Policy and technology: a "longue durée" view

Random thoughts on policy for technology and on technology for policy


June 2009

Reboot11 follow-up: a fresh look at EU policies

My first time at reboot, and I really enjoyed it. At the beginning I felt there was too much hot air, but then I really liked the design and inspiration that the overall discussion gave me. I particularly enjoyed the mix of non-technical talk, and technical hands-on workshops.
Overall very inspiring especially as a way to organize conferences: incredible how interesting workshop were added on the same day. I loved the light management touch applied to it, and hope to apply it elsewhere. In particular, it was important to get confirmation on the importance of design skills in today complex world.
Anyway, the real reason I was there, was to discuss in a workshop set up by the EC and Nadia the future of EU ICT policies. We all recognized the problem: the ICT innovation policies are SO FAR from ICT innovation practice. We need to get them closer, to bridge the gap. The discussion was a bit messy, as the gap is so wide it is even difficult to nail it down. But it was useful and important, with good and relevant input. In particular, I liked Alberto Cottica points on the risk of having big american companies as infrastructure of public services 2.0; Gianluca Dettori real-life description of the differences between the perspective of a venture capitalist and of government business incubators. And Robin Chase’s social transport projects are so important!
Myself, I tried to give a fresh view of an “insider”. I argued that the main problem of EU ICT research policies is their self-referentiality: they tend to involve always the usual suspects. EU ICT research is getting too boring!!!
I therefore plead for openness to fight self-referentiality. Openness means applying, as I argued some time ago, the peer-to-patent model to project selection for funding (peer-to-project): project proposals should be published, and anybody could comment and rate comments. Government should then decide, using the input of the crowd, but not costrained by it. I also pleaded for a peer-to-policy initiative, in order to make EU policies “up to wikipedia quality standards”.
Finally, I made a new proposal: innovation policies should aim to expose to the serendipity of positive black swans, as Taleb puts it. You need a more flexible model which leaves room for unpredictable outcomes, also in applied research.
I therefore suggested to adopt the art funding model, in particular as adopted by public service broadcasting. When the BBC commissions a creative project, it knows that the result will not be fully in line with the proposal, that they could change during the creative process. Indeed, that is how FLICKR was built, as Ben Cerveny explained to me at iMinds. It was funded by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a game project , but then turned into the most successful photo sharing website. To the best of my knowledge, this is the only major web2.0 services which was created thanks mostly to public money.
We should learn some lessons from this. Could art funding provide a new paradigm for innovation policies?

, , reboot

open declaration: contribute with your or other people’s ideas

One goal of the open declaration is to codify dispersed knowledge about policy recommendations for public services 2.0.
You can contribute posting your ideas and voting others, but also in another important way.
Many people have been making policy recommendations in this sense but there is little consolidation. Please do post ideas you like also by other people.
Here’s some examples:
– William Heath’s WIBBI (wouldnt it be better if) on
– Tom Steinberg’s 5 recommendations
– Futuregov wishlist
– US opengov idea-storm
– Andrea di Maio’s blog entries
– any other
Thanks for your help

Public services 2.0: please help building a contribution to the EU strategy

At the EUPS20 workshop, we concluded that we want to engage in the definition of the next EU ICT strategy, following i2010. We feel that government strategies are still detached from how innovation happens today in the web. At the same time we are not happy with just showing off cool web2.0 initiative and complaining about the government approach to IT innovation: it’s time to give constructive inputs to government strategies.
In particular, the EU governments will meet in Malmo in November 2009 and they will agree on a common ministerial declaration, as they do every two years, which will define the policy priorities in Europe for the next three years. It’s necessary and urgent to engage in this process and give constructive input into this process by leveraging collective intelligence.
Therefore, we launched a platform to build collaboratively an Open Declaration on Public Services 2.0
Let’s bring collective intelligence to work. Please contribute with your ideas and recommendations!

We are hopeful that if we come out with good quality of input and quantity of participants, the declaration will be officially presented at the Malmo conference.

I would be grateful if you could disseminate this initiative through your blogs. We need a step-change in e-government policies and it’s our responsibility to make it happen.

paradigm changes illustrated through manifestos: the Ghent declaration on ICT and creativity

We live in a time of change, we are looking for new frameworks to express the deep change we’re living.
I see a growing trend towards the collective definition of values through manifestos, maybe related to the Cluetrain manifesto. For me it shows we have a deep intuition of a change and we’re trying to codify it.
Off the top of my mind, I can mention the Development 2.0 manifesto, the open data principles, the W3C document on open government data, and Alorza’s plea for making manifestos out of the workshop.
It is clear that manifestos are not the goal, but a tool to nail down the conversation into something concrete, avoiding the buzzwords and empty talks.
And this was exactly the spirit of the workshop we organized at iMinds , where research organisations from all over Europe spelled out a new common vision for ICT innovation policies in Europe, as a contribution to the renewed i2010. The Ghent declaration is available here.


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