21st January 2009
Read it twice. This contains some highly significant ideas.
I argue that we should abolish the Freedom of Information Act and instead make transparency the default for government’s business, which should occur digitally and in the open, so citizens may search, link, comment on, and analyze it. Rather than our asking the government to release our information, the government should ask our permission not to.
Well, that ain’t gonna happen, and anybody who thinks that it might is smoking and not sharing.
The most interesting point is the one that the author entirely misses: The internet allows public officials, especially public officials who are trying to move beyond the comfort zone of the Nomenklatura, direct access to the public.
Reagan used radio and television to speak directly to the American people when he couldn’t get his programs past Congress and the bureaucracy. Then the dinosaur media caught on — and when Bush had some twitches in that direction, they went all passive-aggressive gatekeeper on him. But the Internet seriously degrades the establishment’s gatekeeper power, whether broadcast or print. And the various government-sponsored web sites are the key to that revolution.
IF OBAMA IS AS SMART AS HIS WORSHIPPERS ALL KEEP SAYING HE IS, the White House web site will have links to his position on every single scrap of legislation and every single controversial issue that pops up its ugly head — and he will have a position on every such issue. If you want to know what the administration’s position is on any subject, you won’t have to depend on the Spin Cycle media; just go right to the source and ask the horse. The danger here is the White House internal bureaucracy. As in any bureaucracy, control of information is power, and bureaucrats like sharing information/power about as much as they like spending their own money.
Let’s see if he (a) understands the opportunity and (b) has the balls to use it.
These will be interesting times.