Last week I was standing by for a call from the Speaker of the House of Commons, my life has its colour I tell you, he was calling me at 10:15. By 10:30 he had invited me to join his Commission on Digital Democracy… and my life was complete. Without boring you to death about why, there is one thing that drives me, that empassions me, that will keep me talking to dawn – and that is the implication of the digital revolution on democracy. In. Every. Possible. Way. Imaginable.
Here is what the Commission is going to do:
The objective of the Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy is to consider, report and make recommendations on how parliamentary democracy in the United Kingdom can embrace the opportunities afforded by the digital world to become more effective in:
- representing the people
- making laws
- scrutinising the work and performance of government
- encouraging citizens to engage with democracy
- facilitating dialogue amongst citizens
In addition, the Commission aims to consider the implications for Parliament if it is to become more relevant to the increasingly diverse population it seeks to serve.
Here is a picture of Grape my kitten sitting on the Commission papers this morning, after ripping them out of the printer – for those not gripped by my story
Today was the first meeting of the Commission I attended, (they are happening monthly) and I will write more things as they make sense in my head, but I wanted to share the process with you – also give you the heads up on how to get involved and when.
NOW March 2014: Evidence Gathering – Legislation (Making laws in a digital age) I have written this up in a separate post
April: Evidence Gathering – Scrutiny
May: Evidence Gathering – Representation
June: Evidence Gathering – Engaging the public
July: Evidence Gathering – Encouraging dialogue
(Find out how to share your views with the Commission on any of the above things, or all of them if you fancy, over here)
Then the analysis, no doubt “heated debate” and so on until we are at a point to publish a report in January 2015 that will contain recommendations. It may have been said in the past that these Commissions can just be a circle jerk, or words to that effect, but I can assure you with my hand on my heart that every single person on that Commission is passionate, brave and absolutely committed to ripping into the issues, laying out the entrails, sculpting a vision of a future and then recommending where the stepping-stones are placed to get there.
You may think my Damien Hurst style metaphor too gory, but you need the stomach of a lion to hear some of the blockers that, frankly, would make anyone a little bit sick in their mouth. We are an old Nation. The stuff we do, we do still because we have always done it that way, because of the Magna Carta, because of the way the House of Commons and the House of Lords was originally set up… because of a million things. This is not a bad thing, it just cannot be discarded. You can’t just turn it off and on again, much though many have been tempted over the years.
That’s OK, it is a challenge – we can do this, all of us, I reckon…
Kitten time again? OK…
This is her right now
But yes, please do share thoughts. Today was revolutionary for me, and I live and breathe this stuff, I talk about this in my spare time for goodness sake. It is my topic of choice at 3am when I have had way too much fun – I know, I am a barrel of laughs. But yet, in one session of two hours I learned so much, heard even *more* things that are affected by this digital renaissance and I do feel a little bit sick, I must admit, I do need to armour my stomach… but my goodness me, what an absolutely blinding opportunity.
I cannot tell you how 100% happy I am to be on this Commission, but also 100% scared, daunted and challenged – as are each and every one of those people in the room, not just the Commissioners and the Speaker, the students, the researchers. But it needs everyone to join in. Whatever you have been riffing in those long car journeys with your sister (may just be me, sorry Ruth), or in the pub, or at school or work send it in firstname.lastname@example.org or pop onto the forum, although it seems a bit dusty in there – it needs some lively debate. I know there are plans to bring our digital carthorse into Facebook, so maybe you will only get around to it when we career by, but if we do, grab your soapbox and vent your digital democracy spleen.
I have written about the first evidence session on Legislation here, and the second on Scrutiny here.
This is how happy I am (taken earlier today) #notaselfie
This was taken by John Pullinger, a legend of a man and DG of Information Services in the House of Commons <- if you ever meet him, shake his hand and thank him for being tirelessly brilliant.