Realpolitik nach unserem digitalen Fukushima

Aus der Verbannung in San Casciano schrieb Machiavelli am 10. Dezember 1513 an Francesco Vettori, dass er die Zeit genutzt habe ein kleines Werk zu verfassen, das den Namen de principatibus trage. In ihm gehe er der Frage nach „was ein Fürstentum ist, wie viele Gattungen es gibt, wie man sie erwirbt, wie man sie erhält, warum man sie verliert.“

Nach dem “digitalen Fukushima”, das wir mit den Enthüllungen von Edward Snowden erlebt haben, hat sich der netzpolitische Diskurs massiv verändert und das betrifft alle: die Netzpolitiker, die Verwaltungsreformer, die Open Government Community, die Akademiker und natürlich auch die Unternehmen, die unsere Zukunft gestalten wollen, ob aus dem Silicon Valley, Paris oder Berlin. Es ist an der Zeit, dass wir ein paar der Gedanken, die vor 500 Jahren gedacht worden sind, in den aktuellen Diskurs einbringen.

Der Vertrauensvorschuss, der notwendig war, global Technologien der nächsten Generation auszurollen, sei es Cloud, as-a-Service Ansätze oder das Internet-der-Dinge, ist verspielt.
Continue Reading →

10. December 2013 by Philipp
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Mastering complexity – my dinner speech in Heiligendamm

This is my Prezi from the Heiligendamm event

10. June 2013 by Philipp
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Tweeting the Revolution

Britta Glennon from the Chicago Policy Review, on our Oxford Internet Policy article:

…Philipp Mueller and Sophie van Huellen, in their article “A Revolution in 140 Characters: Reflecting on the Role of Social Networking Technologies in the 2009 Iranian Post-Election Protests,” attempt to analyze the role and impact of social media in the 2009 Tehran protests. They present two possible hypotheses for what happened: the “power-shift” hypothesis and the “media-shift” hypothesis.

The “power-shift” hypothesis argues that “many-to-many” media such as Facebook and Twitter empowers the masses, changing the power structure in society and resulting, in this case, in widespread protest. Mueller and van Huellen are skeptical of this hypothesis, arguing that social media probably did not reach the mass population within Iran…

Here’s the link to the full review. 

15. April 2013 by Philipp
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…My Keynote at E-Day 2013 in Vienna

 

 

11. April 2013 by Philipp
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Reflecting Recent Readings

The festive season allowed me to reflect on some of the books that I have been reading in 2012.

I have been trying to put my finger on the relationship between our day-to-day experiences and the more fundamental transformations our lifeworlds and societies are going through.

I was particularily fascinated by Stephan Greenblatt’s “The Swerve” (2011), a book on Poggio Bracciolini’s re-discovery of Lucretius’ (Epicurean) poem ‘On the Nature of Things’ in 1417. Greenblatt describes how this poems return to circulation changed the course of history, by influencing the founders of modern thinking. A fantastic perspective on the early days of humanism, even if it is a bit individual-centric (as rightfully pointed out by my mom).

Closer to our reality today is Florian Illies’ “1913″ (2012), a book that defies traditional forms of writing fiction. Illies takes the perspective of an omniscient observer, describing from a neutral stance, chronologically the small and big events that happened to the protagonists of modernity in the months January to December 1913. By choosing his cast carefully, e.g. Oswald Spengler, Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka, Gottfried Benn, Pablo Picasso, Louis Armstrong, Oskar Kokoshka, and Adolf Hitler play bigger and smaller parts, he paints a continent that struggles with very fundamental questions of meaning, without realizing that the Damocles sword of 1914 is hanging over it.

This argument resonates with Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s epistemological manifesto “Antifragile – Things that Gain from Disorder” (2012). This erudite diatribe against main stream social science thinking argues that we are missing most of the important picture, when we ignore that what we do not dare to name: things that get stronger, when under stress. By introducing the term “antifragility” into the debate, he enables us to think about systems that become stronger, when introduced to stress and a certain amounts of randomness. This helps us, both to understand the past and gives us toolsets to think our futures. An important read, especially, for those of us interested in systems integration: His ideas about designing loosely coupled systems that allow a certain amount of randomness offers important advice for anybody building the ‘secure-open’ cloud/big data ecosystems of today/tomorrow. Could the argument be made in less than 850 pages? Probably.

