Last year I did a presentation on Government 2.0 to Masters Government Students at Sydney Uni and it was lots of fun. So they invited me back. I suggested that this time we do it using the web properly, so I’ll do a presentation but it will be filmed so that it can be hoisted onto the net and they can use it in subsequent years and I can take questions on Skype – thus saving us all time and money.
So I’ll be trying to do my best to make it a good show. I’ll also talk about why Democracy 2.o is a very different kettle of fish from Government 2.0 – a paper on that by me is being released in a book shortly.
The flyer is here if you want the details and reproduced below the fold:
‘Realising Jefferson’s Dream, Avoiding Schumpeter’s Nightmare: Democracy, Deliberation and Government in the Age of Web 2.0’
By Dr Nicholas Gruen, Founder of economic policy consultancy, Lateral Economics
Time/Venue: 3pm to 4.30pm, Thursday 29 March, Foyer, Level 2, Law School Building, The University of Sydney, Map reference: here.
At the start of the nineteenth century Thomas Jefferson wrote:
He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine;as he wholights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, likefire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and haveour physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation.
Thomas Jefferson’s words resonate in today’s world. The internet is revolutionising many areas of our lives – from our habits catching up with the news, finance and travel to the way we interact socially. Yet many areas that might be revolutionised are making slow progress. One such area is Government.
The presentation will explore the many extraordinary opportunities that the internet and social media provide to improve the way we ‘do’ government. It explores opportunities to grasp the radical openness of the web, while founding our aspirations in the “time honoured and hard won traditions of modern democratic government”.
In this regard the lecture will argue that aspirations to use the internet to build direct democracy are chimerical. Where Wikipedia unleashes the power of the crowd to help us answer questions about what is the case, politics is our necessarily imperfect way of solving a vastly more difficult question. The task of politics is to build some unified will about what ought to be, from the vast diversity of interests and perspectives within the community.
Here there are no miracles in sight. Juvenal’s question Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? – Who will guard the guardians? – remains as ever a reminder of our fallen state and a spur to continue our efforts to build a better world.
Dr Nicholas Gruen has advised two Cabinet Ministers, directed the Business Council’s New Directions program and sat on the Productivity Commission. He is founder of economic policy consultancy Lateral Economics and Peach Financial. He is a frequentnewspaper columnist and media commentator and a prolific blogger at Club Troppo.
He is Chairman of the Australian Centre for Social Innovation, Online Opinion –an internet forum for opinion on political and cultural matters –and medical ICT startup Specialist Link. He was the founding chairman of Kaggle, a Melbourne ‘big data’ start up now based in San Francisco. He is also a board member of Sustainability Victoria and the Federal Government’s Innovation Australia.
In 2009 Nicholas chaired the Federal Government’s Government 2.0 Taskforce.
Postscript: If anyone’s interested, you can download the slides (until I wipe them from my public dropbox folder) from here.