Open source comes to politics

Here’s an interesting application of the open source community, not for software generation but for work on politics. According to the site:

Demos is a greenhouse for new ideas which can improve the quality of our lives. As an independent think-tank, our aim is to create an open resource of knowledge and learning that operates beyond traditional parties, identities and disciplines.

Demos connects researchers, thinkers and practitioners to an international network of people changing politics. Our ideas regularly influence government policy, but we also work with companies, NGOs, schools and professional bodies – any organisation that can make change happen. Our partners share a desire to understand a complex, globalising world, and to play an active role in shaping its future.

The open source concept relates to the reports and articles published by Demos’s staff and partners, which users can “download, save, perform or distribute … electronically or in any other format, including in foreign language translation without written permission subject to the conditions set out in the Demos open access licence.” In an interesting riff on the open source/access concept, this link doesn’t work.

Will an open access virtual think-tank work and be valued? Are there inducements for content generation by participants, for example professional advancement, as there are with physical think tanks? Can this virtual public sphere advance constructive debate about democracy?

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