This is what Krallmann/Zapp (eds.) focus on in “Bausteine einer vernetzten Verwaltung” (2012) where the bring together a group of academics, consultants, and policy maker to outline the fundamentals of a networked (Weberian) bureaucracy at the nexus between information sciences, juridical thinking, and administrative process. I was delighted to contribute a chapter on “open statecraft” to the volume, where I argue that we should think of openess as a means and not an end, in order to benefit from the potential of digitally networked systems. Just last week, I finally dared to re-read my own book “Machiavelli.net” (2012) and somehow actually enjoyed.

A book that really changed my thinking about the reality of political processes was Martin Plaut’s and Paul Holden’s “Who rules South Africa” (2012), a contemporary historical perspective on the complex political economy of this beautiful country. It’s very careful analytical approach allows the reader to understand the tension between historically grown centers of power and their cultural/institutional counterparts.

I have the hope that Don Winslow’s “Kings of Cool” (2012) and “Savages” (2010) will play a role in changing our thinking of Mexican-US relations in the long run. Its Californian’ North of the border perspective on the Marihuana trade is a foil to Roberto Bolano’s “2666″ (2004) reflection on  the unsolved and ongoing serial murders of Ciudad Juárez (and on post-modern literature in general).  An interesting tidbit of an argument in the Kings of Cool was that with the return of Special Forces units from Afghanistan, the Mexican question will take a more prominent role in US policy – something Stratfor only picked up much later in the year.

Mark Owens’ memoir “No Easy Day” (2012) recounting the raid that killed Osama bin Laden was no easy read. My personal take on it was that it does give interesting insights into the bureaucracy/administration of targeted killings and it forces us to address several very hard ethical and legal dilemmas.

Ending on a lighter note, I very much enjoyed Clayton Christensen’s slightly cheesy “How will you measure your life?”  (2012), a book based on his 2010 HBS graduation speech. No matter if you fully agree with his moral stance, using such frameworks to evaluate your life, is a meaningful exercise we should all come back to from time to time. It resonated nicely with the gerontologist Karl Pillemer’s “30 Lessons for Living” (2011), advice from more than 100o Americans over the age of 65, which was given to me for my 40th Birthday.

I’d be delighted to hear from you in the comments, what books touched your hearts and made you think this year.

 

 

 

27. December 2012 by Philipp
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…on my way to Berlin

…this week will be interesting. On Tuesday, I get to speak at Germany’s premier conference on the transformation of public administration, Effizienter Staat 2012 (#estaat12). In the afternoon, I’ll present my new book machiavelli.net – strategy for our open world and in the evening we will present our edited volume “Bausteine für eine vernetzte Verwaltung.” On Wednesday, I get to hang out with Angela Merkel in the Office of the Chancelor, where CSC is teaching high school girls how to progam apps at the Girls’ Day.

23. April 2012 by Philipp
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#OpenGov in Germany, Quo Vadis?

On Tuesday, we hosted a Japanese governmental delegation at CSC in Berlin. They were on a fact-finding mission to Brussels, Berlin, Paris and London to understand European developments in Open Government. Several of Germany’s deepest thinkers on Open Government willingly shared their thoughts. Here is a quick write-up of how I see the debate evolving in Germany.

A complex crossing of historical forces

Never in the history of mankind has a public management idea spread as quickly as open government. Only three years ago, in January of 2009, President Obama signed the famous memo on open government, focusing on transparency, participation and collaboration, thereby framing the debate on how to implement social media in government for the US and the rest of the world. in 2012 more than 40+ countries on this planet are developing committments to open government: The Open Government Partnership, a multilateral agreement between governments that  (a) develop a high-level Open Government Declaration, (b) a country action plan developed with public consultation; and  (c) commit to independent reporting on their progress going forward. It reminds us of the argument on nationalism in Imagined Communities, the seminal work of Benedict Anderson (1983).
Nationality, nation-ness, and nationalism are cultural artifacts whose creation toward the end of the 18th C was the spontaneous distillation of a complex ”crossing” of discrete historical forces; but that, once created, they became ”modular,” capable of being transplanted to a great variety of social terrains, to merge and be merged with a variety of political and ideological constellations.
We live in a time, where the idea of open government, the utilization of many-to-many technologies in creating public value has become modular.

