Peer to Patents, Micro-elites, and the Obama Innovation Plan

Beth Noveck and the Peer to Patent project have received lots of love over the last couple of days. First, Obama cited the concept, not the name, as a potential model in rolling out his technology and innovation plan when he called for “opening up the patent process to citizen review will reduce the uncertainty and wasteful litigation that is currently a significant drag on innovation.”

Beth herself returns the love to Obama in her review of his plan, calling it “unprecedented.”

Alone among the U.S. Presidential candidates, Barack Obama is confronting the question of how to produce more accountable and effective politics in our democracy….The Plan calls for citizen engagement in the work of federal agencies and demonstrates respect for the intelligence and expertise of the American people. He calls for opening up the closed practices of government and using new technology to enable genuine citizen participation and engagement in our democracy.

Peer to Patent was also name-checked in an interesting post by Andy Oram at O’Reilly Radar about the role of “micro-elites” in UGC– an idea that he attribues to Peer to Patents.

Hundreds of thousands, it is thought, can be not only consumers but producers. But more often than you’d think, what you need is not hundreds of thousands, but just five or ten people who know best….[Y]ou don’t want 1611 people examining each patent. You want the 20 people who understand the subject deeply and intimately….A corollary of the micro-elite principle is that one of the best ways to help a project requiring a micro-elite is to find the right contributors and persuade them to help out. We should also examine the rewards that such projects offer to see whether they offer enough incentives to draw the micro-elite. The key prerequisite for good writing is good writers.

Lastly, Peer to Patent is also receiving support from the Public Library of Science.


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