Policy and technology: a "longue durée" view

Random thoughts on policy for technology and on technology for policy


March 2010

the deep roots of gov20: five books I’ll talk about at ForumPAs

Pursuing the co-designing of the speech I’ll give at #ForumPA, I would like to talk about books that apparently have nothing to do with the topic but which in my view explain well the depth of the wider societal change that lies behind gov20. These books are:
– Change by Design, by Tim Brown
– The Black Swan, by Nassim Taleb
– The Hacker Ethic and the Spirit of Information Society, by Pekka Himanen
– Liquid Modernity, by Sigmunt Baumann
– Linked, by Albert Barabasi
– The Gift Relationship, by Titmuss

Because the other speakers are so high-level, I need to stand on the shoulders of giants!

What should I talk about? Co-designing my speech at Forum PA

I am flattered to be invited to give a Lectio Magistralis at Forum PA on May 19th, the main Italian event on public innovation.
I am actually slightly ashamed, because of the other people invited to give the “Lectio” are Amartya Sen (yes, you read well) and Irene Tinagli, an Italian scholar who collaborated with Richard Florida.
Because it’s important, I would like to prepare it well and make sure that I meet the expectations of the people who will be there. So I thought: let’s co-design it! I will write my line of thinking, and I ask you to provide feedback and comments (whether you will actually be there or not).
At the moment, the things I would like to talk about are:
– gov20 is part of a wider change, related to ex-post world: complex/liquid society, serendipity, design thinking
– there are excessive expectations about participation: we have always assume people don’t want to participate. Gov20 is very important and impactful but not because we crowdsource government – we augment it
– what are concrete actions that we can do: working on skills; the example of prizes such as INCA, other inspiring examples from Obama administration
– what concrete actions government should avoid: using robot.txt, regulating public internet access…

What else should I focus on?

paradigm shift: we live in an ex-post world

I am very interested in bringing together different research streams on complexity, postmodernity, design thinking, new innovation models and web 2.0. Working on this, but this is all still up in the air.
Here I would simply to point to an association of ideas. I see a pattern in many of today’s trends, in that they try to govern complexity by adopting a soft control and steering ex-post, rather than rigid planning ex-ante.
There are 2 convergent trends behind this:
– reduction in costs for developing products and services, which makes it possible to “try it out”
– recognition of the complexity and unpredictability of society

 Here are some common buzzwords that reflect this ex post approach:
– Shirky’s “publish then filter” approach
perpetual beta
liquid modernity
innovation without permission
fail fast, fail cheap
learning by doing
information flows not stocks
design thinking, prototypes, tinkering

This has deep implications for policy. We need ex post policy for an ex post society.
– awards-based schemes such as INCA and AppsforDemocracy. Give funding to the innovative products, not to the innovative proposals.
– multi-stage funding. A small grant at the beginning to develop the prototype, then a second stage funding based on the concrete results.

I know this is confused, but if someones is also interested on these topic, would be great to chat.

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