From the website:
The Ideas Campaign is about asking people for ideas to stimulate economic activity. It is challenging people in Ireland to be innovative and creative and to play their part in planning this country’s economic recovery.
We’re looking for ideas to:
• Preserve and grow employment
• Stimulate activity across key areas of the economy
• Make it easier to do business in Ireland
Our campaign motto is simple – no whinging. The Ideas Campaign wants people to be positive, to think about the solutions and not the problems. We want people to draw from their own experiences to identify how Ireland can emerge from this recession and, particularly, compete on the world stage and earn export revenues.
I submitted a single idea to the website late yesterday afternoon with a simple suggestion.
Let others see and comment on the ideas being submitted to the website.
I am not sure if Aileen or her team were planning on revealing some of the ideas on the site anyway or whether my suggestion led to the publication yesterday evening of summaries of some selected submissions.
Some commentators are hailing the ideas campaign website as ‘embracing social media’ which patently it is not.
In fact the very functionality of the site highlights an apparent misunderstanding of what social media is, and it misses a fantastic opportunity to provide a really worthwhile forum for interested parties to both submit ideas and suggestions for Ireland’s economic recovery, and also through this forum, to see those same ideas challenged and debated and refined into better ideas…
…or else to see some ideas rejected , for reasons that other fellow participants with different information or experiences may highlight.
The website explains that the best ideas as selected by an unnamed Advisory Group will be forwarded to government;
We have set up a small Advisory Group and invited a number of leading figures to participate. They bring a wealth of experience from the worlds of business, academia, economics and the public sector. The members of this group will be announced soon.This group will advise on the ideas we receive and how best to structure and present them in an action plan for government.
Again, whilst I admit the participation and guidance of experts and professionals is a good thing, I think that perhaps ‘the crowd’ should also have a voice in the selection of and refinement of some of these ideas. There are some excellent examples of large amounts of useful and intelligent debate on many subjects taking place on websites such as Boards.ie and Askaboutmoney.com, both of which use ‘forum’ type software to enable this ‘many to many’ debate.
I also feel that the use by the Ideas Campaign of social media such as Facebook is a little ill-conceived, as it is necessary to become ‘ a friend’ of the entity ‘Ideas Campaign’ before you can contribute anything or communicate with anyone via Facebook, becoming a friend on Facebook means opening up all of your privacy settings and private information (normally shared with your friends) to someone (or some group of people) that you do not know.
Instead it would be more appropriate to create a Facebook ‘Page’ where anyone can join by becoming ‘a fan’ and thus post and comment to the group or else to create a Facebook Group where again, Facebook members can join the group and comment on group forums.
Here is an interesting post by Tim Davies on the choice between using Facebook Pages and Facebook Groups for Social Participation.
Twitter is also being used by the campaign semingly as a vehicle for releasing 140 character ‘press releases’ about the website, instead of offering an additional channel for debate and contributions.
Linked In is being utilised by IdeasCampaign as an ‘individual’ LinkedIn user, where again I feel it would be more useful to create a Linked In ‘group’ that individuals could join and use to connect and communicate directly instead of having to communicate through the ‘Ideas Campaign’ user.
I do not intend to be overly critical about these things, (and indeed I would be happy to assist with the campaign if my assistance was wanted) I merely hope that as there are 19 days remaining until the ideas campaign officially closes, and that as the campaign, through Aileen’s hard work and effort now has such a high profile, that Aileen and her team might decide to open up the debate a little and allow some greater transparency and participation, two things that have been missing in the public sphere in Ireland for quite some time..