Openness and transparency in politics is important. Very important. It gives indications of how legitimate a political system is. It gives us better possibilities to check whether the politicians are doing the job they already promised us they should do. The more secretive, the more suspect, in my opinion. New technologies are giving politicians new tools to open up communication, decision making, influencing, governance, etc. I have written about possibilities for wiki foreign policy earlier, and recently, Pål Hivand wrote (in Norwegian) about how different public entities can open up for the social web.
To name an example, EU’s lobby register or “Register of interest representatives” opened up this week, and so far, 79 companies/lobbyist have registered (it has already been criticised for being voluntary and without names on lobbyists, just the company). Norway doesn’t even have a lobby register – how is that possible? Here is the American register.
But much more radical are Barack Obama’s ideas for utilizing technology in public administration. Take a look at his technology ideas. Among his ideas are:
* Protect an open Internet
* Better filtering systems for parents
* Safeguard rights for privacy
* Open up government for citizens – by making governmental data available for the public, open up decision making processes, make is possible for citizens to follow and participate in public meetings online
* Online town meetings.
* Employ blogs, wikis and social networking to modernize agenzies to modernize governmental decision making.
These are just a few of his ideas, which seems very promising. In the latest issue of Morgenbladet, I wrote about (in Norwegian, requires access to the archive) how EU should steal some of Obama’s ideas, especially when it comes to communcating and explaining their policy, which EU is struggling to make sense for ordinary people, such as the Irish. It might seem unfair to compaire EU and the US, two so very different systems, but still, Obama’s ideas can and should be utilized in other political system. He has already proved he is able to build up an enormous grasroot organization with 1,5 million email addresses from donors and even more from other supporters.