Decentralizing expert advice to inform federal science policy.

Exciting week! Score ONE for our ongoing efforts to help Congress get the information it needs to form sound science policy!

The American Association for the Advancement of Science announced a venture, funded by the MacArthur Foundation, called Expert Labs. This new, non-profit independent lab, will “help policy makers in the U.S. Federal Government tap into the expertise of their fellow citizens.” Fellow EXPERT citizens, that is. You, me, folks like us…well, we’re still left out of the discussion, for now. But I’m here to tell you, things are a-changing! Stay tuned.

In the interim, I ask of the AAAS, MacArthur Foundation and the very talented director of Expert Labs (Anil Dash): Why didn’t you just include a way for non-expert citizens to weigh in on the societal implications of these policies? That’s the real point of “opening government to the people” isn’t it? Peer-to-Policy so to speak.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled at this latest development and all 661 of you who signed this petition should be, too. But, clearly, our work isn’t finished. Not until our “non expert” opinions are taken into consideration….
Cheers!

Darlene

  • Good news Darlene: We absolutely want *everyone* to contribute to the mission at Expert Labs, and I certainly don’t think only some pre-defined list of people have the expertise to contribute to solving our country’s problems. I’m not an academic, and by the incredibly impressive standards of my peers at AAAS, I’m hardly an expert, yet they’ve welcomed my contribution with open arms, and I intend to pay it forward.

    What I wanted to emphasize, in pointing out that we all have areas of expertise to contribute, is that our efforts at Expert Labs aren’t going to demonstrate that fear that a lot of policy makers have, which is based on the idea that being completely open to public input is akin to allowing for mob rule. Obviously, people who are experienced on the web know that we actually have great ways to collaborate together without just highlighting the worst behaviors or least inspired ideas in a group, but other folks who are less familiar with the web’s successes can be a bit (understandably!) nervous about these things.

    I’ll try to make this clearer in the future, but my belief is that we’re all expert at something, and those are the topics we can weigh in on. I don’t want to build a system that just rewards the noisiest folks (who aren’t always the most informed on a topic), but I certainly think we can open the doors to participation from anybody who’s developed expertise on a topic, whether that’s through traditional means or not.

    I hope that clears things up! Let me know if there’s a better way to get that message across.

  • Good news Darlene: We absolutely want *everyone* to contribute to the mission at Expert Labs, and I certainly don’t think only some pre-defined list of people have the expertise to contribute to solving our country’s problems. I’m not an academic, and by the incredibly impressive standards of my peers at AAAS, I’m hardly an expert, yet they’ve welcomed my contribution with open arms, and I intend to pay it forward.

    What I wanted to emphasize, in pointing out that we all have areas of expertise to contribute, is that our efforts at Expert Labs aren’t going to demonstrate that fear that a lot of policy makers have, which is based on the idea that being completely open to public input is akin to allowing for mob rule. Obviously, people who are experienced on the web know that we actually have great ways to collaborate together without just highlighting the worst behaviors or least inspired ideas in a group, but other folks who are less familiar with the web’s successes can be a bit (understandably!) nervous about these things.

    I’ll try to make this clearer in the future, but my belief is that we’re all expert at something, and those are the topics we can weigh in on. I don’t want to build a system that just rewards the noisiest folks (who aren’t always the most informed on a topic), but I certainly think we can open the doors to participation from anybody who’s developed expertise on a topic, whether that’s through traditional means or not.

    I hope that clears things up! Let me know if there’s a better way to get that message across.