The Plot is Thickening: Phase II of the Open Government Initiative
Beth Novack, the author of WikiGovernment (Brookings 2009), is the new deputy CTO for Open Government of the Obama Administration. She is leading the Open Government Initiative. After a brainstorm phase, we are moving into the discussion phase today. Read her White House blog-posting here.
As we are setting up Government 2.0 parallel to our existing democratic institutions, it is time to re-visit the pre-2009 writing and experiences on participatory forms of governance. Ruckelhaus’ experiments in the EPA with town halls come to mind or any text written by Archon Fung.
And we should not forget to ask the questions that we have been asking of governance ever since Cleisthenes introduced democracy to Athens in 508 BC: Who was participating in the brainstorm sessions? How heavy-handed was the moderation? How are opinions aggregated? Do we have access to the raw postings to hold government accountable on the issues? How is the discussion organized? What forms of structural power are instituted in the process? Who are the people that are participating? What are their backgrounds? What percentage of the US population is participating? Are participants representative? What would count as a success?