Open Source Legislation

The American Sunlight Foundation – which seeks to reduce corruption by using the power of information technology to enable citizens to monitor Congress and their elected representatives – has recently put its draft legislation online.

In a sense the draft legislation, entitled the Transparency in Government Act 2008 has been open sourced in that it can be read and commented on by anyone. Of course some may disagree since the process is not a wiki – people cannot edit the document directly (which would be much cooler) but it is nonetheless very interesting model. Indeed, the Sunlight Foundation very much views this project as an experiment.

Private members bills are allowed in Canada… one wonders how long before some intrepid MP uses this approach refine his or her proposed legislation and build popular support?

2 thoughts on “Open Source Legislation

  1. Jeremy Vernon

    I disagree that making it publicly editable would necessarily make it cooler. Wikipedia has a policy of locking articles for public editing if and when controversy erupts regarding the content of an article.

    Given that this is governmental legislation it’s a safe assumption that controversy exists so they’ve just skipped the step of reverting, locking and throwing up a discussion page as Wikipedia editors would.

    Wikis work when the semantic intent of articles is more important than the phrasing – the direct opposite is true in legislation. Perhaps a system of petitioning for authorship rights where a cluster within the audience can nominate someone to be their person-with-the-pen.

    There’s a good reason that Gouverner Morris’s is one of thirty-nine.

    Reply
  2. Jeremy Vernon

    I disagree that making it publicly editable would necessarily make it cooler. Wikipedia has a policy of locking articles for public editing if and when controversy erupts regarding the content of an article.Given that this is governmental legislation it’s a safe assumption that controversy exists so they’ve just skipped the step of reverting, locking and throwing up a discussion page as Wikipedia editors would.Wikis work when the semantic intent of articles is more important than the phrasing – the direct opposite is true in legislation. Perhaps a system of petitioning for authorship rights where a cluster within the audience can nominate someone to be their person-with-the-pen. There’s a good reason that Gouverner Morris’s is one of thirty-nine.

    Reply

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