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Bottom Up Responsive Government

FROM: Jamal Shahin

What NEED does this meet?
"Understanding what cyberspace actually means for politicians, citizens and civil servants".

Cyberspace is big, borderles and bound to confuse the local civil servant. At the same time, e-government works best at the local level. How do you get around this? Big companies can come along and charge lots for developing CRM systems based on SAP drivebys with gigawatts of energy, oozing with bytes and DRAM and you name it. But that still doesn't help anyone work out what cyberspace is and what people are doing there.

What is the APPROACH?
In two words: Bottom Up.

But not driven by the bottom up. Most e-government projects/ ideas/ innovations are all about giving something from the 'top' to the citizen. The ultimate step in the ideology of consumer politics. (Check out 'The Silent Takeover' if you haven't already.) This one is about local governments actually getting involved in citizen's lives via the public space that is the Internet. The TOOLBOX would be a little website/ application, designed as a dynamic portal to the local government's jurisdiction. It would carry out searches using specific search engines for issues and topics that have either been raised in forums where local citizens actually discuss things (and not on some forums that have been set up by local governments that noone ever visits), or where local issues are being discussed. These discussions might happen wherever! That's the beauty of cyberspace; there are no boundaries to content

What are the BENEFITS to people?
To be honest, Stan, it is a bit like a dialogue: two people talk to each other online in a forum. This gets recorded (in a public space). They complained about the fact that they thought that the litter in the local park should be collected in the morngings and not in the evenings. Well, maybe, (because of the hassle it is to write a letter and set up a campaign by lobby etc., and frankly, noone really wants to get that involved with local (or even national) politicians that much , so they decide to leave it. Then they distrust the 'system' even more, because they still watch the litter being collected at 19h, when noone uses the park. And nothing gets done. That's where this toolbox might help. Dunno though. might be something to think about a bit more.

What is the COMPETITION?
I haven't heard of any, apart from generic ones like google, which might offer part of what we were after.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
One coder, but more importantly (perhaps) someone to go and talk to local government officials to see what it is that they would like/ need/ could use etc.

November 19, 2003 in Perhaps Government Remit? | Permalink


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I have never come across a forum where people discuss litter in the park - do such on line conversations really take place?

Posted by: stephen hilton at Nov 24, 2003 10:24:07 PM

I came here to suggest something very similar. A democratic, bottom up driven policy debater which I would have called something like shadowgovernment.org.

Somewhere you could go and debate local issues and by using weighted voting, clumping together and dividing out peoples ideas in order to slowly develop them into sets of cohesive policies that could then be voted on by all registered voters.

This would be a bit like what is happeining in parts of Brazil where communities have thrown out corrupt local councils and now all members of the town can go to the debating chamber to vote rather than rely on a 'representative'.

Of course the difference is that this would have no political legitimacy, but it would be hard to ignore one it took off.

Posted by: David Pook at Jan 28, 2004 2:47:56 PM