Tag Archives: book

Wikicrazia: the source code (week 4)

In a few days I will end the collaborative phase of Wikicrazia. Today I was going through the latest comments to come in (there are many, and I am lagging behind in replying a bit), and I was thinking that this blog has come to host a sort of source code for the book that I will finish writing in July. On top of the draft that got the process started, you’ll find here a great wealth of contributions to the discussion offered by more than twenty wikicrats, who have very diverse takes: civil servants, scholars, active citizens, journalists, technology experts, Italians and non-Italians. Congratulations, wikicrats: togeter we gave rise to a conversation of stellar level. If there is a richer, more diverse one anywhere in the world on this topic, I have been unable to find it. I am particularly proud of the fact that there has been no hint of flaming, we have dissented at times but everybody has been superpolite.

Starting from this material, anyone can reconstruct their own Wikicrazia, even using comments to attack the central case I am trying to make! As for me, I will try compile the source code in my own synthesis as best as I can, to be released as the Wikicrazia book in September. It will take on board the many suggestions made by wikicrats, and not a few ideas of my own that the discussion has prompted, so it will be more nuanced than the draft I uploaded a month ago. But the process helped to confirm that wiki-style public policies, discounted for the naivete and the problems as yet unsolved, are a really good idea.

I’ll wait for the very last comments, then post a final report, over and out. Wikicrats, ad maiora!

To-dos for 2010: publish a book on user-generated government

The other thing I am going to do in 2010 is publish a book, my first. It will be probably called “Wikicracy”, and will deal with my experienc and thinking about user generated public policy. I started to write it in summer 2009, and I am bout to finish the first draft.

I don’t write just for people in my line of business, but for any intelligent individual who wonders why public policy seems unable to hold its ground as it confronts the problem of solving the problems of an ever more complex society. I claim that the problem may be seen as as a structural eyeballs deficit, and I suggest we try to solve it with the tools of mass collaboration, mediated by the Internet. This means managing a paradox: the networks of individuals linked by information exchanges are extremely powerful information processing entities, but by definition they cannot be controlled top-down. Yet the goals of public policy are set by the democratic process, and therefore exogenous to the networks themselves, at least in part. Is it possible to “persuade” these networks to move along a trajectory which is consistent with policy goals? I think it is. It’s difficult, but it can be done (in the book I also discuss the “how-to”)

Anyway it can’t be more difficult than writing the damned book. This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

Buoni propositi per il 2010: pubblicare un libro sulle politiche user generated

L’altra cosa che farò nel 2010 è pubblicare un libro. Si chiamerà probabilmente “Wikicrazia” e raccoglierà le esperienze e le riflessioni fatte in questi anni di lavoro sulle politiche user generated. Ho iniziato a scriverlo nell’estate 2009, e ho quasi finito la prima stesura.

Non mi rivolgo solo agli addetti ai lavori, ma a tutte le persone intelligenti che si chiedono come mai le politiche pubbliche sembrano arretrare, perdere di efficacia rispetto al problema di soddisfare i bisogni di una società sempre più complessa. Secondo me il problema può essere visto come un deficit strutturale di capacità di elaborare informazione, e propongo di provare a risolverlo con gli strumenti della collaborazione di massa mediata da internet. Questo significa gestire un paradosso: le reti di persone esprimono una straordinaria capacità di elaborazione, ma per definizione non si possono controllare top-down. Eppure gli obiettivi delle politiche pubbliche, fissati dal processo democratico, sono almeno in parte esogeni alle reti stesse. E’ possibile “convincere” queste reti a incamminarsi in una direzione coerente con gli obiettivi di policy? Io penso di sì. E’ difficile ma si può fare (nel libro provo anche un approccio “how-to”).

Comunque non è più difficile che scrivere un libro, forse la cosa più complicata che abbia mai fatto.