Innovation in Democratic E-Governance: Benefitting from Web 2.0 Applications in the Public Sector

Innovation in Democratic E-Governance: Benefitting from Web 2.0 Applications in the Public Sector

Ari-Veikko Anttiroiko (University of Tampere, Finland)
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/jegr.2010040102
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Abstract

This article provides a brief introduction to Web 2.0 and its gradual adoption in public services and governance. Web 2.0 refers to the second generation of Web-based communities, networks and hosted services, which facilitates interaction between users. Since the invention of the concept of Web 2.0, version numbering has been attached to various activities and organizations, including government. Government 2.0 opens a horizon towards post-modern governance, in which government utilizes in its governance and stakeholder relations open and pluralist interactivity, community-centeredness and citizens’ own content production and networking, following the logic of Web 2.0. The promise of Government 2.0 lies in the idea that the more direct citizen involvement there is in public affairs in Web 2.0 style, the more reason there is for people to take a constructive view of public policies, governance and organizations.
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Background

The core service of the Internet, the World Wide Web (WWW) or more briefly the Web, emerged in the 1990s essentially as the global publication and exchange network utilized by organizations. In the 2000s new forms of online communities, social networking and peer-to-peer content sharing started to change the logic of the use of this global network. These new forms became known as Web 2.0, a concept that was launched by consultants who aspired to map out the then new trends revolving around the Internet. The term appeared for the first time at the O'Reilly Media Web 2.0 Conference held in 2004(O’Reilly, 2005).

Web 2.0 refers to the second generation of Web-based communities, networks and hosted services, which facilitates interaction between users. It does not refer to technology as such – i.e. a new technological version of WWW – but rather to the way software developers and end-users use the Web. There are conceptions or approaches to Web 2.0 that emphasize the set of technologies that enable the new forms of interaction within the Web and those that associate Web 2.0 with the semantic Web (Breindl & Francq, 2008, p. 19). Our conception, however, draws on collaborative practices and visions of the Web, thus emphasizing the social dimension of the current trends in the development of the Web. This is the most fruitful approach when assessed from the government perspective.

An indication of the revolutionary nature of Web 2.0 is the nomination of “You” as the person of the Year 2006 by Time magazine, referring to ordinary people who form social networks and provide primary content for social networking and content sharing sites with a magnitude that reached new historic proportions (Grossman, 2006; Dutton, 2007). It was in 2003-2004, roughly ten years after the so-called Great Internet Explosion, when the numbers of subscribers to Web 2.0 applications started to grow exponentially. This shift has created pressure on government to follow the Web 2.0 trends more carefully and to start considering how to utilize the available Web 2.0 applications and particularly how to utilize the wisdom of crowds in the public service and governance processes, which are expected to increase the responsiveness of public organizations (Anttiroiko, 2009).

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