From wikinomics to the Tea Party, revisited

Category: NGOs & Government
Published on Oct 10, 2010

The WSJ had a nice piece on Macrowikinomics last week (pdf here). My only complaint is that Crovitz put the usual WSJ spin on our work on the future of government by arguing for “less government” rather than “better government.” Here’s a clip from Crovitz’s article:

The rate of technological change is exhilarating for some and nerve-racking for others, but it should be most terrifying to the political class. The disconnect between the frenetic pace of creative destruction in the private sector and the calcified, operating-as-always approach in government helps account for disaffected young Obama supporters on one side and fed-up tea party members on the other. . .

Digital technologies now accelerate the pace of this change, expanding beyond Gutenberg by giving people new ways to communicate and or- ganize with one another. Institutions that don’t adapt will fail, whether in industry or government. The unstoppable force of the market will transform business, but it will take popular discontent—another form of mass collaboration— finally to bring government down to a size and role suitable for the Information Age.

It’s true that governments could tap into social innovation to lower the cost of government. And there is little doubt that the fiscal challenges facing governments while drive the need to find new efficiencies, share resources, eliminate redundancies and build public services that make better use of existing capabilities in society.

However, it’s not about bringing “government down to a size and role suitable for the Information Age,”  but about using the Information Age to make governments smarter and more effective in delivering public value. Indeed, with the potential for disruptive environmental and social change looming, we may need more government in the future, not less.

Like the WSJ, most people recognize that the old monolithic and sclerotic structures of government will not do the job. But the answer is not to ask governments to get out of the way–a simplistic, dead-end aim. Instead, we should be calling on citizens and other organizations to get more involved in creating positive change through the kind of multilayered networks that we describe in macrowikinomics. If we are to create a more sustainable and prosperous future, everyone — including citizens, governments and businesses — will need to get better at channeling public ingenuity into the process of governing.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a comment