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Some Thoughts On Government, New Ideas, and Systemic Change

Posted on 7 December 2009

I just left these comments on David Eavespost about the Public Policy and Governance Review in response to his interview with the publication, but I thought I’d share them here, as well:

“1. I think you’re dead-on when you talk about “young people” (or more accurately, maybe just people geared towards new ways of sharing, creating, and communicating) who are interested in implementing ideas becoming frustrated with how slow government/bureaucracy tends to move when it comes to adopting new ideas. I spent some time with a provincial ministry working on a wiki-type model for information sharing, and even though there was a lot of support from just about every individual person I encountered, at every level, it remains that the number of meetings and consultations that need to be held prior to doing something is… if not discouraging, certainly not conducive to encouraging ideas that go outside the status quo, and as a result I’m a lot more keen on working with smaller organizations than something as unwieldy as provincial or federal government. And again, this despite the fact I was given a lot of encouragement from everyone inside the system.

2. For a certain group of people, these discussions are going to happen with or without the implicit blessing of the overarching system. For my purposes, I was able to use Twitter and blogs such as your own to find people across the country who are involved in “government 2.0″ projects and solicit information and advice. As more people used to communicating in this way enter the system, this trend is only going to grown. Government (and other organizations) would be well-served to recognize and embrace it.

3. I continue to be struck by the differences between the political and bureaucratic branches of government when it comes to using new technology. It seems as if almost every MP and MLA has their own Twitter feed, and yet how many ministries are there using these methods to communicate their initiatives? Even something as simple as an RSS feed attached to a Twitter account and Facebook page would increase the likelihood that people find the information at a cost of what? The two hours it would take to set something like that up? I understand there are security concerns over what would be shared over these channels, but it misunderstands the technology. Any public servant *could* use Facebook to share confidential information, but then so could any public servant send that same information out to the media using email, or print off copies and leave them in a coffee shop. We need to abandon the assumption that people can no longer exercise judgment the minute a new method of communications comes along.”

Filed under: ideas, politics

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