Don't crowdsource the Style Manual for government, create a new Gov 2.0 platform
I was please earlier this week to see that the Australian Government was going to be going to market to update the Style Manual…
… I believe it is time for a rethink of how the Style Manual is constructed, managed and distributed, matching the modern technologies we now have.
Here's my proposal.
Let's crowdsource the Style Manual
Just as with any technical manual, the Style Manual would benefit employing social software to help maintain it moving forward but I think that's a different proposition from using crowdsourcing. A pure wiki model might also be difficult to use in practice, if the standards are constantly shifting.
Really the underlying issue that the agency responsible is trying to solve is:
- Lack of internal expertise within the federal government to write the manual.
- Cost recovery to pay for its development because its a shared resource across government (my assumption).
In a paper presented at the ‘Partnerships in Knowledge’ Conference in Canberra, in 2001 (PDF) one of the 6th edition authors said:
With the closure of AGPS, responsibility for the manual was transferred to AusInfo (now called Info Products) in the Department of Finance and Administration. Because AusInfo no longer had enough publishing expertise in-house to produce a new edition, tenders were invited from external contractors
The outsourcing as is being planned is really just applying a public-private partnership user pays model to fund the new manual.
A better challenge might be to address the common issue in government of creating more effective (both in cost and execution) shared services.
Some Government 2.0 ideas:
- Publish editions (minor and major) under a Creative Commons license and create a marketplace of editions in a variety of formats (paper and electronic) - let people profit if they can carry the load of distribution and use market forces to bring the price down.
- Use a crowd funding model - in which public and private sector organisations could transparently contribute funding to each major or minor edition; but just like Kickstarter if it doesn't reach its goal, then it doesn't happen (and maybe just use Kickstarter?).
Unfortunately the final barrier is that someone still needs to play the role of catalyst to make this happen. Sad, but true: Outsourcing is probably just the easier option, unless the model is applied more broadly.