One challenge with public participation today is the fact that issues often tend to get fairly complex, even at the local level. In order for participants to be able to lead an informed discussion, they need to have a minimum understanding of the topics at hand.
To help achieve this goal, it has traditionally been the convener’s responsibility to provide the participants with “complete, unbiased information”.
Our alpha version already supports this basic requirement. A resource library allows the facilitator to share links to relevant online documents and websites and provide some context where needed.
Over time, we want to make information sharing and learning on Zilino a lot more collaborative and a lot more social. Here’s what I wrote back in March of 2009:
We often talk about the obvious shortcomings of e-participation as compared to face-to-face engagement. In this case, however, I see a lot of opportunities how web-based tools could be used to allow the participants to collaboratively improve the quality and completeness of the informational materials provided, in ways that could ultimately strengthen the credibility of the organizer/sponsor or convener organization.
Instead of being strictly a consumer of information, the new participant takes on additional roles such as researcher, editor, curator etc. in ways that help educate the group as a whole.