Thursday, December 10, 2009

What is Gov 2.0?

To answer this question, we must first ask 'What is Gov 1.0'?  Our initial reaction might be to talk about service provision - Health, Education, Infrastructure, Treasury, Law, Security etc.  However all these things are just side effects of the policy process -

- Agenda Setting
- Assessment of Alternatives
- Policy Making
- Policy Delivery
- Measurement
- Refinement

It is these that we are influencing when we shake the vending machine - be it 1.0, 2.0 or squared, be it socialist, communist, a democracy, monarchy or autocracy. Thus, with Gov 2.0, a core goal must be to improve the quality of, and capacity for public participation at this level.  It is here that transparency and involvement  are most critical.

With that background, how would services like this appear?

Gadi Ben Yahuda recently wrote 'The Future of Gov 2.0: Law By Wiki?'.  It touches on a part of Gov 2.0 that seems to be missing in many discussions, and which I highlighted in a previous post - public participation in the policy process.  It's not about contacting your local member through facebook, or subscribing to their tweets - it's about having the facility to actually make direct contributions as an individual.

Seeing a wiki as a tool for policy creation is an excellent first step, because it makes an absolutely crucial observation - policy management is knowledge management.

Perhaps this vision of public participation in the policy process lies beyond Gov 2.0 - Gov Squared?  Andrea DiMaio listed four facets of Web 2.0 in government and certainly explicit means for public participation in the policy process are absent.  Perhaps it is implicit - deliver these facets, and we achieve improved public participation in the policy process.  To me though, it's the Web 2.0 version of the government we already have, and true involvement in the actual policy process is only fractionally closer.  We remain firmly rooted in representative government as our only means - something largely driven by past technical constraints on a scalability problem - a problem that is dissolving before our eyes.
'It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried' - Winston Churchill
On the horizon is a world where we can form ad-hoc representative structures, even choosing to represent ourselves.
'If liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost.' - Aristotle
Perhaps it is time not only for technological advancement, but to consider the emerging potential for evolution of democracy itself.

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