...oh, so that's what that Internet thingy is for!
The City of Madison continues to leap courageously into the 21st century... no, really, this time I mean it. At Monday night's commission meeting, our leaders tabled a proposal to switch participation in the municipal electric "round up" billing program from opt-in to opt-out. The commission felt it needed to hear more public input on the proposal.
To get that input, in addition to dropping by the 10 a.m. think tank at Gary's Bakery, the city has placed a poll on its website, right on the front page. (Tally as of 09.17 07:43 CDT: 59% in favor, 41% against, 76 votes total.)
I am not the most avid monitor of what's happening on the city's website, but this is the first tiny inkling of genuine interactivity that I have ever seen on any of our official websites. For all the visual whizbangery some of our official websites have been able to muster, most of our websites—Lake County, Chamber of Commerce, LAIC, the town marketing website—are mostly dead to the users: fair amounts of information, contact forms that might or might not get a response, a search box on the Chamber site, but no way for citizens to put their authentic mark on the websites that belong to them.
Maybe that's why this blog keeps beating all of those official Madison websites in Alexa rankings: love it or hate it, you make this blog really happen with the (mostly) civil conversation that takes place in the comments. That sort of user interaction, citizen participation, is the real power of the Internet, power every public agency should take advantage of.
One Yes/No poll isn't much, but in a mostly Web 1.0 wasteland, a little "Hey, what do you think?" online from our elected officials is a small and encouraging step toward making the Web a real town hall.
Now, City of Madison, how about setting up a blog or an official forum and inviting public comments? I'll even design it for you....
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