24 June 2009

How people power can transform Britain

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Reboot Britain
The Independent is publishing a collection of essays to launch NESTA’s ‘Reboot Britain’ programme.

Reboot Britain will explore the role new technologies and online networks can play in driving economic growth and radically changing public services. The programme will begin with a one day event on 6th July which will look at the challenges faced as a country and how the combination of a new digital technologies and networked ‘Digital Britons’ can produce innovative solutions to tackle them.

Diane Coyle (leading economist and author) on the Reboot Britain essays
The essays in this collection were commissioned as ‘provocations’. They have lived up to that challenge. The areas covered include education, entrepreneurship, healthcare, climate change, democracy – in fact the whole terrain of politics and public policy.

Lee Bryant (Headshift) on How people power can reboot Britain
Placing people at the centre of a more innovative and more agile public sector is Lee Bryant’s priority, to enable ‘smart’ government – ‘big’ in its inclusiveness, ‘small’ in its bureaucracy. Fewer initiatives, more open data, and more feedback from users are required to deliver this.

Andy Hobsbawm (Green Thing/Agency.com) – All Together Now: social media to social good
Andy reminds us that socially motivated activity is an intrinsic part of life and celebrates how this is already being organised and aggregated online in powerful ways. New ways of contributing together with the highly visible ways in which the impact of that participation can be seen hold the potential for an unprecedented level of global action and global understanding.

Paul Miller (School of Everything) – Weary giants and new technology
Paul hopes that an ecology of private start-ups, social entrepreneurs and government investment can be created to deliver services that are better and more effectively targetted. The digital world is not about content, but about organisation, he argues; cyberspace is not a world apart but rather a tool for re-imagining and re-creating the real world. READ IT!!

Micah Sifry with his Lessons from America
Micah takes from President Obama’s campaigning and early months in government the lesson that open and collaborative government with many, many citizens involved is feasible and powerful. And notes that this embrace of online power is ‘inherently disruptive’: “What happens when those numbers climb into the millions, and people who have been invited to have a voice now expect to be listened to?”

Tom Steinberg (mySociety) talks about how Open House in Westminster
Tom assesses where the culture of transparency enabled by the internet can powerfully be applied to parliamentary processes in a way that is truly transformative. This is much more of a challenge than simply becoming competent in the latest tools and technologies, but instead requires a deep level of understanding of the capabilities of the internet together with an appetite for radical openness.

Paul Hodgkin (Patient Opinion) on How the new economics of voice will change the NHS
Paul wisely puts the promise of technology in its social context and argues that managers in healthcare must build productive technology-mediated relationships with patients. If they do, they will learn much from the empowered and passionate citizenry.

Jon Watts (MTM London) on Getting the balance right
Jon notes the opportunities the digital world offers new businesses but sounds a warning about the limits, too, for British companies lacking the scale needed to compete effectively in increasingly crowded media markets. He offers some proposals that focus on the needs of emerging UK innovators and, most importantly, on what he describes as: “The collective, collaborative efforts of the people we used to refer to as the audience.”

Julie Meyer (Ariadne Capital) looks at A day in Entrepreneur Country
Julie would also like to see less of the wrong kind of government. She argues that despite a significant cultural shift, Britain is a long way from reaching the destination of ‘Entrepreneur Country’, and amongst her many recommendations is simply less cash being taken out of new businesses in taxes.

Daniel Heaf (4iP) on Next please – placing your bets in the digital economy
Dan wants to ensure Britain controls its own digital destiny by properly directed investment, using public value as a guiding light for private businesses as well as public organisations – and all the more so as taxpayer money is supporting so much new technology investment.

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