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European Journal of ePractice Volume 9


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The ninth edition of the European Journal of ePractice - entitled: Government 2.0 - Hype, Hope, or Reality?

The ninth edition of the European Journal of ePractice - entitled: Government 2.0 - Hype, Hope, or Reality?

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  • 1. Nº 9 · March 2010 Government 2.0 - Hype, Hope, or Reality? Editorial The European Journal of ePractice is a digital Government 2.0 - Hype, Hope, or Reality? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 publication on eTrans- David Osimo formation by a portal created by the European Commission to promote the sharing of good practices in Articles eGovernment, eHealth and The Impact of Social Computing on Public Services: a Rationale for eInclusion. Government 2.0 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Tijs van den Broek, Valerie Frissen, Noor Huijboom & Yves Punie Edited by: EUROPEAN DYNAMICS SA Framing Web 2.0 in the Process of Public Sector Innovation: Going Down the Participation Ladder . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Web: Enrico Ferro & Francesco Molinari Email: Government 1.5 – is the bottle half full or half empty? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Jeremy Millard The texts ICT in politics: from peaks of inflated expectations to voids of published in this journal, disillusionment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 unless otherwise indicated, are Alina Ostling subject to a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial- Open Government – Information Flow in Web 2.0 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 NoDerivativeWorks 2.5 licence. Peter Parycek & Michael Sachs They may be copied, distributed and broadcast provided that the author and the e-journal Asian Government Usage of Web 2.0 Social Media . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 that publishes them, European Joanne Kuzma Journal of ePractice, are cited. Commercial use and derivative Harnessing the unexpected: a public administration interacts with works are not permitted. The creatives on the web . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84 full licence can be consulted on Tito Bianchi & Alberto Cottica licenses/by-nc-nd/2.5/
  • 2. Editorial: Government 2.0 - Hype, Hope, or Reality? David Osimo Director, Tech4i2 ltd. In the space of two years, the “2.0” meme has risen from obscurity to mainstream in eGovernment policy, as the comparison between the EU Ministerial Declaration of 2007 and 2009 shows. Yet much of the debate is still on the potential opportunities and risks of Government 2.0, with evangelists emphasising the great benefits of crowdsourcing and of leveraging collective intelligence, and skeptics pointing to the risks of wishful thinking, to the limits of transparency, and to the hype about its impact. The question is then: has government 2.0 so far really provided visible benefits for citizens? The 7 articles presented do not present conclusive evidence. Rather, they provide relevant insights for a sober assessment of the actual implications and impacts, bringing together a diverse set of points of view and with a wide geographical scope. The very definition of government 2.0 is not commonly agreed, as some articles make reference to eParticipation, which may imply any kind of participative effort using ICT, others to Open Government initiatives, which tend to be more focused on transparency and access to a particular government’s process. The first necessary step is mapping the typology of impact. Huijboom et al., based on a large-scale study, identify the key types of impacts of web 2.0 across public services: political, socio-cultural, organisational and legal. The article clearly shows these impacts in three case studies of government 2.0, which interestingly enough are not developed within government. Whereas these cases clearly show the potential disruptive impact on those involved, they remain small groups, such as the niche of 25.000 people for the service. Furthermore, the article reminds us that the evidence behind these impacts remains largely anecdotal. Participation and collaboration, so far, reach a small minority of users. Ferro and Molinari frame the debate in the context of the participation ladder theory, and remind us that European eParticipation projects reach an average of a few hundred users: this kind of government-led 2.0 initiatives very much share the traditional problems of low take-up of eGovernment. There is the risk of repeating the classic mistake of eGovernment initiatives, which too often have aimed for automating rather than innovating existing processes. Therefore, Ferro and Molinari propose a typology of participants which takes into account the different degrees of interest, showing that impact can also be achieved indirectly by the involvement of less-interested citizens. Ferro and Molinari propose policy options designed to reach different types of participants, including the so-called “Unplugged”, in order to avoid the often-cited risk of increasing social and digital divide. Millard’s article takes the long view, seeing government 2.0 as the ultimate expression of the 21st century’s institutional change towards empowerment, after the establishment of respectively the civil, political and social rights in the three preceding centuries. The present surge in releasing public data, combined with the diffusion of computing devices such as smart phones, is enabling citizens European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 2
  • 3. to build, on top of government data, applications that are useful and used in the everyday life: “the new vision of everyday government” substitutes the provision of online services, which might well have reached its ceiling in terms of take-up. Europe is well placed to grasp these benefits, provided its institutions are able to adapt and respond to the challenge. Ostling keeps a rather skeptical attitude, based on a comprehensive summary of literature on citizens’ participation, underlining how ICT emphasise existing trends, rather than determine changes. Even in success cases, government 2.0 initiatives remain scarcely representative, like the Open for Questions initiative by the White House, which reached 90.000 people. Using Gartner’s hype cycle, she suggests that government 2.0 might be at the peak of inflated expectations. The US case is also analysed by Parycek and Sachs, who place the initiatives on Open Government carried out by the Obama administration in the historical perspective of Freedom of Information Acts (FOIA). They suggest that cultural and administrative attitude on Freedom of Information across country explains the different adoption of government 2.0. Accordingly, they underline the need for broader institutional change that simultaneously addresses transparency for government and for citizens, resolving the present asymmetry by letting citizens gain full control over how their personal data is managed by government. Moving from the US to Asia, Kuzma reports on the experiences of Asian governments trying to deal with social media. He presents survey results that show that only a minority of these governments makes use of social media: interestingly enough, some of these at the same time are actively censoring the Internet in their country. This reminds us that government 2.0 might not be only about the adoption of tools, but rather also about trying (or not) to enact a profound change of culture. Instead, many governments (and not only in Asia) simply try to use social media as a new communication and propaganda tool. Finally, Cottica and Bianchi clearly show the disruptive change brought about by web 2.0 technologies is not about what, but about how public policies are designed and implemented. They present the lessons learnt from Kublai, an Italian social network promoted at arms’ length by government to improve the quality of local development project through peer effects. They emphasise how government 2.0 should be firstly about involving the right people and letting them self-organise based purely on the basis of meritocracy and peer review. The tricky issue for governments is to learn at the same time to refrain from direct intervention and to maintain a clear strategic vision. As a conclusion, the articles suggest a number of considerations be kept in mind to assess hype, hope and reality regarding government 2.0. The definition of government 2.0 goes beyond traditional eParticipation, including Open Government, citizens-driven services, and adoption of social tools. There isn’t clear evidence on the benefits of government 2.0. Its increased policy importance in many countries is not therefore based on strong evidence of take-up and impact, but rather on a “trend change” aimed at answering citizens’ expectations and actions. This is nothing new: as Kuhn teaches us, even scientific revolution does not happen following the publication of conclusive evidence, but because of the gradual but irreversible change in cultural paradigms. Take-up of participatory and open government initiatives is not large, especially for government-led initiatives. A project often is considered successful when it reaches the order of few thousands of users, and it makes a difference in their lives. Therefore, relevance, rather than representativeness, should be the aim of government 2.0 initiatives. Too often, governments simply adopt social media tools, trying to replicate the existing communication and participation paradigm, rather than embracing more profound innovation – just as in government European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 3
  • 4. 1.0. As such, government 2.0 is destined to be little more than hype: the real impact is only enabled by institutional and cultural change. This implies the need for legal innovation, in particular in the field of Civil Service Code, Freedom of Information, Data Protection and Re-use of Public Sector Information. But most of all, government 2.0 implies a different way to manage public policies, based on openness, trust and meritocracy. Across public policy domains, governments have to learn to promote innovation and create public value not through direct intervention, but by leveraging and enabling the best capacities of citizens to be deployed and fully realised. Never before have citizens had the possibility to make such a difference on the quality and effectiveness of public policies: it is now up to governments to create the necessary favorable context to the emergence of true government 2.0, turning hype and hope to reality. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 4
  • 5. The Impact of Social Computing on Public Services: a Rationale for Government 2.0 In this article the impact of the fast emerging social computing Tijs van den Broek trend on the public sector is explored. This exploration is based Advisor on the results of a study1 commissioned by the Institute for TNO Information Prospective and Technological Studies (IPTS)2. Three cases of and communication social computing initiatives in diverse public sectors (learning, technology healthcare and law enforcement) are described in depth. The cases provide anecdotal evidence that the social computing Valerie Frissen trend yields political, socio-cultural, organisational and legal impacts. Existing political power balances may shift due to Senior Strategist the empowerment of groups of citizens using social computing TNO Information applications. In addition, the cases show that in social and communication technology computing communities values such as informality, openness and equality may become more dominant. The cases also show a far reaching decentralisation of the creation process. Noor Huijboom Furthermore, it seems that legal frameworks are increasingly Researcher under pressure as existing legislation does not match the open TNO Information process of content creation. Concluding, we found strong and communication anecdotal pointers for social computing impact in the public technology sector, which urges governments to review their policies. Yves Punie Senior Scientist The Institute for Prospective Technological Studies Keywords social computing, public services, empowerment, web 2.0, impact, government 2.0 1 Huijboom, et al. (2009), Public Services 2.0: The Impact of Social Computing on Public Services, edited by Punie, Y, Misuraca, G., Osimo, D., JRC-IPTS EUR 2408 EN, Luxembourg: European Communities. Available at 2 IPTS is one of the seven Research Institutes funded by the European Commission, for more information see European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 5
  • 6. 1 Introduction This study provides anecdotal evidence that the social computing Over the past years, the Internet has seen an impressive trend yields political, socio-cultural, growth in user driven applications such as blogs, podcasts, organisational and legal impacts. wikis and social networking sites. This trend can be referred to by the term ‘social computing’ as online applications increasingly support the creation of value by social networks of people. The social computing trend has been recognised and monitored by the Institute for Prospective and Technological Studies (IPTS) over the past few years. IPTS observed a viral take up of social computing applications and – at the same time – a limited provision of citizen centred public services by governments. Based on this observation IPTS raises the question whether social computing applications could play a role in the generation of public value. To be able to answer this question a more profound understanding of social computing impact in the public sector is needed. Consequently, the IPTS commissioned TNO and DTI to conduct a research which aims “to collect and analyse solid evidence, in order to qualify and quantify the significance of the social computing impact and to understand its implications”3. In other to meet this research goal various methodologies are applied, such as literature review, participative observation and interviews. In this paper the results yielding from three case studies will be presented; the scholarly content community Connexions, the patient support community PatientsLikeme and the citizens’ watchdog Wikileaks4. For each case study, desk research has been carried out and key stakeholders have been interviewed. In addition, this article will point the most important policy implications for public services 2.0. 2 Social computing 2.1 introduction Cheap broadband access to the internet turned the personal computer (and subsequently the phone, the PDA, the mp3) into an ultimate collaborative device. The outburst of web technologies and web-services that ensued, mark the beginning of an era where harnessing the collaborative potential of mass numbers of users accessing the web is likely to be a prime driver of growth. The phenomenal interest in the community centric web 2.0 platform reflects a realisation that this new era is all about connecting people not computers. This new 3 Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, Technical Specifications, Call for Tenders J04/013/2007, Social Computing and its implications for future public services. 4, and European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 6
  • 7. web is a social and participative one. Social computing applications enables masses of users to jointly create value in several ways (Slot & Frissen, 2007): 1. goods and services (e.g. eBay) 2. content (e.g. Youtube) 3. social capital (e.g. Facebook) 4. storage capacity (e.g. P2P technology) 5. consumer information (e.g. Digg) 6. knowledge (e.g. Wikipedia) 7. networking connections (e.g. Sharing wifi (Slot & Frissen, 2007) The history of social computing and social software is deeply entangled with the evolution of the (personal) computer and the internet. In an authoritative blogpost Christopher Allen (2004) traces the history of social software through the rise (and fall) of notions such as Arpa’s Augmented Computing (Englebart, 1962), Bulletin Board System frontrunner ‘EIES’ (Turoff, 1972), Groupware in the 80’s (Johnson-Lenz, 1978), Computer-supported Collaborative Working (CSCW, 1984) and Groupware in the 90’s (Johansen, 1988). The actual term social software surfaces in the early nineties (Drexler, 1987) but only really takes off after 2002 when it is employed to cover the new kind of social networking tools that seem to drive a new generation of web communities. Adina Levin from Social Text describes the emergence of this new bread of social software, She attributes the rise of this new kind of social software or social computing to the critical mass and scale afforded by mass deployment on a ubiquitous web. 2.2 Signs of impact In 2007, the OECD (Wunsch-Vincent & Vickery, 2007) described in the report “Participative Web and User-Created Content”, two types of impact social computing trends currently have in the private sector, namely economic and social impact. As regards social impacts, the OECD states that the way users produce, distribute, access and re-use information, knowledge and entertainment potentially give rise to increased user autonomy, participation and diversity. Discussion fora and product reviews can lead to more informed user and consumer decisions. Participative web technologies may improve the quality and extend the reach of – for instance educational - content. And the long tail mechanism of social computing applications which are massively used, allows a substantial increase in, and a more diverse array of, cultural content to find niche users. Some other studies identify other social impacts, such as the strengthening of existing social ties or the support of making new social contacts. The Oxford Internet Survey 2007 for instance found that social networking sites and instant messaging enhance social capital. One third (35%) of student users in Brittain has met someone online, and 13% have met a person offline who they first met online. Other studies however stress that engagement on social network sites or instant messaging particularly strengthens existing relationships (Dutton & Helsper, 2007). This trend may have positive – having fun together and providing mutual support – but also negative impacts. The Stony Brook University for instance found that an intensive communication between teens about their problems on social network sites made them more depressed. Another social impact recurrently referred to in literature is the increased possibility of privacy European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 7
  • 8. infringements. In their article on Social Network sites, Boyd & Ellison (2007) claim that, “SNSs are challenging legal conceptions of privacy. Hodge (2006) argued that the fourth amendment to the U.S. Constitution and legal decisions concerning privacy are not equipped to address social network sites. For example, do police officers have the right to access content posted to Facebook without a warrant? The legality of this hinges on users’ expectation of privacy and whether or not Facebook profiles are considered public or private”. The economic impacts described by the OECD (Wunsch-Vincent & Vickery, 2007) are mostly related to business models of traditional companies. According to the OECD new forms of content provision are more based on decentralised creativity, organisational innovation and new value-added models, which favour new entrants, and less on traditional scale advantages and large start-up investments. Search engines, portals and aggregators are also experimenting with business models that are often based on online advertisement and marketing. The shift to Internet-based media is only beginning to affect content publishers and broadcasters. At the outset, user created content may have been seen as competition. However, some traditional media organisations have shifted from creating online content to creating the facilities and frameworks for user created content creators to publish. Li (2007) concludes on economic impact that: 1. The providers of social computing applications are increasingly profitable and contribute to growth and employment. 2. Social computing applications already constitute an important threat to the telecommunication and content industries. 3. Social computing applications are increasingly being adopted as a productivity tool in the private and public sector. 4. Social computing applications make customers smarter thanks to horizontal exchange of information with other users. 2.3 Impact on public sector The impacts found in the private sector may be translated to the public sector. Particularly the social impacts as mentioned by the OECD (Wunsch-Vincent & Vickery, 2007) have a significant potential to affect governments. The growing possibilities of privacy infringements for instance put an increased pressure on governments to create new regulatory frameworks to protect users’ privacy. Yet, the impacts of the social computing trend on governments seem to be broader and more versatile than the economic and social impacts as described by the OECD. A screening and investigation of cases collected for this research shows that some other types of social computing impact in the public sector can be discerned, namely: political, socio-cultural, organisational and legal impact. One of the political impacts may for instance be the emergence of volatile cause-oriented forms of civic involvement in politics. Many of the cases found for this research concerned online mobilisations of citizens around a specific subject. This kind of cases can stimulate citizen participation in public decision-making, but can endanger democratis aspects of participation (Osimo, 2008). Another political impact may be that political practice becomes more transparent. We have found dozens of websites on which political information is structured en published. One of the many example is the website; a user generated database for the campaign finance data of all federally elected politicians since 1989. Social computing websites can enable citizen awareness and monitoring of government activities (Osimo, 2008). An example of the socio- European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 8
  • 9. cultural impacts is the inclusion of particular groups of citizens in the public sphere. In our database of cases we found many communities initiated by or for minority groups such as elderly (silver surfers, e.g. and immigrants (e.g. Several cases from the database also point to improved quality of life as citizens (e.g. patients or disabled) feel more empowered to gain control over their disease or disability (e.g. Organisational impacts in the public sector could be found in the several examples in our database of user generated public sector content. It seems that new networked forms of organisation may emerge. We found multiple examples of cross-agency cooperation through the use of social computing platforms. An example is, an online community for doctors and medical students who jointly build medical knowledge. Osimo (2008) shows with the example of intellipedia that web 2.0 can enable better collaboration across government organisations. In addition, several cases indicate that some online communities are taking over tasks which hitherto have been carried out by government institutions. An example is, a website on which users learn each other languages. A last type of social computing impact in the public sector may be legal impact. Several cases from our databases indicate that the social computing trends ask for a new regulatory framework. In the learning domain this need is clearly noticeable as joint creators of educational content urge the governments to provide legal possibilities to safely disseminate content. 3 Methods A methodology was developed to generate solid evidence on types of impact. We applied various methods for each case: • Desk research: academic sources (journals and conference articles), newspaper articles, (leading) blog posts, Internet statistics and internal documents. • Interviews: the key stakeholders where identified and interviewed. An interview protocol was developed to guide the interviews. The interviews were held by phone due to the long distances of the cases (e.g. UK and US). • Participative observation: the research team participated on the websites to observe e.g. take-up and user behaviour. The design and implementation of the case study research was based von Yin (1994) and the cross- case analysis on Miles & Huberman (1994). The following steps were made for each case: • Definition of selection criteria for case studies. Criteria included: (a) indications of impact, (b) coverage of the public service domain (health, learning and government), (c) coverage of several types of social computing websites (e.g. professional, support, crime watch and political) and (d) coverage of initiatives in Europe as well as the U.S. • Selection of case studies • For each case study: desk research, interviews and participative observation • For each case study: validation of the case study report by initiators of social computing site • Cross-case study analysis. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 9
  • 10. 4 Case studies 4.1 Connexions case Connexions is an online community which aims to provide and maintain a commons where individuals and communities worldwide can create and freely share scholarly materials (Baraniuk et al., 2002; Orlando & Baraniuk, 2006). According to the founder, Richard Baraniuk, Connexion is an online community which provides “the conditions for the widespread re-use of educational or scholarly materials by communities of educators and learners” (Dholakia et al., 2006). Today, Connexions offers a platform to instructors, authors and learners who share knowledge, continually updating it and weaving together a variety of concepts. The past few months the daily average of visits was around 32,000, the number of pages viewed around 70,000 and the number of files accessed approximately 1,200,0005. The content creation on Connexions community seems to affect existing products, processes, organisation structures and legislation. To start with products; the Connexions community generates open and freely available scholarly material. Whereas traditional publishers hitherto had the exclusive rights to publish and sell textbooks, the educational content created on the Connexions website can be created, published and disseminated by anyone. In terms of product change, the creation of the product has become more open (several authors co-creating the product), the status quo of the product has altered (the textbooks are in a perpetual beta version; there does not exist a final version of a Connexions textbook), the number of versions of the product increases (hyper customisation; books are tailored to the needs of each individual) and the availability of the product has changed (freely available to anyone). The fact that text books become available to students for free has, in turn, an effect on the learning opportunities for students all over the world. In the interview Joel Thierstein told TNO that the Maxfield Foundation bought the rights to the book “Collaborative Statistics” and gave those to Rice so that the university could make the content available free through Connexions under the Creative Commons Attribution License. The online version of the book has already been chosen as the primary text for fall classes enrolling more than 1000 students. The release of the book in Connexions makes it possible for students all over the world to study this subject for free. In the US alone, almost a hundred thousand students take a statistics course at a community college each year and many pay $100 or more for a traditional statistics textbook. The Collaborative Statistics is not only used by Connexions members in the traditional way (downloading and reading); several members already customised the statistics book by re-mixing or adding other scholarly material6. Furthermore, the professional processes of educational content creation, but also the preparation of courses is changing. A Market Research (Dholakia et al, 2005) on the Connexions community reveals that instructors who participate in the Connexions community realise time savings in their everyday profession as a teacher (Dholakia et al. 2005). Many of the instructors who use Connexions have intensive teaching schedules during the work week and therefore appreciate being able to have a repository of educational materials organised in a modular format to make their course preparation more efficient. Online activities in the Connexions community also seem to stimulate a further specialisation of professions: “Connexion teachers are able to find other teachers who are experts in very specific field, which contacts stimulate a further development of the expertise”. In addition, the individual impact of professionals seems to increase. The Market Research of Dholakia et al (2005) shows that authors who disseminate content through Connexions experience have a greater 5, accessed on February 17, 2009. 6 For textbook see See also asp?MODE=VIEW&ID=11300. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 10
  • 11. impact on scholars, practitioners, and students within their disciplines through the widespread dissemination and use of their educational and scholarly materials. Open education communities seem to stimulate inclusion of all. Anecdotal evidence shows that modularity and open-content development lowers the barrier to entry into the author community (Dholakia et al., 2006). For example, Connexions allows an electrical engineering researcher at the University of Illinois to to contribute his material of Fast Fourier Transforms and then weave a custom text for this course using contributions from other authors. Furthermore, organisation structures and business models seem to alter. Processes of content creation, professional feedback and course preparation for instance are starting to cross organisational boundaries. Teachers of separate schools and colleges who were not in contact before they joined the Connexions community and now collaborate on the creation of educational content, provide each other with feedback, discuss learning methods and help each other with course preparation. Furthermore, contrary to the hierarchic structure of a school, the social structure of the Connexions community is horizontal. Professors, instructors, students, text book authors all have the same position within the community. Status within the community is related to being knowledgeable; the higher the quality of the content produced by a member the more he/she is appreciated by peers. In addition, it appears that traditional organisations, such as the publishers are under competitive pressure of open education communities. The business model of traditional publishers is based upon conventional production and distribution processes and channels. It however seems that publishers in the United States currently are not in the position to put a new business model into place. Yet, the number of start-ups which use new, open approaches is growing and in the long run it is to be expected that also the business models of the large publishers will change. Another impact which can be discerned is the changing of policy and legislation. In the United States, several states are reconsidering their policy on the dissemination of scholarly material as a result of content creation within the open education community, such as Connexions. States have the task to watch and monitor the quality of educational content and are currently discussing the acceptation of open materials. Several states, such as Texas, are starting to accept open created educational content. 4.2 PatientsLikeMe case PatientsLikeMe was founded in 2004 by three MIT engineers, Jamie Heywood, Benjamin Heywood and Jeff Cole, of whom the personal experiences with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) motivated them to create a community of patients, doctors and organisations that inspires, informs and empowers individuals7. The founders started with their own case and developed a website on which ALS patients could share experiences, support each other and enter data on their medical condition and treatment, such as symptoms, drug prescription, dosages, and effectiveness of treatments In March 2006, PatientsLikeMe opened for business. Within a year, the company added communities for patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson’s disease. The number of users grew rapidly and in the fall of 2007 the company opened a community for people with HIV. Today PatientsLikeMe also has communities for Mood disorders, Fibromyalgia and orphan diseases like PSP, MSA and Devic’s.8 The number of members of PatientsLimeMe has grown rapidly since its launch in 2006. In merely four years the website has attracted a total of 25,051 members9. 7, accessed on 9 December 2008 8, accessed on 12 December 2008 9 Website accessed on 15-12-2008 European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 11
