David Wilcox and I are getting ready for iterations on Social by Social – the first two being applications of the lessons learned and strategies for using social media shared in Social by Social (read online or download the PDF for free, or buy your hardcopy) in local communities and the same for local government.  We have a couple events coming up at the end of the week where we’ll get to work with local government representatives, organizations and community members to discuss how to use social media to create community online as well as enable democratic participation.

In the video below fron Gov 2.0, Clay Shirky discusses some of the attributes that lead to success for Apps for America and un-success (can’t say “failure” as they certainly learned a lot from the experiment!) of other projects.  It’s a great video, and only around 10 minutes long – watch it 🙂

According to Shirky, the three elements for success for a open, participatory projects online are:

1. “The contract with the users has to be complete enough to get them interested, but not so complete that it depresses them.”

2. “Understand that the users who are coming in are motivated to do things that you did not predict; and the more you try to predict, the more those motivations will go toward the destructive, so you have to give them space to participate.”

3. “In the domain of collaborative production, it is Heisenberg’s press release: the more completely in advance you take credit for future success, the less likely that success becomes.”

I think these three points are incredibly important in light of the events David and I are facilitating for members of “Innovation Departments” and recipients of “Innovation Funds.”  When creating “innovative” (I use the term loosely) online opportunities for collaboration or community, whether it’s a government project, an organization/cause-drive project, local or community issue, or anything else, it’s important to remember that one of the main reasons you are using such an open process is probably because you are hoping to be surprised by smart people contributing their creativity and knowledge and passion.

It’s something I say all the tine: my brain can only hold so much, but when I rely on my community, on the web, I can be SO much smarter! The same goes for projects like these.  You are looking for the people who are smarter than you, or more creative than you, or at least not bound by the context and previous thinking of your group/organization/department.  Just like to accept criticism we have to be prepared to say that what we did could be improved, in launching projects like these we need to be prepared to say the best bits are those we haven’t thought of yet!

What do you think?

Have you been part of a community or government project that tapped the innovations and contributions of a larger community – what tips or lessons do you have from that experience? Have you contributed to an open call for ideas or contributions – what inspired or invited you to participate?

Gov 2.0, Shirky & Local Communities
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  • This is so interesting Amy! Two points really resonated with me in your post:

    – Not setting outcomes and letting experience emerge. This reflects a research based mindset which is really helpful in encouraging risk taking.

    – Looking for really good ways of releasing experience and ideas from a community. It is very hard, but so important.

    Both these things rely on a vital curiosity about what things can be created together.

    Not sure about Clay’s shirt… what did you think?