Can we foster mass collaboration for millions of people?

Years ago it would have been hard to even conceive of the possibility of millions of people communicating with each other. Today, it’s another story. Now, we can connect instantly to people and ideas from across the world. Staying connected has never been easier.

Digital collaboration is well under way. Open-source products are growing more and more each day. Thousands of people are working together to create and develop a whole range of new technological goodies. Developers with similar skills and ambitions have been working together to co-author operating systems (Linux), applications (Firefox), programming languages (PHP), and even the software that’s publishing this very blog (Drupal). Most impressive of all, everything was accomplished without primary financial incentives. Collaborations like these do not happen without hard work and become more difficult with larger numbers of participants.

One of the larger collaborative efforts in the world is American democracy. There are over 300,000,000 people eligible to vote in America, yet 40% decide not to participate. On top of that, less than 20% of the public approve of the actions of Congress. Can we use the tools and technology from the open source movement to help foster a more engaged and effective democracy?