This week, the White House is holding a two day experiment at www.whitehouse.gov where Americans can ask Barack Obama any question they have regarding the economy. People can enter their own questions or vote on the questions of others. Later this week, Obama will address many of the most popular questions in a national town hall meeting.
In the video on the site, Barack Obama says:
One of my goals as president is opening up the White House to the American people so that folks can understand what we’re up to and have a chance to participate themselves.
In the open source world, we often talk about the idea of user or customer-driven innovation. We make the process of creating open source software transparent and collaborative. Customers can easily contribute their ideas, and we both share in the value that is created– we make better software faster, our customers get better, more relevant software faster. Everybody wins.
How cool is it to see the same principle applied to government? By opening the feedback loop to us regular Americans– the “customers” of our government– might we be able to create a better government faster? Could the old open source adage, “Given enough eyes, all bugs are shallow” apply to governing the American people as well?
As of when I wrote this post, about 40,000 people had voted 1.5 million times times on over 40,000 questions. The site is open through Thursday morning at 9.30 AM, so go ask your questions and vote!
One note… the people from the “Legalize it!” lobby and the “show us your birth certificate” lobby both found this site before you… But don’t worry, in the meritocracy of whitehouse.gov, the best ideas seem to still be winning:)