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European Journal of ePractice n° 9

Government 2.0 - Hype, Hope, or Reality?

In the space of two years, the '2.0' meme has risen from obscurity to mainstream in eGovernment policy, as the comparison between the EU Ministerial Declaration of 2007 and 2009 shows. Yet much of the debate is still on the potential opportunities and risks of Government 2.0, with evangelists emphasising the great benefits of crowdsourcing and of leveraging collective intelligence, and skeptics pointing to the risks of wishful thinking, to the limits of transparency, and to the hype about its impact. The question is then: has government 2.0 so far really provided visible benefits for citizens?

The 7 articles presented do not present conclusive evidence. Rather, they provide relevant insights for a sober assessment of the actual implications and impacts, bringing together a diverse set of points of view and with a wide geographical scope. The very definition of government 2.0 is not commonly agreed, as some articles make reference to eParticipation, which may imply any kind of participative effort using ICT, others to Open Government initiatives, which tend to be more focused on transparency and access to a particular government's process.

The first necessary step is mapping the typology of impact. Huijboom et al., based on a large-scale study, identify the key types of impacts of web 2.0 across public services: political, socio-cultural, organisational and legal. The article clearly shows these impacts in three case studies of government 2.0, which interestingly enough are not developed within government. Whereas these cases clearly show the potential disruptive impact on those involved, they remain small groups, such as the niche of 25.000 people for the Patientslikeme.org service. Furthermore, the article reminds us that the evidence behind these impacts remains largely anecdotal.

Author(s): David Osimo