Tag Archives: e-government

Blog like it’s 2004

For a few years now I have been participating in various social networks. But I never abandoned blogs, neither as a blogger nor as a reader, and I have no intention to do so. After seven hundred posts and two thousand comments, I am very grateful to this blog: it put me in touch with people and ideas that have become important in my development (on top of everything else, I owe it my present job). Blogging helps me organize my thinking, and not to get lost while moving along a trajectory which is not all that linear.

I am also grateful to other people’s blogs. Over the years, my preferred reads have changed almost completely, as both my interests and those of my once-favorite bloggers shifted; but I continue to enjoy the relationship I maintain with the bloggers I do follow, certainly intellectual but strangely intimate. Long-haul, sustained engagement with the thinking of a bunch of smart individuals, seems to help me develop my own. So, I am dedicating this post to the second generation of my blogroll, the blogs I am reading and commenting now, in the spirit of 2004 and of the brief golden age of blogging.

As far as Internet-enabled public policies and open government I am still reading David Osimo. David is based in Brussels, so he has a usefully European perspective, though in the past year he has been writing less than previously. A few months ago Beth Noveck came back online, after a long pause from blogging due to her responsibilities with Open Government at the White House. I hope she keeps it going, it is a really important contribution.

Thanks to Dave Kusek and Francesco D’Amato I can keep the economics of mucis, an old interest of mine, in the radar. The former, America, teaches at Berklee and has a broad overview on market trends; the latter, Italian, teaches in Rome and has become a leading expert of crowdfunding for music projects. I also read a couple of Italian technology blogs.

I am also a faithful reader of two blogs that are not clearly specialized, but are well written and get me to engage with unusual trains of thought. One is that of the British science fiction writer Charles Stross: smart, imaginative and wittily speculative as trhe best science fiction can be. The other one was started relatively recently by Italian economist Tito Bianchi, a sort of Tristram Shandy of economics that moves nimbly from topic to topic in an engaging way. Finally, if you use Google Reader, I suggest you follow engineer and troublemaker Costantino Bongiorno: He is too shy to keep his own blog but he is doing an excellent job of filtering and sharing blogs about hardware hacking, Arduino and related topics.

What about you? Do you have any blog to recommend?

Blog like it’s 2004 (Italiano)

Da diversi anni partecipo a vari social networks. Ma non ho mai smesso abbandonato i blog, nè come blogger nè come lettore, e non ho nessuna intenzione di farlo. Dopo settecento post e duemila commenti, sono molto grato al mio blog: mi ha messo in contatto con persone e idee che sono diventate importanti per me (tra l’altro, gli devo il mio lavoro attuale). Scrivere mi aiuta a organizzare i pensieri, e a non perdere il filo di un percorso che non è sempre lineare.

Ma sono anche grato ai blog altrui. Negli anni i blog che leggo sono cambiati quasi tutti (anche perché alcuni che seguivo hanno chiuso i battenti, come quello di Luca e Mafe); ma continua a piacermi il rapporto che ho con i blogger che leggo, certo intellettuale ma stranamente intimo. Nel confronto serrato e prolungato nel tempo con una persona e le sue idee mi sembra di riuscire meglio a fare crescere le mie. Voglio quindi dedicare questo post alla seconda generazione del mio blogroll, i blog che leggo (e commento) adesso, in pieno spirito del 2004 e della breve età dell’oro del blogging.

Sui temi delle politiche pubbliche Internet e del governo aperto continuo a leggere David Osimo. David scrive da Bruxelles, e ha una bella prospettiva europea, anche se nell’ultimo anno, credo preso da altro, ha scritto meno che in passato. Da qualche mese ha ripreso a scrivere anche Beth Noveck, dopo una lunga pausa durante la quale ha diretto il progetto open government alla Casa Bianca di Obama: spero non si stanchi di nuovo, il suo contributo è davvero importante.

