Some pieces on connectivity, as in online community or group tools
Note : I'm a believer in wiki's for collaboration and archiving of information
But the fact that the service I've been using is currently off line is a bit disconcerting..
Other applications, Local to Federal
One on building tenants
They’re All Connected - New York Times
This one is copyright WSJournal:
From Wikinomics to Government 2.0
May 12, 2008; Page A13
You don't need to have a Facebook account, or to have edited a Wikipedia entry, to understand that the Web is in another highly disruptive period. Online tools under the rubric Web 2.0 are changing how information flows, with social networks letting people communicate directly with one another. This is reversing the top-down, one-way approach to communications that began with Gutenberg, challenging everything from how bosses try to manage to how consumers make or break products with instant mass feedback.
The institution that has most resisted new ways of doing things is the biggest one of all: government. This is about to change, with public-sector bureaucracies the new target for Web innovators. These include Don Tapscott, the business-strategy consultant who, with his New Paradigm consulting colleague Anthony Williams, in 2006 popularized Web 2.0 with the bestselling "Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything."
Mr. Tapscott's next research project is called "Government 2.0: Wikinomics, Government & Democracy." Its participants include the Office of Management and Budget. The goal is to use Web-based collaboration to "reinvent government."
If this sounds fanciful, here's a quick refresher on these new Web tools, and why government makes an excellent prospect for change.
The Wikinomics book tells the über-anecdote of a Toronto gold mining company, Goldcorp, whose in-house geologists were no longer able to estimate the location of gold on its properties. The company decided to publish its geological data, previously considered confidential intellectual property. This "open source" approach solicited outsiders to suggest where to prospect. Contestants applied disciplines including math, physics, computer graphics and even military strategy. Goldcorp converted about a half million dollars in prize money into billions of dollars in found gold.
Likewise, services such as eBay and YouTube thrive by providing new ways for people to engage with one another. Open-source, nonprofit Linux confounded traditional software operating-system makers, and Wikipedia displaced the venerable Encyclopaedia Britannica as an ultimate source for information.
The recently expanded edition of the "Wikinomics" book adds examples of how collaborative tools are changing governments. Technology makes it easy to publish information that used to be inaccessible. Chicagoans track crime by neighborhood, combining city crime statistics with Google's online maps (http://chicago.everyblock.com/). In Los Angeles, Neighborhood Knowledge California identifies communities at economic risk by tracking tax delinquency, fire violations and other signs of deterioration (http://nkca.ucla.edu/).
The federal government has launched several wikis, which permit staffers to post information and expand on it until a consensus is reached. Intellipedia lets 37,000 officials at the CIA, FBI, NSA and other U.S. intelligence agencies share information and even rate one another for accuracy in password-protected wikis, some "top secret." Users are told, "We want your knowledge, not your agency seal"; indeed, the wiki format may be the best last hope for connecting the dots of intelligence across 16 different agencies. Diplopedia lets State Department staff share information. It's closed to the public, rated "sensitive but unclassified." In the virtual world Second Life, where personal avatars can communicate with one another, the State Department now has an embassy.
Daniel Mintz, chief information officer for the Transportation Department, has noted how radical it is for government agencies to engage in wikis. They challenge the traditional notion that "all published information produced by a government agency be 'accurate,'" and that "any material a federal employee publishes can be taken as establishing or implying the establishment of formal policy."
Project Government 2.0 is based on the assumption that even governments can't fight technologies that give power to the people. "If governments are to ensure their relevance and authority, they must move quickly to meet rising expectations for openness, accountability, effectiveness and efficiency in the public sector," the project outline says.
Web 2.0 has promising implications for those who think the best government is the one that governs least, especially outside basic functions like national defense and law enforcement. Can more direct participation by citizens in assessing policies limit government ambitions to what government can actually accomplish? Would citizen taxpayers put their collective faith in most spending programs? Or is there a risk that the wisdom of crowds as reflected in Web 2.0 won't turn out to be so wise?
Democracy and governing are complex topics, but this makes it all the more important to apply technology as a solution. Government is the ultimate institution retaining the traditional top-down structure, technologically backward, with big decisions almost always made with incomplete information on what works and what doesn't work. Here's hoping that Web 2.0 can make government more effective by tapping information among officials and citizens, perhaps even finding a new consensus on where the wisdom of government begins and ends.
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