Vegeo.net is the first known attempt to propose a collorative developement environment for political project.
Origins of the project
Vegeo.net was developed in two months during the summer 2005, and publicly released on Sept. 25 2005 during 6th Worldwide forum on e-democracy (Issy-les-Moulineaux, France), a yearly political event organized by a famous (and hilarious) french politician Andre Santini, with Gilles de Robien as guest star. See the embedded video, or listen to the radio chronicle by Cathy Nivez (Europe1).
Principle behind the tool
The main principle behind Vegeo.net was to declare that the political activity and the open source software development to be similar in many points. Both are:
- non profit, informational, open and collaborative
- based on projects
As a direct consequence, any tool enabling a pool of developer to create software project could be transposed to political field to help citizen and politicians to create a political project. Such a tool is the so called Collaborative Development Environment (CDE), the most popular being Sourceforge, where anyone can create a new project, develop it with other members, and thanks to various features (task manager, forums, help board, surveys, and document manager) make the project grow until a first release of the project: a political manifest, in place of a software bundle. Versioning features will keep snapshots of the time evolution of the project with successives releases. The projects are also organized into a project directory, helping to visitors to navigate the different projects.
A political project might be started either by citizens, or politicians, or both. Furthermore, any political project might be targeted either to citizens, or politicians, or both. Anyway, the hope was to increase the political compromise between both sides.
An inovative project to mention was the political weather, willing to estimate the behavior of the voters based on what they are looking for in search engines. Most probably, search engines and other internet informations will be great competitors to classical polls.
Opinions and reactions
During the startup period, Vegeo.net was commented from various sources and some influent people across the Web:
- Carlos Guadian, from k-government.com
- Tristan Nitot, Founder of Mozilla Europe, after considering that a Wiki wasn't suitable to political activities, welcomed this tools as a possible solution
- and in a medley, some politician, media, bloggers (and here), or geek
The end of 2005 were close times to the french presidential race (may 2007), and even Segolene Royal potentially declared interested by the tool.
Vegeo.net eventually declined because of the lack of contribution, and is proud to be part of this museum.
This project was a first step for a wider use of IT tools in the political field. Blogging, Video uploading, Meetups, long tail fund raising are interesting contributions to the politics, but CDE can really build political project in a collaborative way, and avoid small talk.
Such an approach needs to start far from the deadline (e.g. vote), thus not suitable for the emergency of the campaigning. Today, politicians do avoid to open their information system, and the voters aren't politicians, thus not able to create political project.
But now in a museum, this idea has time to wait for an innovative politician to be wise enough and to understand the constructive power of such an approach.