Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Change.gov's "Open for Questions" could be a dream come true
It's too early to judge if this will live up to expectations, but Change.gov has unveiled a potentially game-changing new section called "Open for Questions." It's basically a press conference between the public and the transition team, moderated over an internet message board with a Digg-like voting feature to bring the most popular questions to the top.
I can't even wrap my head around how impressive this could be as a display of open government. There are still plenty of unknowns: will the transition team actually answer these questions in any more depth than a typical press release? Will there be a forum to ask follow-up questions? Will the whole concept be overrun by a partisan mob on the web?
But even with these unknowns, this strikes me as biggest step toward transparent, open government we have see so far. Part of the brilliance is in asking for questions - it takes a little bit of the partisanship out of the submissions, since most everyone wants to hear answers to these questions (even if they have very different ideas about what those answers should be).
It will be interesting to see how quickly they start answering questions, and what format they use. The State Department introduces a similar Q&A idea, where spokesperson Sean McCormack answers questions once a week, live on video, unrehearsed.
I liked that format a lot, but in this case I think it is very important that the answers feel like they are coming directly from Obama. Even if a spokesperson presents the answers, we need to know that they have the full weight of the next President behind them.