Beth Noveck – Keynote Speech

Medialab Auditorio

With rates of trust in government at historic lows, trust in traditional representative models of law and policymaking — often conducted by professional staff and politicians working behind closed doors and distorted by political party agendas–is called into question. The ideal of transparency, which purports to produce an informed, engaged public that will hold officials accountable, has not borne itself out in practice. Instead, new forms of public participation enabled by technology could help to improve lawmaking’s legitimacy as well as its effectiveness, two goals once viewed to be at odds. In this conversation on “crowdlaw” – technology-enabled public engagement in law and policymaking — we will explore the different normative goals of crowdlaw, be they improving democratic legitimacy by giving more people a voice in the process (inputs) or creating better quality legislation by introducing greater expertise into the process (outputs). Designed right, crowdlaw can enhance both legitimacy and effectiveness. But this demands more empirical research into existing crowdlaw systems and new experiments in public engagement throughout the lawmaking process.