Many of the suggestions on this site would increase the public’s access to government and the ability to provide feedback on government proposals. But what is the government going to do with all those comments?
The current comment analysis technology fails to create a “learning system.” To be a learning system, the government’s response to the public comment has to be timely, interesting, and relevant (“this is what we heard, and this is how it influenced us”). A commenter must be able to trace her comment directly to the summary and from the summary back to the original comments. And the summaries themselves must capture the passion in the comments as well as the “facts.” One challenge is to deal with repeat comments without losing the texture and depth of the public narrative.
Government needs to invest in radically different technologies for analyzing and summarizing comments. The approaches, as well as being more effective and efficient, could run the gamut from transparency to full collaboration. For more information about one such emerging technology, capable of being used as appropriate throughout the full transparency/collaboration range, see