hundred local city councils and parliaments at both the regional and national level, from Iceland to Ireland to India, are turning to “crowdlaw,” a form of crowdsourcing that uses novel collective intelligence platforms and processes to help governments engage with citizens. Crowdlaw is based on the simple but powerful idea that parliaments, governments and public institutions work better when they leverage new technologies to tap into diverse sources of information, judgments and expertise at each stage of the law and policymaking cycle. This helps improve the quality as well as the legitimacy of the resulting laws and policies….

Despite these proliferating examples, however, the success of collective intelligence platforms has been mixed. Many projects remain in the pilot phase, failing to expand. When Spain’s Podemos was still an upstart political party, for example, it successfully engaged its supporters in drafting an online party platform but saw less success embracing these crowdsourcing practices once in government. And the Decide Madrid platform, to which 400,000 people have signed up to propose policy to the city council, has resulted in only two new policies but not a single new law….(More)”.