This past week I had the opportunity to be amongst the leading thinkers in the Government 2.0 space at the Gov2.0 camp in Washington, DC. It was exhilarating to be amongst so many critical thought drivers and educators.
What did I come away with beside a deep satisfaction that all of the work that You2Gov has put into creating one of the first Open Government websites with the most cutting edge Government 2.0 tools being utilized is worth it?
The symbiotic balance required for the proper utilization of these tools and broad acceptance and implementation is a little like a marriage. The private sector is innovating ahead of the Government’s ability to handle such rapid change. The government sector is hungry to accept these new tools and begin the process of creating an Open Government Framework for both cleared (secure) communications and public (non secure) communications.
But these two very important aspects miss the other part of the Open Government triangle. The empowered Citizen who takes it upon themselves to both create and make use of tools to hold our Government accountable is now the Citizen 2.0. (Andrea Baker and Adriel Hampton have both written about Citizen 2.0 previously) But the proper discussion needs to revolve around the interplay between all three parts of this triangle. The People, Government, Industry.
We are looking at historic breakthroughs totally changing how we all communicate with our Government, and how our Government communicates with us. Yes, it is our Government. Lots of people seem to forget those memorable words of the U.S. Constitution: “Power to the People, by the People and For the People.” These are not some quaint old English usage of loose terms. The Founding Fathers were being explicitly specific in the choice, placement and use of these words. It is not for want, that Thomas Jefferson penned these words. They are based on a rational fear of imperial leadership, and a grounding that Democracy flows and happens when all participate.
So while all the big Government Contractors are trying to wrap their heads around what to sell next to Government; and while Government is struggling with how to define, capture and maximize these new technologies, the Citizen 2.0 is faced with a choice. One that is relatively new to our Oligarchic Democracy. This choice revolves around this concept: Does the Citizen 2.0 take an active role in our Democracy by using these playing field flattening tools, or does the Citizen 2.0 sit back and continue to watch, letting things happen in our Government that we would never allow to happen in our own households?
Alan W. Silberberg, CEO, You2Gov