Tag Archives: Beth Noveck

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?

Policy hackers: three movers and shakers of governance

Last week I had the good fortune of meeting three public servants of three different countries, each with a very high intellectual profile. Each of them is a point of reference in his or her field.

On Wednesday I was with Geoff Mulgan, British, founder of Demos, CEO at the Young Foundation, appointed to lead NESTA. He comes from a communication background. In the UK he is a star, having served in top posts under the Blair administration; and it seems he is about to becom one in Europe, too, because his voice is heard with attention in Bruxelles on the issue of social innovation, just as the EU is making investment decisions in this field. He is committed to designing Prime Minister Cameron’s Big Society – a controversial, yet carefully studied model. That’s not surprising, because it is the only one that promises a solution for defending the European welfare state in a globalized, finance-dominated world..

That same evening I had dinner with Fabrizio Barca, Italian, director general of the Ministry of the Economy and advisor to the European Commission for the reform of regional policy. He comes from an economics background. He got to be in government coming from Banca d’Italia, together with Carlo Azeglio Ciampi (Ciampi is possibly the best statesman in the history of Italy after unity: a partisan turned central banker turned Prime Minister and then Minister of Treasury, who then went on to be one of the most popular Presidents ever). Ciampi and Barca shared an exceptional experience of institution building, recruiting a group of technicians with international experience to work on the issue of development of lagging Mezzogiorno. The result was the National Strategic Framework, the smartest, noblest policy document I have ever read. Fabrizio has an incredibly wide strategic outlook in which he subsumes everything from scientific papers to policy documents and his own conversations with civil society leaders, and is ultrafast (he answers his mail in minutes, and his colleagues say it is almost impossible to stay ahead of him). He is a leading authority on the issue of economic development.

I spent Thursday with Beth Noveck, American, founder of Peer to Patent, former deputy CTO at the White House, about to start a new appointment with the British government on OpenGov. She comes from a law background. Of the three, Beth is the one I feel I know best (we have been in conversation for a year, and she helped me with my book), and the one I am closest to in terms of interests. We both care about the collaborations between citizens and public authorities, and she is a world class expert in this field. Unlike the other two, she is above all an academic.

My take home from meeting these people is the usual one, always worth repeating: I have still much, much, much to learn. And learn I will.

Policy hackers: tre protagonisti dell’azione di governo

La settimana scorsa ho avuto una fortuna straordinaria: incontrare tre servitori dello Stato (anzi degli Stati, visto che parliamo di tre paesi diversi) dal profilo intellettuale molto alto. Ciascuno di loro è un punto di riferimento nel proprio campo.

Mercoledì ero con Geoff Mulgan, inglese, fondatore di Demos, CEO di Young Foundation, in procinto di andare a dirigere il prestigioso NESTA. Viene da studi di comunicazione. Nel Regno Unito è abbondantemente una star, avendo ricoperto incarichi di rilievo nel governo Blair); e mi pare che lo stia diventando anche nel resto d’Europa, perché la sua è una voce molto ascoltata a Bruxelles in tema di innovazione sociale proprio nel momento in cui l’Europa sta decidendo di investire sul tema. È impegnato nella progettazione della Big Society del primo ministro Cameron, modello controverso ma studiato con attenzione da tutto il continente – anche perché è l’unico che aggredisce esplicitamente il tema della difesa del welfare in un mondo finanziarizzato e globalizzato. .

La sera dello stesso giorno ho cenato con Fabrizio Barca, italiano, direttore generale del ministero dell’Economia e consigliere della Commissione Europea per la riforma della politica regionale. Viene da studi di economia. Negli anni Novanta dirige il servizio studi di Bankitalia: quando Carlo Azeglio Ciampi lascia la Banca per diventare ministro del Tesoro lo porta con sè. Insieme danno vita a una straordinaria avventura di institution building, reclutando un nucleo di tecnici di livello internazionale e mettendoli al lavoro sul tema dello sviluppo del Mezzogiorno. Il risultato è il Quadro Strategico Nazionale, il documento di policy più intelligente e nobile che abbia mai letto. Fabrizio ha una visione strategica molto ampia in cui integra di tutto, dalla letteratura scientifica ai rapporti governativi e alle discussioni con i leaders della società civile), ed è molto veloce nell’interazione (risponde alle mail in un minuto o due, e i suoi collaboratori raccontano che quasi nessuno riesce a stargli dietro). È un’autorità internazionale sul tema dello sviluppo.

Giovedì ho passato la giornata con Beth Noveck, americana, fondatrice di Peer to Patent, ex vice CTO alla Casa Bianca, in procinto di assumere un incarico nel governo britannico in tema Open Government. Viene da studi di diritto. Beth è quella che conosco meglio (ci scambiamo pareri da un anno, e ha collaborato al mio libro), ed è anche quella che sento più vicina come interessi: il suo campo è lo stesso in cui mi muovo io, la collaborazione tra governo e cittadini, di cui è un’esperta di classe mondiale. È l’unica dei tre ad essere soprattutto un’accademica.

La conclusione dei tre incontri è scontata, ma fa sempre bene ripeterla: ho ancora tanto, ma tanto, ma tanto da imparare. Imparerò.