Wiki governance

The Berkman Blog of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School (HLS) has a post on "Wiki-Government: How open-source technology can make government decision-making more expert and more democratic," an article by Professor Beth Noveck of New York Law School that appears in the Winter 2008 issue of Democracy, A Journal of Ideas. Prof. Noveck believes that new technology that makes possible "communal pooling of knowledge," such as Wikipedia, can also enable "governance by a professional elite" to evolve into one of greater public participation. She writes:
Our institutions of governance are characterized by a longstanding culture of professionalism in which bureaucrats--not citizens--are the experts. Until recently, we have viewed this arrangement as legitimate because we have not practically been able to argue otherwise. Now we have a chance to do government differently. We have the know-how to create "civic software" that will help us form groups and communities who, working together, can be more effective at informing decision-making than individuals working alone.
Prof. Noveck concludes:
Technology will not, by itself, make complex regulatory problems any more tractable, or eliminate partisan disputes about values. What this next generation of civic software can do, however, is introduce better information by enabling the expert public to contribute targeted information. In doing so, it can make possible practices of governance that are, at once, more expert and more democratic.

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