WordPress and widgets as DIUS consults

There’s no stopping Steph Gray over at DIUS. Last week it was a ‘commentable’ White Paper, driven by WordPress. Today, they’ve launched a remarkably deep consultation site on Science and Society. In his writeup, Steph is kind enough to quote my own work for the Ministry of Justice’s Governance of Britain as an inspiration. But he’s taking things at least one significant step forward.

As with Governance (and indeed the new No10 site), there’s heavy reliance on third-party services, like YouTube and del.icio.us, with content being pumped in automatically via RSS. Steph’s following the Governance idea of using ‘famous name’ video clips to kick-start debate in the form of blog comments: both sites are in their earliest days, so we don’t have any meaningful evidence about its effectiveness yet, but it feels like a good way to work.
Steph’s big step forward is on widgets. His starting point is that few people have an interest in every question raised by a consultation; but most people would have an interest in some of it. (Good call.) So using a simple tickbox form, you can pick out the questions you think your readers would have a view on, and create an embeddable (Javascript-based) questionnaire for your own site, feeding into the main database. Very smart.
Here’s one I made earlier.

Science and Society: your views

Please visit the Science and Society consultation site to join the debate.

It’ll be fascinating to see what kinds of responses this move produces. I’m still a bit wary of the whole Big Questions approach to consultation: my own feeling is that the constant, small-scale exchanges around a well-managed blog will build something more valuable. But if Big Questions are the way you’re going, this is a very clever way to drive them further.
PS: Remember PlaySpace, the DCSF SimCity-esque consultation game? JonW wondered how much it cost; the answer’s in Hansard (well, TheyWorkForYou) this week. Good as the app is, there’s no getting away from the fact that £50,000 is a lot of money for a three-month consultation exercise.