Where the team behind MATTER write about writing about the future.

August 16, 2012 at 1:34pm


Results from the collaborative commissioning trial

Over two thousand votes cast and forty new ideas submitted. That’s a pretty encouraging response to what was a relatively small-scale test of our collaborative commissioning system.

A quick recap first for those new to the process. We’re going to let MATTER supporters chose topics for some of our future stories, and we’re going to manage the process using All Our Ideas, a tool that allows communities to suggest and prioritise ideas. More details here.

We seeded the system with around forty ideas, which means that user contributions doubled the size of the idea pool. That’s impressive given that only sixty people took part. Even more impressive is the fact that eight of the ten most popular ideas were suggested by users. That makes me think that both parts of the process — the proposing and the prioritising of topics for MATTER to investigate — can work.

The top five ideas were:

What new materials will surround us in 20 years?

Are intellectual property laws a net benefit for society?

How can we engineer a fiscally sustainable society with ever-more senior citizens and ever-fewer taxpayers?

Can we reverse the trend toward greater income inequality?

Is an adequately funded public health system incompatible with US health care?

Full list here.

It’s interesting that four of the five are social questions. We want social science to be a substantial part of what we do and these are the kind of big issues that we want to tackle in MATTER. It’s great to hear that we’re aligned with supporters on this. (And if you worry these topics sound more suitable for an academic journal, fear not. Everything we publish will be built around compelling narratives).

I’m now confident that we’ll be able to use All Our Ideas to commission a piece in the near future. Everyone who pledged $25 or more on Kickstarter is automatically on our editorial board and will receive an email when the process kicks off. If you’re not on the board but want to join, check our site when we launch later this year. We’ll be accepting new members then.

Finally: many thanks to everyone who took part in the trial! Your participation and feedback is much appreciated.

Jim, MATTER co-founder


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