[LINK] Government 2.0 and politics 2.0
brd at iimetro.com.au
Wed Sep 16 09:38:36 AEST 2009
Government 2.0 and politics 2.0
Published by Mark in Activism, Blogging, Brisbane, International,
Notices, Policy, Politics, Sociology and The Web
There’s been a fair bit of interesting reading about government 2.0
initiatives (the new ‘branding’ for what used to be called e-democracy
or e-government) lately; probably prompted by a summit on the topic in
Washington DC and the Australian government’s initiative in this area
(and, no doubt, in some instances, by a confluence between the two).
Among notable articles are a somewhat sceptical take in the New York
Times from Anand Giradharadas and much closer to home, a piece by Tim
Watts at On Line Opinion:
It’s all too easy to get caught up in the “cool” factor of Web 2.0. The
potential of the technology is so amazing that sometimes we can forget
that at the end of the day, it’s still people on either end of the
tubes. It’s important to remember that Web 2.0 is all about people. As
Michael Wesch has said, “The Machine is Us”. The Government 2.0
Taskforce could do worse than to follow the lead of one of the great
political campaigners of our time and hang a sign in the group’s
(virtual) war room constantly bringing it back to this fundamental
theme. It could read: It’s the Community, Stupid!
Watts’ argument, with which I would agree, might be summed up by the
short paraphrase, “if you build it, they won’t necessarily come”. Or
perhaps, as I’ve been arguing recently, some decisions have to be made
about which populations are being incited to come, and for what
purposes; I’ve previously written on some issues around the digital
divide in discussing the Australian iniatives.
It seems to me, analytically, that a number of issues have to be sorted
out which haven’t always been well thought through in much of the
discussion of government 2.0:
(a) Is government 2.0 (in its ‘engagement’ mode) the same thing as
community consultation? In other words, is it just a quicker and perhaps
more efficient mode of guaging reaction to decisions which have largely
been made already, or to tweaking them in the implementation phase? If
so, does it have some advantages in potentially enabling a more
representative sample of opinion?
(b) Is government 2.0 something which can open up policy debates to a
wider range of voices? If so, is this better conceived of as expanding
the reach of distributed expertise rather than citizen empowerment per se?
Both questions have political as well as policy answers, I hasten to add.
But the key point, I think, is that we need to think through the social
and cultural uses of such tools by government. And to understand that
engagement or open information strategies do not either necessarily
transform government and decision making nor elicit more interest and
participation in politics as such.
As a footnote, for those who are in Brisbane next Monday morning, the
Eidos Institute is holding a breakfast with British creativity guru
THE USER-GENERATED STATE: PUBLIC SERVICES 2.0
On Monday the 21st September 2009, The Eidos Institute Board and
Education City will be hosting a breakfast with Charles Leadbeater, a
leading authority on innovation and strategy and one of the most
influential creative people in the world. He has advised companies,
cities and governments, and is former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s
favourite corporate thinker. Charlie will be discussing radical
innovation in the public services, including the role of co-creation and
Charlie’s presentation will be followed by comments from Dr Nicolas
Gruen, Chair, Government 2.0 Taskforce (TBC); and Professor Brian
Fitzgerald, Professor of Intellectual Property and Innovation,
Queensland University of Technology.
Download Flyer <http://www.eidos.org.au/events/LeadbeaterFlyer.pdf>
Register Now <http://www.eidos.org.au/>
The two discussants, both of whom are probably well known to a lot of LP
readers, should have some interesting things to say, I would think. The
Eidos Institute is doing some interesting research around questions of
public services and citizen involvement, so it would be worth a look in
should you have an interest.
brd at iimetro.com.au
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