Sometimes the goal of the crowd is not the next big ad campaign, the next new product feature, the best article for how to spin fire poi, or finding the best restaurant in the area. Sometimes the goal of the crowd is simply whimsy.
One of the most popular crowdsourced triumphs recently was the 25,000 signatures achieved on the WeThe People petition requesting that the White House begin construction of the Death Star. Although the White House roundly (and quick-wittedly) rejected the proposal, people were pleased to see their voice eliciting a reaction (one of the original pleasures of democracy).
The response from Paul Shawcross (Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House) cited a few different reasons: not least of which that the price to build a death star was estimated to be around $850 quadrillion and that “the administration does not support blowing up planets.” But perhaps, most amusingly, Shawcross responded, “Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?”
However, simultaneously (perhaps due to the petition), there is a separate new policy. A We The People petition now requires 100,000 signatures within 30 days in order to elicit an official White House response. In addition to an infographic on the subject WTP shared the following data summary:
“In the first 10 months of 2012, it took an average of 18 days for a new petition to cross the 25,000-signature threshold. In the last two months of the year, that average time was cut in half to just 9 days, and most petitions that crossed the threshold collected 25,000 signatures within five days of their creation. More than 60 percent of the petitions to cross threshold in all of 2012 did so in the last two months of the year.”
In any case, I hope it’s the policy of future administrations not to blow up planets, as well. No matter how large the petition.
What do you think of We The People? What else can we learn from the Death Star petition?