Let’s learn from the mistakes a bunch of us made back in the 90’s when we put up online “discussion” rooms and held online “town halls.” If you want the pay-off - if you want good ideas and positive outcomes - you have to invest the resources and plan strategically.

One more tip. Advocates and lobbyists will be all over opportunities for public participation and collaboration. But will average citizens come to the table…citizens across the political spectrum, across generations, across the country? You need to prime the pump. Create some quick success.

I’d love to see the federal government, as a whole, start with a handful of topics for public discussion. Throw the best resources at the efforts. Establish models for public participation and collaboration, before the agencies start doing this willy-nilly. Pick issues that don’t need legislation and can be resolved in less than 6 months. Pick issues that have broad public interest, don’t require extensive research or prior knowledge, and won’t be especially contentious. Pick problems that have a good shot at being solved.