Quick Book Review: WikiGovernment
I just started reading it, but I have already been using the core argument of Beth Noveck’s WikiGovernment: How Technology Can Make Government Better, Democracy Stronger, and Citizens More Powerful (Brookings 2009) several times in conversations, so let me put it down in writing. Beth Noveck argues that we are at a point in history where we can move from antiquated modes of collective governance (representative democracy) to a more effective mode (collaborative democracy). This goes beyond the Habermasian notion of deliberative democracy, because it assumes that the there is excess capacity in citizens that can be utilized not just for public decision making (governance), but for the creation of public value (goods and services). Public value creation processes must be designed with the following issues in mind:
a. Egalitarian self-selection: anybody can participate, but only the experts in a specific field will. This is “democratic” because as humans we have the capacity to work together and bring our specific skill sets/knowledge/experience to the table.
b. Visual deliberation: the processes of collaboration must be distinctly designed to further the ex-ante defined goal. The visualization of the collaborating group becomes a governance tool, insofar that it provides an outside perspective on the group for the group.
c. Collaboration: in democratic practice, collaboration is under-appreciated. Participation today can go beyond once-a-year elections.
Read the book and come back here to discuss it. I hope to post a full review later in the week.