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June - 2009 - issue > Editor's Desk
Government-2.0
Harvi Sachar
Thursday, June 4, 2009
On my recent visit to India, I was intrigued by a leading carrier’s ad beamed over several television channels. The carrier’s new media campaign promotes ‘Participative Management’ for governance and encourages two-way communication between the government and public. The ad explores the idea of government(s) using mobile service as an efficient tool to gather public opinion and support, while taking vital decisions impacting people’s lives.

I wish such a participative democracy is a reality that we will see in our life time. The digital media revolution that we see evolving further intensifies my conviction.
We have all been a witness to how Barack Obama’s campaign embraced the participatory nature of Web 2.0, but using social media in the government is a different proposition, with different rules. The Obama administration has done more than previous administrations to experiment with new media and Web 2.0 technologies, but there are many hurdles. Those hurdles are what differentiate governing with technology from campaigning with it.

Government’s around the world, especially where there is healthy Internet penetration, have a new opportunity to shape its relationship with its citizens and “harnessing collective intelligence.” By reaching out and engaging the public through various digital media channels you are empowering people to participate in the nation building.
They say any big transformation begins with a small step. While it would be great to see the entire government machinery of a nation embrace digital media and bring in participative governance, it would be nice to see some initiatives roll out in our own backyard. With Silicon Valley being the bedrock of technology revolution, it will be apt for the California State government to show to the world what governance would mean by embracing digital media. Perhaps the idea of active use of digital media by the California government can pave way for government bodies across the world to embrace digital media.

The first step in this direction is to evolve a legal framework for managing government adoption of web technologies or digital media. It is still a long way to go. Till we get there, we could find solace in the words of O’Reilly, “Social media is a messy space, and government doesn’t always lend itself to messy spaces.”

Please do send us your thoughts on this subject.

Harvi Sachar
Editor-in-Chief
harvi@siliconindia.com
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