Sunday, December 21, 2008

Rebooting America

This is an outstanding book for anyone wanting to learn about technology is and can affect the future of our democracy. It’s composed 45 essays, each only 3 to 7 pages long. Therefore it’s an easy read. The essays have been edited down to the core ideas so they are very comprehensible. And, as each essay stands alone, it’s an easy book to carry with you and catch an essay whenever you can. In addition, each of the authors provides a gateway into even more worlds of knowledge on their subject because they are all involved in Internet based applications of democracy. I highly recommend this book.

However, that said, the 45 essays are all about different subjects, so they are impossible to summarize without essentially rewriting the book. A worthwhile task as this book, plus Extreme Democracy and many others would lead to an outstanding book. However, for now, you’re just going to have to read this one at least.

Ester Dyson’s foreword to the book begins with a quote from Thomas Jefferson, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

She opens her essay with, “We have pressing public policy problems, adults who should be leaders yet instead lead willfully sheltered lives of comfort and ignorance, a citizenry increasingly active in elections yet alienated from governance, an amazing array of new digital tools and platforms that have the potential to inform and empower us and let us self-organize in astonishing and effective ways. The stage is ready and the sunlight of the Internet is shining on us: It can provide light and energy for a fertile, thousand-flowers-blooming garden, or it can ignite the whole thing into flames and burn it out.

This anthology of essays is intended to shine light, to spark conversations among citizens, and between voters and elected officials, about how we can engage more people in public problem solving and community building. Just as the Net created new business models, so can it foster new governance models.”

I hope that you will read this book and start some conversations in our group “Reinventing Democracy”.

Rebooting America: Ideas for Redesigning American Democracy for the Internet Age
Fine, Sifray, Rasiej and Levy, Personal Democracy Press, 2008, 248p

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