Grazie a Dave Kusek e a Francesco D’Amato riesco a tenere nel radar anche l’economia industriale della musica, uno dei miei primi interessi professionali. Il primo, americano, insegna alla Berklee School e ha una prospettiva generale sulle tendenze di mercato; il secondo, italiano della Sapienza, si interessa in particolare di crowdfunding: su questo tema è diventato molto esperto. Leggo anche un paio di blog tecnologici: quello di Alberto D’Ottavi, uno dei primissimi blog che abbia mai letto, e quello di Vincenzo Cosenza, molto forte sul tema Facebook e social media.

Sono un lettore fedele anche di due blog non specialistici ma ben scritti e che mi fanno pensare pensieri per me insoliti. Uno è quello dello scrittore di fantascienza britannico Charles Stross: intelligente, immaginoso e speculativo come solo la migliore fantascienza sta essere. L’altro è stato aperto recentemente dall’economista italiano Tito Bianchi, una specie di Tristram Shandy dell’economia che salta con leggerezza da un argomento all’altro riuscendo sempre interessante. Infine, se usate Google Reader, vi consiglio di seguire Costantino Bongiorno (si autodefinisce “engineer and troublemaker”). È troppo timido per tenere un proprio blog, ma fa un ottimo lavoro di filtraggio e condivisione dei blog che si occupano di hardware hacking, Arduino e affini. Grazie, amici bloggers, continuate così.

E voi? Volete suggerirmi qualche bel blog?

Geeks bearing gifts: in praise of PDF Europe

I just got back from presenting my book on Wikicracy at PDF Europe. PDF Europe is the spinoff of Personal Democracy Forum, a conference on how the Internet and communication technology in general can improve democracy (politics) and government (policy). The original PDF takes place in New York City and it started in
2004; its European spinoff is in Barcelona and started in 2009. I had the honor to be enlisted as a speaker in both PDF Europe editions; I think I can claim to know it well.

PDF Europe is a veritable child of the Internet culture of sharing knowledge and creating community. Like its parent conference, it was created by American entrepreneur Andrew Rasiej, an early adopter of the Internet who has enough traction to get on board the most innovative and influential thinkers around: Clay Shirky, danah boyd, Howard Rheingold, among others — for free. As soon as the New York conference was starting to get established, Andrew and his partner Micah Sifry created an European spinoff, and started all over again.

Internet tech conferences are legion on this side of the Atlantic, but PDF Europe is a pretty unique place. Firstly, it is not dominated by business: tech corporations are there (Google is an important sponsor), but they take care not to upstage the activists and public servants that constitute the backbone of the PDF community. You don’t hear much about branding or marketing: this year’s hit was the story of how Croatian blogger Marko Rakar exposed electoral fraud in his country with a dataset on a couple of CDs, a hard look at raw data and his blog (he even got arrested for it). Last year, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange told us how he does not feel he his in physical danger in Europe – in Africa, it’s another story. With all due respect, I am interested in these uses of the internet a lot more than in branding and marketing.

Secondly, PDF Europe embodies what I love best in American culture. The American presence is much stronger than in most European Internet-tech events. It is pretty amazing, when you think of it: here’s a bunch of Americans that are working very hard for free or for cheap (I’ll bet you that Andrew actually loses money so far) to give us Europeans a common platform to talk about e-democracy and e-government. They are like, come on, guys! You can and should create a continent wide movement for better democracy and better government. Here, we can help you, lets figure it out. It feels as American as apple pie: idealism, plus can-do attitude, plus a real sense of kinship with the Old Continent. It feels like the stories of long lost “uncles from America”, who suddenly show up – bearing gifts. And it makes me feel ashamed of how embedded in our petty differences Europeans sometimes can be.

So, whether you are an activist or a public servant, if you are trying to improve your democracy with the Internet I really recommend you head for the next PDF and check these guys out. They really believe in us. The least we could do is to believe in ourselves a little, too.