A former mayor of San Francisco introduces methodology to improve citizens’ interaction with their government through the Internet.
Newsom, the lieutenant governor of California, reflects fondly on his mayoral terms and his efforts to accelerate the learning curve for an often bogged-down city government operating “on the cutting edge—of 1973.” As founder of an impressive array of small Bay Area businesses, the author understands the power and influence technology can wield—but how to harness and channel it to engage smart, forward-thinking consumers with their respective bureaucracies? Overcoming governmental “technophobia” is key to bridging that gap, but disinterest, privacy concerns and procurement costs are also roadblocks. Newsom cites many affirmative initiatives on data sharing, governmental transparency and numerous interactive applications like QR codes or his “Citizenville” gaming concept. While conducting research, the author came into contact with a host of technologically savvy professionals, from software pioneers and hyperproductive tech executives to fellow entrepreneurs and even George Clooney, who laments the death of individual privacy. Newsom’s pitch for a compulsory donation system to co-fund government projects or the concept of incentivizing to gain more rapid solutions is certainly progressive. An idea to offer $1 billion to the innovator of a cure for a constantly morphing disease like AIDS, however, comes off like a lofty campaign promise. Still, the book remains fresh and lively with Newsom emerging as a persuasive, if fast-talking, progressive proponent focused on how best to “radically rethink the relationship between citizens and government.”
Empowering, motivating and just a tad self-indulgent.