Collaborative democracy—government with the people—is a new vision of governance in the digital age. Wiki Government explains how to translate the vision into reality. Beth Simone Noveck—named one of Foreign Policy's Top 100 Global Thinkers for 2012—draws on her experience in creating Peer-to-Patent, the federal government’s first social networking initiative, to show how technology can connect the expertise of the many to the power of the few. In the process, she reveals what it takes to innovate in government.
Launched in 2007, Peer-to-Patent connects patent examiners to volunteer scientists and technologists via the web. These dedicated but overtaxed officials decide which of the million-plus patent applications currently in the pipeline to approve. Their decisions help determine which start-up pioneers a new industry and which disappears without a trace. Patent examiners have traditionally worked in secret, cut off from essential information and racing against the clock to rule on lengthy, technical claims. Peer-to-Patent broke this mold by creating online networks of self-selecting citizen experts and channeling their knowledge and enthusiasm into forms that patent examiners can easily use.
Peer-to-Patent shows how policymakers can improve decisionmaking by harnessing networks to public institutions. By encouraging, coordinating, and structuring citizen participation, technology can make government both more open and more effective at solving today’s complex social and economic problems. Wiki Government describes how this model can be applied in a wide variety of settings and offers a fundamental rethinking of effective governance and democratic legitimacy for the twenty-first century.
Praise for the book
"The Internet has taught us that good ideas come from everywhere. Wiki Government translates that lesson for policymakers. With a compelling blend of high theory and practical know-how, Beth Noveck explains how political institutions can directly engage the public to solve complex problems and create a better democracy."
—Eric Schmidt, chairman and CEO, Google Inc.
“After more than fifteen years of public service, I've seen firsthand the difference it makes when government focuses on meaningful, measurable outcomes. Wiki Government shows how citizens' voices and expertise can transform and help deliver effective, efficient government. This book is a must-read for policymakers committed to participatory democracy.”
—Timothy M. Kaine, governor of Virginia
“Wiki Government both instructs and motivates policymakers to use collaborative tools to strengthen government accountability and engage citizens directly in this critical endeavor. This book is not just for tech geeks and policy wonks but also for the millions of Americans who demonstrated in 2008 how eager they are to engage individually in government reform.”
—John Podesta, president and CEO, Center for American Progress, and former White House chief of staff
"At once visionary and pragmatic, Wiki Government offers the first glimpse of how public officials might enlist the wisdom of crowds in order to improve government's decisions—while promoting participation at the same time. A brilliant book and a truly extraordinary achievement.”
—Cass R. Sunstein, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
“Beth Noveck concretely shows how to leverage the participatory nature of Web 2.0 technologies to build a new kind of participatory democracy and a smart, lean government. A must-read not just for policy folks and the digerati but for any of us wanting to understand how to tap the collective and diverse wisdom of the American people to create a better, more connected style of democracy.”
—John Seely Brown, former chief scientist, Xerox Corp.
“Beth Noveck is one of the most innovative thinkers working today on how to reform government using digital technologies. Her theory of collaborative democracy is a genuine advance. Wiki Government offers indispensable advice for anyone who wants to learn how to foster democratic participation in digital environments.”
—Jack M. Balkin, Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment and director of the Information Society Project, Yale Law School
“A fascinating look at how government can be transformed for the needs and opportunities of the twenty-first century.”
—Don Tapscott, coauthor of Wikinomics and author of Grown Up Digital