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Ghostly outlines of Government 2.0

I was thinking about Government 2.0 at about midnight last night—when the dark, quiet world gives way to ghosts. Then it’s easy to imagine BI tools and methods opening government to the masses.

I had been reading about open-source government last night after Letterman signed off. That’s when everyday life recedes and gives way to things that might be, could be. I call them ghosts, and you might call them memories or fantasies or even perfectly modeled government data.

In that state of mind, somewhat in this world and somewhat out of it, I asked a nearby ghost what good might come of Government 2.0.

By the way, what the hell is Government 2.0? Here’s what I understand: It’s the use of wikis, blogs, and other Web 2.0 stuff to encourage a new wave of collaboration among citizens, government officials and civil servants.

Whatever it may turn out to be, I know the concept is alive right now. A friend just got pulled out the freelance world into a comfortable government job surrounded by what he describes as very smart guys barreling forward on it. (He doesn’t work with the other type.) I’ll hear the details tonight over a St. Peter’s porter.

The best of his observations will make their way into a BI This Week story I have to write by Sunday. The rest of the story will derive from material around the Web, from a Tableau Software user, and from the ghost’s narration.

Government 2.0 could be a dream come true, and it could be a nightmare. It’ll be both.

Will it be government workers with thousands of unseen eyes looking over their shoulders? Tell me, do goldfish perform better in clear-sided bowls?

Are crowds wise enough for this task? A similar question arose before and after the American and French revolutions, when some smart people insisted that a monarchy should run things. As it turned out, they were correct—and not.

When I asked the ghost what he thought, he vanished. Lunchtime, I guess. I’ll have to try again.

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