The Social Logic of Open Government

Open government builds on the technology of social media, which are  web-based and mobile technologies used to turn one-to-many mass media communication into many-to-many interactive dialogue. Open government takes this idea of many-to-many media and uses it to re-imagine public administration and public policy. As a technologically based idea, it has the potential to be implemented modularly all over the planet. However, as with any universal ideology: different legal systems, different political systems, and different administrative cultures will respond differently to its logic.

Germany as an interesting case

It is worth looking at Germany, if we are interested in how the idea of Open Government spreads around the planet, because Germany is at the same time similar and different to the US. It is a highly developed Western Country with a comparable GDP, and similar levels of internet penetration in society. However, it has a different legal system, where administrative secrets and privacy control play a much bigger role, the political system is still much more determined by party politics, and there is a strong civil service culture in public administration that puts a lot of weight on rule-following and legal consistency. Germany is embedded in the European Union, therefore, directives from Brussels play a major role in defining the agenda. The German CIO council of the federal and state level has just published a first agenda for open government and 2012/2013 will be the years, when Germany will move massively towards open government.

Transparency

The transparency debate in Germany is defined by two EU-directives, the PSI and INSPIRE. The PSI directive of 2003 is a EU directive that encourages EU member states to make as much public sector information available for re-use as possible – it has led to access to information legislation in German states and on the federal level.  The INSPIRE directive of 2007 lays down a general framework for a Spatial Data Infrastructure for the purposes of European Community environmental policies and policies or activities which may have an impact on the environment. The German governmental response was to develop an institution called the Geoportal for Germany which organizes one-stop access to Geo-data from the municipal, state, and federal level. Both directives have shaped the discourse on transparency in Germany and have led to legal action. The idea of open data has had the biggest impact on the German discourse. The German Open Data Network and the Open Knowledge Foundation have really pushed the issue. They have launched in cooperation with the German interior ministry the first Apps-for-Germany contest in November 2011. Cities like Berlin, Munich, or Bremen have taken the lead on the municipal level. The biggest roadblock are strong privacy laws that have been written in a different situation.

Participation

Germany has been influenced by the concept of participatory budgeting. Participatory budgeting is a process of democratic deliberation and decision-making, in which ordinary people decide how to allocate part of a municipal or public budget. Participatory budgeting allows citizens to identify, discuss, and prioritize public spending projects, and gives them the power to make real decisions about how money is spent. The concept was originally developed in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 1989 and became fashionable in Germany in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Cities like Cologne, Hamburg, Berlin-Lichterfelde, and Erfurt have developed electronically mediated versions of participatory budgeting and have very much shaped the discourse. In 2011 a big railroad station project in Stuttgart has led to social media organized protests that have in the end led to a new party to gain power in that state.

Collaboration

The idea of using social media in public administration is still contested in Germany. Examples are the “Fix-my-street” project of the state of Brandenburg. Cornelius Everding, the CIO of Brandenburg has the vision of not only enabling citizens to point to problems such as potholes or broken street signs, but actually organizing in groups that then take care of the problem: Maerker Brandenburg is only a first instantiation of this idea. Municipal electricity companies are starting to use “2.0-technologies” in streetlight-management, allowing citizens to inform them of non-functioning lamps and a new traffic jam communication system is built on Apps downloaded by several hundred thousand drivers. However, these types of technologies are not yet mainstreamed.

Conclusion

Overall, the logic of many-to-many technologies is becoming part of German public administration and public policy, however, German idiosyncrasies can be ascertained. The combination of strong privacy protection, with a legalistic culture in public administration are the biggest roadblock to all-out open government. However, the professionalism of the German civil service in combination with German “Gründlichkeit” will mean that we will hear more of German open government.
 … what do you think? 

23. January 2012 by Philipp
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Strategy for the N2N World

as I am preparing my keynote for the opening of the Alexander von Humboldt Institute on Internet and Society kickoff conference, I have been reflecting on the open statecraft research program.

