Thursday, December 10, 2009

Building a Better Vending Machine

While positing the question 'What does Gov 2.0 mean to you?', Tim O'Reilly asks
'How do we get beyond the idea that participation means "public input" (shaking the vending machine to get more or better services out of it), and over to the idea that it means government building frameworks that enable people to build new services of their own?'
He's pointing toward Government as a platform.  We are always going to be shaking the vending machine - it's the citizen:government relationship.  To my mind, 'Government as a platform' is about building a vending machine that provides greater diversity in the ways it can be shaken, and responds more effectively when it is shaken - adding capabilities organically so that we don't always need to shake it to get what we want.  In a world of seemingly infinite collaborative possibilities, we need to take public input to the next level - to create a government that is inherently participative, transparent and responsive.

Here's an interesting conundrum - What proportion of our government can be delivered through 'Government as a platform'?  Are there services for which it is not suited?  If 'Government as a platform' is a government service, can this service be delivered through the platform?  Can we build a platform that enables the delivery and maintenance of all government services, including the platform itself?  Now that would be a pretty cool vending machine - where citizen and government are one, and shaking the machine means shaking ourselves.

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