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Open Gov and Gov 2.0 are Just Part of a Bigger Movement

This is in response to Lucas Cioffi’s question on whether there is a difference between Gov 2.0 and Open Gov. I wrote a short response to his blog posting but I wanted to expand on my answer because I believe that there is a bigger movement than just Open Gov or Gov 2.0. This bigger movement is the transformation of democracy into a third stage called Monitory Democracy.

According to John Keane, the developer of this theory, democracy is moving to a third stage that began soon after the end of World War II. The first stage of democracy began in the ancient world and is known as Assembly Democracy. The best example of this was Athens, Greece where every free male was allowed to participate in political decisions of the time. This form of government was successful if kept to a limited scale but as cities and nations grew, democracy moved to the second stage.

The second stage – Representative Democracy – is illustrated by the following diagram. The concept is simple: the people elect representatives who then make political decisions for the voters. Keane explains that representative democracy slowly developed in the Middle Ages but found its greatest impact after the American and French Revolutions. Representative democracy solved the scaling problem of assembly democracy but it suffers from the Agency Problem in that the representatives put their own interests before the interests of those who they represent.

It was the combination of the agency problem and the rapid spread of democracy that led to monitory democracy. As the second diagram demonstrates, the core elements of representative democracy (elections and representatives) still exist but a web of non-elected groups surround and monitor all aspects of governmental operations (and some nongovernmental organizations). Keane gives a laundry list of organizations ranging from NGOs, think tanks, watchdog groups, professional organizations, summits, and so on. Another aspect of monitory democracy is that it is most active in nations that have Communicative Abundance. This third stage is still evolving so there is no telling what the final form will be. The one certainty is that all governmental agencies will be under ever-increasing scrutiny.

Seen against this backdrop, Open Gov and Gov 2.0 are natural results of monitory democracy. Open Gov is essentially the reaction of governments to the increasing scrutiny demanded by the citizens, representatives, and extra-governmental organizations. Thanks to the sophisticated communication technologies, agencies cannot limit access to their operations. Being open and transparent is how agencies will survive in a monitory democracy and better citizen engagement will help the agencies thrive.

I agree with the one commentator who argued that O’Reilly’s definition of Gov 2.0 is the best definition. The Internet started as a government project and it is the platform that launched the communicative abundance that we enjoy today. Government is the biggest producer of information as numerous websites and apps will show. When the extra-governmental organizations are monitoring government agencies they are mainly working with the information that the agency produces. In a monitory democracy government has to be the platform because it provides the communicative abundance that monitory democracy needs.

So, there is definitely a difference between Open Gov and Gov 2.0 but the more interesting question is the role they play in emergence of this new form of democracy.

Reference:
Keane, J. (2008). Monitory Democracy? The Secret History of Democracy since 1945. Retrieved December 1, 2010 from http://www.johnkeane.net/pdf_docs/Jk_Lecture_monitory_democracy_shanghai_2008.pdf

Note: Figures come from Keane’s paper and are copyrighted by him.

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Profile Photo Bill Brantley

From the P2P Foundation – Wikileaks (1): the secrecy tax*, or the triumph of Monitory Democracy

Mentions the [email protected] effort and ends with these two statements:

“It used to be that a leader controlled citizens by controlling information. Now it’s harder than ever for the powerful to control what people read, see and hear. Technology gives people the ability to band together and challenge authority. The powerful have long spied on citizens (surveillance) as a means of control, now citizens are turning their collected eyes back upon the powerful (sousveillance).

This is a revolution, and all revolutions create fear and uncertainty. Will we move to a New Information Enlightenment or will the backlash from those who seek to maintain control no matter the cost lead us to a new totalitarianism? What happens in the next five years will define the future of democracy for the next century, so it would be well if our leaders responded to the current challenge with an eye on the future.”

Profile Photo Ken Craggs

Bill Brantley – “What happens in the next five years will define the future of democracy for the next century”

The Semantic Web & Internet of Things (IoT) are being developed to enslave humanity
http://kencraggs.yolasite.com/

In the USA, it is estimated that in the event of a major catastrophe, an attempt by the public to stock-up with food would see food bought from every shop/foodstore/supermarket within the space of one week. Access to utility services could also be affected.

Such a catastrophe could occur if a totalitarian (world) government denied the public domain access to the Internet. Imagine how very difficult it would be for shops/foodstores/supermarkets to be able to order stock to replenish their shelves if such a situation occurred. The public would be at the mercy of a totalitarian government who would still be able to communicate via a government ‘Intranet’.

A totalitarian government may try to starve the public into accepting an RFID implant in return for food.

Profile Photo Bill Brantley

Two points:
1) I mentioned the Wikileaks article because the author mentioned monitory democracy. I am not endorsing Wikileaks actions. I support watchdog groups but not if they act illegally.
2) I do not agree with Mr. Craggs views. I believe that the development of monitory democracy actually increases freedom worldwide because it makes government more accountable.

Profile Photo Lucas Cioffi

Great discussion, Bill.

This is the first I’ve heard of Monitory Democracy, and it seems that it is the next phase for government transparency and accountability.

I’d also like the future to hold a version of deliberative democracy, a growing field which argues in favor of deeper levels of engagement between policymakers and citizens with all levels of expertise.

Profile Photo Ken Craggs

Among Bill Brantley’s comments we can read: “I believe that the development of monitory democracy actually increases freedom worldwide because it makes government more accountable…..It used to be that a leader controlled citizens by controlling information. Now it’s harder than ever for the powerful to control what people read, see and hear. Technology gives people the ability to band together and challenge authority. The powerful have long spied on citizens (surveillance) as a means of control, now citizens are turning their collected eyes back upon the powerful”

Of course citizens are turning their collected eyes back upon the powerful and that’s exactly why government’s are developing the semantic web (global database) and internet of things (iot). Do you seriously believe government’s are undertaking these developments so that we citizens can monitor government’s even more closely?

Government leaders are aware that they and their officials do not posses the technical know-how to develop the semantic web, and are simply using opengov, opendata, as a sweetener to entice others to continue developing the semantic web for them.

What would prevent a world government from seizing control of the global database and iot and establishing something like a monitory oligarchy in preference to a monitory democracy?

Profile Photo Bill Brantley

@ Lucas – I think Keane’s monitory democracy theory allows for the increasing spread of deliberative democracy but you need a certain level of communicative abundance to allow for the deeper engagement. So it seems that the communication technology needs to come first before deliberative democracy spreads.