  • 12. It seems that the PatientsLikeMe community generates substantial organisational, social and legal impacts. The most important impact may be that the knowledge of diseases increases as members’ data on their medical condition, symptoms and treatments is collected, translated into graphs and analysed. PatientsLikeMe claims that the aggregation of patient data helps to increase the effectiveness of treatments and drugs10. In addition to the aggregated data, which is automatically generated from the patient-reported data on individual profiles and reported in Treatment and Symptom reports, members themselves collect data. The knowledge built by the patients can be used by patients to make medical decisions upon. James Heywood, one of the founders stated in an interview with Newsweek that the site is all about gathering the collective wisdom and making it available to patients and professional. “In the end, it’s the same as open-source software. If you can see all the information, you can correct errors.11” Aggregated data yielding from the PatientsLikeMe community also impact existing research programmes and methods. Interviews with the founder of Patienslikeme revealed that research projects from traditional research institutes may become more intertwined with research conducted on PatientsLikeMe12. An important social impact may be generated by the personal support and advice members of PatientsLikeMe give one-another. Many of the posts on patients’ pages contain encouraging messages from other patients. The level of social networking in most PatientsLikeMe communities is very high. Patients search for peer patients, often become friends and sometimes also meet in real life. The location filter of the search engine is often used by members to see if there are any peer patients living in their neighbourhood. When feeling depressed members of PatientsLikeMe receive support from other members13. Furthermore, it seems that patients with very specific or rare symptoms are able to find other patients who have the same symptoms - which points to a longtail impact of the PatientsLikeMe community. Peer patients who did not have contact before are now able to find each other. One of the many examples is provided by Mary Sont in an interview with the Boston Globe14. Mary, who suffers from the Parkinson’s disease, recalls complaining to her doctor that the medication she took for young onset Parkinson’s disease was causing her to rapidly lose weight. Because she tracked her weight and medication on PatientsLikeMe, she was able to find a dozen other women her age who had experienced the same side effect. PatientsLikeMe also seems to affect traditional healthcare organisations. Patients appear more empowered to have their say in the healthcare dialogue. Ben Heywood explains in an interview on the World Health Care Congress15: “That is part of what is so exciting about PatientsLikeMe – patients now have the ability to drive change, make their issues central to the dialogue.” It thus seems that the bilateral relationship between doctors and patients changes as information asymmetry decreases because patients are well-informed about their medical condition, symptoms and treatments. A 10 The Boston Globe, Through website, patients creating own drug studies, November 16 2008, Available at: http://www. 11 Newsweek, Power to the bottom, September 15, 2008, Available at: 12 Also: the biggest set of data available on lithium use by ALS patients comes from the reports on PatientsLikeMe. So far, the data –which are still being gathered – indicate that the drug is considerably less effective than indicated by the Italian study, published in the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. While that discovery has been disappointing, the online reporting is still useful (The Boston Globe, November 2008). 13, forum, accessed on 12, 16, and 18 December 2008, PatientsLikeMe permitted TNO and DTI to publish this statement. 14 The Boston Globe (2008), Through websites, patients creating own drug studies, by Carolyn Y. Johnson, November 16, 2008 15 The World Healthcare Congress, Speaker Live Chat Series, Ben Heywood, co-founder, president and director of PatientsLikeMe, European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 12
  • 13. concrete example is provided by Todd Small, a Multiple Sclerosis patient, who became a member of PatientsLikeMe in June 200716. He learned from PatientsLikeMe that he was taking the wrong dose of drugs. Contrary to what his neurologist told him, the PatientsLikeMe website showed that other patients took a higher dose of the drug which worked well with them. He started taking a higher dosage and his treatment improved. The last impact seems to be on the legal rights of patients to protection of their privacy. Members of PatientsLikeMe can choose to make their data viewable to all PatientsLikeMe members or to anyone on the Internet17. As anyone can become a member of PatientsLikeMe, anyone with a computer and internet connection can access the patient data on PatientsLikeMe. Data access is not protected by authentication processes or technologies. This seems to have a substantial impact on the patients’ privacy protection. In the interview with Ben Heywood gave two reasons why PatiensLikeMe does not use more privacy enhancing technologies: “First, it gives a validation: everything can be drilled down, verified and validated at the individual level by others. An open model ensures transparency which is required to have an impact at the individual level. Second, PatientsLikeMe is not for everybody. Also it is too hard to work with this open model in the formal public sector because of public policy limitations.18” 4.3 Wikileaks case Wikileaks is designed to allow anyone to post documents which contain evidence of government corruption or other wrongdoings on the web without possibilities of being traced. The goal of Wikileaks is to enable whistle-blowers and journalists to disclose sensitive information without being arrested19. As Wikileaks phrases their mission: to provide an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis20. Wikileaks has an idealistic motive: “transparency in government activities leads to reduced corruption, better government and stronger democracies”. The Wikileaks website was launched on December 2006, a few months earlier than planned21. Among the founders of Wikileaks are Chinese dissidents, mathematicians and start-up company technologies, from the U.S., Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa. As one of the initiators stated: “We are serious people working on a serious project, three advisors have been detained by Asian government, one of us for over six years”. Activities within the Wikileaks community seem to yield organisational, political and legal impacts, among which increased transparency of governments’ practice, political pressure to fight governments’ corruption or misconduct and the generation of legal evidence used in court cases. To start with the increased openness of governments; many of the documents published on Wikileaks concern internal government files. These files can contain government documents such as (including military) strategies, policies, annual accounts, duplicate bookkeepings, budgets, formal letters, bulletins, emails, presentations, excel sheets, pictures, manuals, handbooks and procedures. The documents published do not necessarily reveal a government’s misbehaviour. Various documents merely provide more insight into internal standards, agreements and proceedings which are not published by governments but may be of interest for citizens or journalists. An example is a document of the FBI which reveals the secret symbols organised paedophiles use to recognise each other and is likely to 16 New York Times Magazine, Practicing Patients, 23 March 2008, available at: magazine/23patients-t.html 17, accessed on 12 December 2008. 18 Interview with TNO and DTI, 13 January 2009 19 New Scientist , ‘How the MySpace mindset can boost medical science’, May 15 2008 20 Wikileaks website, accessed on 24-11-2008 21 Wikileaks website, accessed on 2-12-2008 European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 13
  • 14. be of broad interest to parents.22 Another example is a power point presentation of the American Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The presentation gives insight into the collaboration between the United-States and China as regards global disease detection23. Wikileaks states about this document “The material is of a type that is often made public, however we have so far been unable to find reference to the report on or elsewhere on the internet or in the press”. These documents published on Wikileaks contribute to the opening up of governments. The majority of documents published on Wikileaks however do reveal – the one document to a higher degree than the other – governments’ deviations from determined and communicated policies, breaking of rules or agreements and violation of (international) law. Several disclosed documents have had a substantial political impact. An example is the on Wikileaks published confidential investigation report of Kroll - a private investigation and security firm - on government corruption in Kenya24. The investigation project was assigned by the Kibaki administration in order to fight corruption of the former administration Moi. The Kroll report was issued in 2004 and uncovered a bribery scandal of billions of US dollars25. President Kibaki decided not to use the evidence against Moi as he went into alliance with him for the elections in 2007. The report however was published on Wikileaks in 2006 by a public official of the Kenyan government and was picked up globally by journalists of traditional media, including the Guardian, Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph and Kenyan broadcasters and newspapers (The Daily Nation and The Standard)26. Wikileaks claims that the revelation of the report changed the result of the Kenyan presidential election of 2007, swinging the vote by 10% towards the opposition, which won the election by 1%-3% of the vote27. Several documents published on Wikileaks have been used by lawyers and interest groups to hold governments accountable and/or strengthen evidence in a court case against a government agency or official. An example is a military manual published on Wikileaks detailing the day-to-day operations of the U.S. military’s Guantanamo Bay detention facility28. The document “Camp Delta Standard Operating Procedures” is dated March 28, 2003 and was leaked in 200729. The Pentagon has been resisting sinc 2003 a Freedom of Information Act request from the American Civil Liberties Union seeking this document. Since its disclosure in 2007 on Wikileaks it has been used by several lawyers and human right groups. Jamil Dakwar, advocacy director of the ACLU’s Human Rights program, for instance found hints in the report of the violation of international law. In a section of the report guards are instructed to use dogs to intimidate prisoners. He also raises concerns over a section on the International Committee of the Red Cross, or ICRC, which indicates that some prisoners were hidden from Red Cross representatives. In addition, four attorneys of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) used the document analysis with Wikileaks in their legal battle over Guantánamo30. CCR has been responsible for coordinating the a coalition of pro bono lawyers in order to defend the detainees at Guantánamo, ensuring that nearly all have been represented. That users of the Wikileaks website take over the role of watch dog, may be illustrated by the many documents uploaded which provide evidence of countries violating international conventions, agreements and treaties. One of the Wikileaks users for instance published documents which reveal 22 23 explosion%2C_10_Dec_2008 24 25, Wikileaks 26 27 and under_injunction 28 29 30 European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 14
  • 15. that the United-States government violates the international Convention on Chemical Weapons (1997)31 by employing some of the in the convention listed weapons in Iraq.32 Concluding, the disclosure of sensitive information on Wikileaks by the crowds, has an impact on the transparency of government in the sense that particularly confidential government information becomes available for the large public. This, in turn impacts governments as government agencies and officials are being held accountable and may have to change their policy and practice. The disclosure of the information also has a legal impact in the sense that it provides evidence for and thus influences the outcome of court cases. In addition, existing watch dogs are affected as – in some cases - citizens are taking over some of their roles33. 5 Conclusions 5.1 Political impact The cases studied for this research show that the empowerment and transparency characteristics of the social computing initiatives (see also section above on general patterns) seem to disrupt the existing power balances. This impact may be most evidently illustrated by the Wikileaks case in which the publication of a report by a Wikileaks user resulted in a 10% swing in the outcome of the elections in Kenya. The sharing of information about governments and politics by the crowds enables them hold public officials and politicians accountable. People seem to be more able to mobilise around a specific subject, to enhance their knowledge by exploiting the wisdom of the crowds and herewith to exercise influence on government and politics. Although mobilisation around a political interest is not the initial purpose of the PatientsLikeMe and Connexions communities (as it is the goal of Wikileaks community), some examples show that these platforms can (and probably will) be used for political mobilisation purposes if the necessary conditions occur. The instant hype and long tail mechanisms of the social computing platforms seem to particularly support issue based political involvement. People are able to find each other around very specific subjects and to spontaneously organise an advocacy group. Herewith the representation of citizens may become more fragmented; citizens are not ideologically attracted to a specific party but for each issue feel represented by another party. A difference between party politics and issue based politics is that the assessment if every group in society is equally represented in the debate does not automatically take place in issue based politics. Whereas in a party system, participant deliberately strive for a coverage of all societal groups for all subjects; in topic based politics the assessment if all groups are heard has to be made for every issue raised. 5.2 Socio-cultural impact In the socio-cultural area, the inclusive and horizontal character of social computing applications seems to yield new values. The architecture and functionalities of the websites studied but also 31, The CWC aims to eliminate an entire category of weapons of mass destruction by prohibiting the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons by States Parties. 32 33 In some cases the disclosure of sensitive information had a significant financial impact. In January 2008, Wikileaks for instance published secret banking documents from the Cayman Islands branch of the Swiss private bank Julius Baer, despite not being certain of their veracity. The documents show that the bank knew about, and even aided, money laundering. Wikileaks notes on its site that Bank Julius Baer’s stock has dropped 20% since January (Informationweek, March 2008). European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 15
  • 16. the community members themselves seem to stimulate openness, informality and equality. The designs of the websites aim at increased openness, an equal sharing of information; all users have the same rights to create and use information. The communities adopted the Creative Commons Licence and some of them use open source software. Participants behave informally, use informal language and the threshold to introduce oneself as a new member is low. On Connexions senior and junior professionals more equally work together than in their offline professional life. Values such as seniority and position based status seem to be less relevant in the online communities. Here, members who are knowledgeable and have valuable expertise receive the most respect. Furthermore, long tail and efficient allocation mechanisms of social computing applications seem to stimulate the emergence of new cohesion within the communities around specific merits. On Connexions teachers and students gather around educational content, on PatientsLikeMe members make new contacts with peer patients. Another socio-cultural impact which can be perceived is threat of personal privacy of community members. Particularly the transparency mechanism makes that members are more vulnerable to privacy infringements. This threat may be most visible on PatientsLikeMe, where personal medical information of members can be accessed by employers and insurance companies. 5.3 Organisational impact As the four cases we studied are all related to public service clusters, it may not come as a surprise that most impacts found, concern existing organisations (in a broad sense of the word). We found that in all cases new players had entered the public arena and that new divisions of roles between traditional and new parties were emerging. On PatientsLikeMe members seem to take over support tasks which hitherto had predominantly been carried out by healthcare professionals. They advice and encourage one another, which support - up till now – is mainly carried out by patient care organisations. Furthermore, it seems that the members of PatientsLikeMe are taking over some research tasks, which traditionally have been carried out by the pharmaceutical industry. They for instance collect information about the effectiveness of drugs, analyse the results and – moreover – base medical decisions upon the research outcomes. On Connexions teachers and students generate scholarly material which hitherto has been created by publishers. Textbooks are published which would never have been brought out by publishers. Not only the players and the products change, but also the process with which the products are created and the business model behind the creation. In all cases the creation takes place in a horizontal way, all members can contribute bits and pieces to the whole. However, the creation is not necessarily more democratic; in most cases we found a strong control of the content by the initiating organisation. Wikileaks has a team which verifies and decides upon the publication of the uploaded information and also on PatientsLikeMe there is a strong supervision on the content published on the website. Furthermore, the cooperation on the social computing platforms seems to cross organisational and geographical boundaries. Patients, teachers, doctors of all kind of organisations and countries collaborate. Other boundaries, such as the language and discipline boundaries, seem to become more dominant. One of the cases studied – PatientsLikeMe– had put a business model in place where commercial parties pay for advertisement space and/or community generated data. Further research seems to be needed to identify opportunities and risks of these new models. Wikileaks and Connexions are donation based (individual donations as well as from foundations and governments). A last impact which could be gathered under the heading “organisational” and which we found in several cases is increased efficiency. Particularly the allocation mechanism of social computing platforms stimulates a more efficient match of demand and supply. 5.4 Legal impact European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 16
  • 17. In all three cases we found existing legislation (be it copyright, patent rights or privacy) under pressure by activities undertaken within the community. The collaborative content created on Connexions asks for a new legal protection, for instance by the use of Creative Commons Licences. PatientsLikeMe has – instead of a privacy policy – an openness philosophy in which they state: “Currently, most healthcare data is inaccessible due to privacy regulations or proprietary tactics. As a result, research is slowed, and the development of breakthrough treatments takes decades. Patients also can’t get the information they need to make important treatment decisions. But it doesn’t have to be that way. When you and thousands like you share your data, you open up the healthcare system. You learn what’s working for others. You improve your dialogue with your doctors. Best of all, you help bring better treatments to market in record time.” The CEO of PatientsLikeMe stated in an interview that members of PatientsLikeMe simply weigh the pros and the cons of joining the PatientsLikeMe community and often come to the conclusion that the information they receive through the website is more important for them than the privacy risks. Yet, the information published still implies a substantial reduction of the patients’ privacy as data on their medial condition are accessible to anyone. The Wikileaks case shows that new parties start playing an important role in legal procedures and court cases. The crowds play a role in the collection of the evidence through Wikileaks which evidence has been used several times by lawyers to strengthen their case. 6 Policy implications Leveraging social computing for evidence-based policy making: Social computing applications can mobilise knowledge, preferences and need of citizens around specific challenges. By employing social computing strategies (and ‘tools’), government can enlist important niche audiences and leverage their insights. This can provide evidence for policy-making. However, to leverage this opportunity, civil servants would need to become familiar with the tools and values of social computing communities. Changing role of government: The role of government is radically changing, as public services increasingly occur outside the usual sphere or influence of government. To regain influence (e.g. safeguarding rights and core values), governments need to open up their public service to citizens. This will make government rather a facilitator than provider. Addressing the risk of privacy infringements: The downside of social computing trend is an increased risk of privacy infringements. Citizens increasingly publish sensitive information on the Internet. Legislation, privacy impact analysis, monitoring and attention for cyber behaviour in education are potential instruments to address the risk privacy infringement. The government needs to continuously monitor the risks and effects of high levels of participation in social network sites and to inform citizens about risks, for example through awareness, information and/or education programmes. Stimulating social computing for inclusion: Social computing technologies enable groups of citizens (e.g. elderly people) with special needs to support each other, mobilise and organise. Social computing technologies enable self-organisation and self-regulation. With fewer options for orchestrating and regulating in an increasingly connected world, governments should stimulate the emergence of these mechanisms in particular where they support key public values and goals. References European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 17
  • 18. Allen, C. (2004). Tracing the Evolution of Social Software, see http://www.lifewithalacrity. com/2004/10/tracing_the_evo.html. Baraniuk, R.G. et al, (2002). Connexions,: Education for a Networked World, IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing – ICASSP’20. Boyd, D.M. and Ellison, N.B., Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship, available at: Dholakia, U.M., King, W.J. and R. Baraniuk, (2006). What Makes an Open Education Program Sustainable, The Case of Connexions, Connexions, Dholakia, Utpal M., Stacy Roll and John McKeever (2005). Building Community in Connexions. Market Research report for the Connexions project. Drexler, E. (1987). Hypertext Publishing and the Evolution of Knowledge. Dutton, W. & Helsper, E. (2007). Oxford Internet Survey (OxIS): The Internet in Britain 2007, Oxford Internet Institute, available at: Englebart (1962). Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework, available at: http://www. Huijboom, et al. (2009). Public Services 2.0: The Impact of Social Computing on Public Services, edited by Punie, Y, Misuraca, G., Osimo, D., JRC-IPTS EUR 2408 EN, Luxembourg: European Communities. Available at Johansen, R. (1988). Groupware: Computer Support for Business Team. Johnson-Lenz, P. and Johnson-Lenz, T. (1978). Humanising Hyperspace. Levin, A., Li, C. (2007). How Consumers Use Social Networks. Forrester. Miles, M.B. and Huberman, A.M. (1994). Qualitative Data Analysis, An Expanded Sourceook, Sage Publications. Orlando and Baraniuk, et al (2006). Connexions – Sharing Knowledge and Building Communities in Signal Processing, IEEE Signal Processing Magazine, 21(5), 10-16, Osimo, D. (2008). Web 2.0 in Government: Why and How? Institute for Prospectice Technological Studies (IPTS), JRC, European Commission, EUR 23358 EN. available at: eu/publications/pub.cfm?id=1565. Slot, M. Frissen, V.A.J. (2007). Users in the’golden’age of the information society, Observatorio (OBS*) Journal, 3 (2007), 201-224. Turoff, M. (1972). Delphi conferencing: Computer-based Conferencing with Anonymity, available at: Wunsch-Vincent, S. and Vickery, G. (2007). Participative Web: User-Created Content. OECD, Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry, Working Party on the Information Economy, April 2007, available at: European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 18
  • 19. Yin R.K., (1994). Case Study Research, Design and Methods, Sage Publications. Authors Tijs van den Broek Advisor TNO Information and communication technology Valerie Frissen Senior strategist TNO Information and communication technology Noor Huijboom Researcher TNO Information and communication technology Yves Punie Senior Scientist European Commission, The Institute for Prospective Technological Studies European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 19
  • 20. Framing Web 2.0 in the Process of Public Sector Innovation: Going Down the Participation Ladder Recently, the rise of social computing has attracted significant Enrico Ferro interest from both the practitioners’ and scholars’ communities, Senior researcher in view of its potential applications to the public sector of the Istituto Superiore future. In this paper we frame web 2.0 as one of the steps Mario Boella in the process of public sector innovation, as an attempt to understand if and how it may contribute to the construction of a more open, transparent and collaborative government. The Francesco Molinari article focuses on three main implementation aspects of what Independent may be defined as an evolved eGovernance approach, namely: consultant the ICT tools deployed for eGovernment/eParticipation, the public actions put in place to ensure the widest uptake and social inclusion, and the institutional changes required (both Keywords at organizational and political level). The analysis conducted Social Computing, ICT shows how Web 2.0 provides a number of useful levers that Governance, Web 2.0, should be adopted to tackle some of the problems encountered eParticipation, Public Sector in the first wave of Government digitalization, such as: the Innovation lack of orientation towards creation of value for the final user, the focus on automation rather than on innovation, and the The implementation of a consequent low levels of take up/participation. successful Gov 2.0 strategy requires better consideration of institutional and social complexity as well as the development of significantly new policy intelligence skills in the EU public sector European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 20
  • 21. 1. Introduction Clay Shirky (2008) in his book “Here comes everybody: the power of organizing without organizations” states: “Sociability is one of our core capabilities and it shows up in almost every aspect of our lives as both cause and effect. Society is not just the product of its individual members; it is also the product of its constituent groups”. Later, he carries on by saying that: “[Our] social nature even shows up in negation. One of the most severe punishments that can be meted out to a prisoner is solitary confinement”. Bruno Latour (1997) in discussing Actor Network Theory argues that we should embrace technology as inherently anthropomorphic: technology is made by humans, substitutes for the actions of humans, and shapes human action. Web 2.0 is just that, the emergence of this primal aspect of human nature in the use of the World Wide Web. As a matter of fact, it does not refer to an update to any technical specifications, but rather to cumulative changes in the way software developers and end-users utilize the web. Further evidence in this direction is the label of “social computing” that is often used to refer to Web 2.0 developments (Punie et al. 2009). The key question is therefore: why should the expression of such a fundamental and renowned aspect of human life through a network technology like the Internet have any relevance for innovation of the public sector? The answer is not straightforward, but some hypotheses can be put forward. First of all, the very concept of State (in the sense of democratic Government) can be defined as a social arrangement, whose mission is to use collective resources to respond to collective needs. In a way, it can thus be said that public sector in its initial conceptualization was one of the results of social interaction of human beings. Nevertheless throughout history, something went wrong in moving from concept to implementation. Or rather, the evolution undergone by civil societies over the centuries, slowly but steadily turned governments into closed bureaucratic institutions that had only sporadic contacts with their constituencies (currently, the average number of yearly interactions is three; Millard 2009). As a result, public institutions gradually lost track of the real collective needs they were supposed to respond to, and have developed, instead, a view of public service provision centred on administrative fulfilment. This evolution has contributed to increase the distance between citizenry and institutions, inevitably impacting on the mutual level of trust (the Americans lack of confidence in their governmental institutions is an often quoted example). The net result of this transformation has been a significant decrease in the interest of people in public discourse, while the underlying issue is that what used to be everybody’s property turned into nobody’s property, or property of a few. In this paper we intend to propose some reflections on the role that social computing might play in reversing the process described above by contributing to the creation of an open, transparent and collaborative environment for government-citizens-stakeholders interaction (recently also referred to as Connected or Networked Governance; United Nations 2008). In doing so, we will provide some insights on the main opportunities and challenges lying ahead of us, as well as the possible strategies that policy makers may consider adopting. The structure of the paper is the following: section 2 builds on a recent upgrade of the “participation ladder” concept, to exemplify the interdependence of institutional and social aspects in any process of public sector reform. Section 3 highlights what in our opinion were the major issues in the European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 21
  • 22. eGovernment and eParticipation initiatives financed over the last decade. Section 4 discusses which opportunities Web 2.0 can offer in overcoming those issues and highlights a number of challenges still present on the way to an open, transparent and collaborative government. Section 5 discusses three relevant aspects for the definition of an evolved eGovernance strategy, namely the ICT tools deployed, the public actions needed to ensure the widest uptake and social inclusion, and the institutional changes induced by the reform process. Finally, section 6 draws some conclusions and propositions for future work. 2. Framing the problem Just over 40 years ago, in July 1969, while Man was putting his first foot on the moon, the seminal paper by Sherry Arnstein entitled “A Ladder of Citizen Participation” (Arnstein 1969) was published in JAIP – the Journal of the American Institute of Planners. Those were times when youth across Europe and the US were rebelling against a “State” which they perceived to be a great leviathan – an all-consuming monster, forcing compliance to a set of outdated values. Arnstein’s analysis looked very much like a cautionary tale, that systemic participatory reforms could easily be “facades” used by the political elites to maintain the status quo. On the other hand, climbing up the participation ladder, they could also induce meaningful changes in the balance of power and control over public policy. Nowadays, the eight “rungs” introduced by Arnstein – from manipulation to citizen control – are still there to remind us of the risks of “tokenism1” or “loose coupling” in policy makers behaviour, when it comes to deciding about the scope and the purposes of offline, as well as online, participation experiments. Figure 2 – The “new” Ladder of Participation More recently, Forrester Research (2007) adapted the ladder concept to our Internet-based times, as a way to profile the likely audience of eParticipation experiments and the level of take-up that 1 From Wikipedia: Tokenism refers to a policy or practice of limited inclusion of members of a minority group, usually creating a false appearance of inclusive practices, whether intentional or not. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 22
  • 23. these could actually reach within the population as a whole. The new ladder appropriately reminds us that the number of US adults who are ready to undertake eParticipation is slightly less than 50% of the whole population, either because the majority is still unconnected or hardly connected – as it also happens in most countries or regions of Europe – or because only the top 15-20% of the population are actually involved in knowledge intensive activities on the web, such as publishing, posting, reviewing, tagging, or socially networking. David Osimo (2008) made a similar calculation of the likely percentage of Internet users who are currently engaged at different levels and with various degrees of intensity in Web 2.0 applications. Lastly, we (Ferro and Molinari 2009) stressed how the presence of a considerable variance across the population as a whole - in terms of political interests, educational level and technological skills - makes it very difficult for anyone to design workable and effective systems in support of political participation. The development of a more aware attitude towards social complexity would – for example - require policy designers to make a step towards citizens rather than expecting the citizenry to move their content production activity onto the “official” spaces created for ad hoc participation. Otherwise, the risk is that of reaching only a very small minority of citizens with respect to population as a whole – typically the most affluent, best educated, etc. Figure 2 – The “new” Ladder of Participation The reflections sparked by Arnstein’s and Forrester’s ladders of participation underlie the importance of the concurrent presence of an institutional and a social component in any sort of government reform. Acknowledging the interdependence of these two aspects is thus key to turn any vision of open, transparent and collaborative government into a workable strategy. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 23
  • 24. 3. Learning from past mistakes The concept of digital Governance (eGovernance) has been around for quite a few years, being referred to as the use by the public sector of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to deliver to all citizens improved services, reliable information and greater knowledge, in order to facilitate access to the governing process and encourage deeper citizen participation (see e.g. Castro and Mlikota, 2002). Usually, the concept has covered three distinct, yet related fields of application: i. eAdministration, or the improvement of the internal functioning of the public sector with new ICT-based information systems and restructured processes. Some authors refer to this dimension as to “back-office capability” and see it as a precondition for developing the next two application fields; ii. eGovernment, or the proper information provision and service delivery to citizens, exploiting the potential of ICT to enhance the transparency and accountability of public administration - as well as the efficiency, efficacy and quality of public services. iii.eDemocracy, or the increased engagement of people in public decisions and actions, so as to make the former more responsive to citizens’ views and to expand civic support to the latter while addressing key policy challenges. In turn, the eDemocracy field can be split up into two separate areas, namely eVoting - referring to the adoption of technologies that enable to carry out regular and legally binding elections - and eParticipation, referring to the use of ICT-enabled methods and tools enhancing the interactions between citizens, politicians and public sector officials that take place between elections (Macintosh, 2004; Andersen et al. 2007). Apart from eVoting, which is a quite autonomous and self-sufficient domain, the investments done in all other areas of public sector reform do not seem to have had clear social – if not even financial – returns by now. As the following graph shows, adoption and use of electronic services continue to be rather limited in most European countries. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 24
