A very brief anthology of recent thoughts on opening government…

Nassim Taleb has an article in Foreign Policy, where he reflects on some of the key messages of his new book Antifragility: Things that Gain from Disorder regarding the stability of countries, city-states and decentralizing government (titled Epiphanies from Nassim Nicholas Taleb):

“We need smaller, more decentralized government. On paper, it might appear much more efficient to be large — to have economies of scale. But in reality, it’s much more efficient to be small. An elephant is vastly more efficient, metabolically, than a mouse. It’s the same for a megacity as opposed to a village. But an elephant can break a leg very easily, whereas you can toss a mouse out of a window and it’ll be fine. Size makes you fragile”

Appearing in Government Information Quarterly, Dennis Linders“From e-government to we-government: Defining a typology for citizen coproduction in the age of social media” states:

“The institutional adoption of government-to-citizen online interactivity also opens up a powerful new problem-solving mechanism that invites everyday citizens to use their skills and expertise to solve government challenges. In so doing, governments can import innovation from social entrepreneurs and from experimentation outside of – but sponsored and/or enabled by – government. Online platforms also allow for far closer, deeper, and more frequent collaboration between governments and citizens. For instance, the Patent Office’s PeerToPatent platform allows participants from industry, academia, and the general public to provide patent examiners with relevant insights and artifacts to help determine the validity of patent applications.”

The UK government’s advisory panel on public sector information (APPSI) whose members are drawn from the business, academic, ICT, legal and public sector communities argue that we need a more strategic approach to how open government data should be reused. This discussion appears in “A National Information Framework for Public Sector Information and Open Data” and posits:

“…long-term success cannot simply be founded on a process to make available data for free re-use. Now is the time to become more strategic. Success necessitates recognition that we need a contemporary National Information Framework (NIF) which includes (at least) all key data sets to meet currently anticipated needs in governments and other key sectors of the economy….Benefits would accrue nationally and locally across all sectors in terms of savings, efficiency, growth, delivery, policy, joined up thinking, integrated services, social welfare, citizen and community engagement, etc. through more and better information being available.”

In “Assembly publics and the problem of hegemony in consensus decision-making,” a piece for openDemocracy, Christoph Haug writes:

 “The term consensus has a democratic ring to it. Perhaps it is this democratic aura that can account for the popularity of the term, but – as so often with popular terms – this also creates quite some confusion regarding its meaning. … There is clearly no consensus on the meaning of consensus….In order to reach consensus, it is not necessary that everyone expresses their will or opinion. The distribution of preferences remains unknown. – But what is the decision rule, then? The decision-rule is that no one disagrees. To be more precise: consensus means that no one expresses dissent.”

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