Jim Kent:

"Human change initiatives must work at social, economic, and ecological levels if they are to succeed."

Open Source, Gov 2.0: Very Compelling

Posted by Harley Powers Parks on March 25, 2010


Open Government
Title: Open Government
Author(s): Daniel Lathrop, Laurel Ruma
Publisher:O’Reilly Media
Released: February 2010
Cost: $44.99

I have just started reading “Open Government” and I am already thinking I need to buy this book for my friends in government and expense it. I really would like to see a lot of comments on this book, before I finish it, because I don’t completely want to believe the author’s take on where US is going.

However, I will just post before really getting into this book, I might need to retract my comments. So please read on with this in mind.

As the book starts off in the first person, I hear Mr. Lathrop, and then another author chimes in, then another as this is a collection and a discussion of ground breaking ideas.
However, I am on the edge of my seat as the young and talented authors expression and thought pour out of these pages. I am suspicious on where this is going and what he/she is selling…. which is to get me to think of Government as a Platform.

My perspective, I don’t really like what happened during the dot com bubble and I am disappointed with all of the start ups promising glory and the investors who seem to have been suckered. I am not an expert on any of it, but during this time I really was wondering why the old timers where buying into the kids selling cracked ideas. While so many of us Spatial IT types where cutting amazing ground, but there was less interest in pulling in grounded concepts than the high world changing smoke and mirrors.

Okay, I am jealous, but I have heard of so many stories of Computer Science grades with zero experience, spending a week or two, creating a webpage and a database, and selling it for millions. I suspect the whole event was more of a hacking of wall street, through the ingenuity and genius of the DotCom’ers.

I can’t put it down, I need to know where this is leading, it sounds like great ideas, but still I am not sure. This better not be Cool-Aid.

Gov 2 point O?

I am already believing he might be right, maybe he is.

We need to be clear, we need to test this, we need to debate this before buying in.

Radical Thoughts, Life Changing Ideas.

I hope US is ready.

Regards,

Harley Powers Parks

P.S. If you have book reviews you would like to post, please contact Jim

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One Response to “Open Source, Gov 2.0: Very Compelling”

  1. Jim Kent said

    Harley’s comments on this book reflect where I see society moving. Collaboration, participation, citizen-based stewardship, sustainability, livability are all part of the emerging Age of Ecology. The Age of Ecology had its origins with Ed Ricketts who owned the Pacific Biological Laboratory on Cannery Row. He wrote an amazing book called Between Pacific Tides after his and Steinbecks excursion to the Sea of Cortez. This was one of the earliest books on ecology written in the 1940’s. He predicted the demise of the sardine industry, trackiing his indicators to the very year that the sardines did not come backi. This was followed by Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” which documented the physical ecological distruction of America’s grasslands known as the dust bowl. In California the Oklahoma migrants trying to find work ran into a social ecological disaster when there was no protection for them from predatory farmers who exploited their condition. It was a government camp where the Jodes finally found control and predictablity of their environment.
    A U.S. government run camp that provided an safe island in a sea of inhumanity. Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” in the early 1960s set the stage for the first federal laws to protect our environment from continued exploitation by the industrial complex. NEPA, Clean Water Act,Clean Air Act, Coucil on Environmental Quality, new regulations for all federal departments, especially Interior and the USFS. At the same time the social inequities were being addressed by the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voters Rights Act, War on Poverty including Head Start, Legal Aid, Neighborhood Health Centers. Environmental protection and social justice arived in our system at about the same time.

    Thus began our move as a nation from the Industrial Age to the Age of Ecology. It was the strong environmental movement that carried the burden while other profound shifts were taking place in our society. Citizen awareness to their external environments and the fact that they could impact those environments that oppressed them began to fall into place. Informal networks of people to people began to become firm and a way of surviving, taking care of each other and maintaining ones culture began to gain strength. It became clearer and clearer that oppressive systems in the formal order that fed our politicians were to come under siege. The current turmoil that looks like chaos is the adjustment of our citizens to an ecological age. Ecology requires collaboration, participation, deep democracy all concepts that are currently being driven by a major trend called citizen-based stewardship.

    The election of Barack Obama was the institutionalization of the shift from industrial age exploitation to the ecological age of caring for our physical, biological, social, cultural and economic environment. The major crisis in banking, climate change,exploding oil rigs and refineries are all indicators of an end of the industrial era where citizens lives are exploited for narrow vested interests to accumulate wealth at the expense of the enviroment and society. So what we see in this book is the emergent of formal government, systems that must get their strength and ligitimization from the citizens in their informal networks, from citizen-based ecological stewardship, and not formal groups. Those groups were essential in the tranformation from industrial to ecological, but the future will be based on a new phoenix of people in their geographical areas, their human geographic boundaries, taking control of their immediate environments through participation, gaining predictability in a manner where others do not have to be oppressed for individual gain.

    Indeed there is a new era arising and it is profound.

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