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Category Archives: politics

Since the presentation of the iPAD it is discussed how it will shape the future of internet. Many stress that it is a content consuming device rather than a content creating device. The New York Times application as well as the iBook-Store underpin this. Hence Apple enables traditional media companies like book and newspaper publisher to gain power back in a world which was flattened by the internet.

An article in the German FAZ points out that Apples products in combination with the appstore turns the iPAD into a remote control for the internet. With the advent of the remote control for TVs zapping through the channels came along. As a result media consumers wanted to see something to happen rather than wait for a plot or a political debate to evolve and in which different perspectives can be presented in detail. Hence something I consider to be the basis of a good discussion culture eroded more and more. With the internet a new space for this discussion culture emerged making it possible to discuss topics which are not covered comprehensively off-line. However, holding devices in your hand which you use to enter the internet through applications might limit the chance to stumble over new interesting debates. You’ll get what your apps offer you. Is there any evidence that supports this assumption?

As mentioned at the beginning the iPad is a content consuming device not creating. A recent PEW study reports that blogging decreased among younger internet user and instead micro-blogging booms. It is argued that the advent of smartphone might have caused this development as people enter the internet with devices that are not convenient to engage in lengthy discussions as it is rather painful to use those devices to present a comprehensive argument. So what does it imply for eGovernement?

Andrea DiMaio points out the potential impact of the iPad (or a comparable device) can have to tear down the wall of the digital divide. There is no doubt that such a device can connect technically uneducated citizens more easily to the internet and hence to services offered by public authorities online assuming easy to use applications will be provided. However, this is eGovernment and not Gov20. Also applications which use open data-sets can offer citizens to gain more insights but gaining new insights is still not Gov20.

Gov20 implies the interaction of citizens, politicians and officials. Having realised that content generating highly depends on the device you use the iPad can have a negative effect on active participation. I wouldn’t have written this blog-post if I had an iPad. Probably I would have communicated my opinion just via twitter.

I have to admit that I am afraid that the deterioration of a healthy debate culture declines further. Everyone who read Neil Postman’s “Amusing Ourselves to Death” should be aware of this development. When I read about the hourlong debates presidential candidates had with each other across the country and have a look at todays debating culture I wish we could have preserved some aspects of the old days.

Don’t get me wrong I love the aspect that a device like the iPad has the amazing potential to bridge the digital divide but it won’t necessarily enhance interactions with politicians. Hence the iPad and any similar device will be more eGovernment than Gov20.

Delib helps organizations to leverage web2.0 tools to involve more people into the policy making process. It released a 15 minute video about “OpenGov” to give a nice overview about the topic.

Personally I want to stress an aspect Beth Noveck (deputy chief technology officer of Obama’s administration) highlighted. OpenGov is not about new technology in the first place. It is a tool to achieve strategic goals and support processes. Define these two aspects first and than choose the tools.

OpenGov initiatives only will be a success if people use it. Hence meaningful data has to be  available. However, I have some trouble to agree with Jake Brewer’s idea to make data available on a realtime basis. He actually compares it with real-time data as they are available from stock markets. However, he misses the point. Political decision makers should have a long term perspective like institutional investors do. Like pension funds develop long term investment strategies politicians should develop lont-term strategies as well. As scholars in the field of behavioural finance pinpoint the aspect that a repeated evaluation of investments increases adjustments resulting in a lower net-return than if you would have stayed relaxed. I am afraid that realtime political data wouldn’t be beneficial to develop long-term strategies. Instead media interested in a new scoop would pick a certain number regardless whether it is relevant to develop a long-term strategy or not.

Don’t get me wrong I do like the idea of OpenGov and the potential it has to increase citizens involvement and to leverage their analytical capacity. However, OpenGov itself is not a silver-bullet to develop a long term strategy especially not in the current economic environment. Right now the question is which unpopular decisions to make to get back on track.