Last week I spent two days at the Personal Democracy Forum in Barcelona. It was a very international conference which allowed me to know what’s the state of e-government worldwide. And it does not look very well: the conference was filled of e-marketers with e-governors not yet ready to talk about what they are doing. So what’s wrong?
I am afraid e-government is still such an experiment that nobody feels very proud of what’s being done. As David Osimo, one of the best minds in this area of knowledge, said, “people don’t want to participate”, so we might have too big expectations. So is there a hype around e-government? Kind of. It’s clear this is the only way things can work, but politicians don’t realize this is not so easy.
Obama’s case is a good example of how political power is moving in the direction of the people, but I am afraid many strategists still think this is some kind of marketing miracle. In fact, two of the main sponsors of this conference were Linkfluence and La Netscouade, two online agencies whose main goal is to “influence on social networks so that political messages get thru Internet users” and to “optimize communication strategies”.
Web 2.0 is here but politicians (and most companies) only seem interested on it as a marketing tool, as a way to keep them in power. And they are so wrong. Web 2.0 is not good in itself. Politicians are not going to win elections by creating social networks and Flickr profiles. This is not the way. They will only win them if they engage with citizens, and this is a matter of time, of a long standing work. This will probably happen firstly in a local level and later at all levels, and specially on health care.
And if it ever becomes true, will we need any more governments? “The real institutions won’t go away, people will group around issues”, answered Susan Pointer, one of Google’s European lobbyists. “We-government: the future government’s main function: ‘let’s connect people”, said Scott Heiferman, one of the founders of Meetup, in a speech titled “We-Government”.
Anyway, these are the most interesting things that I could listen to at the conference:
1. On e-democracy:
2. On political marketing:
3. On Europe: