February 27th, 2008CoPs in the Telegraph
These ‘Communities of Practice’ are an attempt, according to their creators, to harness the power of social networking to share problems, ideas and expertise.
It seems like a worthy idea - but is still fundamentally quite cautious. As I pointed out this weekend in a piece for ConservativeHome, government is still reluctant to let the people see behind the curtain. The ‘Communities of Practice’ are closed shops, designed to let those in the biz talk to each other without disruptive elements intruding…
But there is a more radical view, which is that government, and its personnel, do not have a monopoly of good ideas - and that opening up policy-making will make for better policy and a more engaged public. I go over the pros and cons in the final section of my recent pamphlet for the Centre for Policy Studies, but would be interested to get an idea as to whether people on this site think policy should be left to the experts. I suspect I know what the answer will be…
A predictable reaction possibly. But in reality, it isn’t a closed shop. Just by connecting all those in local government alone there would be a huge number of different voices and perspectives involved. But there are also people from across the public sector, not to mention Councillors and people who work for the sector as independent consultants.
It would be interesting to find out what would happen if Joe Public tried to join. I suspect they would be engaged with and not turned away. How interested are folk in the minutiae of local government working practices? Maybe there should be something similar created to connect people with an interest in local politics, to help them work together and engage with their local authorities.
Worse, though is in the comments, where one particularly moronic contributor states:
…except for the fact that this is funded by the long-suffering taxpayer. Remember that those that govern despise the governed and resent any intrusion into their cosy unproductive world.
There is no need to cut essential services to fund tax cuts - there are hundreds of millions to be saved by abolishing these glorified social clubs.
Sigh. There’s actually a multitude of examples of where this technology has saved money - travel can be avoided by collaborating online, for example. But this sort of vile attitude towards public servants probably isn’t worth even spending the time to argue with.