Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government

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Overview

By integrating democratic government with cutting-edge American innovation, the lieutenant governor of California charts a bright future for open-source America

Citizenville is the story of how ordinary citizens can use new digital tools to dissolve political gridlock and transform American democracy. As social networking and smart phones have changed the way we communicate with one another, these ...

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Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government

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Overview

By integrating democratic government with cutting-edge American innovation, the lieutenant governor of California charts a bright future for open-source America

Citizenville is the story of how ordinary citizens can use new digital tools to dissolve political gridlock and transform American democracy. As social networking and smart phones have changed the way we communicate with one another, these technologies are also changing our relationship with government.

In a world where people can do anything at the touch of a button—shop, communicate, do research, publish a blog, transfer money—government cannot keep functioning in a twentieth-century mind-set. Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom explores the many ways in which technology can transform government and empower citizens: Opening up vast troves of government data, then letting people create apps to use them wisely. Harnessing the popularity of online games to establish a kind of “Angry Birds for Democracy.” Inventing new feedback loops so people can take active part in every facet of governing.

Drawing on wide-ranging interviews with thinkers and politicians, Citizenville is the first book by Lieutenant Governor Newsom. He broke new ground as the mayor of San Francisco, one of the most high-tech, experimental, and progressive municipalities in the nation. But when Newsom’s tenure as mayor began, he found that San Francisco was behind the likes of Estonia and South Korea in terms of digital governance. Newsom’s quest to modernize one of America’s most modern cities—and the amazing results he achieves—form the backbone of this far-reaching book.

Lieutenant Governor Newsom explains how the problems of twenty-first-century America are too big and too expensive for the government simply to buy solutions. Instead, we must innovate our way out. Just as the post office and the highway system provide public infrastructure to channel both personal and private enterprise—a platform upon which citizens can grow—so too could a modern digital government house the needs, concerns, information, and collaboration of an enlightened digital citizenry.

Citizenville shows that the only way Americans can secure their future is by reinventing their relationship to government, just as they have countless times before.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Souped-up information technology will set us free, declares this breathless, shallow manifesto. Newsom, the lieutenant governor of California and ex-mayor of San Francisco, heralds the new regime of cloud computing, which makes all public information instantly accessible and, he argues, utterly transforms how governments do business. The specifics he mentions feel small-bore and superficial: city IT departments, he notes, could be outsourced; government databases from Veterans Administration health records to city crime stats can be made downloadable; a New York City phone app guides users to the nearest location where they can get free condoms; and why not have citizens post Yelp-style online reviews of government services? Citing gabby cyberutopian visionaries from Bill Clinton to Mark Zuckerberg, Newsom styles all this as the overthrow of the “top-down, bureaucratic, hierarchical government that’s choking our democracy,” one that empowers citizens to “‘solve their own problems and meet their own needs’” in the manner of open-source programmers and righteous hacktivists. Unfortunately, as with his proposal for a “Citizenville” online game in which people win points for spending their own money on municipal repair projects, his rhetoric amounts to a glitzy but dispiriting brief for the abdication of government responsibilities in an era of budget austerity. Agent: Elyse Cheney, Elyse Cheney Literary Associates. (Feb. 11)
Kirkus Reviews
A former mayor of San Francisco introduces methodology to improve citizens' interaction with their government through the Internet. Newsom, the lieutenant governor of California, reflects fondly on his mayoral terms and his efforts to accelerate the learning curve for an often bogged-down city government operating "on the cutting edge--of 1973." As founder of an impressive array of small Bay Area businesses, the author understands the power and influence technology can wield--but how to harness and channel it to engage smart, forward-thinking consumers with their respective bureaucracies? Overcoming governmental "technophobia" is key to bridging that gap, but disinterest, privacy concerns and procurement costs are also roadblocks. Newsom cites many affirmative initiatives on data sharing, governmental transparency and numerous interactive applications like QR codes or his "Citizenville" gaming concept. While conducting research, the author came into contact with a host of technologically savvy professionals, from software pioneers and hyperproductive tech executives to fellow entrepreneurs and even George Clooney, who laments the death of individual privacy. Newsom's pitch for a compulsory donation system to co-fund government projects or the concept of incentivizing to gain more rapid solutions is certainly progressive. An idea to offer $1 billion to the innovator of a cure for a constantly morphing disease like AIDS, however, comes off like a lofty campaign promise. Still, the book remains fresh and lively with Newsom emerging as a persuasive, if fast-talking, progressive proponent focused on how best to "radically rethink the relationship between citizens and government." Empowering, motivating and just a tad self-indulgent.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594204722
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 2/7/2013
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 507,171
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

GAVIN NEWSOM is the forty-ninth lieutenant governor of the State of California, following two terms as mayor of San Francisco. He was the youngest mayor of San Francisco elected in over a hundred years. Previously, he founded fifteen small businesses in the San Francisco Bay area after attending Santa Clara University. He hosts The Gavin Newsom Show on Current TV.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2013

    Gavin Newsom has managed to encapsulate all my frustrations with

    Gavin Newsom has managed to encapsulate all my frustrations with government in this book. His solutions make sense and I think its about time! 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2013

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    Posted August 18, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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