Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Citizen Voice and Permeable Government

The Missing Link: Citizen Voice

What became clear to me from writing my previous blog entry, "The Three Forces of Positive, Leaky Government" is that the Government <-> Citizen border is missing a service to manage citizen voice to government. In other words, all three services mentioned previously provide voice for government to citizen. All three services are immensely valuable.

However, the only voice citizens really have is their votes into government which seem to go unheeded. Furthermore, the prospects for improvement of the situations are poor given the recent Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decision to allow interference and sabotage of elections by third parties, e.g., big money and foreign corporations. SCOTUS (or at least, five of its nine members) seems to have an agenda of its own in conflict with citizens rights. So citizen voice is essentially being legislated out of the government by SCOTUS.

Meanwhile, citizen data (e.g., voting and issues) demands are being lost at the border to government. They go in at election time, and they largely fail to come back out. I believe we need to capture citizen voice on the way into the government, so that it can be retained in memory. No service that I know of has yet sprung up to manage citizen voice. (And no, the political parties seem to have their own agendas as well.) Yet, citizen voice is among the most important data in a democracy since it addresses elected officials' integrity and the performance of government. So, I hope to see in the future a fourth, complementary category of citizen data management to represent citizen voice to government:
  1. government -> citizens by government (#1 from previous blog entry)
  2. government -> citizens by citizens (#2)
  3. government -> citizens by third party services, e.g., innovative startups (#3)
  4. citizen voice -> government by anyone (new and necessary)
Permeable Government

Citizen voice is crucial. While candidates pay lip service to citizen voice at election time, citizen voice is all too often unheeded after election time. Up to now, unless journalists make an issue of broken promises, politicians generally survive unscathed to get reelected. I believe collecting and applying citizen voice over time would lead to a sea change in government (and a lot of resistance from the political parties et al. as well). So if citizens make requests at election time, that citizen voice data could be collected, managed, and applied beyond election time.

The citizen data is at least as important as the government data --- if nothing else than for accountability of our elected officials. Citizen voice is the obvious missing link of managing data not from government to citizens, but from citizens to government. I believe citizen voice collection would add an extremely valuable asset to the government <-> citizen border. Citizen voice could be among the most valuable assets to come out of Gov20 initiatives.

If citizen voice could be heard, then perhaps Leaky Government could even graduate to Permeable Government.

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