From Reboot, besides a healthy immersion in the web’s countercultural matrix, I brought back good news: it can be done. The gap between the culture of the European Commission, that designs policy technology in this continent, and that of the producers and advanced users of technology can actually be bridged. I think so because the Reboot community, which kind of stands for the most hacktivist and tech-savvy part of society, showed a clear interest for Wikicrats, the “European” session on technology policy designed by Nadia El-Imam and Bror Salmelin: participation was strong and very diverse. The session produced many interesting comments and at least one good idea, building a resource list of civil servants that share – or at least are friendly to – the Reboot Culture.
For this coming together to really happen we will need time, patience and a radical revision of the narratives. I keep being taken by surprise by how dismissive many civil servants are of their own culture. Tito, for example, keeps saying “We are boring, we use obsolete tools, we don’t get results.” Obsolete tools? Nah. Tito has a PhD at MIT, whereas a lot of people out there can boast little more than a cool Twitter profile. No results? I don’t think so. Public administration gave us free education, water pipes, railways. Even the internet is a project of a government agency! Hacker culture is great, but, with all due respect, it still has to produce any comparable results. For me, public administration is fascinating as a culture: ancient, powerful and mysterious. Its artifacts get me thunderstruck, wondering “How did they do that?”, like for the pyramids in Egypt.
So, what I would like to see is free spaces like Wikicrats, where the hacker culture and the public administration culture can explore each other with mutual respect, and try to do stuff together. At the very minimum it will mean a healthy breaking free from self-referentiality, that cultural poison, as David pointed out. And if a synthesis between them could be achieved… well, then humanity would actually get a chance to tackle its global challenges.