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December 14, 2008

Lawrence Lessig Read/Write Government

Larry Lessig is about to embark on yet another big, audacious project. Delegates to the Public Sector Innovation Summit in Stockholm during Nobel Week got a preview.

For those who have followed Lessig's public sharing of his scholarship and activism, his new arc of work on (re)framing the relationship between corruption, trust, and the financing of government is as exciting as it is a daunting undertaking. The goal of a transparent (read/write) government finds a recent instantiation in the call to the Obama transition team for an Open Government Transition

Lessig's keynote to the Summit was itself a mashup of previous presentations. The theme of read/write culture can be viewed in these three re-mixed talks.

First, the theme of (dis)trust and different types of economies and their deep cultural origins can be gleaned from this talk in New Zealand.

Second, the theme of (re)mix culture and the difference between the 'read only' culture of the 20th century and the emergence of 'read/write' culture in the 21st century and the rise of hybrid models can be viewed in this presentation on keeping culture free.

Finally, the link to the themes of trust and the future of governance issues in the United States are available here in his proposal for principles for a new Congress.

In his presentation Lessig observed that most geeks view all problems as having a technical solution. In the case of re-invention of democracy, machines are not the answer. With masterful, rational reasoning, Lessig made clear that the 'first' issue that must be attended to in a fully read/write government is changing the rules for financing our democratic project. The corrosive impact of private financing of democracy has eroded the very trust principles which are required in creating legitimacy, the underlying first rule of democracy.

The new administration in Washington faces the unenviable twin challenges of triage and transformation. The same can be said of most governments today. It remains to be seen whether the 'all hands' approach to attending to the current economic crisis, stimulus, and triage will leave any cycles for the re-imaging, re-invention, and re-invigoration of a new read/write government and a forward leaning economy for the 21st century.

Lev Gonick
(Back In) Cleveland, OH
December 13, 2008

Posted by lsg8 at December 14, 2008 11:17 AM and tagged

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