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Gov 2.0, Transparency Focal Points in New Book

open-government-book-300x342Is Gov 2.0 really all that? With real-time data accessible to anyone, can the government leverage transparency while trying to improve its operations? These are some of the questions the recently published Open Government: Collaboration, Transparency, and Participation in Practice (O’Reilly Media) by Daniel Lathrop and Laurel Ruma attempts to answer through a collection of essays and case studies.

With one thing in common–strong opinions on transparency and technology–various writers provide insight to a government that opens its doors to the world, and no longer “behaves not as an isolated department or jurisdiction, but as something new—a truly integrated and networked organization,” writes Wikinomics author Don Tapscott in the foreword.

More or less government–with the invention of the Internet we can have both, Tapscott writes.

“In the U.S. and many other jurisdictions, government is becoming a stronger part of the social ecosystem that binds individuals, communities, and businesses—not by absorbing new responsibilities or building additional layers of bureaucracy, but through its willingness to open up formerly closed processes to broader input and innovation,” he says.

In other words, Tapscott suggests, government becomes a platform for the creation of public value and social innovation that provides resources, sets rules, and mediates disputes, but it allows citizens, nonprofits, and the private sector to do most of the heavy lifting.

Evidenced by the 34 chapters in the book, the opinions of Gov 2.0 vary wildly. Brant Houston looks at the history and problems of the Freedom of Information Act and similar state laws, and offers a prescription for updating those laws; Beth Simone Noveck brings forth the issue on closed decision-making and open deliberation; and David Fletcher talks about the most transparent state in the nation, Utah.

Whether open government is a topic you’re passionate about, this book is a good read on how to achieve and direct an emerging world of online collaboration, transparency and participation.

After all, it’s Sunshine Week this week.

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