March 8, 2009 by daimyo84
Over the past few years there have been a number of initiatives on institutional transparency – FOI legislation, expenses reporting – that together with greater administrative decentralisation have helped increase accountability in the political system.
Having said this, sleaze is making a comeback which means that we need to up our game once more to continue to enforce honesty in our political system. And with the arrival of web 2.0 we are better equipped than ever to do so.
This week I have come across a fantastic initiative from Sunlight Labs, an American organisation for the advancement of institutional transparency. It’s called LittleSis, an online application that combines facebook-like functionality with Wikipedia-like user editing.
Using LittleSis, any user can edit information in the site and profile those in power. The site focuses on 3 main factors about an individual: Relationships (which includes Business/Government positions, other memberships, education and donation/grant recipients), Interlocks (people in common organisations), Giving (who they’ve donated to, as well as other individuals that have given to the same recipients) and the basic personal information.
The intiative has a number of challenges ahead of itself obviously, principally anyone could spread a false rumour about a public figure or organisation, but certainly it has a lot of potential to bring public accountablity to the forefront of British politics once and for all.
Web 2.0 has given us greater interaction between our politicians and the people, now applications like LittleSis could provide for a second key requirement for regenerating political life, transparency and accountability.