Privatizing data for Gov2.0?

If bureaucrats were to shut down their websites and simply fed data to whoever wanted to comb it out, as one group will soon propose, would we have failed at Government 2.0?

Jim Powell, the TDWI editorial director, said yes, we would have failed. Without a built-in channel for the back-and-forth of genuine collaboration, there would be little collaboration.

At first, I wasn’t so sure.

First, who’s to say that officials really would engage in collaboration—even with that built-in channel in place?

Dave Wells, who points out the importance of BI culture, would likely say that success in Gov 2.0 would depend on culture. If officials don’t buy in, no technology’s going to make it work.

Wikipedia, Jigsaw, and Facebook and others find success within self-selected groups. Those who don’t see their value simply don’t show up. What’s to force officials to pay attention?

Until now, the main way ordinary people became powerful was by concentrating their influence in groups. The Sierra Club, for example, has no formal authority. Yet its nearly one million dues-paying, letter-writing members have as a group earned respect and fear among lawmakers. That’s the same for the National Rifle Association and many other groups, too.

These groups make better use of the new flood of data than individuals can. Smart groups hire smart analysts and publish their results. Most individuals didn’t have that reach.

Then the mob would find a voice. The swirling masses would come to a consensus like astral dust coalescing into planets. Then the crowd would have gravity. Then officials would have to take notice whether they liked all this Web 2.0 stuff or not.

At least that’s how it looks to me today.

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