The transformation from closed to Open Government isn’t just about sharing information in a more open manner, rather it’s a transformation of the underlying systems model, from ‘hierarchical’ to ‘peer to peer’.
In terms described by the Chaordic Commons this is a shift along the spectrum from control to chaos, from centralized toward decentralized.
“Opening up”, to achieve the perfect balance: Chaord.
In the first Wiki Government article I summarized the work of Beth Noveck so far, where she has applied this effect to the US Patent Office process and is now generalizing the principles into a ‘Wiki Government’ subject matter expertise.
The question now for all Government officials is how, and why, they might apply the same effect, so here’s another example to help illustrate the principles, and how they can be used in a practical form.
Wiki-enabled Social Justice
My passion for Open Government lies in its ability to help achieve ‘Social Justice’ – Equalizing society for those less fortunate.
A key area where this can be seen is the courts system. If you’re poor this is a rough ride, because your opposition are typically quite well off and educated, and they hire equally well off and educated lawyers.
You’re on your own chump, and the best tool you have at your disposal is the Internet. With this you can learn anything, and so the best way the courts system can strive to achieve social equality for those they process is to provide them the information by which they can defend themselves. I have done this a number of times now…
And the best way to create such a knowledge base is a peer to peer approach, because that’s where the value is hidden. In short a wiki type approach where others can share their case experiences.
Ie. the best source of educational material for those about to go through a legal case is not the dry information about the court process that staff will publish, it’s the case details from other plaintiffs, like what happened, why they won, why they lost etc., that best arms you for self-defence. This is peer-to-peer.
However most court systems and indeed most government agencies have no concept of such an approach to building web sites and IT systems, they repeat the same highly ordered, staff-publishing approach.
Therefore Wiki Government is about understanding this citizen-to-citizen enablement. Wiki Government is enabling citizens to define what Government is and how it works, to the benefit of other citizens.