Wired news has coverage of an event many Terra Novans attended at State of Play, the roundtable on eRulemaking. It covers some of the discussion, has a couple of quotes from Raph, credits Professor Noveck appropriately, but in some ways mischaracterizes the discussion. The government wasn't there to get opinions from game developers about how to improve their process. Instead, they were there to solicit ideas on how to use games to educate citizens about the process.
What's unfortunate is that they ignored the obvious flaws in their design. After all, they were just talking to a bunch of game designers and developers.
The flaws are probably obvious to any TN reader. By moving away from publicizing rules and proposed rules in the Federal Register and allowing responses by snail mail towards electronic publishing and commenting, the government is hoping to broaden democracy and to allow more participation. As anyone who has participated in anonymous and unmoderated forums will immediately recognize, this has some flaws. First, the number of submissions is going to skyrocket, compounding something that the representatives of EPA and DOT folks there mentioned, reading all of the submissions is already a problem. Second, and more dangerous, organizations will be able to more efficiently scour proposed rules for issues that they don't like and then bombard the agency with millions of like-minded comments, greatly exaggerating the actual representation of that organization. Obviously, lobbiests already have an advantage in the rulemaking system. Sadly, the proposed changes will increase their advantage, not decrease it.
However, I don't want to focus too much on this specific case. Raph, who also saw the flaws in the proposed system and commented on them at the conference, either didn't give those quotes to Wired or they chose not to use them. Should Raph, as one of the most visible game designers in the US right now, be writing white papers on "MMO Lessons for Real Democracy"? If Al Franken can be a visiting professor at the Kennedy School of Government, shouldn't Raph (or other MMO creators/designers/educators)? Wouldn't it be in Sony's long term best interest to be able to announce that? A friend went to KSG after being Mayor of a small Northern California town. Shouldn't the folks keeping 300,000 users happy be able to leverage their experiences in the same way?