A century ago the progressives in Washington sought to create the government in the image of the private sector. This resulted in transforming American government into an organization that tried to keep up with innovation. From this was born the metaphor “government as a machine”. While one can argue that this has not been a homogeneous trend, there are quite a few examples where the public sector has not only readily adopted new technology to transform governance but has even gone beyond the private enterprise. I was particularly very impressed by a group of public sector employees who have formed a community “MuniGov2.0” and hold regular virtual meetings on Second Life; that is right (!) in the gaming virtual world of Second Life, to discuss how the Government should utilize web 2.0 technologies!
Real time collaboration embedded in government processes and applications can take this experience to the next level transforming the way the Government connects with its citizens, including them in the governance, obtaining first hand feedback on the effectiveness of its policies and ensuring accessible transparency where possible.
Do you agree?
What is your experience? Are we ready to make this change possible in our government? Is the public sector ready to bring about this transformation and unleash a whole new citizen experience while at the same time obtaining financial benefits from such collaborative applications? If yes what do you think will be first set of focus areas for such solutions?
We cannot even build a half-functional electronic voting machine! Science fiction from the 60's through the late 70's is populated with dozens of dystopias based on surveillence, instant polling, instant voting, virtual meetings, avatars and nearly every other bit of technology we have just 'discovered'. The benefit of these novels is that they took a seemingly good idea and showed how it could be twisted into something that has nearly the opposite effect.
What if someone created a thousand virtual identies and had them participate in a virtual meeting? Could they sway opinion? Could the influence a vote?
If I have time, I may dig up some of these old novels. It is sad to remember the storyline but not the title or author. One was about a society where the entire populace was polled on major decisions. It sure sounded good but the government began to respond to the polls, manifesting itself in dramatic policy swings. Eventually, someone discoved that asking the right questions could influence the poll of subsequent questions. The dramatic swings did stabalize but the opinion of the populace was ultimately unimportant since they were just reflecting back the answer they were programmed to give.
If we had been more cautious in implementing todays Credit/Debit system, we probably would not have the identity theft problem we have today. See The Stainless Steel Rat series by Harry Harrison, written in the 60's, for some early warnings of an digital-based identity system.
I am in complete agreement with Greg and will go further. Government seems in capable of maintaining liberty as anything it does carry weight of legal force. The Government only reaction to anything is growth. Government needs outside influences to even begin to stay in check.
I think any Government run media will be means of propaganda and control of us the citizens. As Government follows it first inclination of growth and control.
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