The Future of Citizen Services

I m prone to idea flurries. Regularly, these idea flurries result in some kind of social media project. They ve often included a domain name, and, back before we called it social media, a blog. Some have been successful, like savecivicpark. Others, not so much, like enviroinvestors or traveltokyojapan.
In the last couple years, the idea flurries have begun to center on social sites like Facebook and, increasingly, Twitter. All of this to lead into a little project I kicked off this past weekend, citizensuite. What is it? Well, right now, it s a domain name and a Twitter account retweeting open data information. What it will be, I m not quite sure, either. But what it *wants* to be is a response to the services commoditization component of Gov 2.0. With OpenID reaching out to government, open API projects like Open311, and the increasingly mobile-yet-connected and borderless lifestyle of the middle class, we are quickly approaching an era of My.gov (hat tip to journalist Alexander Howard for that term). Imagine a near future where the central unit of government and business is not a state or municipality, not a corporation, but the individual or a decentralized coalition of individuals. That s not to say that the traditional institutions will disappear, but they will become increasingly less powerful. The idea behind citizensuite is that services and products need to be puzzle pieces that build a picture of civic life around those individuals and networks. That s what I was thinking about this weekend, that and that the browser is a prison.

– Adriel Hampton is a San Francisco public servant and producer of the Gov 2.0 podcast. Sometimes he has idea flurries.

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3 thoughts on “The Future of Citizen Services

  1. “Imagine a near future where the central unit of government and business is not a state or municipality, not a corporation, but the individual or a decentralized coalition of individuals.”

    This baffles me. Can you elaborate?

  2. Yes, Adriel, I’m like Ari. I’m not clear on exactly how the mechanisms hang together into something useful for policy making. There are issues on different political levels that may or may not intersect in a policy issue, for which the complexity of communication in the entire “coalition”, if it became politically relevant, might dwarf discussion on the micro level or swamp us in necessary detail at the macro level or both. It seems to me there’s a very real filtering or perhaps “condensing” problem if relevance of the micro is to be maintained on a macro playing field and vise versa. I hate to say it, but too much communication can be a bad thing by confusing every issue; making every issue so complex that the policy can’t be grappled with effectively.

  3. I’m not advocating, but prognosticating. And I don’t think this is going to be something that all people participate in. However, zero-cost communications is leading to an intensely globalized world, and the individual or network of individuals is going to become increasingly important. That, or we could get a distopian future where corporations take over for governments, or where governments begin to assert greater controls over individuals.

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