I have been through some very interesting times as of late, the kind of things that make you think about who you are, what you fight for and your position in the order of things. I have absolutely incredible friends and family that help me look at these things and have created a calm in me that is unparalleled. I thank all of you for your kind words. But while these things were spinning around, the proof was all around me that this fight is worth it, and it has nothing to do with me. In fact, my challenges right now amount to nothing compared to the fights erupting throughout the world.
Over the past few weeks the world has exploded in terms of activism and citizens demanding something new. Something different. From Egypt to Bahrain, to Libya, from Tunisia as a spark, citizens have stood up. Not just in court in Seattle, where things are very safe, but in public squares, looking at guns, staring at tanks, fleeing from helicopters. In my teapot of troubles, these brave souls have made it very clear that there are far more important things going on in the world and a focus on helping the world emerge as a more peaceful, just and progressive globe is far more vital for our joint efforts.
At the very same time my friends and family in Wisconsin, where I was born, bred, raised and educated, became ground zero for the public sector employees battle throughout the United States. I don’t equate the level of danger to that faced by citizens in the middle east, but the shots fired at them are intended to end significant rights that were won many years ago through very risky endeavors (the beginning of the labor movement in the United States was often violent and bloody). The challenge is fundamental and either way the nature of what civil servants do will change (either because Governors will cut their ranks through layoff or the budget crisis will demand change in other ways).
Both of these challenges have thrust technology both to the front of these battles, but at the same time, as a silent possibility that has not been driven forward…yet.
The challenge relates to my thoughts on rebels versus revolutionaries a few months back. The basics are that rebels burst through the dominant paradigm thru aggressive and public challenges. The challenge is that they are not particularly well suited to run the paradigm that results. That requires revolutionaries who can take the new paradigm and build new structures, new systems and a new dominant paradigm for us all to embrace for the next paradigm period. The rebels have done their part. Now the revolutionaries need to stand up and bring government 2.0 to the fore as one of the ways to build this brave new world.
Alex has been writing about what has already happened to support, but the answers are far deeper than simple ideation (dont get me wrong, great site and great way to help, the world simply needs more).
I have done some significant work in the middle east and know that in places like Egypt and Bahrain, civil servants are ready to think outside the box to help build a new world. I would ask that the folks who care about these things worldwide begin an initiative to accomplish some basic goals. Enable transparency in fledgling democracies. Enable Government as a Platform. Drive cloud computing.
And to my friends in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and everywhere else that State’s in the US face significant budget pressures, threats to civil service or massive protests, lets similarly focus on leveraging those same goals. Government as a Platform would revolutionize how civil servants enable government service delivery in such a way that the cost of government would be controlled and services protected. Cloud computing itself would radically reduce the cost of computing in government. Even if you started in small workloads you would bridge the deficits you face today in significant ways.
Many of you have asked how you can help me right now. The answer is to fight for these principles. Wherever you are, in whatever role, demand that your government leverage the technologies available today to build a more open, more free, more effective and more affordable government for the next century.