  • 25. Figure 3 – The eGovernment usage gap (source: Eurostat2) Low levels of uptake constitute a problem because they hamper the achievement of tangible benefits both in terms of efficiency and efficacy. To explain this usage gap, a set of interpretations has been set forth (Ferro and Molinari, 2009; Verdegem and Verleye, 2009) namely that: • A digital and cultural divide still exists within and among the European communities, which does not allow a full migration of public services to the World Wide Web; • All too often, only the technologies available rather than users needs and expectations guided the design of online service infrastructures; • Typically, governments did not innovate their internal working processes but simply created an electronic mirror of their existing (offline) services (i.e. automation vs. innovation); • The erroneous principle was adopted “if you build it they will come”, thus with low or little attention to the generation of value for the citizenry; • More generally, a lack of skills, internal to public administration, prevented an appropriate governance of ICT investments. The “low take-up” issue, however, is not limited to eGovernment, but may also be extended to the eParticipation domain. Unfortunately, the public investments aimed at creating a more open, transparent and inclusive government have followed a similar path to those making services available online. In the past ten years, a plethora of experiments has been documented in Europe and abroad, which have used different technologies and various methodologies to purport to highly heterogeneous policy goals. In spite of the lack of systematic evaluation, a common trait to those experiments is that they have involved a very small minority of citizens with respect to population as a whole. For instance, if we look at the more recent and systematic policy attempt to drive the European society towards sharing the best practices of eParticipation – i.e. the Preparatory Action launched in 2006 2 The green histogram shows the percentage of the 20 basic eGovernment services that were fully available online at the end of 2009, i.e. those for which it is possible to carry out full electronic case handling. For example, if in a country 13 of the 20 services were measured as being 100% available on-line and one service was not relevant (e.g. did not exist), the indicator is 13/19 which is 68.4%. Measurement is based on a sample of URLs of public web sites agreed with Member States as relevant for each service. The orange histogram displays the percentage of individuals aged 16 to 74 who have used the Internet, in the last 3 months, for interaction with public authorities (i.e. used the Internet for one or more of the following activities: obtaining information from public authorities web sites, downloading official forms, sending filled in forms). Data refers to 2009 with the only exception of France (being 2008). European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 25
  • 26. by the European Commission, with three consecutive yearly calls3 – evidence regarding the number of trial participants is not exceptional, even in the best run projects. According to Charalabidis et al. (2009), the average number of users for the first two project “waves” has been about 200. It then comes of no surprise that additionally to the enormous usage gap, a need for rational, overall sense-making presents itself as an even more crucial issue for the very perspectives of this strand of public sector reform. In our view, among the lessons learnt from these Preparatory Actions one is particularly relevant, which refers to what someone (Bicking and Wimmer 2008; Islam 2008) has called long-term sustainability of the undergone trials: namely, the migration from “one-shot” and “built-from-scratch” experiments towards a permanent integration of them into the political arena and the policy making environment. For instance, the MOMENTUM Coordination Action, in commenting on the first two project “waves”, concluded its 2008 White Paper by stressing that “the eParticipation research field would need some coordinated steering, so that the same experiments are not revisited, sometimes overlooking developments in relevant projects. This also involves the synchronised interaction with stakeholders at various levels (local councils, national or European Parliaments), so that a coherent message is conveyed to the decision makers but also to the final users” (Charalabidis et al. 2007). While we are looking forward to this new coordination and partly communication strategy, we observe that a few examples exist – mostly from the UK – where the support of “business case builders” helped local governments decide whether to undertake investments on eParticipation solutions or not4. The results of IDEAL-EU, one of the “second wave” projects referred to earlier5, seem to suggest that a permanent adoption of electronic tools for civic participation by the public sector organisations involved in the testbeds or showcases is more likely to occur when there is a convincing business model showing up financial savings - or at least organisational advantages - in a clear way. 4. Opportunities and Challenges Ahead After having identified the need for institutional as well as social change and singled out what the main causes were that led eGovernment and eParticipation investments to produce disappointing results, one question is left to be addressed: what has social computing to offer to the process of public sector innovation? In other words, how might Web 2.0 contribute to overcome the obstacles encountered so far in order to proceed towards a truly open, transparent and collaborative government? In this section we will attempt to provide a sober and pragmatic assessment of the opportunities offered and the new challenges still waiting along the way. 4.1 Opportunities The user driven nature of Web 2.0 practices can provide significant opportunities to increase the orientation of Government spending towards the creation of real value for the citizenry. By favouring co-creation of public services, social computing enables the citizen to move beyond the status of final user and become an active gear in the process of public sector reform. Quite a few examples of this transformation of user roles may be found in recent surveys such as Osimo (2008) and Punie 3 4 See e.g. the International Centre of Excellence for Local eDemocracy (ICELE), a UK government funded programme that aims to provide best practice advice, support and practical solutions to help local authorities increase national eParticipation rates. For more information: 5 European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 26
  • 27. et al (2009). In addition, the natural orientation of any external observer (and final user) towards the end result of public action rather than the process necessary to obtain it, may help public administration to move away from a vision of eGovernment purely or mostly based on automation of existing procedures. A deeper involvement of the citizenry may also allow tapping into professional skills that are often volunteered for social causes of common interest. Just think of the innumerable communities active on issues of education, health and politics. A further improvement that may be induced by a more intense usage of Web 2.0 is a boost in take up/ participation figures. As a matter of fact, by establishing bridges between social networks and public administration activities, it is possible to easily and cost effectively reach a much wider audience than it would be otherwise. To exemplify, PADGETS (, one of the projects financed in the context of the ICT for Governance and Policy Modeling call of the FP7, will work towards the development of “policy gadgets” that may be used by both policy makers and citizens to establish a communication bridge between social networks and the decision making activity of any given government. The creation of such links will contribute to make the potential outreach offered by the Internet a reality, thanks to the network organization of society and the resonance effect produced by the most active/interested users. Finally, social computing is a formidable tool for collective action coordination and may turn a small piece of local news into an issue of national or international concern in a matter of hours, if not minutes (Shirky, 2008). The ability to influence public opinion represents an important lever to induce changes that sometimes may meet institutional or organizational opposition. As Don Tapscott (2009) said during Malmoe’s Ministerial eGovernment Conference: “Paradigm shifts involve dislocation, conflict, confusion, uncertainty. New paradigms are nearly always received with coolness, even mockery or hostility. Those with vested interests fight the change. The shift demands such a different view of things that established leaders are often last to be won over, if at all”. 4.2 Challenges Despite the interesting opportunities highlighted so far, a significant number of challenges still lie along the way. Collaboration between government agencies, for example, was defined by Bardach (1998) as an “unnatural act committed by non consenting adults”. Social computing takes such complexity to an even higher level, by asking agencies to collaborate not only among themselves but also with unpredictable groups of citizens. The opening up of government practices and data inevitably implies a loss of control that is often viewed with suspicion and fear by civil servants and politicians alike. Only very few committed and inspired civil “champions” are willing to take the risk of (virtually) opening up the doors of their offices and establishing an online discourse with the constituency. Participation, in fact, has rarely gone beyond the “front door” of government boundaries to make its way to internal administrative processes. This is also due to the fact that Web 2.0 practices often imply a high level of labour intensity, which produces organizational resistance wherever an appropriate incentive structure is not present. In certain countries (like Italy for example), social media are merely considered a source of distraction. As a consequence, they are banned from work environments. This restriction to the use of certain social media in a number of public offices surely does not foster a full understanding of how they may be leveraged for delivering value to the citizen. The exploration of new forms of management will thus be necessary in order to investigate how to gradually move from a logic of command and control to another one of connection and collaboration (both internal and external to the public sector organization; Friedman, 2007). European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 27
  • 28. If looked at from a policy perspective, government openness, though desirable and commendable, should have clear boundaries. In other words, it is necessary, yet not easily done, to strike the right balance between openness and control in order to constantly reconcile the presence of conflicts among equally important rights (e.g. access vs. national security or privacy; Galvin 1994). A clear example of this dilemma has been the publication of personal income declarations on a dedicated website of the National Tax Authority in Italy: while some claimed that it was a matter of transparency, others were perplexed for the risk of privacy violation. In fact, this latter interpretation prevailed and the lists were removed after a few hours and their duplication on mirror websites was declared to be a crime. Finally, from a social point of view, the presence of a significant variance in terms of education, civil engagement and IT literacy, poses considerable challenges to the creation of truly inclusive and collaborative governments. Our formulation of the ASCU model (Ferro and Molinari 2009) represented a first attempt to make sense of such social complexity in order to account for it in the design of future strategies for an improved participation. The model identifies four types of individuals: 1. The “Activists”: a small share of the population (in the US, about 13-19% of Internet users according to Forrester Research data, probably less than so in Europe) that spend most of their spare time responding to political calls (including eParticipation experiments) and in creating/ sharing their own agendas by means of personal blogs, wikis etc.; 2. The “Socialisers”: another 19% of Internet users according to Forrester, with likely overlaps to the previous cluster. It is of interest to us because it mostly includes the youngest (“Y” and “Z”) generations, deeply rooted in the multimedia usage concept but on the other hand, with fairly low interest in politics as such. For sure, they tend to create and animate online communities and social networks of peers, but it remains uncertain to which extent they can also be engaged in a constructive interaction with public administration; 3. The “Connected” – from home, and probably more often from their office – who, differently from the previous categories, do not have interest in taking part in any of the Web 2.0 activities, due to lack of time and possibly also concerns about privacy and security of personal data. We speculate that these people are more akin to the characters of society as a whole (e.g. families, businesses, professionals etc.) and that while spending a variable, possible little time on the Internet, they don’t use eGovernment services regularly though, nor do they have time or will to respond to political calls; 4. The “Unplugged”, typically people with low income, poor education, or marginalized status (immigrants, disabled, elderly), or living in isolated locations (rural areas). This category still represents a significant part of the European population, with peaks of 54% in Romania and an average of 40% for the EU27.6 The ASCU model highlights a number of important aspects. First of all, that the process of digital inclusion is still far from reaching a conclusion and that, however, it will not lead to a homogenization of online behaviours. Secondly, that in the distribution of people’s characters the sum of Activists and Socialisers accounts for at best 30-40% of the population. Considering that these categories are the most likely to be responsive to Web 2.0 governmental applications, it becomes evident that social computing may only provide part of the desired solution (by enlarging the potential participatory base), but it will still need to be complemented in order to avoid designing new eGovernment and eParticipation strategies that do not fit the needs of a large portion of the population. 6 Individuals who have never used a computer in their lifetime (2009) – source: Eurostat. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 28
  • 29. 5. From Concept to Strategy. Towards the definition of an evolved Gov 2.0 Approach In this scenario, what we would like to stress is that in the definition of Networked Governance strategies based on Web 2.0 one should look at future developments while bearing in mind the present situation. This, to avoid undertaking initiatives that are inconsistent with the underlying context. In the next table, we focus on three main implementation aspects of what we call an evolved eGovernance approach: • The ICT tools deployed for eGovernment/eParticipation; • The public actions put in place to ensure the widest uptake and social inclusion; • The institutional changes (both at organisational and political level). Target Groups Activists Socialisers Features 1.0 2.0 1.0 2.0 ICT tools for eGovernment Web service Self service Feedback Collaborative Portals Platforms Forums Platforms eParticipation Online Citizens Government Citizens Forums Intelligence Blogs Intelligence Enabling conditions: Access No action No action No action No action Awareness Dissemination Viral mktg Dissemination Viral mktg Skills No action No action No action No action Motivation Ease of Use Co-creation Ease of Use Co-creation Representation No action Direct No action Direct Institutional changes: Organisational Automation Innovation Improvement Quality Political Challenge Crowdsourcing Critique Reputation Target Groups Connected Unplugged Features 1.0 2.0 1.0 2.0 ICT tools for eGovernment Life Events Portals User Centred Multichannel mGovernment ePetitioning Tools Platforms Provision Technologies eParticipation Policy Simulation Town Meetings mParticipation Technologies Enabling conditions: Access No action No action Broadband Mobile gateways Awareness Dissemination Mash-ups Intermediaries Dissemination Skills No action Education No action Education Motivation Customisation Tailoring No action Tailoring Representation By invitation Direct Mediated Direct Institutional changes: Organisational User profiling Critical Mass Multichannel Ubiquitous Gov Political Information Awareness Inclusion Integration Table 1 – Some implementation aspects of an evolved eGovernance approach European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 29
  • 30. 5.1 ICT Tools Considering the tools issue first, the starting point (in a 1.0 logic) can be represented by traditional web service portals for eGovernment and online forums for eParticipation. However, these tools can at best attract those that we called Internet Activists, while the Socialisers - and more generally the Connected people – are hardly being involved through. Following on the 1.0 logic, some dedicated tools have been developed and deployed in recent times, which at least implicitly aspire at taking best care of the complexity of target audiences. These include: • Feedback forums (such as online focus groups) to gather unstructured inputs on the quality of eGovernment services; • Institutional blogs managed by the public sector organisations themselves as a way to open up to political scrutiny of citizens and civic communities; • An evolution of eGovernment portals implying the consideration of Personal Life Events, in order to attract more novice and inexperienced users; • The promotion of ePetitioning, one of the very few eParticipation practices that seems to be gaining a widespread and increasing level of success in a number of European countries. All of the above tools, however, do not push themselves up to the point of becoming inclusive of the digital divide “victims” too. For what we called the Unplugged, multichannel service provision, as well as the role of private/public sector intermediaries, has been the most common answer so far, while the Electronic Town Meeting and similar tools that are disentangled by the logic of numbers look like the most effective eParticipation techniques now available. Related with the Web 2.0 revolution, a number of additional tools have become available to public sector organisations, including: • Self service and collaborative platforms, to meet the expectations and interests of the most active eGovernment users (particularly Socialisers and Activists); • User centred platforms, being a natural evolution of Life Events portals, though most likely not sufficient to enhance the take-up from the Connected people; • Mobile Government/Participation technologies, which we see as a prominent evolution of the concept of multichannel provision, also in light of the incredible worldwide diffusion of cellular phones (now reaching more than 4 billion terminals, more than any other medium ever invented by Man7); • Finally and as a support to all of the above, some emerging tools for citizens intelligence and policy simulation, which can effectively integrate the existing availability of crowdsourcing and evaluation instruments. 5.2 Enabling conditions Following on the second row of the table, the migration from 1.0 to 2.0 also implies a number of changes in the public initiatives that are deemed to be necessary for enhancing take-up and citizens participation. In particular, five main conditions have been identified: • Access 7 Tomi T. Ahonen, European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 30
  • 31. • Awareness • Skills • Motivation • Representation. In terms of Access, the main change should be towards a more extended concept of digital divide, in relation to the Unplugged category, which is not only oriented to bridging the broadband gap within the population, but also to an extension of public services availability to all the people that are at least in possession of a mobile phone. Regarding Awareness, traditional dissemination actions – that the literature on both eGovernment and eParticipation confirms to be essential for an appropriate launch of new ICT infrastructures – should be integrated with specific initiatives on Web 2.0, making use of innovative techniques like viral marketing or tools like mash-ups and other online gadgets to be integrated with social network platforms. On the other hand, traditional dissemination actions are still recommended to approach the (hardly) Connected and particularly the Unplugged, letting them know about the innovative (mobile) gateways eventually put in place in their favour. As far as Skills are concerned, though it may seem odd in a 2.0 logic, we think appropriate to remind of the value that education and training may play with respect to social inclusion for certain categories of individuals (Unplugged). To make an example, in the Tuscan experience of PAAS (Points of Assisted Access to Services), integrating personal support to novice Internet users has been key to ensure a sustainable acquisition of the basic notions enabling them to access the more complex eGovernment services. Once basic ICT literacy is obtained, the issue of skilling will gradually move from knowing how to use technology to having something relevant to say. Concerning Motivation, while the previous approach to user involvement was mostly based on the perceived ease of use of technology and the level of customisation of services, now “co-creation” between government and citizens emerges together with tailoring of existing solutions as a powerful driver of attraction for take-up and participation. As far as users Representation is concerned, an issue that was hardly relevant for Web 1.0 designers, direct (or self-) representation becomes the main and only condition for enabling uptake, also for those social categories – like the Connected and particularly the Unplugged – where this has to be made possible by a combination of awareness raising and educational efforts. 5.3 Institutional changes Finally, the last row of our table deals with the level of institutional change required. Migrating from a 1.0 to a 2.0 logic particularly means to accept a number of organisational challenges, like: • Evolving from automation to innovation in the reform of the underlying public sector processes; • Being unsatisfied with a generic improvement of the current services, to target at a more encompassing concept of perceived quality; • Reaching out a critical mass of online users having multichannel and ubiquitous access to eGovernment services by a variety of means, including mobile technologies. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 31
  • 32. Likewise, the challenges for the political side include: • Considering the blog discussions attended by the most active Internet users not a unilateral source of critique, but a locus for crowdsourcing ideas, contributions and proposals that will be subsequently filtered by the democratic power; • Introducing stable forms of collection, interpretation and follow-up of the political will that is expressed by the citizens that at various title and with various intensity, are populating the Web; • Integrating the socially excluded categories into the political process by means of a heterogeneous set of methods, tools and devices. 6. Conclusions In this paper we have framed and analysed Web 2.0 as one of the steps in the process of public sector innovation. This was an attempt to understand if such socio-technical phenomenon has any relevance to the current process of government reform. In particular, we were interested in understanding how social computing could contribute to the construction of a more open, transparent and collaborative government in Europe. The analysis conducted shows how Web 2.0 provides a number of useful levers that should be adopted to tackle some of the problems encountered in the first wave of Government digitalization, such as: the lack of orientation towards creation of value for the final user, the focus on automation rather than on innovation, and the consequent low levels of take up/participation. At the same time, evidence has been reported as to the persistence of significant obstacles - such as the difficulty to implement interagency collaboration, the high level of social complexity, etc. - as well as the emergence of a number of new challenges that government will have to face in order to fully embrace a Web 2.0 paradigm: the adoption of new forms of management, the balancing of conflicting rights, the integration of participation with internal processes, etc. Therefore, the way forward looks promising yet challenging. It is paramount to learn from the past to avoid repeating similar mistakes. That is to say, we should not interpret the surge in potential demand offered by Web 2.0 as a sufficient condition to make Gov 2.0 practices happen or to solve all take-up related issues. As previously stated, a real process of government reform will not produce any tangible results without taking care of both institutional and societal evolution. What is then to be done by national and local policy makers to foster this process of reform? The answer is not simple to provide and probably no silver bullet is available. In this paper we attempted to make a first step towards the identification of important aspects and activities to be considered in the formulation of national or regional Governance action plans. In particular, three areas of intervention were identified: the adoption of new tools, the creation of enabling conditions and the targeting of institutional change. However, the key lesson that policy makers should take home from the reading of this article is that implementation of a successful Gov 2.0 strategy goes well beyond tinkering with social networks. As a matter of fact, it requires the development of significantly new policy intelligence skills as well as the implementation of articulated public programs that are capable to deal with the complexity and the heterogeneity present among the actors involved in this process (citizens, businesses, government agencies, etc..). Finally, legislative reform can play a decisive role in this context. Most European countries are based European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 32
  • 33. on Roman law systems, where the normative and regulatory framework delimit the do’s and the do not’s of citizens and civil servants alike. We are convinced that the time is ripe for EU national and regional parliaments to undertake more formal steps towards the codification and integration of electronic democracy in the existing legislation. Something similar has been done by an innovative bill passed in 2007 by the Regional Council of Tuscany, yet with a broader focus on participation per se, rather than its digital version. Concluding, although the evidence presented in this article may not be considered as decisive, we are confident that the analysis conducted has allowed putting forward a number of relevant insights that we consider instrumental for a future definition of workable and viable Gov 2.0 strategies. References Andersen, K.V., Henriksen, H.Z., Secher. C., & Medaglia, R., (2007). Costs of e-participation: the management challenges. In: Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 29-43. Arnstein, S., (1969). A Ladder of Citizen Participation. In: Journal of the American Institute of Planners, July. Bardach, E., (1998). Getting Agencies to Work Together: The Practice and Theory of Managerial Craftsmanship, 1998 The Brookings Institution. Bicking, M. & Wimmer, M. (2008). eParticipation Projects Evaluation Methodology. Deliverable 2.5 of the MOMENTUM Coordination Action. European Commission, e-Participation Workprogramme 2007/1, Project No. EP-07-01-004. Retrieved online at tabid/81/Default.aspx. Castro Sardi X. & Mlikota K. (2002). Overview on E-governance. Working Paper prepared in the framework of the ICT cross-cutting project “ICTs as Tools for Improving Local Governance”, UNESCO. Charalabidis, Y. Koussouris, S., & Loukas, K. (2007). Report on the Objectives, Structure and Status of eParticipation Initiative Projects in the European Union, A White Paper of the MOMENTUM Coordination Action (2008). European Commission, e-Participation Workprogramme 2007/1, Project No. EP-07-01- 004. Retrieved online at Charalabidis, Y., Kipenis, L., & Koussouris, S. (2009). E-Participation Projects Consolidated Results, Deliverable 2.7 of the MOMENTUM Coordination Action. European Commission, e-Participation Workprogramme 2007/1, Project No. EP-07-01-004. Retrieved online at http://www.ep-momentum. eu/KnowledgeBase/tabid/81/Default.aspx. Ferro, E., Molinari, F. (2009). Making Sense of Gov 2.0 Strategies: ’No Citizens, No Party’. In Prosser A. and Parycek P. (Eds),. Proceedings of the eDEM2009 Conference, Vienna (Austria). ISBN: 978-3- 85403-251-9. Friedman, T. (2007). The world is flat 3.0: A brief history of the twenty-first century, New York: Picador. Forrester Research (2007). Blog, .html. Galvin, T.J. (1994). Rights in Conflict: Public Policy in an Information Age. In: Alvarez-Ossorio, J.R., European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 33
  • 34. & Goedegebuure, B.R. (EDS.), New Worlds in Information and Documentation. The Hague: Elsevier Science. Islam, M.S. (2008). Towards a sustainable e-Participation Implementation Model. European Journal of ePractice No. 5 - ISSN: 1988-625X. Latour, B. (1997). On Actor Network Theory: a few clarifications. Published in Soziale Welt. Macintosh, A. (2004). Characterizing E-Participation in Policy-Making. In: Proceedings of the 37th IEEE Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. Millard, J. (2009). Everyday Government. 5th Ministerial eGovernment Conference, Malmo, Sweden. Retrievable from: Osimo, D. (2008). Web 2.0 in Government: Why and How? JRC Scientific and Technical Reports. European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Prospective Technological Studies. Retrieved online at: Punie, Y., Misuraca, G., & Osimo, D. (EDS.) (2009). Public Services 2.0: The Impact of Social Computing on Public Services. JRC Scientific and Technical Reports. European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Prospective Technological Studies. Retrieved online at: http://ftp.jrc. es/EURdoc/JRC54203.pdf. Shirky, C. (2008). Here comes everybody: The power of organizing without organizations. Penguin Press Group. Tapscott, D. (2009). Government 2.0: Rethinking Government and Democracy for the Digital Age, 5th Ministerial eGovernment Conference, Malmo, Sweden. Retrievable from: http://www.egov2009. se/2009/11/16/don-tapscott-2. United Nations, (2008). From e-Government to Connected Governance, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Division for Public Administration and Development Management. ST/ESA/PAD/SER. E/112. Verdegem, P. & Verleye, G. (2009). “User-centered E-Government in practice: A comprehensive model for measuring user satisfaction”. In: Government Information Quarterly 26, pp. 487–497. Authors Enrico Ferro Senior researcher ISMB Francesco Molinari Independent consultant European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 34
  • 35. Government 1.5 – is the bottle half full or half empty? Although it draws its name from Web 2.0 technology, Government Jeremy Millard 2.0 is in essence about the idea that government is transforming Danish Technological its fundamental values and modus operandi to reflect and Institute serve the evolving needs of society. Although the technologies are absolutely essential enablers of such transformation, the real issues go deeper and wider than ICT alone. This paper attempts to take a critical look at some of these issues, to Keywords examine the status quo, and to propose some strategies societal values; governance; which should be adopted across Europe. Although tremendous empowerment; smart phones; progress has been made over the last twenty years in applying everyday eGovernment; business ICT to government and public services, there is something of models; open data; trusted third parties a crisis in eGovernment as currently rolled out, for example the flatlining of citizen usage of eGovernment services. Much European eGovernment seems to be stuck in a Government The next step change will 1.0 paradigm. However, there are clear and increasing moves be ‘everyday eGovernment’, towards Government 2.0 with a focus much more on the delivered by an upside-down demand side, on user empowerment and engagement, and business model and fuelled by freely available public in which users and other legitimate stakeholders are invited data….at the same time as more openly into a participative and empowering relationship the dominance of ‘portal’ with government. What will push this change faster will also eGovernment is coming to an be new channels, like the smart GPS-enabled mobile phone, end including for mobile services. The next step change is likely to be ‘everyday eGovernment’ based on everyday technologies. It will also be driven by a completely new upside down business model starting from the needs of citizens, fuelled by freely available government and other data, dependent on multiple actors some of whom may work for free, and which is often small scale and inexpensive. New forms of trust and privacy will need to be developed and institutionalised, but the Government 2.0 bottle is filling fast and will soon be more than half full. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 35
