This article is from a remixed talk by Beth Noveck’s on “Transparent Government“. The talk was given as part of the Long Now Foundation‘s Seminars about Long-Term Thinking. The talks were remixed by Hassan Masum, are made available under a Creative Commons by-nc-sa 2.5 license.
The talk describes a social experiment “which seized upon the truth that each of us is an expert in something” that was designed to investigate ways of re-energising democratic decision making. It started from the following point,
We have been concentrating decision-making power in the hands of too few people – whether legislatures, or cabinet officials, or bureaucrats and agencies like the patent office. We construct our institutional practices around the notion that this is the best way that we have to make decisions. Even though we do not have a system of monarchy or aristocracy, we still believe in the notion of political expertise, and the notion that we have to rest power at the center.
What exacerbates this problem is that we are making long-term decisions that affect the fate of our planet. The fate of our economy, and of major systems of health care and education and environment, are being decided by people who are in short-term political positions. We have a disconnect between the long-term effect of what we do, and short-term electoral cycles.
We have to look at the ways we can reengineer our institutions to take advantage of the expertise that comes from outside the center, and bring it into the way that we make decisions.
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