Why fixing gov’t is no good if we don’t fix politics, too; Google Votes; and more.
Today’s civic-tech must-read: Our own Andrew Rasiej reflects in Civicist on this week’s third annual CityLab conference, hosted by The Atlantic magazine, the Bloomberg Foundation and the Aspen Institute, which he attended in London. He writes that the movement to innovate government using technology has never been more robust, but warns: “we are all missing something fundamental that is preventing any of our collective work from becoming transformative….All of us in the field of government re-invention will fail unless we bring our energy and ideas to the urgent need to innovate the political processes that deliver to us the government we truly want.”
He adds, “The theory that government innovation will eventually be so successful that its benefits will trickle back up the food chain and deliver us better politics is a false premise. Politics is ‘the horse’ and government is ‘the cart’ and we can have the fanciest cart on the planet but it is being pulled by an elephant and a donkey that when combined cast a shadow that looks like a pig. (And leaves just as bad a mess.)”
Jason Shueh of GovTech reports on Google Votes, a fascinating experiment brewing inside the giant company that is essentially testing out a version of “liquid democracy,” where people can either vote directly on a topic or give their proxy to someone they trust to know more. If Google Votes works well, it would be a welcome addition to the deliberative democracy toolset. Google Moderator, the company’s prior contribution to this field, was quietly discontinued some years ago.
Former Maryland Governor and longshot Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley helped judge a civic tech start-up event hosted by Microsoft in Washington DC Wednesday, and The Huffington Post’s Alexander Howard offers this round-up on O’Malley’s own pitch.
Notably, O’Malley is talking up civic tech, which he variously defined as websites, apps, and social media that “connect caring human beings to one another and the problems we face as a people”; the creation of 911 and 311 systems; and “the use of modern technology for crowdsourced problem solving.
Colin O’Connor reports for Gotham Gazette on the rise of participatory budgeting in New York City—it’s now in 27 council districts—and asks why every council member isn’t embracing it.
American political technology vendors like Precision Strategies and NGP VAN worked closely with the winning Liberal Party campaign of Canada’s Justin Trudeau, Sean Miller reports for Campaigns & Elections. DSPolitical’s Matthew McMillan wouldn’t say who his firm worked for, but bragged about targeting “individual houses and apartment-building floors” by IP addresses in urban centers like Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal.
The European Parliament is about to adopt rules aimed at protecting net neutrality, but Stanford’s Barbara van Schewick says they are flawed and in need of some critical fixes, which she outlines.