Government 2.0: Building an Online Democracy

Don Tapscott, coauthor of Wikinomics, spoke on NPR’s Talk of the Nation this afternoon about Internet projects intended to engage citizens more fully in participatory democracy. According to the NPR blurb, “He says the Internet can make government more open, participatory and efficient — and maybe even smaller and cheaper, too.”

Tapscott mentioned a collaboration with Canada’s Governor General. I didn’t hear the name, so I went searching online and came up with a blog where Tapscott writes about exploring these ideas at the World Economic Forum in Davos. I like what he says about new tools for self-organization — great tools for dismantling barriers of all kinds:

The WEF invited a few Davos Fellows to run a workshop on an idea they are passionate about. The goal was to inspire people to continue collaborating outside of sessions and to mimic the behaviour that we all would like to elicit online by letting them set up their own communities.

The topic I chose was government 2.0 – how the new Web 2.0 might lead to new models of citizen engagement. In recent years, governments have embraced “citizen-centric” approaches to service delivery and emphasized inter-agency collaboration. Some governments have even extended new roles to citizens, community-based organizations, and private businesses in a bid to lower costs, harness new competencies, and leverage untapped sources of innovation. Despite significant progress, transforming the deeper structures of government is proving to be an intractable challenge. But just as new waves of innovation are washing over the private sector, the imperative to harness new models of collaboration and innovation is arriving at the doorstep of governments everywhere.

The discussion was quite extraordinary and nine themes emerged:

1. Self organization. People outside the boundaries of traditional institutions have at their fingertips the most powerful tool ever for organizing collective action. But the so-called “smart mobs” and “wise crowds” of the past are being superseded by movements for social change on an unprecedented scale. This is not simply occurring within nation states, where the third pillar of society (after corporations and governments)-the civil society-has historically addressed the needs of communities that have not been met by the market or government. Increasingly, “the people” are organizing across borders and exerting their power and influence on the global scene. This has big implications for governments. Read more.

Ms. Modigliani will be interested in another article I found in PC World.Ca: Canada’s Don Tapscott talks about the Wiki classroom of tomorrow.

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2 Responses to Government 2.0: Building an Online Democracy

  1. ms modigliani says:

    Canada’s Governor General is Michaelle Jean, journalist and broadcaster on Radio-Canada and the CBC. She is the first black Canadian to serve as Governor General, the third woman, and the second immigrant.


  2. Mark Willis says:

    I listened to the NPR interview again. The name of the project Tapscott mentioned is “Canada Jams.” It will be a 3-day live Internet conversation; the Governor-General will choose topics and maybe moderate; participants will use web filtering tools such as those on digg to move topic threads up and down on the attention scale. Ms. M, have you heard of Canada Jams? I searched again for it again and found Canada’s Live Music Showcase and a MySpace page devoted to the same. And of course, there was plenty of the blueberry variety, too.

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