The way governance can function, has experienced a great change in a lot of cities and areas. Information and communication technologies (ICT) make it possible that citizens can participate in decision making by using digital technologies in order to create a significant impact.
In the video below, Jennifer Pahlka, the Founder of Code for America, discusses the immense possibility that technology offers for government.
Our society is changing, becoming a so called “knowledge society”. But what exactly defines such a society form? A definition, which is pretty easy to understand is, that the knowledge society is one that creates, shares and uses knowledge for the prosperity and well-being of its people. More and more people are interested in new forms of energy and a more sustainable management of our environment. It is a form of association of people with similar interests, who try to make effective use of their combined knowledge about their areas of interest and in the process, contribute to this knowledge.
For a while, “normal” citizens were marginalized from important decisions which have also concerned their lives. They no longer remain passive recipients of government services provided to them, but can pro-actively decide the types and standards of government services they want and the governance structures which can best deliver them. The inhabitants of knowledge societies will be more informed about the socio-economic and political processes which affect them and will be empowered to voice their concerns, and make informed decision on how they would like to be governed and by whom.
ITCs definitely change the way people interact with each other. New modes of communications have become available, which are faster, efficient and have the ability to reach every individual in the society. People should get the change to connect to the Internet every time they want in order to get access to the information pool of the Web and they can broadcast local information into the wider public domain. Knowledge workers are better updated about the events happening in both local and global domain. Not just only Internet accessibility is available all the time, it but also electronic mails, community radios, local area networks and wireless applications. The information flow between different nodes is accelerated by several communication channels, there is a bigger diffusion of information and there are also information exchange interfaces created, where no one is prevented from sharing information over these networks, quite contrary to the traditional ones with hierarchy.
Knowledge isn’t limited within a geographical boundary or selected group of people. Multiple users get access to knowledge and it becomes impossible to obliterate the information hosted on the communication network. Knowledge is empowering. In case of good governance, information is acquired and used strategically for public good purposes. Information should be accessible to everyone, not only to a small group of people for purposes of manipulation and private gains.
Author: Norina Künzl
Date: 4 May 2012