Justice on-line and away with the wigs
Amongst the papers on my desk a somewhat out-of-date clipping emerges and I remember to blog! Back in April the Judges of England and Wales made their debut into 21st Century cyberspace with a new website aimed at casting off the dusty old image and putting the judiciary back in touch with ordinary peoples lives. The website includes a range of learning tools - a myth busting quiz to help dispel fallacies about who our judges are and what they do, a lifeline to show under what kind of circumstances Joe X might find himself in touch with the judicial system throughout his life, and yet another quiz to test your perception of crime as it stacks up against the reality. It also includes a court dress section that differentiates the big wigs from the small, and the tippets from the bands, and explains that once upon a time a these sorts of outfit were deemed 'essential fashionable attire for polite society'. And in case yoU're thinking of getting in touch, it gives a handy matrix explaining when it is best to use 'My Lord or My Lady' and when to stick with the more formal address. According to the clipping in question (The Guardian 3 April 2006) the judiciary were shocked to discover the widespread perception of judges as old (and white and male) and reflecting the the values and biases of a priviledged elite.
Democracy meets Pop Idol
More on the democracy meets reality TV theme... City Idol, a not for profit in Toronto has run a Pop Idol-style intitiative to find candidates for Toronto's upcoming City Council elections.
'We're recruiting one hundred candidates for City Idol. We're looking for people who are passionate about Toronto and about the issues. People with ideas about important issues such as pollution, poverty, racism, infrastructure, taxes, political engagement, public spaces, social inclusion, sustainable transportation, waste management, energy and the political system itself. Everything is on the table.
We'll put our candidates in front of a large live audience and instead of singing songs, we'll ask them to make short speeches, participate in debates, improvise press conferences, answer audience questions and react to emergency situations.
The audience gets to vote for their favorite candidates.
The prize? A real election campaign. We'll help the winners run for City Council. '
Many thanks to Haiyan Zhang for this link
Got a good idea you can't build?
The great people at mySociety, creators of online democracy tools hearfromyoump, pledgebank, notapathetic have put out a call for proposals for a website that will have "Real world impact on democratic and community aspects of people's lives".
If your ideas up to their standards and you win, they'll build it - can't say fairer than that! Dust off those notepads, recall those moments of shower inspirations and pub idealism and put them here. Good luck.
Architectures of Control
In response to my article 'Is Design Political?' on Core77, Dan Lockton sends this link to his site examining Architectures of Control, which he defines as "features, structures or methods of operation designed into any planned system with which a user interacts, which are intended to enforce or restrict certain user behaviour." Looks good. Has pictures.
Democracy Design Workshop
The Democracy Design Workshop is a project of the Institute for Information Law and Policy, New York Law School. Couched as a "do tank" rather than a think tank they are expressly concerned with developing a toolkit of "best practices" for the activities of democracy.
Currently, the Workshop conducts empirical and theoretical research on technologically-enabled democratic processes. But eventually the primary activity of the Workshop will be full-scale design projects. In a given design project, a team of interdisciplinary thinkers from technology to law to business to philosophy, will oversee the development of real tools and the design of related processes that can be made available to government entities at every level, as well as to NGOs, communities and corporations. They will also provide support, listen to and learn from citizens and communities to improve on their work.
Making Individual Political Activity Visible
How political have you been this week, based on acts you have performed? How much of a citizen? Pindices seeks to make individual political activity visible, but not in the ways typically measured by polling agencies or using the normal methods of social science. Rather than looking at political ideologies, institutions, groups or identities, in our project we start with the individual and their acts, and invite participants to make public a reckoning of their everyday political or citizenship activity by creating their own personal political indices during 'Making Things Public'. Somewhere between a public art project and bad social science, Pindices offers ways of thinking about what matters to individuals and how this is made visible.
Set up your own pindex at www.pindices.org
Part of 'Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy', an exhibition curated by Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel at the Center for Art and Media (ZKM), Karlsruhe, Germany, March 20-August 7, 2005
New technology to improve the flow for courts
A new computer system has been designed to keep victims of crime up-to-date with the progress of their court case. XHIBIT will cut the time people spend waiting to give evidence in court. It could also save as many as 80,000 police days every year as officers often have to waste hours hanging around before being called to give evidence. Witnesses can now be told to come to court via text message or can track the progress of hearings via the internet. Public display screens in the court building will also feature the latest case status. XHIBIT is now in use at Crown courts in Bristol and Taunton and will soon be rolled-out across England and Wales. Courts minister Christopher Leslie said: "This is a clear example of courts using technology to improve the reality and perception of the criminal justice system. " "It all adds up to a better deal for victims and witnesses in the court process. It is a practical measure that will help make it easier for victims under great pressure."
Blog to change the government
Ideal Government is a blog/brainstorm hosted by Kable Publishing. Centred on e-government's hoped-for potential for user-centricity, William Heath asks visitors to "Dream a little, and help set out the wish list. Otherwise we might end up with something we did not want." The project has a planned lifespan of four weeks (might be ending soon, so go look now!). Heath will be sending edited highlights to top UK politicians and presenting them to the new UK Government CIO, Ian Watmore.
DESIGN/POLITICS/INFORMATION III: MAPPING THE VOTE
After running a phone yesterday on Minnesota public radio tonight the Design Institute Minneaplis holds a debate on the role of design in improving the voting system
In D/P/I III they have brought together leading designers, political activists, social network analysts and information visualization experts from around the United States, to present new ideas for solving the social and technical problems of voting.
They were kind enough to invite us unfortunately we couldn't make it. However those who could are: Michael Frumin, Eyebeam Labs; Zack Rosen, CivicSpace.org; Dori Tunstall, Design for Democracy; and Susan Roth, Virginia Commonwealth University.
The Voting Booth Redesigned
Parsons School of Design in New York has invited 47 architects, artists and designers to redesign the voting booth.
Blogging in riksdagen
The popularity of blogging rises again with a bill introduced to the Swedish Parliment proposing that their webpage should be equiped with a blogging function so citizens are able to comment and improve on information.
Tobias Billström writes: "Blogging in riksdagen.se should be a natural thing" and points first and foremost to matters that are published on the webpage like notes, press releases and questions
Fax your MP for free
Random register democracy for widespread involvement
There are many and various bodies requiring representation, but it is difficult to get people to apply. If representatives were chosen at random from the electoral register and invited to be on the body it would make them reflect the population in the broadest way possible. It would cut down on cronyism, those who usually put themselves forward, and being limited to people who have the information to apply. All this would promote true democracy.
From an idea posted on the Global Ideas Bank
Freedom of Expression - A National Monument
A public artwork by Laurie Hawkinson, John Malpede, and Erika Rothenberg, entices passersby to voice their thoughts, poetry, grievances, and hopes. Freedom evokes the struggle involved in making change, while reflecting the public's desire to break through mass media and partisan politics where individual voices tend to diminish.
Find it at Foley Square, Lower Manhattan, NYC August 17 - November 13, 2004
Found via We-make-money-not-art.com
Design Challenge Closed and Judged
Many thanks to all of you who took us up on our design challenge and entred your redesigned and newly created state-citizen touchpoints. We were very happy with the response to this - our first prototype challenge.
The entries have been judged by our expert panel and the selection will be announced by August 2nd - watch your inboxes.