g4c2c: Enabling Citizen Engagement at Arms' Length from Government

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Paper by Axel Bruns and Adam Swift, presented at EDEM 2010, Krems, Austria, 6 May 2010.

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g4c2c: Enabling Citizen Engagement at Arms' Length from Government

  1. 1. g4c2c: Enabling Citizen Engagement at Arms’ Length from Government Axel Bruns and Adam Swift ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation / Creative Industries Faculty Queensland University of Technology [email_address] – http://snurb.info/ – @snurb_dot_info [email_address]
  2. 2. Government 2.0 in Australia <ul><li>From above: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. DBCDE’s Digital Economy blog </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Government-operated, resulting in general criticism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Problems with effective management by public service </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Limited impact on government decision-making </li></ul></ul><ul><li>From below: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. GetUp!’s Project Democracy politician tracker </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>NGO-operated, good functionality </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Problems with limited take-up by target community </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Limited recognition by government decision-makers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>(cf. Bruns & Wilson, EDEM 2009 ) </li></ul>
  3. 3. (Excerpt from comments to first DBCDE blog post, archived at http://www.archive.dbcde.gov.au/2009/july/future_directions_blog/topics/minister_tanners_welcome)
  4. 4. g2c and c2c – Flawed Models? <ul><li>g2c: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>May be mere service delivery, not community consultation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Or: simply perceived as insubstantial spin </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Apparent citizen participation as fig leaf for government </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Process of impacting on government decisions unclear </li></ul></ul><ul><li>c2c: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>May generate open and engaged debate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But: often only by the usual (disempowered) suspects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Perception of inherent bias – unrepresentative community </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unable to match the clout of established lobby groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Too distant from political actors to be recognised </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Towards g4c2c <ul><li>Desirable qualities for citizen consultation: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Government support and recognition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Independent and flexible operation and management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Distant enough to allow real community development </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Close enough for outcomes to be accepted as meaningful </li></ul></ul><ul><li>E.g. Australian Government 2.0 Task Force during 2009: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Initiated by federal government, but independent quasi-NGO </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hosted at gov2.net.au , separate from government servers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Significant initiatives to generate community participation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Outcomes recognised by federal government (but follow-up actions yet to be seen) </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. (Government 2.0 Task Force’s GovHack event, 30-31 Oct. 2009)
  7. 7. g4c2c <ul><li>Government support for citizen-to-citizen initiatives: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hybrid model combining g2c and c2c aspects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Government-supported, but at arms’ length from government </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Public service broadcasting approach (and operated by PSBs?) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Participation by citizens as well as politicians and officials </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cf. ‘Civic Commons 2.0’ (Coleman & Blumler 2009): </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>a space of intersecting networks, pulled together through the agency of a democratically connecting institution (182) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Lost Opportunity: Australia’s 2020 Summit <ul><li>Australia 2020 Summit (19-20 April 2008): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Gathering of 1000 invited notable Australians </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Debate across ten ‘critical areas’ for the future </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Open forum for generating and harnessing new ideas </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Distilled into a report for government </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blanket coverage on ABC2 digital TV channel, and online fora </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But: online fora cumbersome, and closed only days after Summit </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Summit report produced by public servants, with little follow-up </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No continuing debate on Summit issues (also due to GFC) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Journalistic coverage one-way and one-dimensional </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. ( Australia 2020 Summit – Image courtesy of the Australian Government, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet)
  10. 10. 2020 as g4c2c: Imaging Future Australia <ul><li>What would a g4c2c version of the 2020 Summit look like? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Broader community participation: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Open online fora in addition to the 1000 Summit delegates </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Intersection of online and offline consultations </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Arms’ length from government: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Operated by ABC or dedicated public service body </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Officially endorsed but independently organised and reported </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Longer timeframe: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Initial development of themes and selection of participants </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Summit as central event, but connected with other activities </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Tracking of outcomes and their implementation in policy </li></ul></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Further Information <ul><li>Axel Bruns </li></ul><ul><li>Associate Professor </li></ul><ul><li>ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation </li></ul><ul><li>Creative Industries Faculty </li></ul><ul><li>Queensland University of Technology </li></ul><ul><li>Brisbane, Australia </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] – @snurb_dot_info </li></ul><ul><li>http://snurb.info/ </li></ul><ul><li>http://produsage.org/ </li></ul><ul><li>http://gatewatching.org/ </li></ul><ul><li>Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond:From Production to Produsage (Peter Lang, 2008) </li></ul><ul><li>Uses of Blogs , eds. Axel Bruns and Joanne Jacobs (Peter Lang, 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production (Peter Lang, 2005) </li></ul>Adam Swift Researcher Creative Industries Faculty Queensland University of Technology Brisbane, Australia [email_address]

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