Iceland crowdsources its constitution

Color me skeptical on Iceland’s attempts to social media-ize the writing of its new constitution:  In creating the new document, the council has been posting draft clauses on its website every week since the project launched in April. The public can comment underneath or join a discussion on the council’s Facebook page. The council also ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
STR/AFP/Getty Images
STR/AFP/Getty Images
STR/AFP/Getty Images

Color me skeptical on Iceland's attempts to social media-ize the writing of its new constitution: 

In creating the new document, the council has been posting draft clauses on its website every week since the project launched in April. The public can comment underneath or join a discussion on the council's Facebook page.

The council also has a Twitter account, a YouTube page where interviews with its members are regularly posted, and a Flickr account containing pictures of the 25 members at work, all intended to maximise interaction with citizens.

Color me skeptical on Iceland’s attempts to social media-ize the writing of its new constitution: 

In creating the new document, the council has been posting draft clauses on its website every week since the project launched in April. The public can comment underneath or join a discussion on the council’s Facebook page.

The council also has a Twitter account, a YouTube page where interviews with its members are regularly posted, and a Flickr account containing pictures of the 25 members at work, all intended to maximise interaction with citizens.

Meetings of the council are open to the public and streamed live on to the website and Facebook page. The latter has more than 1,300 likes in a country of 320,000 people.

Read/Write/Web points out that Iceland has a long cultural history of direct participation in government. The country’s parliament, the Althingi — one of the world oldest — has its origins in yearly island-wide meetings of community leaders dating back to 930 AD.

That model may have worked in the viking days — I’m guessing administrative tasks were pretty minimal back then, but this new scheme seems to combine all the worst features of local government community forums and online comment boards. It will be interesting to see how much of the public input is actually incorporated into the final draft. 

(The photo above is of the Grimsvotn volcano and has nothing to do with this story but is still really cool.)

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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