February 2010 E-Democracy News — Hot Topics

Hot Topics: Top Digital Cities, Government 2.0 Trends, and More

Editor’s Choice: Top digital cities for 2009
Michelle Fure, Editor
Michelle Fure

The Center for Digital Government recently announced results of its annual survey of the efforts of U.S. cities to use information technology to serve citizens. This year’s survey identifies innovations and creative solutions to improve government services, despite budgetary challenges.

Read more about the survey at GovTech.

Government 2.0 Trends for 2010
Chris Haller’s e-participation blog highlighted some trends for 2010, including Dion Hinchcliffe’s Government 2.0 predictions. Among them are the assertions that social computing in government will grow in 2010, but not hit critical mass, and that open data will go back to the drawing board.

Hinchliffe notes “innovations point the way towards a future that includes participatory citizenship and the Web as a civic platform as well as open data (both internally and externally to agencies and state/local governments) and social computing. And that’s just the beginning.”

Read more at the Social Computing Journal.

Report envisions eGovernment of tomorrow
A report from Vinnova, the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems, recently published the eGovernment of Tomorrow report that presents a number of scenarios for the future of public participation. The report also explores the potential of “Google Government” and the private sector role of providing government services online. 

Webcasting council meetings
Mark Pack, a political consultant in the UK, uses this guest post at DavePress to pose an interesting question – Are online webcasts of council meetings worth the effort? No, Pack contends. Efforts would be better spent elsewhere.

Pack paints a picture of expensive webcasting that attracts very small audiences. He also suggests its delivery method limits its interactivity – it’s also hides them from search engines.

He suggests the information is more important than the act of webcasting. 

Minnesota’s Independence Party to caucus online
The Independence Party of Minnesota will conduct its 2010 precinct caucus online. In Minnesota, precinct caucuses are held to identify the candidates the party will support and to establish public policy positions. Minnesota has three political parties designated as a “major” party, including the Independence Party, the Republican Party, and the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.

This is the third time the party has caucused online. Party officials say members prefer to caucus this way in part because of an objection to Minnesota’s precinct caucus system for nominating candidates.

For more information, check out the Independence Party’s website.                    

Government-themed bloggers in the UK
Dave Briggs recently posted an item on his DavePress blog that featured a round-up of bloggers in the UK who regularly post about government – he notes how interesting and creative they are, a stark contrast to the bloggers within the public sector. 

Briggs suggests it’s important to have a vibrant and diverse set of voices blogging for government. Don’t miss his analysis.

E-gov versus Open Gov
Jenn Gustetic recently posted an item on the Phase One Consulting Group blog that expores the difference between the Bush Administration’s e-government initiative and the Obama Administration’s Open Government initiative. Though the initiatives share similar goals and characteristics, particularly enhancing transparency, Gustetic says, Open Government reflects incremental growth toward e-democracy.

Read the post to see what improvements have been made, as well as a more detailed study in a corresponding white paper. 

Welsh government use of social networks
Welsh Assembly Commissioner Peter Black recently posted a piece about the expanding presence of Welsh government agencies and officials into the blogosphere and social networking platforms provided by Bebo, MySpace, Twitter and Facebook. The Wales National Assembly has more than 1,000 Twitter followers, which Black contends is a higher proportion of participation than the UK Parliament. 

Black continues discussing the importance of these new tools, though he is also careful to say that traditional means of connecting with citizens is still important.  

2009 e-Democracy Awards
The World eDemocracy Forum announced winners of the 2009 e-Democracy Awards from among 16 finalists. Winners included the EU Profiler and Google. 

Government 2.0 in Australia
The Australian government recently posted a draft report about its efforts to engage the public through its Government 2.0 Task Force. The report identifies a number of recommendations for action, as well as how Australia compares to other parts of the world.

UK Smarter Government initiative
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Smarter Government initiative includes key information aspects that will provide better information on the performance of public services. The initiative also includes greater ability to conduct government transactions online. 

Read more in this announcement from Brown’s office.

3,000 Croatian bloggers
Croatia’s Pollitika.com, not quite 4-years old, now boasts 3,000 bloggers, and 150,000 visitors per month. Creator Marko Rakar was recently named one of the Top 10 people changing the world of the Internet and politics by the World eDemocracy Forum.

Read more at Pep-Net.

Citizen participation an illusion?
Italian blogger Andrea DiMaio recently posted an interesting item about whether citizens will ever use new technologies, like social networks, to engage with government.

She argues that government is unable to embrace the spontaneous and fluid nature of virtual communities. She also suggests that it’s important to have a measure of formality in government. Though she is unsure a change is possible, she does suggest it may be.

Facebook blocked in Vietnam
Individuals in Communist Vietnam have been experiencing problems accessing Facebook, and some are worrying that a total government blackout may be looming. Read more.

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