Why every citizen should read the Open Government book

Open Government – Collaboration, Transparency, and Participation in Practice is a book (DISCLAIMER: I’m one of the authors, see below) that explains how governments and local Public Administrations can use digital technologies to work more efficiently, save lots of taxpayers money and let citizens control what public officers are actually doing. Why is something like this very important for all citizens?

Because, as I already explained in the Online Loser Guide, digital technologies and the Internet can be either a huge help to make real democracy happen, or just a new, more powerful system for centralized control. It’s up to people to decide which alternative they like best, but the first one requires that governments work as explained in this book. Its main audience is public officials who already work in this field, but you don’t need to be a computer scientist or have a PhD in politics to understand why Open Government is good for you in many important ways! The book can be interesting and useful to all citizens who care about these topics.

Almost all the royalties from sales of “Open Government” go to the non-profit organization Global Integrity, that aims to provide independent information on governance and corruption (all authors contributed to “Open Government” for free, personally I only earn a very small fee if you buy the book through the specific link on the left of these pages).

To know more about “Open Government”…

The full table of contents is available on the O’Reilly and a few other chapters are available online. I am the author of the chapter titled “Why Open Digital Standards Matter in Government”, where I explain that:

Without exploiting all the potential of open standards and Free/Open Source Software, there can be no open government.. and no efficient services… Open formats and protocols are both an extremely profitable investment and an enabler… There is probably no other way to save so much money in so many different places and free vital resources with so (comparatively) little effort than through these technologies

My whole chapter can be read here at Stop!/Zona-M. You can also have an idea of its content (and why you should care) by reading these two other, much shorter pieces of mine on the same topics:

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