From The Simple but Ingenious System Taiwan Uses to Crowdsource its Laws, a story about using online networks to not just change conversation about important topics but to actually allow for conversation. Instead of simply answering a question, providing the opportunity to explore, learn about, convince, and be convinced.
This suggests people had concluded that, in fact, “To cane or not to cane?” was the wrong question to ask. That kind of realization, and solution, wouldn’t have emerged from a traditional online petition that only gives people the option of voting yes or no.
While these online petitions and networks aren’t binding on the government (yet), they provide some great insight into what is possible.