Reposted from the San Francisco Chronicle, March 1, 2013
Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government By Gavin Newsom with Lisa Dickey (The Penguin Press; 249 pages; $25.95)
Beth Simone Noveck
When I started work in the White House in 2009, I had been brought in to help implement the Obama administration's commitment to making government more transparent, participatory and collaborative. At the time, the federal government, like governments worldwide, was anything but open. The White House didn't have a blog, Twitter accounts or a social media site. To make matters worse, we were running Windows 2000.
As a colleague described the situation: "We have a nearly obsolete infrastructure, so a lot of things have to be done 'by hand.' Don't think Google server farm. Think gerbil on a wheel."
Things have gotten better since those early days, but they're not yet good enough. Approval rates for government are at an all-time low. We need more open, innovative government to connect with citizens and win their trust. But it can be hard to know how to talk about government innovation in a way that is exciting and inspiring. Through lively stories and engaging quotes from famous digerati and less-famous policy entrepreneurs, Gavin Newsom's new book, "Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government," does just that.