  • 36. 1. A long term change in societal values The notion of Government 2.0 is, at base, about the idea that government is transforming its fundamental values and modus operandi to reflect and serve the evolving needs of society. Any analysis of the current and near-future condition of government must therefore be seen in the context of longer term historical development processes in which societal changes go hand-in- hand with technological progress. Our notions of governance—that is, the structures, roles and relationships governing how society functions, with government as the main but by far from being the only actor—are strongly conditioned by transformations in society’s underlying values. According to Frissen, Huijboom, Millard et al (2007), there have been three major transformations in the last two centuries in Europe, and a fourth seems currently to be underway, as illustrated in Figure 1. In the 18th Century, the foundation of the liberal state as a result of the Enlightenment laid down the rule of law, the separation of powers, property rights, the institutions necessary for capitalism to flourish, and the protection of individuals from the state as well as from each other. In the 19th Century, the establishment of democratic principles, initially driven by the demand of industrialists and entrepreneurs for their share of power, and then driven by labour and women’s movements, culminated in universal adult suffrage in the early 20th Century. In the 20th Century, the welfare state became widely established, as government supported the socio-economic wellbeing of all citizens in areas of health, education, employment, etc., for the first time. This was supported by the new universal democratic franchise, in which both the working class and women had the vote, so their views and needs had to be addressed by political leaders. It was also driven by the emerging mass media, as well as by the more interventionist Keynsian economic policy designed to tackle the problems created by two world wars and the 1930s depression. 4. Empower- ment Values collective and 21st C individual 3. Social values 20th C collective and individual 19th C 2. Democratic values collective and individual 1. Liberal values 18th C collective and individual Figure 1: Changing societal values in Europe and the role of governance Source: Frissen, Huijboom & Millard et al, 2007. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 36
  • 37. Today, in the 21st Century, ‘empowerment’ seems to be the next great societal value in response to the massive increases in information, communication and wealth permeating society. There is a coming together of new information and communication technology (ICT) tools and a widening competence, ability and incentive to actively participate in society. That is, there is now the means for governance to encompass everyone in society, whilst mass empowerment can also extend to all other spheres (social, economic, cultural, etc.) in ways that could transform our notions of democracy, pluralism and citizenship. Many different definitions of ‘empowerment’ exist, but the purpose here is not to review or refine these. However, in the present context the term can cover how citizens, communities, groups and interests in society can themselves be enabled bottom-up to directly further their own as well as collective benefits. The 20th Century welfare state was essentially top-down, paternalistic and bureaucratic. 21st Century empowerment is both a reaction against this and a natural progression. We see its imperative in moves towards respect and accommodation for plurality, diversity, difference and the establishment of countervailing powers. We recognise it in decentralisation, devolution, the break-up of hierarchies, the emerging poly-centric world, a demand for more openness, involvement and influence, and the burgeoning growth of multiple channels and a myriad voices. Political scientists recognise it in tentative moves from 1980s inspired managerialism of New Public Management (Dunleavy 1991) to the more open, networked and collaborative notion of Public Value Management during the early 2000s. (Stoker 2004, and Dunleavy & Margetts 2006) Although reactionary, centralising and authoritarian forces are still powerfully at work, and the role of the market is characterised as either empowering or disempowering depending on political stance, these moves towards greater empowerment do herald a new balance between top-down and bottom-up in favour of the latter. However, strong, although different, top-down functions are still needed, such as new open, looser, more cooperative and pluralistic governance structures, processes and mindsets. (Sachs 2008) These new forces are also reworking and re-interpreting what we mean by protection, democracy and social solidarity from previous societal transformations, as well as extending the new form of governance into completely new areas like service collaboration, personalisation and participative decision and policy making. Within the above context, this paper examines the current status of eGovernment in Europe and concludes that it is still largely mired in a Government 1.0 mode. It then looks at burgeoning evidence of new Government 2.0 developments both within and outside Europe, and concludes that although progress is patchy at best, there are real steps towards realising a more citizen-centric and citizen-driven governance using Web 2.0 tools. This is illustrated by the emergence of new channels, especially smart phones, and new types of bottom-up services typically meeting the everyday needs of citizens rather than the needs of governments, and shows how the end of the dominance of portal eGovernment seems likely. These developments are often underpinned by new ‘upside-down’ business models in which non-government actors take the leading role in service innovation and roll-out. Finally the article provides a number of recommendations as to how Europe can pursue the Government 2.0 transformation, and concludes that this could help push Europe through the Government 1.5 barrier to more effective as well as more efficient eServices in the longer run. 2. The main challenge today: how to make government serve the real needs of society and not itself How is eGovernment specifically responding to these changes? Tremendous progress has been made over the last twenty years, largely in response to the paradigm of New Public Management. This can be measured in the steady growth of the supply-side availability of eGovernment services across all European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 37
  • 38. countries since 2000. For example, full online availability of the basket of 20 eGovernment services increased from 20% in 2001 to 66% in 2009, whilst online sophistication increased from 81% in 2007 to 92% in 2009 (Capgemini, 2009). However there are also issues of profound concern. There is something of a crisis in eGovernment as currently rolled out, for example the flatlining of citizen usage of eGovernment services between 2004 and 2008, as illustrated in Figure 2. Figure 2: European citizens use of the Internet and eGovernment 2004-2008 Source: Millard et al, 2009a, source of data Eurostat 2009. In this timeframe there was an increase of only between 4% to 7% with the 2008 average of 28% for EU15, and between 3% to 4% with the 2008 average of 15% for EU12. There was also a fall in the EU15 average usage between 2007 and 2008 from 32% to 28%. Similar findings concerning both the supply and demand sides of eGovernment have been made by the OECD in its 2009 report on re-thinking eGovernment services, thus demonstrating that these challenges are widespread. (OECD, 2009). The recent McKinsey (2009) report on eGovernment 2.0 also noted “However, despite the continued allocation of enormous resources, progress on the e-government front appears to have plateaued over the past few years.” We currently have what can perhaps be termed as the Government 1.0 paradigm in which take-up is low and initiatives are expensive and often fail (see Box 1). European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 38
  • 39. Box 1: eGovernance 1.0 • Technology: internet portals, web-sites, email, SMS, simple online discussion • ICT in government now mainstream….but – Expensive – Citizen take-up stalling at 20%-30% – Many successes but also many (costly) failures – ‘Black-box’ and government-centric model – Organisations and mindsets hardly changed since before ICT introduced – A ceiling being reached in type and scale of impact? Evidence like this shows that the public sector is facing important challenges and needs to re-think how public services can be oriented towards the creation of public value and user empowerment. There needs to be a strong move towards ensuring that eGovernment serves the needs of society rather than government. Many user surveys show that, although citizens who use the internet also tend to use eGovernment services and find them useful, they typically do so only two or three times per year.1 Such services tend to deliver large scale administrative services designed to make existing government functions work more efficiently and effectively, such as tax and procurement systems, automation of registrations, permits and licenses, etc., rather than really thinking about what citizens need in their everyday lives. It is clear that most current eGovernment services are simply existing services put online which are still basically silo-centric, top-down, with little service innovation, expensive, and with just as many failures as successes. In other words, their main focus remains first and foremost to serve the needs of government. 3. Moves towards Government 2.0 To be fair, this is not the whole picture. There are already many efforts towards transparent and user- centric governance, services which are pro-active, automatic and offer self-service, some attempts at service personalisation, developing personal service pathways, etc. There is also strong recent growth of services developed by local and regional governments, especially in large cities. However, all this is far from being mainstream. A paradigm change to Government 2.0, although now being actively discussed also within many governments, is still some way off (see Box 2). The Government 2.0 paradigm concentrates much more on the demand side, on user empowerment and engagement, benefits and impacts which address specific societal challenges. This is to be achieved by supporting the real transformation of governance arrangements away from silo- and government-centricity towards becoming more user-centric and user-driven. This means ensuring that users and other legitimate stakeholders are invited more openly into a participative and empowering relationship with government in at least three main areas: • service design and delivery • the workings and arrangements of the public sector and public governance more widely • public policy and decision making. 1 For example, from the user surveys Rambøll (2006) and Millard (2006). European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 39
  • 40. Box 2: eGovernance 2.0 • Technology: social networking and social software (active groups form and disperse at zero cost, wikis, blogs, etc.), mobile, mashing up content and services, policy modelling, GRID, cloud and ubiquitous computing, semantic web of data, etc. • Characteristics: – Visible aspects: social, professional and policy networking – Invisible aspects: mashing-up content and services – Services which are (potentially) self-designed, self-created, self-directed – Fully ‘open’ and user-driven governance: contents, services, policies (for those who CAN) – Still user-centric and responsive for those who CAN’T – Engaging, participative and democratic – Open sourced and draws on many partners and inputs – Web-oriented architecture (WOA) approach – Blurring of roles and mandates • BUT, governments very VERY slow -- others taking the lead Emerging technologies could support this development. A few examples are social networking, new generation mobile devices and services, geographical localisation tools, crowd-sourcing, modelling and visualisation, semantic web, the web of things, cloud computing, etc. These approaches could empower users to become more involved in designing, delivering and personalising services which they themselves consume. But this will also require back-office changes and more open, engaging and porous forms of governance which permit a plurality of stakeholders, intermediaries and channels in the service value chain. Some of this is starting to happen but remains on a small scale. Often leading the way, however, is not the government or public administration but civil society organisations and social entrepreneurs. Such services start from asking the question what do citizens need from public services to make their lives better, i.e. how can the service improve the daily life of citizens where they live and work. One archetypal example is the FixMyStreet service2 in the UK designed and run by the mySociety3 civil society organisation staffed by volunteers. This service allows any citizen to report any problems in their street or neighbourhood ranging from broken street lights or paving, abandoned vehicles or rubbish, graffiti, etc. The citizen does not need to know which authority is responsible as the site automatically passes the complaint to the correct department and then traces and tracks its progress on behalf of the citizen until the problem is solved. To do this, mySociety had to obtained relevant public sector information and data about authorities’ roles and procedures, contact points, etc. Many of these data were already in the public domain, although not all, but were widely scattered and not easily accessible digitally. The value added which mySociety brought was to gather dispersed data, ‘mash’ them together in appropriate ways, and to visualise and map them in an easy to use format for citizens. They had to reach across administrative silos, something perhaps difficult for the public sector to do itself. 2 FixMyStreet, “built by mySociety using some clever code”: 3 European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 40
  • 41. 4. Not just new types of service but also new channels: the smart phone revolution Many of the early innovative citizen oriented services, like FixMyStreet launched in 2007, have been designed as web portals for PCs connected to the Internet.4 However, many citizens in Europe, and especially in the newer Member States where traditional fixed infrastructures are not so well developed as in western and northern Europe, still do not have easy or regular access to these technologies. And even if they do, they may not be available where and when needed, especially when moving around. People are instead turning to mobile phones, especially smart and G3 enabled, for much of their communication to satisfy their everyday personal and commercial needs. Mobile is arguably best placed to meet this demand now that bandwidths are rapidly increasing and becoming widely available and affordable. This is a situation that is likely to accelerate in the future because of the release of spectrum as countries switch from analogue to digital broadcasting as part of the so-called ‘digital dividend’. This switch over, and the vastly improved capacities it represents, is also likely to re-focus attention on the potential of digital TV as another universal everyday medium. There is thus an explosive growth of mServices directed at these new mobile devices, exploiting the fact that mobile is universal, from anywhere at any time in real time, highly flexible and highly personal. The number of people with access to mobile technology, especially smart phones, is increasing exponentially. In many developing countries, without large scale fixed infrastructures, mobile phones are the only practical platform for services. According to Kushchu (2007) there are a number of specific characteristics of mGovernment which make it important for government services: • More convenient accessibility and availability (power of pull): - always on - carried around everywhere, thus can provide instant information and response • Better precision and personalisation in targeting users and delivering content (power of push): - mobile devices are used mainly by single individuals (although can also be shared for example in a family or local community) - this increases the acceptance, adoption and usage of online government • Larger and wider user base compared to wired services (power of reach). But what is the impact of these developments and this potential on European public services? In reality, virtually non-existent. 5. The next step change – everyday eGovernment based on everyday technologies 5.1. Location-based everyday services This is the author’s prediction. Location-based services will become the norm. eGovernment using multiple channels, intermediaries and adapted value chains will empower communities and localities by promoting subsidiarity at local and neighbourhood level. This will leverage local resources, know- 4 Note that FixMyStreet is also now available for mobile phones as an iPhone app written by MySociety from the App Store in iTunes. There is also an Android app written by a volunteer, Anna Powell-Smith, available from the Android Market. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 41
  • 42. how and skills for developing new forms of advocacy, support and social capital, which can both strengthen diverse cultures and interests as well as bridge between them. This will see the arrival of ‘everyday eGovernment’ in which government and public sector services are all around us and used constantly. For example in health, education, care, transport, infrastructures, utilities, parking, accidents, clean and safe environments, congestion and pollution watch, culture, amenities, leisure, sports, security, crime watch, weather, participation, engagement, etc. Many eGovernment services have become more locally oriented in recent years where they seem to be having their biggest impacts, often in cooperation with local civil society and private sector actors. The focus on geographical localisation and place-related services will expand even more over the next five years, particularly in the context of ‘localised modularisation’ which is already successfully used by commercial services in delivering big cost reductions and quality improvements. The impact of GPS will make it into a true ‘peoples’ technology’ built into everyday mobile devices and providing precise locations and navigation support for all services and activities. This will include surfing government sites, accessing and creating information, sending and receiving messages from governments, mashing your own ‘public’ services, taking, sending and receiving pictures and video, as well as traditional voice services. Local services will also be developed in real-time to handle both routine and non-routine tasks, including emergencies, dependent on where the user is located. This will include location-based participation, for example helping to re-design the park you’re walking in, or the hospital organisation which kept you waiting and you think you have a solution, so that a location or an event creates the opportunity for services, content and dialogue. Other possibilities are imaginable if governments also start to join up their activities and share data in appropriate ways through ubiquitous sensing and data collection in order to develop unobtrusive systems which support, assist and delight citizens in highly personalised ways. For example5, hazard checking systems which analyse whether a given action (such as imposing a speeding fine) if taken straightaway in a specific context for a specific person would harm or inconvenience them. If so, the system may delay, omit or modify the action. Similarly, benefit checking applications would analyse whether a given action in a specific context for a specific person would help or delight them. For example displaying locality information about crime, air pollution or congestion for citizens to select where, when and how they move around. If so, the system may offer, implement or accelerate the action. In both cases, the system will learn from each action in each situation. 5.2. The end of the dominance of portal eGovernment Concurrent with these developments, it seems that the end of the dominance of ‘portal’ eGovernment is close. One reason is the rapid growth of mobile interactive government, but this is only part of the story. Portals are important and are likely to remain so especially for large scale, top down ‘administrative’ services, for example through the ‘one-stop-shop’ concept. For example, in the UK the portal acts as a gateway to all public services and has often been praised as world class. However, citizen use has been disappointingly low,6 and this is reflected in many other main eGovernment portals across Europe.7 Moreover, one source even contends that the use of the $60m portal is less than for an application for finding services which only cost $100.8 5 Michael Witbrock, Cycorp Inc., contribution to the European Commission’s consultation on ‘ICT for governance and policy modeling’, 2 February 2010. 6 Author’s interview with William Perrin, Transformational Government Unit, UK Cabinet Office, London, 5 June 2008. 7 Cited at the ‘i2010 eGovernment Action Plan Progress Study (SMART 2008/0042)’ workshop, 16 June 2009, Brussels, hosted by FG INFSO, European Commission. 8 19-2-10. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 42
  • 43. This application itself even claims: “ is the result of a small effort by members of the Collective. We got so fed up with the general uselessness of the multi- million pound shambles otherwise known as the portal, that we decided to build something better in under an hour. Sadly, we ran catastrophically behind schedule, but we still finished before lunch. For free. Think of it as a gift. When it comes to searching for relevant UK Government resources, we think it beats hands down. Don’t believe us? Just compare the two.” Whether or not this is a fair comparison, it is the case that the concept of eGovernment portals is now being questioned as they have failed to entice citizens to use online public services in significant numbers. Some countries are moving away from the portal concept to multi-channel service delivery methods that offer the citizens direct access to local services, simplifying the services and reducing the time taken to carry through a service request by eliminating the number of steps needed to complete a transaction. Such moves illustrate the ‘no-wrong-door’ approach providing direct service access wherever the citizen might be on the internet. In a recent unpublished survey undertaken by the author, experts and practitioners cited a number of reasons why the dominance of portals is coming to an end: “Why go to a portal first when I am already somewhere else on the web? I want to go direct to the service I need.” “Everything (services, applications, platforms, infrastructure) is – or will be – in the cloud anyway as a ‘service’, so just use Google or other search engines to find what you need.” “Do we hang on to grandiose portals because they are a showcase – just like an imposing town hall – but what do they really do for all that money?” 5.3. eGovernment and eParticipation apps If we look instead at what people are using in their everyday lives, there is already massive growth in mobile, smart and ‘augmented reality’ ‘apps’ for personal and commercial purposes often offered for highly specific uses on local scales. However, so-called mGovernment is still very much in its infancy. For example, only a tiny fraction of the iPhone’s 100,000 apps are related to ‘public services’, although there is some small start to public service and democracy apps particularly in the USA. There is, as yet little focus in Europe on this huge potential.9 These developments are likely to be driven by the rapid transformation of the ‘net’ generation into responsible adults needing public services and demanding the same quality and flexibility they receive from other providers. According to a recent CNN report:10 “A host of larger U.S. cities from San Francisco to New York have quietly been releasing treasure troves of public data to web and mobile application developers. That may sound dull. But tech geeks transform banal local government spreadsheets about train schedules, complaint systems, potholes, street lamp repairs and city garbage into useful applications for mobile phones and the Web. “Instead of people saying, ‘Well, it’s the government’s job to fix that’ ... people are taking ownership and saying, ‘Hey, wait a minute. Government is us. We are government. So let’s take a responsibility and start changing things ourselves.’ ” According to the CNN report, these sorts of apps tend to be created only in places where the municipal government has released its data sets in a format that can be easily crunched. The public data is the fuel that makes these applications work. So far, local governments releasing their data sets are usually large and fairly tech savvy, such as San Francisco, Washington and New York. San Francisco is, however, also working with others to develop a national standard for municipal government data 9 Mobile eGovernment services are starting to appear in Europe but do not yet feature in most authorities strategic plans. The main exception appears to be in the UK (e.g. “Directgov on your mobile”: Hl1/Help/YourQuestions/DG_069492). 10 28 December 2009: European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 43
  • 44. sets and the programs that make them useful. That way, an app that tracks rubbish in San Francisco could be used by people in any town or city, as long as the local authority’s public data is posted online in the right format. This could enable cities without big tech communities to benefit from the trend. Brian Purchia, spokesman for the San Francisco mayor’s office, said “For some cities and for some governments I could understand that transition can be a scary thing….but we feel like it makes governments more accountable, and it makes them function better…..what I really see is a monumental change for how government works. This is just really the starting point.” There are, however, also interesting examples elsewhere, like in London, UK, where Lewisham’s ‘love clean streets’ initiative enables residents to use mobile phones to upload photos of junk, graffiti, vandalism or any other problem on the streets.11 This provides both evidence and better information about the problems citizens wish to report to the local authority by using a Windows mobile device, an iPhone or accompanying an MNS message. The smart phones capture the GPS coordinates together with the image, and can directly route these to the municipality’s street cleaning teams using their own mobile devices on the streets to adjust their work schedules. Once the problem is fixed, the street team takes and uploads photos of the completed work, which can also be emailed back to the original complainant, who can also be alerted by SMS or RSS feed. The new innovation here is that staff can directly integrate data and evidence from citizens into their work scheduling, which is one step on from simply enabling citizens to send in information on problems to a civil servant sitting in an office. The frontline staff are also allowed to use the mobile devices for their own personal use, thereby providing an incentive for them to adopt the technology and the new way of working, and this starts to blur the boundary between the personal and professional use of such tools. Interestingly, the project is sharing ideas with authorities in Jamaica, as it is also ideal for locations with poor fixed ICT infrastructures but large numbers of people with mobile phones, as in many developing countries. An important premise in many, though not all, of these initiatives is that tech communities are better able to make government data useful than the governments themselves. For example, in 2009 the ‘Apps for Democracy’ competition in Washington DC awarded $20,000 in prizes for developers and yielded 47 web, iPhone and Facebook apps in 30 days with a value to the city of $2,300,000.12 Peter Corbett, CEO for iStrategyLabs and organiser of the competition said “I think the government realises that they don’t have all of the money to do things people want them to do…… government forgot that the biggest asset that they have are actual citizens… [and] many developers work free..” Also in 2009, the UK’s Power of Information Taskforce ran competitions entitled ‘Show us a better way – what would you create with public information?’ and offered a £20,000 prize fund to develop the best ideas. More recently in 2010, Victoria in Australia has launched an apps contest for government, and the UK announced a new online government apps store. 6. New business models for eGovernment services What about Europe? Even though Europe, with some examples mentioned earlier, is starting to embrace the smart phone potential for eGovernment, progress is very slow and clearly lagging the USA. Does Europe suffer too much from its long history of well-embedded public sector structures and institutions, not to mention mindsets, which make it hard to change? Notice some quite specific innovation trends in the examples cited which point to a completely new 11 h t t p : / / w w w. l e w i s h a m . g o v. u k / N e w s A n d E v e n t s / N e w s / L o v e C l e a n S t r e e t s C l e a n s U p . h t m ? w b c _ purpose=Basic&WBCMODE=Pr; 12 (accessed 28 November 2009) European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 44
  • 45. upside-down business model: 1. Start from the needs of the citizen rather than the needs of the government – what is needed in their everyday lives. A good way to do this is to get citizens involved, or at least the people or organisations closest to them who do not have conflicting motives (as the private sector, and even government itself, sometimes has). “Government forgot that the biggest asset that they have are actual citizens.” 2. The re-use of existing public sector information (PSI), some of which is already available but which is often spread across different authorities and databases and not in machine-readable format. Public data is the fuel that makes these applications work. 3. The organisations best placed to do this, or at least initiate the process, tend to be non-profit and non-public sector, often though not always at local level, although they do need to work with public authorities. 4. This is largely a bottom-up, rather ad-hoc process which exploits creative talent, initiative and enthusiasm from outside government – clearly, there is always more relevant talent outside any organisation than inside it. However, governments and the public sector must enable and accept it, rather than attempting to block it which often happens. “…. many developers work free”. 5. It leads to much greater transparency, responsibility, innovation, more engaged citizens and better services. “Government is us. We are government. So let’s take a responsibility and start changing things ourselves.” A recent report on the impact of Web 2.0, social networking and collaborative service production also pointed to new business models for eGovernment, very similar to the above, which involve much less finance, have much shorter development cycles, and involve a whole range of different stakeholders from the start, including the end users. They are often more experimental and may ‘fail’ as often as large scale government projects, but because of their cheapness and smallness can be quickly corrected. (Osimo et al 2009) There are some caveats of course. Such business models can dramatically complement existing models but not replace them, at least in the short term. Clearly, services which serve the needs of government are also necessary as long as they make governments more efficient at doing what we want them to do, including collect taxes (yes). This is obviously also in citizens’ long-term interests. Similarly, not all citizens will or can be involved in the ways described, nor use smart phones let alone the traditional PC and the internet. Government must continue to take social and digital divides extremely seriously. Further, many services, including those serving the direct needs of citizens, are not conducive to electronic or mobile application, although most services can be improved by the judicious use of ICT, but will continue to require human contact and intervention if quality and public value impact are to be maintained. 7. What else is needed to push the Government 2.0 transformation? There are at least four strategies which could help European eGovernment better realise the benefits of Government 2.0. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 45
  • 46. 7.1. Free our data Use the data already out there and make it freely available to all. Unlike the USA, Europe has been very slow to date to release government data for use by the civil and private sectors, social entrepreneurs as well as volunteers – in fact anybody – to develop new services, new platforms and new ideas for mobile apps, web services, etc. However, in the last week of January 2010, the UK launched a new website13 (see Figure 3). Figure 3: UK Government ‘Unlocking innovation’ website The UK site has already been hailed by a respected commentator14 as setting the ‘gold standard’ for such initiatives, despite coming a year after the US government launched the world’s first such site ( The latter, although pioneering, has also been described as “incomplete, hard to use, and leaves many unanswered questions about the data and what they represent. It currently hosts a variety of data sets, presumably the best managed and documented ones, but the quality of the metadata varies substantially and the underlying contextual and user-oriented information about the data reflects each agency’s previous choices about what and how to provide it.”15 The race is on to improve on this, and Australia and other countries are poised to join in. A boom in bottom- up apps and service innovation for public services can perhaps be expected. Some ground rules need to be put in place. Data sets should be available by default in machine- readable format, normally in aggregated form so that individuals cannot be identified. 13 (accessed 2 February 2010) 14 The UK Guardian newspaper, Technology Weekly, 26 January 2010. 15 Sharon Dawes, Center for Technology in Government, University at Albany, USA, contribution to the European Commission’s consultation on ‘ICT for governance and policy modeling’, 19 January 2010. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 46
