Government 2.0

1 May

The word for the blog this week is ‘transversally’. I found this week’s readings highly interesting, particularly where the idea of Government 2.0 was addressed. I had not come across this concept before. Wikipedia always provides quite reliable definitions for the topics that we discuss in ARTS3091 lectures and this is also the case for Government 2.0. Wikipedia states that:

“Gov 2.0 refers to a government that utilizes collaborative technologies to create an open sourced, computing platform in which government, citizens and innovative companies can improve the transparency & efficiency of government, thus improving daily lives of the people. This movement incorporates Web 2.0 fundamentals with e-government, making problem solving and innovation a collaborative effort between both the public and private sectors” (Wikipedia, 2013).

I do agree with Lessig’s concerns regarding the problems with transparency, which don’t just stem down to an invasion of privacy (in some cases members of congress would have to make their calendars publicly available). A major concern for Lessig is the fact that a Government 2.0 structure or more specifically a ‘transparency’ policy, would most likely lead to misguiding the public. In his example of financial contributions made by big business to parliamentary campaigns being made transparent, he highlights that unsubstantiated conclusions will be made regarding policy making. He highlights that such financial contributions are an accepted norm in American politics and he emphasises that ‘naked transparency’ would lead to hypocrisy and finger pointing. People would assume corruption has occurred and opponents and the media will use transparent data, often taken out of context, to undermine political decisions (often with bias motives). He emphasises that for transparency to be successful, financial donations made by big business should not be allowed in American political campaigns (Lessig, 2009).

I agree with Lessig’s concerns however I believe that aspects of Government 2.0 are highly relevant and should be considered in all democratic systems. Government 2.0 involves the establishment of infrastructure that allows for direct collaboration between governments and the public in terms of problem solving and policy making. I believe that in a nation like Australia, where approximately 75% of the population has access to the Internet, the public should be able to contribute to this type of decision-making population (International Telecommunication Union, 2012). A Government 2.0 in Australia would mean that issues and policies would be decided upon specifically in regard to the opinion of the public. I understand the need for government intervention in some areas of Australian society (such as media ownership), but in a Government 2.0 the disagreements between political parties that prevent good policy making to transpire and which occur purely for the sake of conflict, would not be an issue.

An excellent area where a Government 2.0 would be useful is in the current discourse that surrounds gay marriage in Australia. While a majority of the population is in favour of legalising gay marriage, both political parties will not change legislation purely for the fact that certain influential publics are against it. The failure of all political parties to act upon this issue is primarily due to a fear of loosing popularity. If a Government 2.0 was in place in Australia, the data would speak for itself, and no layperson, or politician, would be able to argue otherwise.

Styles highlights that a starting point for a Government 2.0 in Australia would be the organisation of information from national archives. The objective of this organisation of data would be to “describe every organisation and agency, keep track of which agency does what, maintain a set of functions common to many agencies, develop sets of agency-specific functions and host the functions thesaurus” (Styles 2009).

References

Lessig L (2009); ‘Against Transparency: The perils of openness in government’ on New Republic;http://www.newrepublic.com/article/books-and-arts/againsttransparency?page=0,0; (October 9 2009); Accessed 30/4/2013

International Telecommunications Unions (2011); ‘Internet Users’ in Key ICT indicators for the ITU/BDT regions, Geneva (16 November 2011); Accessed 30/4/2013

Wikipedia (2013), ‘Government 2.0’; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gov_2.0#cite_note-1; accessed 30/4/2013

Styles, Catherine (2009) “A Government 2.0 idea – first, make all the functions visible’ on Making Manifest, < http://catherinestyles.com/2009/06/28/a-government-2-0-idea/ > (28 June 2009)

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