I make no apologies but this post is most certainly one of those half-baked ideas 🙂
For a while now I’ve been thinking about what civic architecture means, what it might look like, how it might be built and who might actually do that as well as why would we actually require something else.
Below are a few of the posts and thinking which has led me to where I am now
Martin Howitt’s Overview of the Localgov platform
Catherine Howe’s two posts on Civic Architecture
A post i wrote whilst working at Public-i called Playing games with local participation
A couple of my previous posts on this blog
- Exploring the citizenscape
- Content, Stories, Networks, Relationships and Trust
- Future of Local Government – (this posts contains links to previous posts which are also relevant)
So let me begin by saying that I personally believe that the internet itself is the platform for the digital civic architecture and that pretty much all of the components that are required are already there, but perhaps just not distributed evenly.
So for me after a conversation with Martin over lunch on Monday, I finally found a bit of clarity and realised that in order for a civic architecture to manifest, it needs a protocol to ensure that appropriate data and content related to civic conversations, decisions, people etc is able to be transferred across the internet.
Some people may well argue that this happens already but I’d like to suggest that what we need to create is a Citizen Data Transfer Protocol (CDTP)which facilitates the civic content and maintains key components along the way including identify.
In the same way that “http” facilitates the internet – see definition from wikipedia:
The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is an application protocol for distributed, collaborative, hypermedia information systems. HTTP is the foundation of data communication for the World Wide Web.
Hypertext is a multi-linear set of objects, building a network by using logical links (the so-called hyperlinks) between the nodes (e.g. text or words). HTTP is the protocol to exchange or transfer hypertext.
I’d go as far to suggest that the CDTP would be a protocol for distributed, collaborative, hyperlocal people, networks and communities. This has the potential to be the foundation worldwide civic architecture, which builds upon the internet.
This clearly requires a lot more thinking and development, especially the data model that would sit behind it. Also the request methods would need to be defined, however this requires a wider conversation about how we would want a civic society to operate and therefore which methods would be included (to give an example using http the methods include get, post, put, delete etc).
It is also likely that a mark-up language might need to be adapted in order to ensure specific civic data or content is presented consistently. We might require a CDPL (Citizen Data Presentation Language), but this isn’t really in my thinking right now.
Another key element is how the CDTP would interact, connect and integrate with standard http sites and content. My thinking at this point in time is that it would use thinking and standards around linked data to help create and facilitate the environment.
So what would it actually do?
You may have noticed in the title that I included an address cdtp://carlhaggerty – my thinking here is that this address is my civic persona and identity.
This address allows me to create a civic presence away from my general social presence which is often confusing and pretty much about general stuff, my family and sometimes utter nonsense. It most certainly isn’t a civic persona.
What I imagine is this containing a living history of my civic involvement, contributions and actions. Coupled with some kind of gamification layer that shows and displays my civic actions and persona within my neighbourhood, community, town/village, city, county and beyond. As well as my communities or networks of interest.
For me a key element to any civic architecture is that it isn’t a social network itself but is a platform that connect people – for some time I struggled to see how this could have been achieved but for me the CDTP allows this to happen and it can be open to everyone.
Like all my half-baked ideas, this is about as far I have come with my thinking right now, although it has certainly provided some much-needed focus to my future thinking.