A New View Of Government 2.0 - InformationWeek

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Software // Information Management
Commentary
8/19/2009
12:59 PM
Michael Hickins
Michael Hickins
Commentary
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A New View Of Government 2.0

Government 2.0 has been identified in a couple of ways: one could be really called Politics 2.0, and is best personified by the digital grassroots organizing of the Obama campaign.

Government 2.0 has been identified in a couple of ways: one could be really called Politics 2.0, and is best personified by the digital grassroots organizing of the Obama campaign.As Dan Tapscott notes:

One of the principles of the New Media Group in the Obama presidential campaign was that 'online activity exists to support offline activity.' The goal of the online media specialists was to motivate and energize volunteers to be active in their communities. This principle is being carried into the battle around healthcare.

It's also reflected in the kind of open government advocated by the Obama Administration (although not without notable hiccups, such as the failure to allow a five-day period for public comment before signing a bill into law).

But Tim O'Reilly identifies something that could have as much if not more value going forward, and that is the mash-up, Web-services orientation of Web 2.0.

According to O'Reilly, the federal government can imitate vendors like Apple who successfully create platforms that allow other vendors to flourish; in this case, the idea is to open APIs to government data that individuals and corporations could use to "build alternate services and interfaces to government programs." O'Reilly envisions an

open platform that enables anyone with a good idea to build innovative services that connect government to citizens, give citizens visibility into the actions of government and even allow citizens to participate directly in policy-making.

If the Obama Administration is successful in implementing O'Reilly's description, it could have far-reaching consequences for the future of democracy itself. (Mitch Wagner also discussed O'Reilly's ideas and added the caveat that alternative visions by smaller-government folks is welcome, so long as it's not a pointless jeremiad about free markets which have never existed and, to the extent they have, have resulted in abuse of power in a different form).

The Administration's recent experience with the broadband stimulus application process, where the number of applicants slowed federal systems to a halt, are an indication of how little the previous Administration did to keep government technology up to date. The Obama Administration can't fix every agency's flaws in one fell swoop -- nor should it try.

On the contrary, encouraging the private sector to create cloud-based systems for government -- on behalf of the citizens to which government is beholden -- would create better government of, of course, help stimulate the economy.

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