Possibilities at the Local Level: Coding a Better Government (TED)

This TED Talk delivered by Jennifer Pahlka, the founder and Executive Director of Code for America, was inspiring for a number of reasons. It was far more about collective solutions than about technology and shiny mobile apps skinned with our local government branding. The concept of collective solutions was applied to public connections and discussions that provide a platform (not necessarily in the sense of technology) to engage and provide everyday solutions at little or often no cost, simply by the availability of this platform, framework and mindset.

A powerful theme within this discussion is the idea of change management in ways that may have been previously unheard of. Consider the comment that, “politics are not changing, government is changing.” Could this possibly be better illustrated by the current Federal gridlock, contrasted with the possibilities at the local levels of government, with real solutions being provided not simply by technology, but innovative thinking and ideas that leverage available technology in very simple, solution-oriented ways. An example of how this is accomplished is the public nature of requests for information. If a question or concern is available for a number of people to see and engage in, the possibility for a solution is multiplied many times over. Imagine this idea expanding from one local government to another, sharing informational or other resources at reduced, little or sometimes no cost at all.

I thought the “application” section was remarkable, where ideas were put forward for actually engaging in the hierarchy that is inherent in any governmental system. Rather than sitting back as a distant critic of all forms of bureaucracy, it is possible to be a part of real and essential change within that mechanism. Thus changing the term bureaucracy from an inherent negative to one that exists for specific purposes, and that can be improved thanks to the advent of the social era, technology and sociological shifts that have come about from an entire generation that has grown up on the Internet.

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