  • 47. Commercial, private and citizen data and identities need to be respected according to legal requirements and existing regulations. It is also necessary to ensure that public sector staff and political representatives retain a confidential non-public space for discussion and advice at the earliest stages of policy debate, thereby not undermining creative and new thinking. However, discussion and advice which specifically form the basis for agenda-setting or policy proposals should be made transparent. There are also other legitimate sources of data which could be accessed, such as from ISPs and mobile phone operators, and from civil society generated data. Individual citizen data could be used, for example by monitoring the buzz from social networking and twitter using web crawlers, as well as using data directly sourced from citizens in specific situations as during emergencies like wild fires. Other suggestions include public data from so-called ‘operational technologies’ like utilities, traffic flows and lights, security cameras, etc.16 The overriding criterion in each case is that the data need to be in the public domain and treated in a form which does not identify individuals, unless in their own or the public interest. Further developments in Internet technology will further push the possibilities of using freed-up data in innovative ways to create new services. According to Wendy Hall of Southampton University, UK, we are on the verge of entering the age of the semantic web which exploits the internet of data rather than the internet of documents we now have.17 This is being based on a new RDF (Resource Description Framework) standard for metadata in the same way as document standards currently use html or xml. This will enable intelligent uses of the internet like asking questions rather than simply searching for key words, as well as more automatic data exchanges between databases, data mining, etc. Digital governance ecosystems (Millard & Horlings, 2008) can be envisaged linking government and other partner organisations with citizen data to learn good practice lessons, develop new services and undertaken evidence based and policy modelling.18 Some interesting early initiatives in this area include the Electronic Service Delivery (ESD) toolkit for evidence-based improvements of locally delivered services in the UK public sector.19 ESD is a hosted, secure, online resource that enables all local authorities to record their public facing services against a comprehensive list of services, processes and interactions, and to compare and monitor them against the characteristics and performance of other participating local authorities based on shared metadata standards. 7.2. Empower the civil servant Second, the civil servant needs to be empowered. Applications should be developed which enable public sector staff, many of whom are frontline professionals, to themselves contribute to the development of new services and policies through direct access to data and tools. Many civil servants see the real time performance and impact of public services on citizens, and would be able to generate appropriate data and other inputs which could improve lived service experience if they were given the data, tools and incentives to do so, for example by being enabled to participate in a professional capacity in citizens’ social networks to offer advice and knowledge.20 Moreover, many civil servants also see a blurring of their personal and professional lives in terms of the tools they 16 28 and 21-12-09. 17 18 pdf 19 20 As being enabled in the UK. Author’s interview with William Perrin, Transformational Government Unit, UK Cabinet Office, London, 5 June 2008. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 47
  • 48. use,21 which could improve both through the two-way exchange of experience and skills. Sensible structures will be needed to ensure that civil servants empowered in this way are also able to retain impartiality and a position of trust both from the government itself as well as from citizen users. 7.3. Establish trusted third parties Third, neutral trusted third parties may be needed to stand between governments and data providers on the one hand and citizens on the other, and to ensure that the interests and rights of all stakeholders are fairly upheld. Such third parties could be commercial, civil or even arms-length government agencies, but need to be legally and operationally independent and seen to be so. They might advantageously perform some of the following tasks (Millard et al 2009b): • Act as a ‘champion’ and ‘watchdog’ for citizens in relation to using data and engaging in policy and decision making, thus act as a sort of ‘ombudsman’ for citizens vis à vis the government. • Agree and publicise a citizen charter of rights and responsibilities for citizens in using public data and in public engagement, building on what is there already (such as relevant provisions in the Lisbon Treaty), and open these to debate and amendment by citizens. • Identify and implement frameworks for real motivation, incentives and rewards for citizen engagement in service design and policy participation. • Continuously monitor the potential risks and inform citizens about these, as well as offer possible solutions and assistance. • Provide both pro-active and passive moderation on Web 2.0 media, as well as help frame debates in a neutral and balanced way, if requested and appropriate. • Monitor and uphold citizens’ privacy and data protection rights vis à vis governments and other interests. This would include preventing the mis-use of personal data whether provided consciously by citizens or collected automatically during service use. • Ensure that all ‘public’ services, whoever provides them, identify the provenance of all data and other sources used, whilst complying with other open source requirements concerning relevant ownership and liability. This should also include monitoring and referral functions to ensure that any service developed for public use lives up to agreed standards of accuracy, quality and the ‘public good’. • Despite the immense potential benefits of releasing all types of public data, there is a danger of data overload and data mis-use. Data, like statistics, can be seriously corrupted to mean anything anybody wishes. A trusted third party should monitor and provide neutral and transparent guidance as well as intervention on such issues. It is important to put in place safeguards like these to ensure that governments or any actor do not inappropriately manipulate other actors. This will also be facilitated by ensuring that public data and processes are open and transparent, as this balances power across all actors and mitigates misuse and corruption. 21 28 and 29-1-10. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 48
  • 49. 7.4. Move to conformable security Fourth, of utmost importance and related to the above, governments as well as other actors must avoid the misuse of data and the charge of manipulating citizens to their own ends. Issues of privacy, data protection, accountability and trust are paramount. Well functioning and ubiquitous interoperability and identity and/or authentication systems are necessary. Security in the public service space will require solutions which are probably very different from those of current systems which are predicated on relatively stable, well-defined, consistent configurations, contexts, and participants. New models will instead be characterised by ‘conformable’ security, in which the degree and nature of security associated with any particular type of action will change over time, with changing circumstances, changing actors and with changing available information. Here, users’ agents will negotiate a unique security agreement for the precise conditions and context pertaining. 7.5. Postscript ICT has already become mainstream in any public sector or government activity, whether making administrative processes more efficient or providing more effective services for citizens and businesses. Over the next five years Government 2.0 tools will become even more intensely embedded and integrated into all aspects of governance and daily life, indistinguishable in practice from other tools and channels and often hidden from sight. The historical lesson is that coordinated action across society and government is required for successful transition to new governance forms like Government 2.0. Governments clearly need to be the prime actors for developing governance policies, structures and institutions which support and incentivise the private and civil sectors, as well as users, to exploit the socio-economic benefits of the new technology paradigm. But they cannot do this alone. Whether the Government 2.0 bottle is half full or half empty probably depends on personal predilections. It’s certainly getting filled up but perhaps too slowly for some. However, given the issues and challenges involved, Europe’s long governance history and the need to match change with public understanding and acceptance, the Government 2.0 bottle is filling fast and will soon be more than half full. References Capgemini (2009). Smarter, faster, better eGovernment, 8th Benchmark Measurement for the European Commission, DG INFSO, November 2009. Dunleavy, P. (1991). Democracy, bureaucracy and public choice. (Pearson Education) Dunleavy, P., Margetts, H. et al (2006). New public management is dead: long live digital era governance, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, July. Frissen, V., Huijboom, N., Millard, J., et al (2007). The future of eGovernment: an exploration of ICT-driven models of eGovernment for the EU in 2020, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Prospective Technological Studies: Kushchu, I. (2007). Mobile Government: An Emerging Direction in E-Government, IGI Publishing, Hershey PA, USA. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 49
  • 50. McKinsey (2009). E-government 2.0, number 4, summer 2009 edition of McKinsey on Government, retrieved 8 December 2009 from: government_20_2408. Millard, J. (2006). Evidence-based support for the design and delivery of user-centred online public services, eUser project for the European Commission IST 6th Framework Programme: http://www. Millard, J, Horlings E (2008). ‘Research report on value for citizens: a vision of public governance in 2020’, for the European Commission eGovernment Unit, DG INFSO: society/activities/egovernment/studies/docs/research_report_on_value_for_citizens.pdf. Millard. J., et al (2009a). Millard J, Shahin J, Pedersen K, Huijboom N, van den Broek T (2009) “I2010 eGovernment Action Plan Progress Study: Final Report”, for the ICT for Government and Public Services Unit, European Commission, November 2009: Millard, J. (2009b). European eParticipation, summary report, prepared for the ICT for Government and Public Services Unit, European Commission, November 2009: php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=36&&Itemid=82. OECD (2009). Rethinking e-Government Services: User-Centred Approaches, Paris, October 2009. Osimo. D., Campbell, D., Kerr-Stevens. J., Bishop, C., Bryant, L. (2009). Public services 2.0: Web 2.0 from the periphery to the centre of public service delivery, report from ePractice workshop: http:// Rambøll Management (2006). Top of the web: user satisfaction and usage survey of eGovernment services, prepared for the European Commission eGovernment Unit, Brussels. Sachs, J.D. (2008). Common wealth: economics for a crowded planet, Allen Lane Penguin Press, London. Stoker, G. (2004). Public Value Management – a new narrative for networked governance?, American Review of Public Administration, 36 (1) 41-57. Authors Jeremy Millard Senior Consultant Danish Technological Institute European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 50
  • 51. ICT in politics: from peaks of inflated expectations to voids of disillusionment Today, most European democracies are experiencing a decline Alina Ostling of confidence in traditional structures of policy formation and European University low voter turnout. In a climate of growing dissatisfaction with Institute, governments and politics, both citizens and policy-makers Department of have realised the potential of electronic (e-) democracy for Political and Social Sciences enhancing efficiency, approval and legitimacy of political processes. eParticipation is generally promoted rather uncritically. However, digital technologies do not “save us Keywords from ourselves” (Barber 1999) but work merely as amplifiers ICT, politics, eParticipation, public participation, deliberation of existing political trends. They could even be creating new democratic problems or exacerbating old ones. It is probably to early to spot the full effects of eParticipation since new ICT do not change political technologies show their actual effects only when some time processes by their mere has elapsed after their introduction. At present, the rapid flow existence but rather function of new digital tools is causing peaks of inflated expectations as amplifiers of the existing and voids of disillusionment, while the perennial problems of political trends democracy remain unresolved. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 51
  • 52. 1. Proliferation of eParticipation Today, most European democracies are experiencing a decline of confidence in traditional structures of policy formation and low voter turnout (Fung et al. 2003; Pharr and Putnam 2000; Saward 2000). Citizens’ dissatisfaction is growing and all indicators of citizens’ trust in political institutions demonstrate a striking decrease (Morlino 2009; Rosanvallon 2008). Almost 40 percent of the Europeans are frustrated with how democracy works in their own countries, while the political actors seem less and less able to act according to citizens’ needs and interests (Eurobarometer 2007; Pharr and Putnam 2000). A stream of the academic debate even asserts that representative government has turned into a sort of oligarchy - a self-perpetuating elite that governs passive citizens or spectators, who have been excluded from public life (Arendt 1965 in Pitkin 2004). Yet, the expansion of alternative forms of democratic activity, such as participation in demonstrations, involvement in associations and signing of petitions, suggests that citizenship is transformed rather than weakened (Rosanvallon 2008). People might simply have lost interest in traditional forms of participation and require closer, more direct and deliberative forms of communication with their representatives (Åström and Granberg 2009). It is no longer enough for citizens to vote from time to time. They do not simply accept government or media authority but demand meaningful interaction, where their views and interests are considered in a more concrete and coherent way (Flew 2008; Rosanvallon 2008). In this setting, information and communication technologies (ICT) are offering new ways for participation by allowing citizens both to use and produce media in an easy and low-cost fashion (Deuze 2006 in Flew 2008). They have emerged as a potential remedy to the democratic deficit in Europe (Petersson 1996 in Åström 1999). ICT are claimed to develop new, dynamic forms of democracy, mainly by functioning as horizontal communication channels that allow multi-actor discussions, as well as one-to one dialogue (Castells 2001; Glencross 2007). Digital tools arguably enable political participation and foster a more egalitarian form of citizenship, which in turn can broaden and deepen democracy (Flew 2008). In today’s wired world, citizens are able to easily connect with politicians and each other, and obtain a large variety of information to make informed decisions about a wide range of issues. People use the Internet to enlarge their horizons and test their views by discovering alternatives, thus cultivating their citizenship (Sunstein 2007). The more optimistic scholars argue that ICT promote political knowledge, interest, discussion and voting (Krueger 2002, Bimber 2003, Tolbert and McNeal 2003 in Mossberger et al. 2008). Fung claims that many participatory practices are already more effective than the traditional configuration of elected representatives and public administration, and that they produce more impartial and equitable outcomes (Fung 2004 in EIPP 2009). A proliferation of various participatory innovations is taking place, not least on the Internet (Davies and Gangadharan 2009; Papadopoulos and Warin 2007). Both citizens and governments have realised the potential of participatory tools for enhancing efficiency, approval and legitimacy of political processes (Sanford and Rose 2007). ICT-supported participation of citizens in governance and policy- making processes – i.e. eParticipation - is considered to have a great potential for improving the relation between policy-makers and citizens, and is generally promoted rather uncritically (Avdic et al. 2007; Ekelin 2007). It has quickly become a prominent issue on the European policy agenda. Not accidentally, European Commission has embraced online consultations as a standard participation tool in less than a decade: they have grown from only 9 consultations in 2000 to 99 in 2007 (Hüller and Quittkat 2009). On the whole, the spread of eParticipation projects in Europe is illustrated by a recent survey that identified 255 fully operational (i.e. not pilot/research projects) eParticipation initiatives originating from 23 different countries and being offered in more than 33 languages (Panopoulou et al. 2009). European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 52
  • 53. 2. ICT as an amplifier of existing political trends The eParticipation trend challenges the traditional understanding of political participation. But how does eParticipation change existing democratic practices? Historically, new technologies rather reflect the society in which they develop, than shape and determine the society. “The technology does not save us from ourselves; it mirrors our reflection” (Barber 1999, p. 14). In fact, the cautious commentators assert that ICT do not change political processes by their mere existence but rather function as amplifiers of the existing political trends (Hagen in van Dijk and Hacker 2000). Hence, they will not automatically promote new forms of democracy (Margolis and Resnick 2000 in Mossberger et al. 2008). As of today, new digital technologies have not brought about any significant change of representative democracy (Davies 2009). eParticipation has been much debated and experimented in many different settings but has showed little concrete success and only rarely impact on decision-making (Chadwick 2006; UN 2005; Wojcik 2007). Few eParticipation initiatives can claim to have drastically changed relations between citizens and decision-makers (Grönlund 2003). Politicians and bureaucrats might be interested in maintaining the status quo in fear of loosing control and power. Moreover, truly deliberative initiatives are also costly, both in terms of financial and human resources (Involve 2005). There are also concerns about who should be held accountable when (a minority of) citizens impact on policy. eParticipation projects do not necessary lead to outputs that are advantageous to the public interest, while lay participants do not have any formal responsibility for the policy outcome, which they helped to shape (Lave and Wenger 1991 in Ekelin 2007a). The fact remains that eParticipation initiatives tend to face resistance and therefore lack results, at least in the short-term (Chadwick 2009; Grönlund 2003). One of the darker scenarios for the future is that the existing power systems will persist, while authoritarian political control and privatisation of knowledge will grow both on- and offline (Rodota 1997, and Freschi and Leonardi 1998 in Balocchi et al. 2008). 3. Active citizens in a detached and lonely room If we turn to look at eParticipation from citizens’ perspective, an even greater barrier to successful online participation is that most citizens might be disengaged from politics to such an extent and for reasons that no ICT will be able to change (Coglianese 2007). Hibbing and Theiss-Morse’s (2002) influential book about stealth democracy goes as far as suggesting that most people repudiate participatory forms of democracy. Neblo et al. (2009) argue against this claim by showing that people who are less inclined to participate in more traditional political practices, such as voting, attending a demonstration or donating to lobbying organisations, are actually the ones who are most interested in deliberative (e-) participation. This is explained by the innovative flair of deliberation with respect to traditional political participation such as voting. In fact, Rosanvallon (2008) argues that the notion of the passive citizen is an illusion. Even if electoral democracy has faded, there has been a general move towards increased public debate and citizen engagement in the process of governing. Citizens are investing their energy into unconventional types of democratic expression, participation and action. A clear example of how active citizens can be is the Open for Questions programme launched by the White House in 2009. This programme, which encouraged the public to ask questions via text or video and to vote on the best questions to ask the U.S. president, attracted more than 90,000 people who cast over 3.6 million votes within just few days (Stanton 2009). And there are scholars who argue that citizens would deliberate even more if they were encouraged to do so (Cook et al 2007 in Neblo et al. 2009). Not all citizens have something to say about everything but most will have a strong opinion about a few topics of their interest. In these instances, digital European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 53
  • 54. tools lower the costs for voicing opinion. New technologies also carry considerable risks insofar as they could actually weaken democracy through their characteristics of speed, simplicity, aloneness and segmentation (Barber 1984). They make it easy for citizens to register their short-term, as opposed to pondered, opinions and pressure governments to respond (Davis and Owen 1998 in van van Dijk and Hacker 2000; Sunstein 2007). ICT could also be creating new democratic problems, or exacerbating old ones by increasing the potential for elite manipulation and inequalities of power instead of diminishing those (Barber 1984). Participatory arrangements in general, not only the online ones, are criticised as lacking representativeness. There is always a risk that an active minority impacts far beyond their number. A stream of scholars predicts the surge of a ‘technopopulism’, whereby the loudest, best resourced and the most confident voices of the public dominate the debate. In fact, eParticipation initiatives attract the wealthy and the well-educated in disproportionate way (Norris 1999 and 2000). To some extent, this is contradicted by recent findings that show that youth, racial minorities and lower income people are significantly more interested in and willing to deliberate than other groups, at least in theory (Neblo et al. 2009). An American Internet study expects the long-standing patterns based on socio-economic status soon to be altered by the growing participation of the less well-off and well-educated in blogs and social networking (Pew Internet and American Life Project 2009). Another peril of digital technologies is their tendency to divide and isolate people. This is primarily due to the way these technologies work: we sit in front of monitors alone and socialise with the outside world only virtually. Participation in political life takes place in a detached and lonely room – while decision-making should in theory be open and public. Lonely web surfers tend to connect with people with same hobbies, similar identities and same political views. In fact, most of the virtual communities seem to be narrowly defined interest groups (Barber 1999). In the future, this online balkanisation of opinions and fragmentation of citizens into self-interested groups only speaking to themselves might deepen even further (Bittle et al. 2009; Sunstein 2007). Discussion often strengthens opposition between groups and individuals, rather than leads to the adoption of a conciliatory proposal e.g. people who oppose birth control, after talking to each other, will tend to oppose it even more, or people that believe that our biodiversity is threatened are likely to insist on their point in case even more after discussion (Sunstein 2002). Conversely to what most of the deliberation enthusiast assume, eParticipation might indeed strengthen rather than soften pre- existing positions of citizens (Papadopoulos 1995, and Cohen and Fung 2004 in EIPP 2009). 4. The hype cycle: between inflated expectations and disillusionment The matters of concern raised above reflect the perennial issues debated by political theorists about democracy (Coleman and Goetze 2001; van Dijk and Hacker 2000). The actual effects of a technology are understood only when some time has elapsed after its introduction (Ogburn 1964 in Fisher and Wright 2001). In the view of this time lag, the extreme and ideologically-charged theories about new digital technology might be filled as much with the hopes and fears of individual authors, as with the reality of the medium’s effects (Fisher and Wright 2001). eParticipation is probably going through a so-called hype cycle1, i.e. after a peak of inflated expectations and a trough of disillusionment; they might eventually attain the plateau of productivity (The Economist 2009). 1 The hype cycle was coined by Gartner (a research house based in the U.S.) in 1995, and is often applied to describe the adoption of new media forms by society (Fenn and Raskino 2008). European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 54
  • 55. Figure 1. The hype cycle stages (Kemp 2007) As of today, eParticipation is probably on the bridge between the phase of unrealistic expectations - when there are some successful applications of a technology but even more failures - and the trough of disillusionment because they fail to meet expectations and could quickly become unfashionable. At the same time, new waves of expectations can be spotted with the political use of web 2.0, where perpetual experimentalism (‘beta’ applications), raw public data use for new applications, as well as collective intelligence and co-production by citizens and governors are some of the new elements of hype (Chadwick 2009). How long the hype cycle stages will last and whether eParticipation moves on to the slope of enlightenment - where the benefits and practical application of it become completely clear – and reaches the plateau of productivity - where the benefits of it become widely demonstrated and accepted, and it evolves in second and third generations - will probably depend on what people, politicians and the civil society make of it. References Arendt H. (1965). On revolution. New York: Viking Press. Arnstein, S. R. (1969). A Ladder of Citizen Participation. Journal of the American Institute of Planners (JAIP), Vol. 35, No. 4. Avdic A., Hedström K., Rose J., Grönlund Å. (2007). Understanding eParticipation – Contemporary PhD eParticipation Studies in Europe. Örebro University Library. Åström J. (1999). Digital demokrati? Ideer och strategier i local IT-politik. (Digital democracy? Ideas and strategies in local IT politics.) IT i demokratins tjänst. Demokratiutredningens forskarvolym VII. SOU 1999:117. Åström J. and Granberg M. (2009). Medborgerligt deltagande och interaktivt beslutsfattande: Kontinuitet och förändring inom fysisk planering. (“Citizens’ participation and interactive decision- making: Continuity and change in physical planning”). In Gun Hedlund & Stig Montin (eds). Governance på svenska. Stockholm: Santérus. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 55
  • 56. Balocchi M., Freschi A. C., Raffini L. (2008). Ch. What kind of grass root eParticipation? The uneasy demand of new politics in Italy: between continuity and innovation. In Pipek V., Rohde M., Boyd O. P. and Mambrey P. (2008). Empowerment and eParticipation in civil society: local, national and international implications. Workshop proceedings. International reports on socio-informatics. International Institute for Socio-Informatics. Volume 5, issue 1, 2008. Barber, B. (1984). Strong Democracy: Participatory Politics for a New Age. Berkeley: University of California Press. Barber, B. (1999). En plats för kommers eller en plats för oss? IT i demokratiskt ljus. [“A place for commerce or a place for us? IT in democratic light”]. IT i demokratins tjänst. Demokratiutredningens forskarvolym VII. SOU 1999:117. Bittle S., Haler C. and Kadlec A. (2009). Promising practices in online engagement. Occasional paper, No 3, 2009. Public Agenda’s Centre for advances in public engagement (CAPE). Retrieved on 18 August 2009 at: Castells, M. (2001). The Internet Galaxy: Reflections on the Internet, Business and Society. Great Britain: Oxford University Press. Chadwick, A. (2006). Internet politics: States, Citizens, and New Communication Technologies. New York: Oxford University Press. Chadwick, A. (2009). Web 2.0: New Challenges for the Study of E-participation in an Era of Informational Exuberance. In I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society, 5 (1), 9 - 41. Columbus: Ohio State University. Coglianese, C. (2007). Weak democracy, strong information, pp. 101-122 in Mayer-Schoenberger V. and Lazer D. (2007). Governance and information technology: from electronic government to information government. MIT press. Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England. Coleman S. and Goetze J. (2001). Bowling Together: Online Public Engagement in Policy Deliberation. The Hansard Society. London. Davies, T. (2009). Introduction: The Blossoming Field of Online Deliberation. pp. 1-17 in Davies T. and Gangadharan S. P. (eds.). (2009). Online Deliberation: Design, Research, and Practice. CSLI Publications. Davies, T. and Gangadharan S. P. (eds.). (2009). Online Deliberation: Design, Research, and Practice. CSLI Publications. The Economist. (2009). Volume 393. October 10th-16th 2009. EIPP (European Institute for Public Participation) (2009). Public participation in Europe. EIPP report from June 2009. Retrieved on 1 July at: on-public-participation. Ekelin, A. (2007). Ch. Situating eParticipation. In Avdic A., Hedström K., Rose J., Grönlund Å. (2007) Understanding eParticipation – Contemporary PhD eParticipation Studies in Europe. Örebro University Library. Eurobarometer (2007). Eurobarometer 68.1: The European Parliament and Media Usage. September- November 2007. Fisher D. R. and Wright L. M. (2001). On Utopias and Dystopias: Toward an Understanding of the European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 56
  • 57. Discourse Surrounding the Internet, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, JCMC 6 (2) January 2001, retrieved on 13 January 2009 at Flew, T. (2008). New media : an introduction (3rd edition). Oxford University Press, Melbourne. Fung, A., Wright E. O. et al. (2003). Deepening democracy: institutional innovations in empowered participatory governance. London ; New York, Verso. Fenn J. and Raskino M. (2008). Mastering the Hype Cycle: How to Choose the Right Innovation at the Right Time. Harvard Business Press. Gibson R. K., Römmele A. and Ward S. J. (2004). Conclusions: the future of representative democracy in the digital era. In Gibson R. K., Römmele A. and Ward S. J. (2004). Electronic democracy: mobilisation, organisation and participation via new ICTs. Routledge, pp. 194-200. Glencross, A. (2007). E-participation in the legislative process: procedural and technological lessons from Estonia. Paper published on the web site of the International Regulatory Reform Network. Retrieved on 29 May 2009 at: participation_in_the_Legislative_Process-_Procedural_and_Technological_Lessons_from_Estonia. html. Grönlund Å. (2003). Emerging Electronic Infrastructures: Exploring Democratic Components. Social Science Computer Review 2003; 21; 55. Hibbing, J. and Theiss-Morse, E. (2002). Stealth Democracy: American’s Beliefs about How Government Should Work. New York: Cambridge University Press. Hüller T. and Quittkat C. (2009). Democratizing the EU via civil society involvement? The case of the Commission’s online consultations. Paper presented at the RSC/EUI conference “Bringing civil society in: the EU and the rise of representative democracy”, 13-14 March 2009. Involve (2005). People & Participation - How to put citizens at the heart of decision-making. Involve. United Kingdom. Kemp, J. (2007). Gartner Research’s Hype Cycle diagram. Image based on Gartner, Inc. at: http:// Diagram accessed on 23 February 2010 at: http:// Morlino, L. (2009). Qualities of democracy: how to analyze them. Studies in Public Policy, Number 465. University of Aberdeen, Scotland. Mossberger, K., C. J. Tolbert, et al. (2008). Digital citizenship: the Internet, society, and participation. Cambridge, Mass. London, MIT. Neblo M. A., Esterling K. M., Kennedy R. P., Lazer D. M. J. and Anand S. E. (2009). Who wants to deliberate - and why? Faculty research working paper series. RWP09-027. Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Norris, P. (1999). Who surfs? New technology, old voters, and virtual democracy. In Kamarck EC. and Nye JS. Jr. (eds) Democracy com? Governance in a networked world. Hollis Publishing Company, Hollis, USA. Norris, P. (2000). A virtuous circle. Political communications in post-industrial societies. Cambridge university press. Cambridge. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 57
  • 58. Panopoulou E., Tambouris E. and Tarabanis K. (2009). eParticipation initiatives: How is Europe progressing?. European Journal of ePractice, Nº 7. ( Papadopoulos Y. and Warin P. (2007). Are innovative, participatory and deliberative procedures in policy making democratic and effective? European Journal of Political Research 46: 445–472, 2007. Pew Internet and American Life Project. (2009). Pew: Well-off ad well-educated are more likely to engage. p. 25 in Engaging citizens in government. Intergovernmental solutions newsletter. U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Office of citizen services and communications. Pharr, S. J. and R. D. Putnam (2000). Disaffected democracies: what’s troubling the trilateral countries? Princeton, N.J., Princeton University Press. Rosanvallon, P. (2008). Counter-Democracy - Politics in an Age of Distrust. Cambridge University Press. Sanford C. and Rose J. (2007). Characterizing eParticipation. International Journal of Information Management, Volume 27, Issue 6, December 2007, 406-421. Saward, M. (2000). Democratic innovation: deliberation, representation, and association. London; New York, Routledge. Stanton, K.J. (2009). By the people, for the people. in Engaging citizens in government. Intergovernmental solutions newsletter. U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Office of citizen services and communications, p. 4. Sunstein, C.R. (2007). 2.0. Princeton: Princeton University Press. UN (2005). UN Global E-government Readiness Report 2005: From E-government to E-inclusion. Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) of the United Nations Secretariat. New York. Wojcik, S. (2007). Ch. How does eDeliberation work? A study of French local electronic forums. In Avdic A., Hedström K., Rose J., Grönlund Å. (2007) Understanding eParticipation – Contemporary PhD eParticipation Studies in Europe. Örebro University Library. Zittel, T. (2004). Digital parliaments and electronic democracy. In Gibson R. K., Roemmele A. and Ward S. J. Electronic democracy: mobilisation, organisation and participation via new ICT. Routledge, pp. 70-95. Authors Alina Ostling Doctoral candidate European University Institute European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 58
