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Free the Children and Open Government – Imagine the possibilities

Tami McEvoy


Everyone is talking about ‘Open Government’ but what exactly is Open Government?

For me, it has to be more than government simply publishing public data, yes, we want to be able to scrutinize the data, and yes we want to see where the tax money is getting spent and yes, we want to know about policy decisions, but, ‘Open’ should mean a ‘two-way’ flow of information, I should be able to have all this information available to me and be able to voice my opinion on it.

Open Government should be about encouraging citizen engagement and participation with politicians and educators to promote open society. I want to see a truly democratic future of “Me to We”, where the collective citizen voice is used effectively for advocacy to influence public-policy and resource allocation decisions within political, economic, and social arenas.

Me to We Day

Image via Wikipedia

The timing is perfect, technology has finally caught up with the desperate need to provide a collective voice for ‘the people’ and social media is the perfect platform to promote a Me to We mentality, but as everyone already knows, the only way to change the world is to convince governments to change, and the only way to do that, is with the collective voice of the people, the citizens, the voters!

Governments have agreed to become ‘Open’ and Microsoft are eager to promote their technologies to make that happen, they have launched initiatives that are designed to encourage debate, to share ideas and expectations that will define what Open Government actually becomes, of course the more people that get involved the quicker things will happen, but years of not having a ‘voice’ has understandably left many people apathetic towards government, so what can we do to get enough people involved to make the most of this enormous opportunity?

Mobilize our youth, they are the ideal demographic for pushing forward the ideas for Open Government, they use social media, they’re hungry for change, they have a voice and they have the ability to take it viral ! Look at the success of Free the Children, hundreds of thousands of youth clicking to register their ‘likes’ on Facebook, to earn money for the great causes.

Imagine if they were all voting on a policy issue… an educational issue… on a resource issue and government were there to listen and respond.

Imagine a future where millions of our youth are advocating for social justice, the end of poverty, greater education or global change.

Imagine a world where people don’t have to ‘take to the streets’ to be heard, but with the click of a button… a more civilized democracy, a true democracy one where everyone gets to vote on every policy.

Imagine the how the future of politics would change if government acted on the will of it’s citizens… Imagine that!

After seeing the incredible work of Free the Children and the beautiful simplicity of the Me to We concept, it’s no surprise that the WE Day events are such an enormous success, with the collective enthusiasm of thousands of youth it is very easy to conclude that this would be the best audience to ‘test’ the theories of Open Government.This is an exciting time of amazing possibility.

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