Five years ago, in 2006, O’Reilly (who earlier had coined the term web 2.0) called for government 2.0 or „government as a platform.” In 2009, President Obama published the Memo on Open Government and defined in Transparency, Participation, and Collaboration the taxonomy of legitimate open governmental action. In 2011 the Open Government Partnership was launched at the UN General Assembly and many if not most governments on this planet have started to develop explicit open government policies or have included the vocabulary of open government in their policies.

Government as a platform:  or why n2n is different

At its most fundamental level, “government as a platform” alludes to the condition of possibility of governance in n-to-n media. N-to-n  can be many-to-many, as posited by Clay Shirky (2008), but also few-to-few, and few-to-many, and many-to-few. However, all are fundamentally different than one-to-many media, the form of communication that we have become accustomed to in the 20th Century and require new forms of governance if their potential is to be realized.

Value Creation in digitally mediated network societies

This is very relevant for our political communities, because today, the conditions of possibility of media play such an important role in structuring possible forms of governance: In the 21st Century all social value creation (including economic production) is mediated through digital networks. Therefore, even the most material aspects of social life is not thinkable independent of digital communication and this in turn amplifies the impact its logical conditions of possibility have on instantiations of forms of governance. This goes way beyond the idea of empowering citizens and thereby increasing the legitimacy of our existing governmental institutions.

The n2n research program: rethinking organization, strategy, and leadership

Technology does not cause societal change. But it changes what we can do. On a n2n platform processes can be structured so that they can make use of contributions across space and time, allow for contributions that are granular and modular, and that can outsource quality control to the community or institutionalize it in algorithmic solutions. We need to rethink:

  • organization (moving beyond classical transaction cost economics),
  • strategy (moving beyond competitive dynamic),
  • leadership (moving beyond transactional models)

24. October 2011 by Philipp
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A quick note on the state of the art on the art of opening the state

25 years ago, in 1986, Fritz Kratochwil and Gerald Ruggie reminded us of the historicity of the state, by pointing at the hypocrisy of theories of statehood that assumed ontological inter-subjectivism (imagined communities), while at the same time positing epistemological positivism (laws-of-nature). It took 20 years for that realization to sink in, but in the early 21st Century, we (as humanity) got it and started to explore concepts of governance beyond statehood: The global governance discourse, the supranational governance ideas, and the emergence of multi-stakeholder governance processes come to mind.

Five years ago, in 2006, O’Reilly (who earlier had coined the term web 2.0) called for government 2.0 or „government as a platform.” In 2009, President Obama published the Memo on Open Government and defined in Transparency, Participation, and Collaboration the taxonomy of legitimate open governmental action. In 2011 the Open Government Partnership was launched at the UN General Assembly and many if not most governments on this planet have started to develop explicit open government policies or have included the vocabulary of open government in their policies.

“government as a platform”  or why many-to-many is different

At its most fundamental level, “government as a platform” alludes to the condition of possibility of governance in n-to-n media. N-to-n  can be many-to-many, as posited by Clay Shirky (2008), but also few-to-few, and few-to-many, and many-to-few. However, all are fundamentally different than one-to-many media, the form of communication that we have become accustomed to in the 20th Century and require new forms of governance if their potential is to be realized. On a many-to-many platform processes can be structured so that they can make use of contributions across space and time, allow for contributions that are granular and modular, and that can outsource quality control to the community or institutionalize it in algorithmic solutions.

This is very relevant for our political communities, because today, the conditions of possibility of media play such an important role in structuring possible forms of governance: In the 21st Century all social value creation (including economic production) is mediated through digital networks. Therefore, even the most material aspects of social life is not thinkable independent of digital communication and this in turn amplifies the impact its logical conditions of possibility have on instantiations of forms of governance. This goes way beyond the idea of empowering citizens and thereby increasing the legitimacy of our existing governmental institutions.

It means, we need to rethink organization, strategy, and leadership. 

13. October 2011 by Philipp
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Shaping network society: a quick note on my new job

Most of you know that starting May 1st I moved to CSC, one of the big global IT systems integration and outsourcing players. It has been an amazing first three months and I am looking forward to writing down some of my experiences. It is thrilling and exciting to see the interplay between network technologies, processes, and governance unfold as we try to shape our emerging network societies.

 

Expect more soon…

25. August 2011 by Philipp
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