The potential of Government 2.0 and participatory democracy


Radio National’s Future Tense last week covered the issue of Participatory democracy, Web 2.0 and the Australian Government 2.0 Taskforce with an excellent program. The program can be heard or downloaded on the website, along with a transcript.

During the program I was quoted talking about the potential and the underlying demand for participatory democracy:

I think that there is a growing interest in [Government 2.0], and it is very different in different countries and in different demographics, but absolutely people’s interest is growing in participating and having a voice and being able to impact smaller things in the environment in which they live, as well as larger things such as the political parties in power. And I think that trend will accentuate over time, as people get more used to the ideas and the tools provided by participation.

However the core of the program is an interview with Dr Nicholas Gruen, who chairs the Australian government’s Government 2.0 taskforce, discussing what is being done currently. He noted:

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I look forward to it: Finding any information in the universe just by thinking about it


This interview segment on Techcrunch quotes Google CEO Eric Schmidt as saying on the future of search: “Connect it straight to your brain”.

Indeed. Search is about finding meaningful information. If just by thinking about what we wanted to find, we could find that information or content among all the information in the Universe, that would be a Very Good Thing.

So the question is: will we ever get there? I certainly don’t know whether we will ever be able to search by thought, but it’s certainly in the realm of the possible.

If so, I hope I’m alive when we get it. It will be fun!

Selected quotations for our times


In finding the quote from Marshall McLuhan on professionals and amateurs I used in my last post, I dug up a file I created a dozen years go with some quotes I was collecting. Here are just a few that are still worth bearing in mind today:

“The empires of the future are the empires of the mind”

– Winston Churchill

“It is hardly possible to overrate the value… of placing human beings in contact dissimilar to themselves, and with modes of thought and action unlike those with which they are familiar… Such communication has always been, and is peculiar in the present age, one of the primary sources of progress.”

– John Stuart Mills in 1848

“Computer games don’t affect kids; I mean, if Pac-Man affected us as kids, we’d all be running around in darkened rooms, munching magic pills and listening to repetitive electronic music”.

– Kristian Wilson of Nintendo Inc in 1989

“Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.”

– Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

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The World in 2030: Four scenarios for long-term planning and strategy


This morning I did the opening keynote to the top executive team of a major their strategy offsite. It’s not appropriate to share the full presentation, however I can share the rough scenarios I presented for the world to 2030. The scenarios were presented after having examined the driving forces and critical uncertainties for the company. (See also my post on The best visuals to explain the Singularity to senior executives)

As always, a strong disclaimer comes with any generic set of scenarios like these – scenarios really must be created by the users themselves for specific decisions and in context (for the full disclaimer as well as a brief background on using scenarios in the strategy process see my scenarios for the future of financial services).


A traditional scenario process identifies two dimensions to uncertainty, that when combined produce a matrix of four scenarios. Once the framework is created, the full richness of trends and uncertainties uncovered in the research process are integrated into the scenarios. Here the two dimensions selected are:

RESOURCES AVAILABILITY: Resource Poverty TO Resource Affluence

Availability and real cost of key resources including energy, food, water, and environmental stability.

COHESION: Cohesion TO Fragmentation

Cohesion of society, government, nations, and institutions.

Together these dimensions yield:



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A fundamental question: Are we evolving faster?


Recent research suggests that ‘microevolution’ – that within species – happens faster in warmer climates – their DNA changes faster. This leads to the extraordinary tropical diversity of our planet.

Susan Kraemer asks: what happens if the planet’s climate gets warmer? Will we all evolve faster?

Which leads me to the bigger question: are we evolving faster? And if so, what is driving that?

We only occasionally think about human evolution, but now well into the 21st century it would be worth knowing if we were indeed evolving at a faster rate, and what that means.

That’s a good research challenge: determine whether and by how much the pace of human evolution is changing :-)

The extropians would of course say it’s accelerating, and I’d have to say I agree.

Once we start to determine our own DNA, as we are beginning to do, we are playing a hand ourselves in our evolution.

We are shaping ourselves, at an increasing pace.