How The Internet Will Transform Government

Although I think the application is a little broader: the Internet is already transforming everything. The first example Clay Shirky cites is that of a girl who took pictures of her school lunch every day, and then was told she had to take it down.

As he points out: why did the school think they could get away with it? Because for the entire history of humanity up until this point, they pretty much could.

Doesn’t make me optimistic about the possibility that the Internet will lead to world peace, however.

3 Responses

  1. It seems to me that the history of our government is one in which it gets less and less accountable. I see that as the nature of expanding government. I don’t think there is anything that will make it more accountable other than reducing it.


    • KW – it may not bring world peace but it is a testament to linux. Github for legislation and budget is out of reach until we are all software engineers. But I like the new form of argumentation compatible with democracy as a concept.

      George, I think gummint at all levels is more responsive than it was in 1959. I don’t know if I can prove it. I also think it was more responsive than it is now by 1975, again at all levels. And I don’t know if I can prove that, either.

      In the first instance, rural votes counted hundreds of times as much as urban votes before the Supremes enshrined one-man-one-vote as a 14th A mandate. In the second instance, Congresspersons used to be far more responsive to their constituent needs than they are today, in part because they are fundraising more than half the time and in part because they can short circuit communication through the internet and in part because the districts are drawn to be safe for incumbents.

      Edit – add that each Congressperson represents 200k more folks than s/he did in 1975. That could be an issue, as well.

      Only supposition on my part, of course. No studies to back me up.


  2. Troll: A valid point. I think most increase in accountability is going to happen where the rubber meets the road (that is, where government interfaces with real people, their blogs, and their camera phones). More reform will likely happen at the DMV and the school board than in the halls of Washington. Still, I find the idea of open sourcing legislation to be interesting. I think common wisdom suggests it would be a mess, but we might actually be better group-sourcing legislation among affected parties than having congress people with minimal knowledge of the issues taking the input of lobbyists and drafting legislation thusly.

    Not that that last part is ever going to happen.


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