Is Web2.0 about values?

Posted: March 29, 2010 in Gov20
Tags: , , , , ,

I see a consensus around that web2.0 is about values rather than tech. I recently read Pekka Himanen, the Hacker Ethic, and realized that the values of web2.0 are exactly the same that he describes very effectively: openness, mutual sharing, passion, creativity, peer review, fun, rejection of hierarchies.
Himanen writes:

”we have seen how this model (hacker) can create great things in the cyberspace without the mediation of companies and government. It remains to be seen which great things the direct collaboration of individuals can do in our “flesh and bones” reality”.

Web1.0 was Geocities with 250.000 personal homepages, while Web2.0 is 70 million blogs. It’s a difference in scale that generates a difference in nature. A quantitative difference that generates a qualitative difference.

That’s the same about the underlying values. Web2.0 is the hackers’ values, being taken up not by a group of geeks, but by a generation of people. And that makes a lot of difference.

I guess, there lies the big difference between traditional IT tools and web2.0. Let’s take the example of eGovernment. I think e-government did not deliver its objectives because it required organisational and cultural change. It tried to impose it from the outside in without providing the incentives to change. Government should have become citizen-centric as a prerequisite to take advantage of IT investment. Web2.0 instead generates cultural change: projects like patientopinion, farmsubsidy, fixmystreet and theyworkforyou act on the incentives (the leverages, the chinks in the armour) for government change by exposing government behaviour.

Companies somehow have to be customer-oriented because they are profit seeking, but government always struggled to be citizen-centric because they lacked the incentives to do so, perhaps largely because of being a monopolist. The impact of web2.0 in government can be larger than in business because it finally provides an incentive to make government citizen-oriented. This incentive is transparency and the deriving public blame/praise.


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