Many people wrote me to congratulate for a high profile article on Repubblica (three full pages on one of the main national daily newspapers) on the topic of open government (called “Wikicrazia”, after my book, in the title)and of the interest it is attracting in the national debate. The article itself contributed to such interest: a very strong endorsement induced new curiosity in people previously unaware or uninterested, and prompted some who were already intrigued to take action.
I think the open gov movement, though still a niche one, is going to be irresistible in the long run. Why? Because the work can be divided in packets so small, and the tools are so cheap, that even a single person committing a little time can make a small, but noticeable difference, here and now, without having to wait for systemic reform or cultural change. But I also think that much credit for the present wave of interest should go to Riccardo Luna, former editor in chief of Wired Italy and author of the article in question. Riccardo is not only a good journalist and an excellent communicator; he has become an activist and an organizer of this movement. We talked a lot to each other in these latest few months, and I have seen his enthusiasm grow and become vision. He has an inclusive style, always taking care to give credit where credit is due and to avoid overpersonalization, has won him a lot of sympathy and credibility.
If I am allowed to offer advice – not so much to Riccardo, as to all of us – I think it is important to try to keep the focus on mass collaboration based on self-selection, avoiding to personalize the issue and resisting the temptation to make good, effective contributors to this movement into gurus. It would be misleading. With each project I start, I know that the most valuable collaborator is a person I don’t know yet. It for him or her that I design: so that they can find their way to the project that needs exactly his or her skills, and can be engaged in a useful, respectful and fun way.
Gurus, on the other hand, are just about the last thing we need.