  • 59. Open Government – Information Flow in Web 2.0 The integration of ICT tools and products enables society to Peter Parycek realise the principles of open government - transparency, Researcher participation, and collaboration. Several private and official Donau-Universität websites use governmental data and thereby implement open Krems government principles as they work with and for society. On the one hand citizen can participate and collaborate when access to official data is granted; on the other hand governmental Michael Sachs data sets are used in valuable services for citizens and public Researcher agencies. Even though transparency and free information Donau-Universität access is the basis for open government, too much transparency Krems can lead to undesirable surveillance, resulting in the loss of personal privacy. While state authorities have gained enormous power and accumulated rights of surveillance in the Keywords last decade, many citizens claim for private data protection. Open Government, Information Opening government data will affect the information hierarchy, Society, Open Data, Web 2.0 changing from a hierarchical structure to a network structure. The digital natives are already used to work in networks Access to governmental and their values are changing as they trust peers more than information is the key to established institutions. Businesses that sell information have empower the public problems adapting to an environment that is based on sharing information and they have to adopt new business models. Governments must accept that the information flow within a society is changing and they should pro-actively adapt to the new situation. People who grow up in an information society are willing to participate in democracies, but they cannot prosper in systems based on constraint. If governments open information for citizens, they can use the innovative force that can be found in every society. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 59
  • 60. 1. Development of Open Government The USA are presently in the lead when it comes to developing and applying open government strategies, this circumstance being not solely the work of the current American administration. Discussions using the term ‘open government’ already arose in the late 1950’s among experts observing information exchange in the American government. (Parks, 1957) This was due to the fact that after World War II publications were increasingly delayed and sometimes information was withheld. Open government principles and the idea of free government information were considered. As a result, legal amendments took place leading to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) which was determined in 1966 and came into effect in 1967 despite the opposition of President Johnson at the time. Thus, the US-Government has been confronted with a continuing improvement of the state’s duty to inform the public, even though several governments have argued against this development. (Little &Tompkins, 1975) The FOIA gives American citizens the right to obtain official documents. The wording of several amendments to the FOIA makes it clear that the state is obligated to disclose all information, therefore having to justify when access is denied. Classified data such as confidential military and economic information, internal communication within authorities, and citizens’ private data must or need not be disclosed. In case a US-government agency does not fulfil the obligation to provide information, sanctions will follow. The Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 19961 made it clear that US authorities are to emphasise computer-based access to information. The authorities are obligated to grant citizens access to technical means if necessary. Due to the rapid development of information and communication technology (ICT) the FOIA was again amended in 2007 with the Openness Promotes Effectiveness in our National Government Act of 2007.2 The amendments focused on the developments within the media and declared web-based information platforms as news services provided the data was edited to be comprehensible for citizens. As such, information providers were expanded to include individuals who were not necessarily members of an organisation. On day one after his inauguration, President Obama declared that he would further develop the open government principles in his government. “We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.” (Obama, 2009) The result of Obama’s Open Government Memorandum is the Open Government Directive (Orszag, 2009) which obligates authorities to publish data and documents within a certain time frame. This data must be in accordance with guidelines “ensuring and maximising the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information (including statistical information) disseminated by the agency”. (OMB, 2002) All government agencies are obligated to develop strategies for the implementation of open government in the respective fields in tune with newest technology for optimum benefit. The goal is to improve the quality of open government, to establish an open government culture, and to work out guidelines for open government within government agencies. 1.1 Open Government Principles The principles of open government are transparency, participation, and collaboration. The development and integration of information and communication technology in people’s everyday 1 retrieved January 12, 2010. 2 retrieved January 12, 2010. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 60
  • 61. life make it possible to put these three principles altogether into practice. The quintessence of transparency is providing information for citizens. In open government the state commits all government agencies and service providers to supply all relevant information in an appropriate manner. In a digital society this is done easily by information and communication technologists, since data and documents are in large part stored electronically and can easily be uploaded to a website by one push of a button. Through these websites citizens access data and documents from almost anywhere without having to contact the agency directly, thus keeping administration efforts at a minimum. This open information is the basis for open government given that only free and easy access to correct information can facilitate participation and collaboration. “[T]ransparency is the new objectivity. […] Transparency brings us to reliability the way objectivity used to.” (Weinberger, 2009) It allows citizens to take democratic decisions which have not been corrupted by a powerful elite. In order to assure the access to information by citizens certain prerequisites must be met. Each government agency must have IT experts and IT facilities. This is largely the case due to mostly electronic work stations and internal electronic networks. From the technical viewpoint, the government must not use closed standard formats, because this would inhibit access for some citizens. The HTML-code can be deciphered by all browsers making it accessible for everyone. Document formats must also be compatible with programs easily amenable by private parties. One example of such a format is the Portable Document Format (PDF) which is used by many institutions for publishing written text. Besides documents and texts, free access to information includes raw data. This is one of the sources for innovative web 2.0 applications that serve citizens and government agencies. Participation aims at including citizens in the process of forming the state. Citizens shall participate in democratic processes and propose which direction state services and guidelines development should take. Collaboration between citizens and administration in compiling topics to be voted on is a new phenomenon. To date citizens’ opportunities to actively take part in the democratic process were limited to elections, referendums, petitions, and public opinion polls. Mandatory implementation guidelines for dealing with the results of eParticipation processes have not yet been established. The number of participants in existing eParticipation projects is too small to deduct democratic legitimisation. Not all citizens are skilled in using the internet or have internet access. Strategies to include these person groups are currently being developed in all countries. However, the number of active internet users continuously increases as the generation of digital natives grows older. Administration can become more efficient and develop further by collaborating with citizens. Open government gives the state the opportunity to benefit from citizens’ involvement and knowledge by providing platforms where collaboration amongst citizens and collaboration between citizens and the state can take place. Citizens can even support public administration when they partly take responsibilities for their own governmental data sets. The aim is not to create a state that is run by the citizens, but to cooperate in developing methods that will bring advantages to both government and citizens. The goal of this open government principle is to reach common aims by working together. 1.2. Open Government Projects in the USA In the Open Government Dialogue of 2009 which was administrated via internet 4205 ideas were generated. The goal of the Dialogue was to work out suggestions for improvement concerning the federal government and its agencies with the help of citizens. The discussion allowed for everyone’s European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 61
  • 62. free opinion as long as it was legally and morally appropriate. The project was divided into three phases: 1. collection of ideas which were evaluated and commented by users 2. ideas with best evaluation results were discussed 3. citizens took part in drafting the ideas defined in phase 2 Critics question the legitimisation of citizens’ demands. Less than 1 % of US citizens used the participation platform actively. (O’Dell, 2009) Nevertheless the US administration continues to promote the use of information and communication technology to include citizens in democratic processes, given that several notable suggestions were discussed thoroughly. The foundation for an extensive dialogue between citizens and government is the provision of information by the government, as described in chapter 1.1. One of open government’s essential platforms on the federal level is Data.gov3 which grants access to federal data. This is not an information site, but offers access to data bases of the US government. The data is to be processed and evaluated by the public – citizens, academia and businesses. After only a few months, internet applications were established, providing benefits for citizens by linking the raw data with other generally accessible data. Open interfaces (API) enable interaction between platforms promoting the creation of technical solutions for information processing. One of the most successful collaboration and participation platforms in the USA is the Peer-to-Patent platform. (Novek, 2009) The US patent office is severely overloaded with an extremely high quantity of patent applications in over 400 sectors with thousands of subsectors. Pre-processing the patent applications by incorporating a great number of volunteers, using the crowd-sourcing concept, helps accelerate the work process. Processing takes only half as long and the implementation of the peer- review concept assures quality. This has increased efficiency and the competitive position of the USA concerning research and business innovation. Approximately half of the voluntary reviewers are scientific experts who are themselves interested in accelerating the process. The other half of the volunteers are citizens from different professions bringing about the advantage of collective intelligence. Other US institutions also make use of the peer-review processes by consulting experts outside of the institutions, e.g. deciding on the allocation of government grants to projects. (Novek, 2009) 2. From eGovernment to Open Government “[T]he purpose of electronic government is similar to the use of all information-handling technologies before: to save public resources and to make public-sector activity more efficient.” (Mayer- Schönberger & Lazer, 2007) Technological improvements generally increase efficiency. The influence of ICT is strong as it changes society’s paradigms; this is known as information or media revolution. The basis for this revolution is the internet and its development to web 2.0. A decade ago it was only a small elite of society who used ICT devices regularly. Nowadays more and more people are using this technology leading to an increasingly fast-living and complex society. (Friedman, 2009) To date theoretically every person who owns and is skilled in using ICT products can access an abundant amount of information at any given time. Hurdles to access information are diminishing in the web 2.0, societies need to ask themselves, how much transparency is wanted and 3 retrieved January 12, 2010. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 62
  • 63. which information shall be publicly available? 2.1. Flow of Information between State and Society Mayer-Schönberger and Lazer describe iGovernment (Information Government) as a change in information hierarchy. While eGovernment deals with the electronic implementation of administration tasks, iGovernment is concerned with analysing the flow of information within a country and a society. Technological advancements often have an effect on the information flow. Restructuring administrative organisation primarily brings about these changes. Adjustments and acceleration of the information flow are crucial to successful eGovernment projects whereby especially those organisations and persons should be considered whose influence is reduced by such measures. The theoretical efficiency of eGovernment is made clear when any government agency cannot only access pre-processed data from any other agency but also receive information of status changes. This shortens administrative procedures and allows for integration of further data, but the realisation of such networked data flows includes risks of surveillance and misuse. In Europe the information flow within federal administration agencies underlies data protection laws and is therefore bound to legal regulations. Both data protection and the analysis of respective interests concerning efficient administration and protection of privacy will increase in importance within the next years. Personal data has always been stored by governments. Yet the possibility of access to this central data and combining specific data sets will intensify discussions about data protection conditions. (Parycek, 2007). In an ideal world, the opportunities pre-dominate the downsides, but reality is not ideal. 2.2. Opportunities and Risks of Open Information Access to governmental information is the key to empower the public. As documents published by public authorities are often written in sophisticated language, the average citizen might encounter difficulties understanding the content in detail. The same is true for data provided by the state. Such data can be visualised in many ways, such as diagrams, that make information more comprehensive and transparent, as the website USAspending.gov4 shows. Since Google launched its maps-application, embedding geographical information has lead to web applications that depict data from on maps. Mashup applications, based on processing and linking data, are a common way to display information in web 2.0. The validity of the data provided is crucial, and governmental agencies can guarantee accurate and transparent data allocation. Several applications use data provided by agencies and visualisation of this data is undoubtedly an efficient way to display information, as the following examples show. American laws allow citizens to access a great amount of data allocated by agencies, consequently the US are the leading country concerning the visualisation of official data on the web. Open government can influence society severely as shown in the visualisation of existing data on hazardous waste sites on maps by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).5 This resulted in an immediate adjustment of real estate prices. Houses situated near hazardous waste sites were subjected to an extreme loss in value leading to immense financial losses of individuals. The efficiency of this example is beyond dispute, but is the society content with the outcome? If such information is not publicly accessible, it is often only provided for those who know how to get it. In Austria, data about hazardous waste sites is also open information, but it is only available as print. How to access this 4 retrieved January 12, 2010. 5 retrieved January 12, 2010. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 63
  • 64. data is not well known, consequently only an information elite, such as professional estate agents, know how to access and process the information. In any case, open information breaks up patterns of information hierarchy and pushes a society towards equality, a maxim of Western democracies. The examples shown in chapter 1.2. point out that open government is closely tied to free information. But not only the USA allows citizens insights into private data about other citizens, also European countries have liberal privacy laws. The Swedish Freedom of the Press Act from 1766 states “that anyone is entitled to contact a public authority or agency in Sweden and request access to an official document, such as a decision it has made. An individual who makes such a request does not need to give his name or specify the purpose of his request.” (Sveriges Riksdag, 2009) Even though the Swedish society is used to radical openness, the launch of the website ratsit.se6 in 2006 resulted in a discussion about data protection, as many hurdles to data access suddenly disappeared. Users started to screen their social environment, consequently the platform was adapted and a fee was charged for accessing private data whilst information about companies is still free. The implementation of new hurdles regulated the vast amount of data searches on the website, as information became more valuable again and people are only willing to pay if they really need to know. The most important update to was that the person whose data was recalled gets informed. This gives people the chance to know what happens with their data; a step towards balanced transparency. The Swedish example clearly shows, free and easy access to private information leads to unnecessary surveillance, and regulations are necessary to protect individuals. However, clear regulations for data protection do not necessarily break with open data policies. Lately innovative local and regional governments have been downright competing to develop constantly up-to-date and beneficial services for citizens and state employees with the help of mashup applications. Especially services for mobile devices are increasingly popular as they offer aid in specific life situations. As these web applications are widespread, several cities have initiated data platforms, e.g. San Francisco,7 to give users the opportunity to create information services. Applications run by businesses and individuals are available on the website of San Francisco’s data base website. The services provide information from crime reports via transportation information to official reports about restaurant inspections. The latter example displays the five latest reports by the health inspection, so customers know more details when choosing a restaurant. A diagram visualises the overall score, a map locates the restaurant and short texts sum up the reports by the health inspection. The site seeks to establish full transparency as several means are used to provide information. Other applications focus on specific person groups, to give quick aid to immediate questions in certain life situations. All these examples have value to the population of San Francisco as they are informative and helpful in certain situations. Without the data sets provided by the city, these applications would not be possible. The website criminalsearches.com8 is for free and financed by adverts. It offers users the chance to search the criminal database of US-states, without any regulations. Users simply type a name into the input fields and they get a list of people with that name who committed an offence or crime. Anonymous users can access this information from any computer terminal around the world. The laws making this data visualisation possible were passed before ICT revolutionised information access, when people had to go to the offices to receive this kind of information. One might agree or disagree with the idea of this website, but at least it uses official data. A website that mashes geo information with unverified information by internet users is, leading to defamation and neighbourhood surveillance. The latter example stresses that data about people 6 retrieved January 27, 2010. 7 retrieved January 12, 2010. 8 retrieved January 27, 2010. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 64
  • 65. should be allocated and validated by a respective authority or the individual it concerns. However, information generated by citizens can also support governments. On the website Fixmystreet.com9 citizens in Great Britain can post problems like potholes in the streets, which are forwarded to the council. The website establishes a communication channel between citizens and officials, and does not intend to denounce individuals. As the website also reports when problems are fixed, good services of the councils are made visible. 2.3. Change of Information Control Science and politics promote the new social system of a knowledge and information society. The flow of information is not controlled by companies and authorities any more. Instead, real-time information is provided on the internet by individuals and processed by peers. (Chadwick, 2009) Organisations that sell information as a product, must rethink their strategies since their new opponent, society as producer of information, is based on a non-monetary model. This change in paradigms can currently be observed in many areas. “The most immediate impact of Social Computing- based services based on user-generated content is on traditional media and publishing industries.” (Punie, 2009) Many companies that offer electronic contents failed to devise business strategies fit for today’s reality. The music and film industry have attempted to maintain their status quo in vain, given that new channels for distribution via the internet were established some time ago which were ignored too long by the industry. Sales via the internet seem to be the ‘new’ business solution, but the media industry’s position at the top of the information hierarchy seems to be lost for ever. News companies are confronted with a similar problem. Any individual can offer cheap and user- friendly news in an appealing manner. Production of electronic information is limited only to the content, since the medium, the web, has become common property. When the internet is fed with data, legal or illegal, there are barely possibilities to reverse the process, because contents are immediately stored externally and processed further. The riots following the presidential election in Iran 2009 have shown that even totalitarian regimes have no control over the information flow. (Parycek & Sachs, 2009) The regime spread systematic misinformation, yet this could be distinguished by the community of citizens who had become suppliers of information themselves within the past years. The information channel to the outside of Iran and also within Iran itself was based on various social media. The state’s position atop the information hierarchy is lost, calling for governments to learn to deal with the new situation. Integrity and trust between the state and its citizens are to be redefined in the new collaboration systems. Among the increasingly important factors concerning an interconnected society are social networks. The access rate and growth of social networks make it clear that this is not just hype, but a novel culture technique, leading to a change in communication and information patterns on the one hand and influencing power structures due to the principle of self organisation on the other hand. The beginnings of this development can be observed during students’ demonstrations in European cities in 2009, when students used social media to organise their claims and activities across borders.10 According to a study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers,11 the principles of open government have already been internalised by the young generation. Today’s youth have grown up connected with their peers and making use of the possibilities offered by the web. To deal with questions and 9 retrieved January 27, 2010. 10 & retrieved January 27, 2010. 11 retrieved January 12, 2010. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 65
  • 66. problems they no longer turn to explanations offered by institutions, but rather look for support from peers on websites. Having found answers, they publish them on the web to help other peers. 3. European Information Policies In the Ministerial Declaration on eGovernment, the Ministers responsible for the eGovernment policy of the European Union Member States stated that “there is a growing expectation from European citizens and businesses for their governments to be more open, flexible and collaborative in their delivery of public services across Europe.” (Ministers, 2009) The overall aim is to create a European knowledge-based society, with the support of European eGovernment policies. “Citizens and businesses are empowered by eGovernment services designed around users’ needs and developed in collaboration with third parties, as well as by increased access to public information, strengthened transparency and effective means for involvement of stakeholders in the policy process.” (Ministers, 2009) Transparent information sources are essential for empowering citizens. “The scope of Public Governance is rather broad: democratic and cooperative policy formulation; citizens and civil society involvement; a transparent and efficient implementation of policies […]. With this agenda it becomes clear that Web 2.0 applications are going to improve Public Governance.” (Traunmόller & Wimmer, 2009) The question of transparency and information access is closely linked to the culture of a society. Culture has developed throughout the history of each country and is reflected in different legal frameworks. Differences in the approach to governmental information is made clear by comparing the laws concerning freedom of information among Member States of the European Union, as European guidelines leave space for interpretation. Present regulations often do not match the new technological and social developments. While state authorities have gained enormous power and accumulated rights of surveillance in the last decade, many citizens claim for private data protection. (Schaar, 2007) The advances of ICTs result in digitalisation and centralisation that threaten to weaken one of the most important democratic principles: the separation of powers. 3.1. Accessing Information While Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon countries traditionally have liberal laws, other European states have rather restricted information access. In Austria, data protection regulations are among the strictest in the EU. Under article 20, paragraph 4 the Austrian Constitution describes the obligation of national, provincial and community agencies as well as all other institutions of public law to disclose information, as long as it does not underlie the obligation of secrecy. This is the foundation for the Federal Act on Information Disclosure written for the national agencies and the provinces in 1987. The demand for information itself is not constitutionally covered as a subjective right and therefore cannot be used to file suit in the Court of Justice. In addition various legal provisions provide exemptions on information disclosure. Vague wording of the legal text gives room for a large margin for interpretation on the side of the federal authority. Neither the constitution nor other laws describe a general legal obligation for publishing information, although specific information obligations in form of an announcement can be found in various contexts. The Bertelsmann-Stiftung conducted an international comparison of rights for freedom of information based on the Banisar Study (Banisar, 2003), comparing processing period and administrative fees European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 66
  • 67. amongst other things. (Hart & Welzel, 2003) Sweden holds the top position when it comes to the processing period, followed by Hungary with a period of 8 days and the USA with a 20-day processing period. Austria is at the far back with a period of 8 weeks. If the European Union wants to establish a culture of transparency and openness, it must demand radical changes in the legislation of certain member states. Of course, such processes take time, but an overall concrete object must be defined in advance. Ambitious aims on a European level will challenge governments in all Member States, especially those following restrictive data policies. The fundamental principle for open government must be a balance of transparency between civil society, businesses and the authorities. At this moment these sectors are in imbalance. On the one side, companies and public administrations are collecting customers’ and citizens’ data, on the other side citizens have almost no possibilities to control, what these institutions have registered in their databases. People need to know who accesses what of their data when and why. In Estonia, the right to access all information held by public and certain private bodies is a civil right, established in article 44 of the Estonian Constitution. With their electronic ID citizens can access the register and control their own data. This concept has two major advantages: the confidence in public and democratic institutions increases, and the state gets better data quality because citizens can inform the authorities about false data in the databases. With the digitalisation, commercialisation, collecting mania, centralisation, meshing and overlapping domains the risk of misuse is dramatically increasing. People want to be able to control their data, but most users do not know what data is stored at what places. Means to gain control about personal data is a challenge for IT experts and would need to be written in legislation. Having a unique official ID in the virtual reality empowers citizens to monitor and eventually edit personal data. Besides control mechanisms for citizens, an official institution to monitoring data policies and their use, similar to Court Audits in many countries, should be located in legislation. A combination of such control mechanisms will establish trust in data and information flows within a society, thus giving democracies the chance to pro-actively use the advantages of ICTs. 3.2. Making Use of Web 2.0 Innovation When providing specific public datasets, officials can influence social behaviour as applications using this data will emerge. “[I]f the public policy objective is to get more people using more public transport more efficiently, then there is a clear interest in making datasets like timetable information freely available. This creates conditions for innovative developments such as the creation” (Allan, 2009) of useful applications. Selling datasets to specific interest groups prevents innovation and competition. When citizens and private businesses become service providers, governments do not need to invest in these fields, hence lean states are realised and money is saved. This does not mean that administration will become irrelevant, but it can focus on its primary objects and services. When states actively encourage collaboration between agencies and citizens, public servants need to be trusted by authorities and entrusted with scope for development. Changing legislation is simple, but changing the culture of public administration takes long time. In Austria, social networks are blocked in many public agencies, as employees shall not be distracted from work. Hence, making use of new communication channels is not possible. If public institutions do not even trust their own servants to make purposeful use of new technology, innovation based on ICTs is not or only slowly possible. A culture of mistrust fosters hierarchical structures, and startles European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 67
  • 68. the young generation that grows up with completely different values. Young people are willing to participate in democracies, but they cannot prosper in systems based on constraint. As the web 2.0 is part of the lives of those citizens who will be opinion leaders within one or two decades, governments must develop strategies to include modern communication platforms into their public administration. “Social Computing is reinforcing the emerging and growing role of the user in the innovation-development process, as well as the ongoing shift towards open innovation.” (Punie, 2009) The increasing influence of the internet on our every-day lives demands concepts to link the virtual reality with reality. We must accept that the propagated information society will severely change society, as we know it. 4. Conclusion By allowing public access to governmental data, the state is able to inform citizens correctly and can act against false information. The state has the resources and the authority to offer correct information which can be further processed by citizens and agencies. This promotes transparency, participation, and collaboration within a society. Suitable information policies and legislation are important steps towards modernisation which would allow society to benefit from the potentials of open government. Implementing web 2.0 in governmental services will open new communication and service channels between citizens and governments hence strengthen democracy. As the European Union seeks to empower citizens, it must face the consequences and establish open government principles as the base of a new democratic culture. The European Union and its Member States are changing towards an information society, as the young generation of citizens grows up partly in a virtual reality. 5. References Allan, Richard (2009). The Power of Government Information. J. Gøtze & C. Bering Pedersen (Eds.) State of the eUnion. retrieved February 26, 2010 from book.pdf, 143-160. Banisar, David (2003). The Global Survey, Freedom of Information and Access to government record laws around the World, retrieved September 28, 2003 from http://www. Chadwick, Andrew (2009). The Internet and Politics in Flux. In Chadwick, Andrew (Eds.), Journal of Information Technology & Politics, Philadelphia: Taylor & Francis Group, 195-197. Friedman, Thomas L. (2009). The Lexus and the Olive Tree, New York: Farrer, Straus and Giroux. Hart, Thomas & Welzel, Carolin (2003). Informationsfreiheit und der transparente Staat, Gόtersloh: Bertelsmann Stiftung. Little, Joseph W. & Tompkins, Thomas (1975). Open Government Laws: An Insider’s View, 53 North Caroline Law Reviw 53, 451-475. Mayer-Schönberger, Viktor & Lazer, David (2007). From Electronic Government to Information Government. In: Mayer-Schönberger, Viktor; Lazer, David (Hersg.), Governance and Information Technology, Cambridge & London: MIT Press, 1-14. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 68
