Time to Tap Technology for Outreach
As such things go at the California stem cell agency, it was a fairly technical meeting. No great issues, no wrestling with egg donation matters or criteria for giving away $200 million.
The subject was the application procedures for laboratory construction grants. The audience was the men and women who must fill out the complex documents – "interested parties," as they are called.
But the conference-call session on Sept. 21 has some implications for CIRM and its goals of educating the public about its activities as well as stem cell research in general(mentioned by incoming CIRM president Alan Trounson on Sept. 24).
John M. Simpson(photo above), longtime follower of CIRM affairs and stem cell project director for the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumers Rights, listened in on the meeting. We asked him for this thoughts on the event. Here is what he said:
"(The) 'interested parties' meeting was a valuable session allowing potential applicants to ask specific questions about the application process. CIRM needs to do whatever it can to engage as many people who are affected by their decisions in the process as possible.We might add that Internet webcasting would also fit in with Trounson's desire to reach out nationally and internationally with the CIRM effort."
"California is a big state and CIRM needs to use technology to promote involvement. So far as I know this was the first conference call where participants were invited to phone in directly themselves. Usually CIRM teleconferences have required a participant to go to a particular site created for the convenience of an ICOC board member to be involved.
"(The) dial-in from wherever an interested party was located worked great. It was well worth the cost and can serve as a model for future sessions.
"CIRM should put itself on the cutting edge where it claims to be and tap technology to a greater extent. For instance, it should broadcast all ICOC(Oversight Committee) meetings and (other) committee meetings on the Internet. Many city councils around the state have already figured out how to do this. CIRM and the ICOC need to get with the times. They should even consider a page on Facebook and Myspace that links back to CIRM's own website."