At the Nudge blog, transparent governments that hold a running two-way dialogue with their citizenry are considered better governments. New York Law School professor and guest blogger Beth Simone Noveck takes up transparency and participation in this post about a creative program that opens up the patent process to the American people and asks for their input. Noveck created the idea, called Peer-to-Patent (the NYLS web site about the project is here), which in its first year has already changed how patents are reviewed and approved by bringing new voices and new knowledge into the process.
At New York Law School, Noveck teaches intellectual property, innovation, electronic democracy, and constitutional law. She is also the McClatchy Visiting Associate Professor of Communication at Stanford University. Brookings Press will publish her book, Wiki Government: How Technology Can Make Government Better, Democracy Stronger, and Citizens More Powerful, next year.
In her blog, Noveck recalls the impetus for Peer-to-Patent:
Designed to capitalize on the expertise and knowledge of the American people, the Peer-to-Patent pilot was implemented to connect the Patent Office to an open network of scientific and technical experts to assist with the examination of pending patent applications in the hi-tech industry. Unlike Friendster and Facebook, which help people form new friendships, romances, and professional affiliations, Peer-to-Patent is a “social networking” website used to solicit public participation in governmental decision-making.
She goes on to challenge government to utilize technology and the public to effectuate change:
In its first year, the pilot program has shown that the public has access to information that an average patent examiner does not. Despite the complexity of the patent examination process, the public will take the time to contribute to it, ultimately improving the quality of Patent Office decision making and making government at once more expert and more democratic.
The full blog post can be read at Nudge.