  • 69. Ministers responsible for eGovernment policy of the EU Member States. (2009). Ministerial Declaration on eGovernment, retrieved January 27, 2010 from activities/egovernment/conferences/malmo_2009/press/ministerial-declaration-on-egovernment. pdf. Novek, Beth Somine (2009). Wiki Government, Washington: Brookings Institution Press. O’Dell, Jolie (2009). U.S. Government Reaches Out to the Social Web for Collaboration, But Are Users Reaching Back? retrieved December 18, 2009 from government-response.php. Obama, Barack (2009). Memorandum for the Heads of executive Departments and Agencies. Transparency and Open Government, retrieved on December 18, 2009 from http://www.whitehouse. gov/the_press_office/Transparency_and_Open_Government/. OMB (Office of Management and Budget. (2002). Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility, and Integrity of Information Disseminated by Federal Agencies, retrieved January 1, 2009 from Orszag, Peter R.(2009). Memorandum for the Heads of executive Departments and Agencies. Open Government Directive, retrieved January 10, 2010 from memoranda_2010/m10-06.pdf. Parks, Wallace (1957). Open Government Principle: Applying the right to know under the Constitution. In George Washington Law Review 26/1, 1-22. Parycek, Peter & Sachs, Michael (2009).Web 2.0 as Base for Democracy 2.0. In Parycek, Peter & Prosser, Alexander (Eds.) EDEM 2009 – Conference on Electronic Democracy 2009, Wien: OCG, 27- 35. Parycek, Peter (2007). Gläserne Bόrger − Transparenter Staat? Risiken und Reformpotenziale des öffentlichen Sektors in der Wissensgesellschaft. In G. Aichholzer (Ed.) ITA manus:script, Wien: ÖAW. Punie, Yves et al. (Eds.) (2009). The Impact of Social Computing on the EU Information Society and Economy, retrieved February 26, 2010 from Schaar, Peter (2007). Das Ende der Privatsphäre. Mόnchen: Bertelsmann. Sveriges Riksdag (2009). The Freedom of the Press Act, retrieved January 27, 2010 from http://www. Traunmόller, Roland & Wimmer, Maria A. (2009). E-gov 2.0: improving participation with interactive features. In e-Gov 2.0: pave the way for e-participation, Rome: Eurospace. Weinberger, David (2009). Objectivity, Transparency, and the Engagement with Democracy. In J. Gøtze & C. Bering Pedersen (Eds.) State of the eUnion. retrieved February 26, 2010 from http://, 189-195. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 69
  • 70. Authors Peter Parycek Researcher Donau-Universität Krems Michael Sachs Researcher Donau-Universität Krems European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 70
  • 71. Asian Government Usage of Web 2.0 Social Media The rise of Web 2.0 social sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Joanne Kuzma YouTube has brought significant changes and opportunities for Senior lecturer both online consumers and governments. These tools have University of changed the ways Internet users communicate with each Worcester other and their governments, and allow for greater social participation. The number of worldwide users is growing significantly and their expectations for more services are rising. Keywords However, this has not translated into Asian governments totally Web 2.0, eGovernment, Social encompassing the implementation functions and services using media, Facebook, Twitter, these tools. This research investigates the level of government YouTube participation of 50 Asian governments of three social media sites. The results show that a minority of Asian governments Only 30 percent of Asian (approximately 30 percent) are using Web 2.0 tools for governments take full use communication and information dissemination. The study of Web 2.0 social media found that if social sites were utilised, most governments used technology to communicate them for a) information dissemination on official government and disseminate information channels, b) education and c) tourism. The implications are to constituents, leading to missed opportunities to better that governments are missing opportunities to better server serve their constituents their citizens and reach the growing number of Internet users. Instead of avoiding these new technologies, governments should develop an overall strategic plan for all agency levels to participate in social networks, and develop a coordinated effort to develop and implement the tools. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 71
  • 72. 1. Introduction The growth of the Web 2.0 technologies has led to an explosion of social networking media sites, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Although Web 2.0 includes other tools such as blogs and wikis, this paper will concentrate on the use of social tools. These have attracted millions of users worldwide, and offer a wide variety of methods that users can connect to others and share common interests. According to Kes-Erkul and Erkul (2009) Web 2.0 tools, such as social media have the capacity to change the relationship between the Internet and its users, and can change power structures and increase the opportunity for users to engage in greater community participation. This development has led to a greater interest in how governments can use tools and sites to reach a variety of users with diverse goals. Freeman and Loo (2009) claim that these technologies can be leveraged to transform the way governments provide online information and services, as well as interact with constituents and stakeholders. Romsdahl (2005) argues that more participation of government policy-making via the Internet could help revitalise dialogue between citizens and governments and promote greater participation by disenfranchised citizens and groups as they use these technologies to educate others about political issues in their communities. According to Danis et al. (2009), local governments can use social media sites to procure and position resources and local knowledge, monitor and resolve problems and engage their constituents in an atmosphere of cooperation. Cole (2009) indicates that social media can be powerful tools governments can deploy to help rejuvenate civic engagement. Although recent news articles show how governments may exploit networking sites for emergencies and information dissemination, scholarly research-based literature is sparse regarding governmental services in Asian countries. With the rise of consumers using media sites, some governments have started to use the sites to reach the Internet audience, but there appears to be little consistent organised effort. This research paper studies the use of social media usage among 50 Asian countries. There were two major aims addressed in this study: 1. What is the level of Asian government usage of three social media sites: Twitter, Facebook and YouTube? 2. If governments utilise the sites, what are the major purposes for its usage? This paper is divided into several sections. Firstly, a literature review discusses the rise of social sites, government usage of social media, and issues with these services. Next, the research methodology is explained followed by a discussion of the resulting data. The study found that approximately 30 percent of Asian governments have some presence on these media sites. It should be further noted that almost one third of governments attempt to censor their citizens access to these sites. Finally, the implications of governments exploiting social sites are reviewed. The main consequence of the findings would imply that governments are missing service opportunities to connect with their citizens and others for effective communication and marketing. Governments should consider an organised approach to utilising these sites. 2. Literature Review 2.1 Rise of Social Sites and Web 2.0 Tools A discussion of social networking sites should be prefaced by a review of Web 2.0 tools. These are a platform on which innovative technologies and applications where participants can be content European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 72
  • 73. creators to leverage collective intelligence of user groups, thus turning the web into a kind of global brain, (Cormode and Krishnamurthy, 2008 and O’Reilly, 2007). This is different from Web 1.0 where users were usually fed information with little bi-direction communication. Examples of Web 2.0 tools include: web content management systems, wikis, blogs, image and video sharing (e.g., YouTube, (e.g., MySpace, Facebook), news sharing and ranking (Digg, Reddit), social bookmarking (e.g., delicious) and 3-D virtual worlds (e.g., SecondLife) (Mergel, et. al., 2009). Social networks are one form of Web 2.0 tools, and these only these types will be emphasised within this research. Growth of social sites has been a worldwide phenomenon. A 2009 Nielson report states that two-thirds of the global online population visit social sites and this sector now accounts for almost 10 percent of all internet time (Nielsen, 2009). In 2008, the use of social networks grew 35 percent in Europe, and 56 percent of the online European population visited these sites, with the current market of 41.7 million users (Europa, 2009). Asian social site have also seen a dramatic increase in users with over 450 million users (31 percent of the world’s social media population) engaging with social media (OgilvyInsight, 2008). Latin American social users amounted to approximately 53.2 million in 2008 (comScore, 2008). Sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube dominate the global market, but there are also a plethora of new networks that cater to specific geographical audiences. The importance of social sites has grown due to the advantages to both individuals and other entities. For individuals, these sites offer the opportunity to better network with others all over the world and organise their social life. According to Europa (2009), other groups, such as governments and businesses can benefit from social networks by serving different audiences with minimal financial effort. Facebook is one of the largest Web 2.0 tools, and has over 350 million active users in 180 countries, with over 70 percent of these users outside the U.S. (Facebook Press Room, 2009). According to search engine optimisation consulting firm BeyondInk (2009), although North America is Facebook’s largest market, the Asian/Pacific region holds a sizable number of users at 7.1 percent in 2007. It has experienced a tremendous growth in some Asian countries such as India, with a 42 percent growth (768,020 unique visitors) between February and December 2008, Malaysia with a 66 percent growth (492,100 visitors), and Israel experiencing a 42 percent growth (606,740 visitors). One of its strengths in the growth in international markets is that it is increasing the site’s relevance to local markets and implementing local language interface translation (, 2008). Facebook’s value has been estimated at USD $15 billion and has become a target of investors with Microsoft purchasing a 1.6 percent stake in the firm (Galeotti and Goyal, 2009). Twitter is a real-time messaging service that, like Facebook and other social sites, has encountered a tremendous growth in users over the past several years. Twitter’s market has exploded 3,700 percent in 2009 (Cole, 2009). Just in the month of March, 2009, the number of worldwide visitors to Twitter’s site increased 95 percent over the prior month, and was 19.1 million globally, with 9.3 million in the U.S. Twitter has been especially prominent during natural disaster situations when people and organisations use the service for updated communications. Nielsen Company reports that during the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Twitter served as a major hub of information, and many aid and relief organisations began to use Twitter to spread the word and gather donations, augmenting their other channels (Leberecht, 2010). YouTube was established in 2005 and has become the most successful Internet site providing video sharing services, ranking second in overall website traffic (Xu, et al. 2008). The authors indicate that along with this success come problems with scalability, as the site is often perceived as ‘slow’ with downloading clips. YouTube allows users to generate their own content and easily upload video clips to the site, and share them with other users throughout the world. Although the study by Xu showed preponderance for music (22.9 percent) and entertainment (17.8 percent) videos, there are a variety European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 73
  • 74. of other categories. News and politics (4.4 percent), people and blogs (7.5 percent) and travel and places (2.2 percent) are all types of videos that would especially appeal to governmental use. 2.2 Government Usage Freeman and Loo (2009) suggest there are three categories of benefits that governments can achieve from using Web 2.0 technologies: efficiency, user convenience and citizen involvement. Cresswell (as cited by Freeman and Loo, 2009) explains efficiency is gained by obtaining increased output with lower resources. Social sites could bring this about by allowing governments to use pre-established Web services to reach their constituents rather than governments setting up their own social sites themselves, thus saving money and resources. Cresswell defines user convenience as users being able to enjoy round-the-clock access and saving travel costs. Web 2.0 social media allows this convenience and users throughout the world can retrieve information from these sites. Finally, Cresswell mentions citizen involvement as providing greater participation in the democratic process of government. Crook et al. (2008) lists four ways that Web 2.0 social networks can have an impact on users including: a) inquiry, b) literacies, c) collaboration and e) publication. Inquiry methods allow users to conduct new ways to research. By surfing social sites, people could research specific information on a variety of topics. The ‘literacies’ impact implies that through experience with the written word users can improve their communications skills, and thus be more productive members of society and their employers. More collaboration allows individuals to engage in a variety of support such as online governmental debate or participating in learning communities. Publication allows users to easily create and publish their own material and post it on sites. Governments find that it is relatively easy to build videos or other media and post these informational works to social sites. Web 2.0 technologies can be used in a variety of government settings. Specific ministries and entities could use blogs to communicate on public hearings, wikis and RSS feeds to coordinate work, and wikis to internally share expertise and intelligence information (Mergel, et. al., 2009). Although there are a variety of Web 2.0 tools, the aim of this study is to concentrate on the aspects and opportunities of social networking tools. Governments have used social sites to reach constituents during elections or times of crisis. In the U.S. as part of the 2006 national election, Facebook created entries for all US congressional and gubernatorial candidates, and users could express their support of candidates. This level of support had a significant effect on the final vote shares, especially for open- seat candidates (Williams and Gulati, 2007). A news article by Cheung (2007) reports on Hong Kong politicians using Facebook to reach the election audience. Governments have successfully used Web 2.0 social media to keep members of the public informed in the case of natural disasters. Sutton et al. (2007) reports that during the October 2007 Southern California wildfires, local governments used social sites and other backchannel communications to update the community about the situation and to more effectively manage disaster response. Galeotti and Goyal (2009) argue that social interaction in this social networking setting is a factor that entities should consider when setting strategies on using this media. They indicate that a minority of the population can shape the attitudes and behaviors of the majority of the population. Thus, governments could use these social sites to reach these key influential individuals, who may be disposed to change the opinions of others, leading towards the conforming with government’s way of thinking. Cole (2009) defines a new buzzword of ‘crowd sourcing’ which recognises that useful ideas are not confined to elected leaders or experts. Social media can allow a more democratic society in allowing useful contributions by people at all levels of society. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 74
  • 75. 2.3 Social Media Issues Although Web 2.0 media may have the ability to transform governments and augment the citizens’ ability to interact for more effective forms of eDemocracy, there are issues to consider with this technology. Government censorship of these sites could prevent denizens from fully using these sites. There is a wide range of censorship techniques and levels of censorship, ranging from total censorship of all sites to those entities that practice selective or sporadic filtering. Over three dozen countries practice some form of censorship (Diebert, et al. 2007, p. 2). Thailand is a government that practices limited censorship depending upon the situation. In April 2007, the Ministry of Information and Communications blocked YouTube, stating that the site contained video clips that were offensive to the Thai monarchy. In the eyes of the authority, defamation of the King and family is taboo and politically sensitive (Siriyuvasak, 2007). China is another government which practices censorship of social networking sites as well as other specific Internet services. For example, research firm BeyondInk (2009) explains that although Facebook in China has 500,000 members, they are faced with censorship restrictions enforced by the Chinese government and the site is often blocked. A second issue with government use of social media is the issue of fairness. According to Romsdahl (2005), the Web 2.0 poses challenges with fair and equal involvement for all participants. There could be problems raised by the digital divide, the segregation between those citizens who have access to computers and the internet compared to poorer people or those with limited access. Another issue raised by Romsdahl (2005) is lack of quality or inappropriate information posted to these sites. The author suggested additional moderation of these sites to help minimise this specific problem. Cole (2009) raises the concern that users of social media may have problems differentiating between fact and opinion. He cites a study that found that 96 percent of Internet participants only follow blogs they believe in. This self-selection of information could lead to inability to assess the credibility of information, and opinion is passed off as fact. Lack of sustainability of social systems is another concern for these sites; they must be maintained for future viability. Danis et al, (2009) indicates that governments need to maintain an effort to continuality maintain the information on the sites in order to ensure the information is correct and up-to-date. The concern is that once information goes on a site, or the government creates a series of pages or social channel, the government may find funding is depleted or interest in that topic wanes, thus resulting in a site that soon ceases to be of value to users. At this point, users may cease using it. Privacy and security of personal data has become a hot-button with Internet surfers, who read daily news reports of attackers gaining confidential information and breaking into supposedly ‘secured’ Web sites and systems. Gross and Acquisti (cited by Boyd and Ellison, 2007) outlines potential threats to privacy such as the ability for attackers to reconstruct user’s social security number using information often found in profiles, such as hometown and date of birth. The Human Capital Institute (2010) lists security restrictions and government fears about the loss of confidential information as one of the most important barriers to the future use of social networking tools. Not only is privacy and security an issue in the virtual world, but using social sites can lead to physical security issues for users in countries where governments have a dim view of electronic participation by its citizens. Baumann (2009) quotes problems with Twitter and Facebook users in Iran, where being caught using these sites can pose physical dangers for protesters or dissidents. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 75
  • 76. 3. Methodology The research was accomplished through completing an analysis of 50 Asian government utilisation of three social networking sites. The project consisted of three phases: 1. Choose governments and social networking sites 2. Count occurrences 3. Analyse the results 3.1 Chose sites The first phase of this study was to chose a list of governments to review, followed by selecting three social networking sites. For this research, it was decided to concentrate on the governments of 50 countries located within Asia. The reasoning for this was that there are a wide variety of countries in Asia with diverse governmental policies on Internet and social media usage, such as censorship. Also, there is diversity among the percentage of citizens in each country who would normally use these sites. Next, several social networking sites had to be chosen. These needed to be sites that had global popularity as opposed to only be used primarily within one country. The sites chosen had to attract a variety of Internet surfers and had to contain a variety of different functions, such as bulletin boards, blogs, video capability and other communication. Three of the most popular global networking sites selected for this study were: a) Twitter, b) Facebook and c) YouTube. 3.2 Count occurrences Two methods were deployed to determine if an Asian government used one of the social networking sites. First, a Google search was performed on each of the governments using three keywords: a) the nations name, b) the term ‘government’ and c) the social web site. So, for example, to perform a Google search on Singapore information about Twitter, the search terms would be ‘Singapore, government, Twitter.’ In this case, the result of the search was a direct link to the Singapore national government’s Twitter site, For each of the nations, and social sites, a Google search was performed. If a direct link was listed in the search, this counted as an occurrence. It should be noted that for this approach, possible links results each had to be individually reviewed to determine if the link was a valid government use of the site, versus merely a news link. For example, a search of ‘Israel government Twitter’ brought up a possible link that may have been a government use on YouTube, . However, when viewing this link, it was merely a news video on the Israeli government’s use of Twitter and YouTube, and was not a government-related use of these social sites. Thus, it was important that the researcher individually visited each link on the top 10 Google pages to ensure that the link was related to a government-sponsored use of that social site. It should also be noted that in certain circumstances, links to news articles about a government did give information about that government’s use of a site like Twitter. Thus, the link or information within that article could be used for further research into finding a specific government link within a site like Twitter. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 76
  • 77. The second search involved a direct review of each of the three social sites for government usage. For example, for Facebook, a search was performed for the terms ‘Afghanistan government.’ In this search, over 1,400 results originally came up. The researcher manually reviewed the top 200 results to review if there was a specific area created by the Afghani government. In this case, one of the results was an official site of the Afghani Embassy, which created a cultural site for treasures of the National Museum. However, in order to find this specific site, it was necessary to review a large number of other sites that although they may have come up within a search of ‘Afghanistan government’, they were merely areas created by individuals relating to a topic about Afghanistan, but not directly sanctioned and created by the Afghan national government. Thus, if any government- created site was found on any of the three social sites, it was counted as the government having an official presence on that Web site. It should be noted that the use of the term ‘official’ when dealing with the government’s presence indicates that at least one ministry or entity did use the social network. Besides counting the occurrences of government usage, this study also included a list of which countries practice censorship. This information was gleaned from the Diebert study of global Internet censorship (Diebert, et al. p. 6). 4. Analysis of Results Table 1 shows the usage pattern of three social networking sites for 50 Asian governments. The first column shows 50 countries in Asia. The next three columns indicate whether that specific government has a presence (y) or not (n) on Twitter, Facebook or YouTube. The last column designates whether that government performs some type of Internet censorship of these sites. The results shown indicate that at least one government entity or ministry for that country did utilise the network. Results show that most governments are not fully utilising social networking sites to reach their citizens and other potential users. Nineteen of 50 governments (38 percent) use Twitter, 52 percent have a presence on Facebook and 34 percent use YouTube. It should also be noted that 34 percent of governments have some form of censorship of these social engineering sites. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 77
  • 78. Table 1. Social Networking Usage Results Twitter Facebook YouTube Censors Afghanistan n n n n Armenia n n n y Azerbaijan n n n y Bahrain y n n y Bangladesh n y n y Bhutan n n n y Brunei n y y n Cambodia n y y n China n n n y Cyprus n n n n Georgia y y n n Hong Kong y y y n India y y y n Indonesia y n n y Iran n n n y Iraq y y y n Israel y y y n Japan n y n n Jordan y y y n Kazakhstan y y n n N. Korea n y n y S. Korea y y y y Kuwait n y n n Kyrgyzstan n n n n Laos n n n n Lebanon n y n n Macau y y y n Malaysia y y n n Maldives n y n n Mongolia n n n n Myanmar n n n y Nepal n y n n Oman y n n n Pakistan y n y y Palestinian Terr. n n y n Philippines y y y n Qatar y y y n Saudi Arabia y y y n Singapore y y y n Sri Lanka y y y n Syria n n n y Tajikistan n n n n Thailand n y n y Timor-Leste n n n n Turkey n n n n Turkmenistan n n n y UAE n y n y Uzbekistan n n n y Vietnam n n n y Yemen n n n y Totals 19 (38%) 26 (52%) 16 (34%) 17 (34%) European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 78
  • 79. It is an interesting point that even governments that censor use of some of these sites for their own citizens may still have an official presence on these sites. For example, Thailand censors social sites which defame the monarchy, yet it does have a presence on Facebook where they sponsor an academic scholar program (Thai Government, 2009). In February 2008, Pakistan blocked YouTube for several hours because of a video on the site that the government found offensive (Hayes, 2008). Yet, the research here shows that the Pakistani government uses this exact site, and the Pakistani Army has its own channel on YouTube (PakArmyChannel, 2009). Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates, has the head of government with his own interactive internet site and a Facebook profile. Yet, the Ministry of Information and Culture censors the internet in an effort to curb access to undesirable material including pornography, gambling, issues related to democracy and human rights violations (Davidson, 2009). Government entities or ministries use these sites for a variety of purposes, and the main results for this research are shown in Figure 2. Each instance where a government entity used a site was compiled, and the results were assembled into four main categories: a) official government channels, b) tourism/development, c) academic/education and d) other. For all pages where government pages were found, 46 percent were for national government information or specific individual ministers who created their own informational page. Cambodia, Georgia, Iraq, North Korea, South Korea, Maldives, Nepal and United Arab Emirates have all set up official government pages. The second most popular use was for tourism and development (27 percent). This included pages for tourism ministries, international economic and business development. For example, Hong Kong, Israel and Macau set up tourism ministry pages. Academic and education pages comprised 11 percent of the total. Some governments use social media for educational purposes, such as educating their constituents on a variety of topics relevant to that country. India’s and Kuwait’s governments have set up site on Twitter to help prevent fatal road accidents, and the government of Afghanistan has set up an area for its National Museum. The other pages (16 percent) included diverse ministries including the armies of Bangladesh and Pakistan and Japanese Rail Service. Figure 2. Percentage of Pages for Government Ministries European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 79
  • 80. 5. Implications This study shows that a minority of Asian governments are effectively using Web 2.0 social media to reach Internet users. These sites can provide a plethora of functions and opportunities for governments. However, with limited resources and funding, governments need to develop a strategic plan for the most effective use in order to reach their audience. Asian governments use social sites for a variety of reasons, however, most do not appear to have a concentrated national strategy onto their intended uses. In most cases where media was used, governments maintained a presence for information dissemination, education or tourism. Instead, it is often shown in the results that some specific ministries may take part, but no country has a full-blown strategy that encompasses a comprehensive list of all government agencies. While this study focused on national government usage of social media, future studies could analyse how local or municipal governments exploit this technology, and if there is a significant difference between the two. Local governments may have a different perspective on native issues and services, and could easily develop their own implementation strategies for social media use. Gopakumar (cited by Danis, et al, 2009) argues that local people can play a critical role in the success of how municipal governments provide specific services, and that governments should develop trust of these citizens by disseminating local data on health, education and agriculture. Aitoro (2009) suggests that governments make a concerned effort to ensure that users feel empowered when using these sites, especially the government employees who may be tasked with setting up services on social media. It is suggested that leaders not only tolerate efforts to use the sites, but reward employees who use innovative methods to better serve the constituents. Governments can’t be afraid of small failures when some site functions may not be effective, and should look towards the long-term strategic value of how this technology could be used to share and communicate with the citizens and others. Aitoro (2009) further mentions that agencies should recruit employees who have the business and technical expertise to effectively implement the functions of social media. There are a variety of other factors that governments should consider when effectively implementing a Web 2.0 networking strategy. Kes-Erkul and Erkul (2009) maintain that governments should create feedback mechanisms, which show their constituents that the views are being taken seriously. It is imperative that site users are have input into what functions the government will implement as well as be involved in constant maintenance to the growth. Human Capital Institute (2009) suggests that information about current successful uses of tools on these sites be widely disseminated to encourage government leaders to buy-in to increase in these services. They could emphasise increased communication between various functional groups and government entities. 6. Conclusion This research shows that a preponderance of Asian governments (70 percent) do not use Web 2.0 social media sites to reach their Internet audience. Those that do use the tools tend to concentrate on disseminating information, education and tourism services. This usage tendency is opposite the use of Web 2.0 tools in developed nations, where research has shown a much higher usage rate. With the rise in their citizens using Web 2.0 tools and various social media, governments are not taking advantage of effective methods to communicate and disseminate information to their constituents and other users, such as potential tourists. There is also a lack of strategic direction in governmental approach to services that are implemented. In order to provide a better level of service and reach a greater number of users, government agencies should alter their management attitudes towards European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 80
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  • 83. Sutton, J., Palen, L., and Shklovski, I. (2007). Backchannels on the Front Lines: Emergent Uses of Social Media in 2007 Southern California Wildfires, In Proceedings of the 5th International ISCRAM Conference, May 2008, Washington, DC, USA,(Eds, Fiedrich, F. and Van de Walle, B). Thai Government Scholar Pre-Academic Program. (2009). retrieved December 6, 2009 from Williams, C. and Gulati, G. (2007). Social Networks in Political Campaigns: Facebook and the 2006 Midterm Elections, In: Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, 30-August, 2007, Chicago, Il. USA, retrieved December 6, 2009 from index.html. Xu, C., Cameron, D. and Jiangchuan, L. (2008). Statistics and Social Network of YouTube Videos, In: 16th International Workshop on In Quality of Service, University of Twente, Enskede, The Netherlands, 2-4 June, 2008. pp. 229-238. retrieved December 14, 2009 from http://www.cs.sfu. ca/~jcliu/Papers/YouTube-IWQoS2008.pdf. Authors Joanne Kuzma Senior lecturer University of Worcester European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 83
