Any social media evangelist surely knows the objection all too well: you try to make the case for Web 2.0 and the power of conversations that it enables when someone inevitably comes up with "conversations are all very well, but what about real work? And real impacts?"
So it’s nice to see an example of social innovation out of the UK that is based, quite simply, on enabling conversations. Patient Opinion is a website founded by Paul Hodgkin, a general practitioner "who wanted to find a way to make the wisdom of patients available to the National Health System (NHS)." Acting as an independent broker, the site enables conversations between patients and health care providers that help identify concrete opportunities to improve health service at the local level. Apparently, the model has proven successful enough to attract funds for an extension, this time focusing on mental health.
Public Experience, another website based across the pond, seems to have adapted the same model to public services in general.
Now, imagine for a second a development equivalent of Patient Opinion – a site (or, given access issues, possibly a mobile phone service) where aid recipients openly share their experiences about the quality and impact of the support they received and engage in a dialogue with donors on how to improve its effectiveness. The Development 2.0 wishlist keeps growing.
P.S. If you are afraid of getting lost in too many conversations, Debategraph might be just the solution you are looking for.