This was an assignment for class, Open Source Software.
I’ll be summarizing “How the Internet will (one day) transform government” by Clay Shirky
The main point that Shirky was making is that communication has fundamentally changed and our government should reflect that. Open government, as it works today, is only open one way, with information going from government to constituents. The open source model, by contrast, allows information to go both ways, from government to constituents and people to the government. The ability for people to directly communicate with their government and with other people makes the communication two way, allowing more access for everyone involved.
I have some experience with communicating with my government. I call my senator, Ted Cruz, on a near-weekly basis, usually telling his staffers that I appreciate their work but I disagreed or agreed with some platforms or positions. I’m kind to the staffers and tell them what I think, but they usually say very little about the Senator’s positions. I would love to be able to have Ted Cruz, or more likely his staffers, to answer me directly. Our communication is me calling them and they noting the call but otherwise not saying much. The only direct communication I’ve received has been in the form of a Christmas card. Government can and should do better to communicate directly with us, the people.
I do not, however, want us to get to a government transparency as seen in the book, The Circle. There, government officials wear a camera that shows all of their meetings and all of their conversations for anyone to see. That’s a level of transparency that leads to privacy issues for all involved, which is a separate conversation!