  • 84. Harnessing the unexpected: a public administration interacts with creatives on the web Regional development policy is supposed to foster new Alberto Cottica business. However, the matching between business projects Kublai, Italian and economic development policies turns out to be very far Ministry of economic from perfect because of the State’s lack of understanding of the development merit of creative projects; of the interference of rent-seeking intermediaries; and of differences in communication styles between the creatives and policy-makers. Trying to bridge the Tito Bianchi gap, the Italian Ministry of Economic Development launched an Department of initiative called Kublai. It helps creative young people living in development the lagging areas of Italy generate entrepreneurial ideas and policies, Italian develop them into feasible projects. To do so, it adopted an Ministry of economic development uncompromising web 2.0 strategy, and found itself exploring the potential of the collaborative web in public policy. Keywords Kublai has put in place and animates a small, mainly online Creativity, web 2.0, regional community of people interested in developing projects with economic development, coaching, economic development potential in the creative industries. peering, emergent evaluation It is meant to be a welcoming environment for those who want to discuss the grit of creative ideas, where competence The biggest challenge for a is rewarded, and transparency makes any shared knowledge web 2.0 project like Kublai easily accessible. is trusting the intuition of outsiders to the State: This experience shows that 2.0 methods can effectively yield enabling them to act in results of public interest that would be out of reach if the ways that may be different government had to rely only on its forces. Creative individuals from what it is expected find in the project staff and in their peers the incentives to from them, yet contributes, develop ideas into feasible projects, while the most innovative in aggregate, to the same collective ends projects find partners and supportive institutions online. Furthermore, as they validate each other’s ideas, evaluation and ranking of creative projects (a notoriously tricky activity) spontaneously emerges as a by-product of their interaction. Paradoxically, in order to exploit this potential, the government has to learn not to do everything on its own, but enabling the initiative of outsiders and acknowledging its own limits. And a policy-maker needs to be very clear about the goals he is pursuing, to afford being so permissive. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 84
  • 85. 1. Introduction What follows recaps the experience of a project called Kublai. Now entering its third year, it is the first - and, to the best of our knowledge, still the only - eGovernment 2.0 project undertaken by a branch of the national government in Italy. This is ironic, because it did not aim at exploring the supposed virtues of the web 2.0 in government. Rather, web 2.0 tools were deployed to solve what the Ministry of Economic Development - the branch on the Italian public administration in question - perceived to be a weak side of its policies: the evaluation and selection of immaterial, creative activities as drivers of economic development. Like President Mao Zedong, we did not care what colour the cat was: a 2.0 cat was perfectly acceptable, as long as it seemed capable of killing this particular rat. For the purposes of this article, this may be an advantage: if eGovernment 2.0 is to be more than just hype, it must prove its usefulness in solving problems facing public authorities, even - and especially - those not particularly interested in eGovernment 2.0 per se. While Kublai concerns itself with the creative economy, we believe that the aforementioned evaluation problem reaches way beyond that, onto areas of government such as education or research, and so do the lessons we draw from this policy experiment. Section 1 states the problem we were facing in terms of processing information. Section 2 describes Kublai as seen from its front end. Section 3 takes a look at its back end, and highlights the role played by its continuously reasserted value system. Section 4 describes Kublai’s early results. Section 5, finally, draws preliminary conclusions. 2. Development policies: an information processing failure At the end of 2007 a group of civil servants in the Italian Ministry of Economic Development were growing dissatisfied with the inability of development and cohesion policies to find their way to young people with backgrounds in the creative industries. The latter seemed very promising as beneficiaries: highly educated and exposed to global trends, they are less self-referential than many traditional beneficiaries in lagging areas, and sometimes their thinking is quite radical, embodying significant potential for change. As we looked on groups of youngsters trying, against all odds, to set up film festivals and web start-ups in remote mountain villages in the Italian South - and sometimes succeeding - it was clear to us that a potential resource for growth was there. We discovered that, even in regions that are flooded with public aid for entrepreneurship and job creation, there are people doing fascinating experimental work, sometimes the most innovative on the local scene, without any help from the state. They do not receive, nor apply for, public funding, among other reasons, because many of them perceive public authorities as distant and opaque, when not downright hostile or corrupt. Our diagnosis was that development policies send out the wrong signals: they confront would-be doers with vague jargon, lengthy forms and less-than-transparent allocation decisions. Worse, public policies are seen to be the hunting ground of intermediaries and consultants that appear to have no hardcore knowledge or skill, yet are able to mount a project on just about anything, from renewable energy to social inclusion of immigrants - and to get funded by paying lip service to the right buzzwords. Though this is not always true, the message that reaches the creative people is that public aid only reaches people who have no in-depth competence or delivery ability about any of the issues they aim their proposals at, and in fact have no real passion either. We conjecture that this happens because of two reasons. The first one is that informational requirements for public authorities to effectively judge proposals from creative people are simply European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 85
  • 86. too high. In order to assess the value of, say, a digital arts festival in the Salerno area you need a thorough knowledge of the area and its people, as well as of the digital arts scene. Given the staggering diversity of the creatives’ obsessions, there is no way that any one authority can possess all of that skill internally. The problem is worsened by the fact that most of these projects start out at a small scale, needing seed funding of a few tens of thousands of euros; whereas backlog-ridden public authorities prefer to fund larger projects, given the high unitary cost of each selection process. Also, a lot of creative projects have large immaterial components, which makes civil servants nervous on accountability grounds. Focusing on single strands of creativity would appear to solve the problem, but in fact it hides circular reasoning: in order to select, say, cinema as a priority over dance, you would need to know enough about creative trends in both cinema and dance to establish that one is more conducive than the other to regional development. No public authority can really know that: and if it could, it would then know enough about creativity and the creative industries to assess proposals comparatively over a broad spectrum. The second reason is that most creatives (as, indeed, most humans) are simply not very good at communicating their ideas in a rigorous, written form - a notoriously difficult, time-consuming activity. They are right at rejecting the obscure jargon of bureaucracy - but wrong in rejecting written communication and business planning techniques altogether. 3. Civil servants explore the web 2.0: designing Kublai’s front end How could creative people be induced to learn how to communicate clearly their ideas? Who could convince them that putting energy into writing a project is worth the effort? The answer seemed straightforward enough: they needed an arena ruled by an ethics of doing, where the merit of each project could be scrutinised; in practical terms, a community predominantly made by the creatives themselves. If we could get a sufficient number of creative people to explain to each other - in writing - about their projects, they could learn from each other, copying successful communication strategies without having to mimic a contrived bureaucratic language. The participation of a small minority number of civil servants into the community would testify the State’s interest in this new approach and provide a few business development tips, without skewing its values or the informal down-to-earth language. A nice side effect of such an environment would be the emergent evaluation of projects; people would naturally participate in discussing the most interesting ideas, leaving the weaker ones aside. Since creatives tend to gravitate towards people who share their own interest, we would have people with music background discussing (and implicitly assessing) music projects; people with arts background discussing visual arts projects and so on. Also - and importantly - by taking part in this community, the Ministry would be able to engage the creatives directly, cutting off intermediaries and middlemen. We conceptualised such an environment as a social network oriented towards the development of creative business. The nodes of the network would be, of course, creative individuals; its links would be creative projects (for example music businesses, cultural tourism products etc.). European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 86
  • 87. The social network of creatives - christened Kublai1 - kicked off in the spring of 2008. Early on we made three design decisions that turned out to be critical in what was to follow. The first one was to entrust the management of Kublai to an external team headed by a project leader (Cottica) from a creative industries background. The second one was to open and maintain multiple channels of communication and interaction within the community. The reasoning for this was that we needed to be where creative people hang out rather than asking them to come to us. The third one was to write no code, but rather use and customise services and software which were available and free. All of our resources and energies would be invested in interacting with creatives, rather than in technology. After some experimenting, we settled into using mainly five channels: 1. a blog (, to be part of the global conversation 2. a social network on Ning (, as a platform for asynchronous interaction 3. a Second Life Island ( as a platform for synchronous interaction 4. a Kublai Facebook group, used mainly to spread the words about events 5. offline meetups. We participate to creative industries conferences and gatherings, and organise our own yearly event, Kublai Camp. Kublai’s social network has a ìProjectsî section, where Kublaians can upload their ideas and invite other creatives to help hone them through public discussion. All tools are used to help creative people develop their ideas in an organised written form. Kublai insists on the written form (project document in Kublai parlance) for several reasons: first of all, creative people can be more effective in bypassing intermediaries and money grabbers if they learn to communicate their ideas clearly and effectively. Furthermore, by writing them down, ideas normally get debugged: people learn what it is that they really want to do. Finally, the written form unleashes the potential of web communities to accumulate knowledge: the discussion on project documents being fully transparent, the progress of one towards his goals, becomes (at least in part) the progress of all participants to Kublai. 4. Nurturing a community and its values: Kublai’s back end The project staff contributes to structuring the interaction between creatives by doing three things. The first one is what we call ìcoachingî: it amounts to reading carefully everything Kublaians write about their projects and giving feedback. Coaching makes use of business development skills; a small team of staffers ensures that every project gets at least some attention. Of course, the popular ones attract a lot of attention from the community too. The second thing is in fact a range of activities performed by staffers recruited from the community itself (we call this group ìcommunity staffî). They welcome new members and new projects; help Kublaians who have questions about how to use the tools (Second Life especially is not particularly intuitive); organise and promote events, such as a Second Life conference series on creative businesses; and monitor and encourage project proponents as they labour through their documents. The third thing is the most important one, and is taken on 1 Kublai Khan is the Emperor in Calvino’s The Invisible Cities. This novel tells of an empire so vast and diverse that the emperor has at best a vague knowledge of its wonders. The only way through which the Khan gets to know it, is by listening to the accounts of a young Venetian merchant, Marco Polo, who has extensively travelled through its many cities. We chose the name as a remainder of how little we, too, really know about Italy’s lagging areas and its people, and how important it is that we listen to their stories. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 87
  • 88. by the whole staff: constantly reasserting and reinforcing Kublai’s values. The explicit insistence on values performs the role of building trust and channeling the interactions towards a dialogue on the merit of projects, and away from socialising per se - or, worse, pointless quarrel (Rheingold, 2000). Kublai’s core values are: 1. openness. Anybody can join Kublai; and we encourage anybody uploading a project to leave it open for anybody interested in joining. An interesting consequence of this is that the definition of ìcreative industriesî ends up being non-ontological: creativity is in the value system, not in the Eurostat 3-digit code. Kublai is full of projects that are, beyond doubt, very creative, but fall well outside the borders of arts in a traditional sense: tech startups, social enterprises, urban games, eDemocracy and so on. Giving up on the ontology of creativity enables self-selection, perhaps the single most important force driving 2.0 social dynamics (Anderson, 2006; Shirky, 2008), while not really losing much in terms of information organisation (Shirky, 2005). 2. transparency. All discussions are public, and all project documents are downloadable, so that participants can (constructively) criticise each other and learn from each other. This creates a certain tension with some of the creatives, who care for their intellectual property and fear that somebody will steal their ideas. 3. peering. We encourage proponents who benefit from being coached in Kublai to give some of their time and expertise back to the community by helping coaching someone else. Many of them do so: a study carried out in April 2009 showed that two thirds of project-related posts on the social network were contributed by the community (with the Kublai team contributing the remaining third) (Rossi, 2009). 4. meritocracy. This setup of free entry and total transparency produces a strongly meritocratic outcome. Just by looking at the numbers of participants to each project (ranging from a few to over 120) and the numbers of replies to threads in the fora it is obvious which projects are most appreciated by the community, and which Kublaians give the most valuable contributions. Kublai prides itself on sharing in the creative ethos it tries to promote, and has adopted an organisational model rooted in hacker culture: a very small core team, which recruits the most active member of the community to help out. The latter are rewarded with a lot of kudos and very small sums of money. This supposedly shows appreciation and respect for the efforts made by Kublaians to keep the community going, while not destroying its gift ethics, and ensures that most people in the staff are not just policy professionals but also people active in the creative industries. The border between staff and community is intentionally blurred and permeable; this is made possible by the fact that the back end of Kublai is itself located ìin the cloudî, as it has no physical headquarters and no business hours. Coordination between team members happens through project management software-as-service; meetings are held in Second Life; and contracts are delivery-based rather than time-based. This organisational model has proven to be very effective in lowering the barriers between Kublai’s institutional core and individual contributors to the project, therefore promoting its sense of community and hacker-like ethics. We feel the latter are necessary for participants to altruistically engage in reviewing and commenting someone else’s project. The down side of this way of organising the workflow is that it is very much at odds with that of public authorities. Middle managers are unwilling to let an employee show up late in the morning if they took part in a help desk in Second Life the night before; even very small contracts of one or two thousand euros generally require a lot of red tape; junior employees are very wary of talking to each other on internal blogs or discussion fora when they know their boss is watching, and they end European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 88
  • 89. up sending emails or making phone calls (which undermines the effectiveness of the many-to-many tools); IT managers place employees’ PCs behind firewalls which ban social networks, and are deaf to requests to open breaches; and most people have trouble accepting the non-seniority based, fun, sometimes confrontational communication style prevailing in the community. At least in the Italian context, locating projects like Kublai outside the institutional and corporate walls increases greatly their chances of succeeding. Web 2.0 is by definition permissive, and it just does not sit well with nonpermissive corporate cultures. There is an inherent conflict between emergence as we witness it in large online communities and control, and public authorities need to learn to navigate it (Tapscott & Williams, 2006; Noveck, 2009). 5. Early results Nearly two years after launch, the social network on Ning has emerged as the main tool. At the time of writing it has over 1,600 registered users who are discussing 250 creative projects. About 60 of them have produced a written document; a few are truly excellent and have received various awards. A small number of them are being deployed. While it is too early to assess Kublai’s impact on firm creation, it seems safe to say that it has built up valuable goodwill and mutual trust among creatives, and between them and the Ministry. The social network records tens of interactions a day, and not a single heated exchange has been recorded to date. People participate eagerly, contributing advice, expertise or simply their two cents to creative projects uploaded by others: the most popular projects on Kublai have over a hundred contributors, and a core of “project healers”, senior members who participate actively in five or more projects, has formed. The project team tries to reward their effort by non-financial means, giving them credit and consulting them on decisions concerning the community2. The opportunity to interact with hundreds of creative people in a space where a meaningful conversation involving hundreds of creative businesses and projects has attracted the attention of some established players in the creative economy. These started to take part in the community, sometimes by simply signing up and engaging the most interesting Kublaians, sometimes by proposing partnership agreements to the Kublai team. Many of them represent, so to speak, the demand side of the creative economy: players who have financial muscle and are on the lookout for ideas to fund. We receive new proposals almost every week: the following is a non exhaustive list of those we have accepted. 1. An Italian venture capitalist participates actively in the community and ìshopsî within Kublai for projects to invest on. 2. Working Capital, Telecom Italia’s venture capital platform, helped organise Kublai Camp 2010 and is planning to invest in some new businesses recruited from within Kublai. 3. Kickstarter, BancaIntesa’s startup programme, is also getting involved, with the programme leader participating in the community and offline events. 4. Fa’ la cosa giusta, the main Italian trade fair for social enterprise, has donated trade fair space for showcasing the Kublai community and its projects. 2 This may look like an impressionistic remark, but is actually picked up by the mathematical properties of the graph describing Kublai. It shows up as a cohesive structure; its cohesion degree is high enough that it does no break up even by removing all staff members from it. This structure is obviously self-organised, and seems to be one of the main vehicles for transporting information across the network (Rossi, 2009). European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 89
  • 90. 5. Livorno’s Polo tecnologico scientifico has donated an MBA to the team which won Kublai Award 2010. 6. Two Italian Regions - Toscana and Basilicata - and the Province of Rome participate formally in Kublai, contributing some resources and expertise. Each is exploring a particular strand of creativity, acting as the community’s point of reference for that strand. Basilicata is primarily interested in physical spaces to host creative business (building on a pre-existing regional project called Visioni Urbane); Toscana looks at creativity as a force to regenerate firms in traditional industries; the Province of Rome looks at creativity as a source of opportunity for self-employment for youngsters. Kublai seems to be asserting itself as a credible platform for fairly diverse players - not just the State - to reach out to creative practitioners, and thereby gain traction on the creative economy. While they do not intend to collaborate in a strict sense, everything they do must be consistent with the values of creativity endorsed by Kublaians; so a collaboration of sort is an emergent property of the system. The role of the State in this process is simply to filter out those that are not consistent with Kublai’s values: rather than setting an agenda, we focus on recreating, day after day, the incentives for bright people with creative ideas to upload them onto Kublai and start discussing them. The better we succeed, the more likely it is that more players, each pursuing its own goals, approach the community with new opportunities. This tends to give rise to a positive feedback: the more it happens, the more attractive Kublai becomes to creatives. The more creatives join Kublai the more the protagonists of the creative economy will want to participate, and so on, in a virtuous circle. Interestingly, these activities of the corporate and other institutional players in the creative economy were not originally designed for, and are themselves an emergent property of the system. In late 2008 Kublai was amended to contemplate explicit collaboration between the Ministry and third parties. 6. Concluding Remarks and Policy implications At this point of this essay, and of the life of this experimental public project, the conclusions that we would have liked to be able to draw are the following: many public sector goals can be effectively pursued by appropriately shaping web 2.0 dynamics. That is, by creating platforms that catalyse the action of numerous private individuals and enable them to act freely in ways that, as a system, amount to the net creation of public value. Such value would not exist without the primary public intervention that organises the people’s voluntary acts around public goals. We have hints that all of the above can be argued, but, in all honesty, we don’t feel we know all the conditions under which it can safely be declared true. For people like us who are actively engaged in discovering what these conditions are, while at the same time trying to put them in place, it may be more reasonable to spend the rest of this article describing the current state of our knowledge regarding what we are learning as we go. The following points summarise some practical knowledge we draw from the experience of Kublai, about what makes creative individuals more willing to share their projects online, to interact with those of others, and more inclined to use the feedback they receive from their peers to advance towards their deployment. They are expressed in general, policy relevant terms, as we believe that they could of use outside the realm of policies for economic development and creativity. The first right move for a public project that aims to activate the potential of the collaborative web is to keep for the State and its institutions a low profile. The web has seen enough state propaganda with little substantive follow-up, that it expects to see more of just that. In order to build citizens’ European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 90
  • 91. trust, actions count while formal lengthy declarations, political messages of goodwill, large obtrusive logos can harm the reputation of even well-meaning initiatives, keeping away the brightest and most advanced individuals. Similarly, in a publicly oriented web community it is wrong to invest too much time in trying to convince people to do things, even what we genuinely consider to be in their own interest. In our case, a creative individual who posts a great innovative entrepreneurial idea may stop pursuing it, for the disappointment of those who would like to help it become a reality. Like in war, we can accept such casualties without losing faith in the final victory. The results that a web project like Kublai achieves need to be verified on a significantly large user base, not in individual cases. After all, the web is the realm of freedom, and the voluntary contribution of individuals, if one works well, can be expected only in probability. The biggest challenge for a web 2.0 project like Kublai is trusting the intuition of outsiders to the State: enabling them to act in ways that may be different from what it is expected from them, as long as we consider these actions to contribute, in aggregate, to the same collective ends. In web 2.0 endeavours, the State’s clearest role is precisely this: guarding the public interest while allowing and encouraging people to try things their own way. After all, the reason to enlist the intelligence of the web towards a public goal is not just to multiply the forces of the public sector, but above all to recruit ideas and solutions that it could not have generated on its own. In the case of Kublai, this happens when the discussion about where the proponent should take her project is “won over” by an idea proposed by a member of the community rather than by that proposed by the staffer coaching the project. For a State institution, accepting that it does not know best becomes - in our experience - easier and more acceptable the clearer policy-maker is about the social goals that it would like to see realised. Clear goals, in fact, have the property of allowing measurement of progress in their direction. In such a context, trusting the intuition of numerous competent independent individuals more than one’s own is a sign of strength, not weakness, for a public authority. In Whitt’s (2009) elegant formulation, the government should be shaping the fitness landscape and feeding the evolutionary algorithm, then let the networked community sort itself out. In the end, the hard part for traditional public authorities is accepting the first premise of working in a collaborative environment: the State need not do everything on its own. In fact it is the notion of public services itself that becomes questionable in the 2.0 setting. The current fascination for the digital world on the part of the government does not amount to a radical innovation in the method or the role of the state, as long as the new media keep being conceptualised just as powerful new “tool” for providing public services. In the long prehistory of eGovernment in which we are living, conceiving the web as a ìtoolî has been useful for public administrations to familiarise themselves with emerging digital technologies, to explore new services and new ways to provide traditional ones. However, as the state embraces more consciously the web 2.0 mode of operation, this metaphor starts showing its inadequacy. Kublai, perhaps the most advanced experience by an Italian public administration in harnessing the potential of the web 2.0, shows this very clearly. The experiment to build a community oriented towards a clear, albeit very specific public goal - generating and evaluating creative projects conducive to economic development - can hardly be assimilated to a service. What is the web, for public administrations who believe that technology can facilitate voluntary collaboration with individuals around public goals? An arena? A place where to look for of help or information? Or should it be seen more simply as the collectivity itself that governments are designed to serve? Certainly it is something more complex than a vehicle to reach some impersonal audience out there, from which public initiatives are separate. For us, Kublai has been more like a journey European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 91
  • 92. through the problem we were trying to solve. The ongoing conversation, gave us hints - mostly in the form of stories about creatives and their projects - that we followed, as explorers charting out a previously unknown territory. We learned a great many things about the people we were trying to help, the conditions they live and work in, how they think about the world. And we learned which external conditions are critical for them to be successful, and why. At this point of the journey, we harbour no hope of solving every problem just by engaging in online conversation and sharing links. But we do find Web 2.0, under the right conditions, to be a formidable space for the State to learn about the things it is interested in, and for people to learn to help themselves. Creating environments with such properties may in the future become a core responsibility of the state, in the same way in which today it is to build physical infrastructure, or to provide basic services like justice and education. References Anderson, C. (2006). The Long Tail, New York: Hyperion. Noveck, B. (2009). The Wiki Government, Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution Press. Rheingold, H. (2000). The Virtual Community - Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier, Cambridge, MC: MIT Press. Rossi, R. (2009). Analisi dell’innovazione nella rete sociale del progetto Kublai, retrieved March 15, 2010 from Shirky, C. (2005). Ontology is overrated, retrieved March 15, 2010 from writings/ontology_overrated.html. Shirky, C. (2008). Here Comes Everybody - The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, New York: The Penguin Press. Tapscott, D. & Williams, A.D. (2006). Wikinomics, New York: Portfolio. Whitt, R. (2009). Adaptive Policymaking: Evolving and Applying Emergent Solutions for U.S. Communications Policy. Federal Communications Law Journal, 61 (3). Authors Tito Bianchi Department of development policies Italian Ministry of economic development Alberto Cottica Kublai Italian Ministry of economic development European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 92
  • 93. European Journal of ePractice The European Journal of ePractice is a peer-reviewed online publication on eTransformation, launched in November 2007. The Journal belongs to the community, is sponsored by the European Commission as part of its good practice exchange activity and is run by an independent Editorial Board. The aim of European Journal of ePractice (EjeP) is to reinforce the visibility of articles as well as that of professionals in eTransformation building an author’s community which will strengthen the overall activity. The publication will promote the diffusion and exchange of good practice in eGovernment, eHealth and eInclusion and will be open access, free of charge to all readers. We have a target audience of 50,000 professionals in Europe and beyond, and built on a community of some 25,000 members. The scope of the European Journal of ePractice reflects the three domains of eGovernment, eHealth and eInclusion. We invite professionals, practitioners and academics to submit position papers on research findings, case experiences, challenges and factors contributing to a successful implementation of eGovernment, eHealth or eInclusion services in Europe and beyond. Read the current calls for papers at Editorial guidelines • Authors: Researchers and eGovernment practitioners at every level are invited to submit their work to Journal • Type of material: Articles, case studies and interviews • Peer-review: The articles are always evaluated by experts in the subject, usually peer-reviewer(s) and member(s) of the portal’s Editorial Board • Length: Full texts of 2,000 - 6,000 words (the word limit may be extended in exceptional cases) • Language: English Article structure • Title (no longer than 15 words) • Executive summary of 200-300 words • Keywords (3-6 descriptive keywords) • Key sentence (single sentence which stands out) • Tables, pictures and figures (attached in separate file) • References according to the guidelines • Author profile must be made public on For the full instructions please visit the submission guidelines at the web page of the European Journal of ePractice. European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 93
  • 94. Editor-in-Chief Trond Arne Undheim Editorial team coordination Constantinos Malliaris Angela Melidoni Editorial board Eduard Aibar Zoi Kolitsi Mike Blakemore Edwin Lau Cristiano Codagnone Jeremy Millard William Dutton Paul Waller Tom van Engers Darrell West Peer-reviewers Ignaci Albors David López Albert Alonso Christine Mahieu Krista Baumane Peter Matthews Peter Blair Filip Meuris Clara Centeno Ingo Meyer Agusti Cerrillo Martinez Morten Meyerhoff Nielsen Michel Chevallier Gianluca Misuraca Mauro Cislaghi Liliana Moga Vincenzo De Florio Camilla Nägler Gianluca Di Pasquale Ismael Olea Rebecca Eynon Eleni Panopoulou Wojciech Glinkowski Rob Peters Syb Groeneveld Sunanda Sangwan Panos Hahamis Rasmus Shermer Mark Hol Hong Sun Georgios Kapogiannis Slim Turki Evika Karamagioli Clémentine Valayer Bram Klievink Rudi Vansnick Stefano Kluzer Eleni Vergi Trond Knudsen Diane Whitehouse Christoforos Korakas Sue Williams Frederik Linden Frank Wilson Paolo Locatelli Helle Zinner Henriksen European Journal of ePractice · Nº 9 · March 2010 · ISSN: 1988-625X 94